Learn how to make this easy and delicious old fashioned Lemon Icebox Pie recipe. Made with cream cheese, lemon juice, and using sweetened condensed milk, this family favorite recipe it the best homemade no bake dessert. You can even enjoy it frozen!
We've got your back with another orginial Southern inspired pie. This easy pie recipe is perfect for the spring or summer months. You'll want to include it in your memorial day bbq, 4th of July get together, or even Mother's Day brunch. You may even enjoy it for Thanksgiving or Christmas like our family does.
We prefer this lemon icebox pie vs lemon meringue pie for its easy to follow recipe and 4 simple ingredients. Below is a list of ingredients and our favorite brands and tips.
- Graham Crackers- Crush a package of graham crackers for this tasty crust. We believe making a homemade graham cracker crust is superior to a store bought crust. The store bought crust is often over sugary and has an off texture.
- Butter- Melted and salted butter is best for the crust of this pie. The salt pairs great with the graham crackers.
- Cream cheese- It is important that you use softened cream cheese. Otherwise, the pie will have lumps.
- Sweetened condensed milk- Our favorite brand to use is Eagle Brand. It has the best taste and texture. You can use other store names brands with similar results.
- Lemon juice- Use fresh squeezed Meyer lemon for the best flavor but you can also use quality lemon juice brands in a pinch. Our taste testers all preferred the taste of the pie when made with fresh squeezed lemons.
- Zest- Again, use Meyer lemon for a zesty flavor added to the pie.
- Vanilla- Pure vanilla extract, or imitation vanilla can both be used to tie the flavors altogether and add a smooth yet subtle vanilla flavor.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Lemon Icebox Pie
Use these step-by-step photos to enhance your cooking experience. This can help with presentation and textures.
- Zest the lemon with a microplan and then juice the lemon.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, with an electric hand mixer, mix the cream cheese and sweeten condensed milk together until a smooth mixture is formed.
3. Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Mix until fully incorporated.
4. Pour the mixture in a prepared graham cracker crust. Spread evenly across to make a smooth surface.
Refrigerate for 2 hours and then serve and enjoy!
Hint: Use a microplane to zest the lemon. We also love using a lemon juicer to get all those juices out!
We love switching things up when we're in the kitchen. Try any of these variations for something a little different.
- Vanilla Wafers- With vanilla wafers you can make a crust instead of using graham crackers.
- Gluten free- To make this a gluten free option, use gluten free graham crackers.
- No eggs in this recipe means that it is 100% no cook or no bake. it makes for an easy pie recipe.
Using the bottom of a measuring cup makes it faster and easier to push the crust into the bottom of the pie plate. It also makes it so the crust holds its form better when you cut into it.
Don't forget to top with whipped cream and extra lemon zest for added creamy flavor.
How To Serve
Serve this topped with fresh-cut strawberries or some strawberry jam or strawberry compote. It would make for a tasty combo of strawberry lemon flavor.
It is also popular to freeze lemon icebox pie and serve it frozen. We like to place it in the refrigerator for an hour before serving when it's frozen.
Learn From Us
As I was recipe testing, I got too anxious to try it and pulled it out of the refrigerator too soon and it sagged all over the place. It didn't hold its shape at all. Make sure to refrigerate it for the entire time! This is a softer pie to begin with, so it needs the entire refrigeration time.
Storing Icebox Pie
Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. After 2 days it will start to weep. We recommend freezing any leftovers after 2 days.
This pie tastes great frozen. You can freeze it for up to 2 months in a freezer-friendly container. When you are ready to serve either eat it frozen or thaw and serve.
Make sure to use fully softened cream cheese and beat it until it is completely smooth. This will ensure your pie is lump-free and absolutely delicious.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Lemon Icebox Pie
For the Crust:
- 1 package graham crackers crushed. 1 package from a 14 oz box. About 9 sheets of graham crackers.
- ⅓ cup butter melted
- 3 Tablespoons sugar see notes below
For the Filling:
- 8 ounce cream cheese softened
- 14 ounce sweetened condensed milk
- ¾ cup lemon juice fresh squeezed for the best flavor, about 4 large lemons
- zest from one large lemon about 1 Tablespoon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Make the graham cracker crust by placing crushed graham crackers, sugar and melted butter in a bowl. Mix with a fork until combined. Pour into a 9" pie plate and press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to push it down for a more compact crust. See notes below.
- With a hand mixer or in the bowl of stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat softened cream cheese on medium speed for 2 minutes, until perfectly smooth (see photo above). Add in the sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. Whisk together until completely combined then whisk another 30 seconds.
- Pour the filling into the pie crust and refrigerate until set up, about 5 hours. This pie is a little soft, but will still mostly hold it's form. Top with whipped cream, if desired.
- We prefer a graham cracker without sugar as the filling is sweet enough and we feel the overall flavor is better. If you don't add sugar, the graham cracker crust won't hold together well and will be crumbly. For a pretty pie, add the sugar. If it doesn't need to be pretty, we recommend omitting the sugar.
- This is a soft pie. It won't set up completely firm. If you leave it in the refrigerator long enough it will hold together well though.
- For a firmer pie, use ½ cup - ⅔ cup lemon juice. We love the more intense lemon flavor when using a full ¾ cup, but it will make it a little firmer to use less.
- Use the bottom of a measuring cup or small glass to press the graham cracker crust into the pie plate. Start by pushing it up the sides then into the bottom of the plate.
- It's super important that your cream cheese is nice and soft and that you beat it the full 2 minutes. This will ensure that your pie is lump free and totally smooth.
- Mixing lemon juice and sweetened condensed milk might seem counterintuitive and like it might make a runny pie. However, the lemon juice thickens the condensed milk by curdling it (don't worry, you won't be able to tell!) and provides a really nice texture.
Lemon Icebox pie is made with cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and lemon juice. The combination of the 3 ingredients makes a thick no-bake pie. All on top of a graham cracker crust.
When lemon juice and sweetened condensed milk are mixed together, the lemon juice curdles the milk. This thickens the mixture so that it can set into a thick pie. Don't worry, you don't notice the curdle and it's delicious!
Yes! Frozen ice box pie is delicious. You can serve it frozen or defrosted in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. be careful to only defrost what you will eat, as one frozen then thawed, it will weep!
Likely you didn't let the pie set long enough in the refrigerator before serving. It is important that it gets the full time, or more, to set to the consistency you want. Make sure you don't add extra liquid. Another issue could come from the type of cream cheese you use. We love the Philadelphia brand cream cheese. It isn't full of excess water like other off brand cream cheeses are.