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Imagine biting into a refreshing, tangy, and sweet dessert on a warm summer day. That’s the experience you’ll get when you taste Atlantic Beach Pie, a delightful citrus dessert that’s perfect for any occasion. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the history, recipe, serving suggestions, and storage tips for this delectable treat, so you can enjoy it all summer long.
I have to admit I’m new to Atlantic Beach pie, but when I heard of the saltine cracker crust and the tangy lemon lime filling I knew I was going to fall in love.
I mean I’m such a sucker for a citrus pie already, (hello Key lime pie!), so I knew this Atlantic Beach pie recipe would be a keeper.
Atlantic Beach. Pie is a classic summer treat, with a citrusy lemon and lime filling in saltine cracker crust.
It’s easy enough for any baker! Serve Atlantic beach pie with whipped cream, zest, and flaky sea salt or freeze leftovers for up to two months.
- Key Lime Pie Cheesecake is a tangy twist on a cheesecake recipe with a buttery graham cracker crust!
- If you love easy lemon desserts then try my Lemon Cookie Recipe! Topped with a fresh lemon glaze.
- Try these quick tropical Toasted Coconut Lemon Bars for a sweet dessert treat that’s quick to whip up.
Why Is It Called Atlantic Beach Pie?
Atlantic Beach Pie originated in Chapel Hill, North Carolina seafood restaurants during the 1950s, when Chef Bill Smith, from Crook’s Corner decided to create a dessert that would complement the fresh seafood flavors.
Bill Smith was one creative guy because he chose to use saltine crackers for the crust, which provided a unique salty kick that perfectly balanced the sweetness from the creamy citrus filling.
This delicious lime and lemon pie quickly gained popularity, and it wasn’t long before it caught the attention of food critics and media outlets. Atlantic Beach Pie has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, and Southern Living even dubbed it “The Best Dish of Summer”. It’s no wonder this pie has become a favorite among dessert lovers everywhere!
What makes this a great pie for summer!
- Salty and Sweet – The combination of citrusy lemon and lime filling with the salty crust makes this pie the perfect summer treat. The sweet and tangy flavors are incredibly refreshing, providing a much-needed respite from the heat of the season.
- Simple ingredients – Not only is this pie delicious, but it’s also easy to make, requiring just a few simple ingredients and minimal preparation time. This makes it an ideal addition to any summer cookout or picnic, where it’s sure to be a hit with friends and family alike.
For the full recipe and instructions, scroll to the bottom of the post to the recipe card.
- Crushed Saltine crackers – You want to use finely crushed saltine crackers. You can use a food processor or place them in a plastic bag and crush them up with a rolling pin.
- Butter – I used unsalted butter but you can use salted butter but it may make the crust too salty. If you use salted butter you may want to add a little extra sugar (1/3 cup instead of 1/4 cup). You will use melted butter in the crust so the crumbs hold together.
- Granulated Sugar – To sweeten the crust.
- Lemon juice – I recommend using fresh lemon juice for best flavor but bottled lemon juice. I like to zest the lemons first before juicing them, so I can reserve the zest to decorate the pie with later.
- Lime juice – Fresh lime juice is mixed into the filling, bottled lime juice can also be used. Zest the limes first, and save the zest to decorate the pie with later.
- Salt – Use just a pinch to balance the sweetness of the filling.
- Sweetened condensed milk – Be sure to use sweetened condensed milk and not evaporated milk which is thinner and will create a runny consistency.
- Egg yolks – To thicken the pie filling.
- Heavy whipping cream – Used to make the fresh whipped cream. You want to use cold heavy whipping cream so it whips up to full volume.
- Powdered sugar – Or confectioners sugar. Used in making the fresh whipped cream to top the pie with before serving. If you don’t have any, you can make some homemade powdered sugar in your food processor!
- Vanilla extract – To sweeten the whipped topping.
- Citrus zest – I like to decorate the top of the whipped cream topping with lemon zest and lime zest before serving.
How To Make Atlantic Beach Pie
In the following sections, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide for this recipe, including detailed instructions for creating the crust, preparing the filling, baking and cooling the pie, and topping it off with a generous dollop of whipped topping.
So grab your apron, preheat your oven, and let’s get started on this delicious journey!
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177oC).
Add the crushed crackers and sugar to a food processor.
Pulse until the crackers are crushed into crumbs. Then, slowly add the butter until the crumbs are well-coated.
Firmly press the crumbs into a 9-inch pie dish or pan, and bake crust for 15 minutes. Let the crust cool as you make the pie filling.
2. Pie Filling.
Whisk egg yolks, condensed milk, lemon juice, lime juice and salt in a large bowl until smooth.
Pour the filling into the cooled pie crust
Then bake the pie for 15-20 minutes or until the filling is still slightly jiggly in the middle. Rest the pie for about an hour or until it reaches room temperature. Cover the pie with plastic wrap, then place it in the refrigerator for 4 hours or until the pie filling is set.
3. Fresh Whipped Cream.
I recommend chilling the bowl and beaters to make the whipped topping. You want the bowl and beaters completely cold so the cream whips up to fullest volume.
Use an electric mixer to whip the cold heavy whipping cream, confectioners sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form.
Spoon the whipped cream evenly on top of the pie. Garnish with lemon and lime zest if desired, and serve chilled.
When it comes to serving this pie, the possibilities are endless. This versatile dessert is perfect for any summer gathering, from casual cookouts to elegant picnics. Prepare the pie in advance, and bring it out when it’s time for dessert, ensuring that it stays chilled and fresh.
For an elegant presentation, top each slice with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, a sprinkle of lemon or lime zest, and a pinch of flaky sea salt. These garnishes not only add a touch of sophistication, but also enhance the pie’s sweet and tangy flavors, making each bite an unforgettable experience.
- Use the base of a flat-bottomed glass or measuring cup to help pack the cracker crumbs into the pie dish. You’ll want the crust to be as packed as possible to prevent it from crumbling too much when you slice the pie.
- Keep an eye on the pie while it is baking. If you overbake the filling, it will come out rubbery, so you’ll want it to come out of the oven slightly jiggly. It will set as it cools.
- Butter – Using salted butter instead of unsalted butter for the crust may add extra saltiness to the pie, but you can add 1/3 cup of sugar instead of 1/4 cup of sugar.
- Citrus Juice – You can use bottled juice instead of fresh lemon and lime juice.
- Whipped Cream – To save time you can use whipped topping, like Cool-Whip, instead of making the whipped cream.
- Saltine crust– If you can’t find saltine crackers, you can substitute with Ritz crackers, or for a sweeter crust replace with Nilla vanilla wafers, or graham crackers.
To store leftover pie in the refrigerator, cover it loosely with plastic wrap and keep it chilled for up to four days. Place plastic wrap over the pie, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The pie crust may get soggy after that.
If you’d like to store your pie for an extended period, you can easily freeze it for up to two months. To do so, wrap the cooled pie in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, ensuring it’s well sealed to prevent freezer burn or the absorption of any unwanted odors.
When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen pie, simply remove it from the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator for several hours, or until it reaches your desired consistency. This will allow the pie to maintain its original texture and flavor, providing a delicious treat you can enjoy any time.
A saltine crust is traditional but yes you can make a graham cracker crust instead.
You can use a ceramic, metal or glass pie pan for this pie. If using a glass pan, the filling may need a few more additional minutes of bake time.
Additional Citrus Dessert Recipes
Atlantic Beach Pie
- 1 sleeve of saltine crackers
- 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 170 g) unsalted butter melted
- 14 ounces (1 can) sweetened condensed milk
- 4 large egg yolks room temperature
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon juice (zest lemons first and reserve zest for topping)
- 1/4 cup (60 sml) lime juice (zest limes first and reserve zest for topping)
- A pinch of salt
Whipped Cream Topping
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy whipping cream cold
- 1/3 cup (37 g) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the crust
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Add the crackers and sugar to a food processor and pulse until the crackers are crushed into crumbs.
- Slowly add the butter until the crumbs are well-coated.
- Firmly press the crumbs into a 9-inch pie dish or pan. Use the base of a flat-bottomed glass to help pack the cracker crumbs into the pie dish. You’ll want the crust to be as packed as possible to prevent it from crumbling too much when you slice the pie.
- Bake the crust for 15 minutes. Let the crust cool as you make the pie filling.
Make the filling
- Whisk together the condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice, lime juice, and salt in a large bowl until smooth.
- Pour the filling into the cooled pie crust, then bake the pie for 15-20 minutes or until the filling is still slightly jiggly in the middle. Keep an eye on the pie while it is baking. If you overbake the filling, it will come out rubbery, so you’ll want it to come out of the oven slightly jiggly.
- Rest the pie for about an hour or until it reaches room temperature. Cover the pie with plastic wrap, then place it in the refrigerator for 4 hours or until the pie filling is set.
Make whipped cream
- Chill the bowl and beaters for 10 minutes in the freezer.
- Use an electric mixer to whip on high speed the cold heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form.
- Spoon the whipped cream evenly on top of the pie. Garnish with lemon and lime zest if desired, and serve chilled.
- Storage: Place plastic wrap over the pie, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The pie crust may get soggy after that.
- Freezing: Cover the pie with plastic wrap and foil to prevent freezer burn, and store the pie in the freezer for up to 2 months. Place the pie in the refrigerator overnight to thaw.
- Butter: Using salted butter instead of unsalted butter for the crust may add extra saltiness to the pie, but you can add 1/3 cup of sugar instead of 1/4 cup of sugar.
- Juice: You can use bottled instead of fresh lemon and lime juice. You can also use all lemon juice or lime juice but I like the combination of both!
- Whipped cream: To save time you can use whipped topping instead of making the whipped cream.