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A yummy salty and sweet take on a traditional lemon pie!

This Atlantic Beach Pie recipe is just as easy to make as it is delicious! It’s filled with tart lemons, a salty crust made from saltines, and is oh-so-simple to put together.

a slice of atlantic beach pie garnished with whipped cream and sea salt flakes with a whole pie in the background.

I’ve always been a fan of lemony desserts. These lemonade icebox pies in a jar are a favorite and so is this lemon bundt cake!

The Atlantic Beach Pie was created by chef Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner restaurant in Chapel Hill North Carolina. Since then, it’s become a hit, and chefs all over the country have given it a spin!

It became famous thanks to NPR, and once I discovered it, I couldn’t resist giving it a try myself.

Key ingredients & substitutions for Atlantic Beach Pie

  • Saltine crackers — For the crust! This is part of what makes this recipe so unique.
  • Unsalted butter — You’ll also use this for the crust. Opt for unsalted as there is already quite a bit of salt in the crackers.
  • Sugar — You need to add sugar to the crust as well to really get that sweet and savory flavor this dessert is so famous for!
  • Sweetened condensed milk — Opt for sweetened over unsweetened to help balance out the tartness of the lemons and limes.
  • Egg yolks — The eggs will help to bind the batter together. You only need the yolks here, not the whites.
  • Lemon or lime juice — It wouldn’t be an Atlantic Beach Pie recipe without the citrus! You can use only lemon juice or only lime, or you can mix the two together.
  • Fresh whipped cream and sea salt — Use these for garnishing! The added pinch of sea salt plays up the saltiness of the crust and the results are simply delicious.

How to make this Atlantic Beach Pie recipe

ingredients for making a saltine cracker crust on a table.

STEP 1 | Crush the crackers

Before you get started, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. As it heats, crush the saltine crackers into fine crumbs. You can pulse them in a food processor, or place them in a heavy-duty ziploc bag and use a rolling pin. Either way, be sure to stop before they turn to dust.

pressing cracker crust into a glass pie plate.

STEP 2 | Create the crust

Transfer the crushed crackers to a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter to mix in the sugar and and softened butter until the crumbs begin to hold together like dough. Press the mixture into an 8-inch pie pan, then place it in the fridge to chill for about 15 minutes.

Bake for about 18 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Set aside to cool.

pouring the filling into a saltine pie crust for Atlantic Beach pie.

STEP 3 | Make the filling

In a large bowl, beat the milk and egg yolk with a hand mixer until well combined. Add your citrus juice and continue to mix until it is well incorporated. Pour the filling into your pie crust.

STEP 4 | Bake

Bake your beach pie for about 16 minutes, or until the filling has completely set. Let it cool completely, then put it in the fridge to cool for 2-3 hours before serving. When you’re ready to enjoy, garnish with fresh whipped cream and a pinch of sea salt. Enjoy!

a baked Atlantic Beach Pie cooling on a wire rack.

tips

  • To make this recipe as fresh as can be, use fresh lemon or lime juice (or both) instead of concentrated juice from a bottle.
  • It is very important that the filling ingredients are mixed thoroughly. Otherwise, it may separate during baking.
  • For the best results, make sure to chill the beach pie completely before cutting. The longer you can leave it to cool in the fridge, the better!

a plain slice of atlantic beach pie on a white plate with a small bottle of sea salt to the side.

Frequently asked questions

What is Atlantic pie?

Atlantic pie is very similar to a key lime pie, but it’s made with either only lemons or a mixture of the two citrus fruits. It also features a unique crust made from saltine crackers! As mentioned, it was created by Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It skyrocketed to fame after it was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered Found Recipe series.

How long does Atlantic Beach Pie last in the fridge?

You can store any leftover beach pie in your refrigerator for up to 2 days. Make sure to cover it in plastic wrap, or place it in an airtight container.

Can you make the pie crust out of Ritz crackers?

While you can definitely make a pie crust out of Ritz crackers, this Atlantic Beach Pie recipe calls for saltines for a reason. Ritz crackers are a bit too buttery for this pie, so stick with saltines!

a bite of atlantic beach pie on a fork.

Serving suggestions

This dish should be enjoyed as a dessert on its own! It would make an excellent treat at any summertime party or barbecue.

You may consider serving up some burgers, salad (I love macaroni and potato salad for BBQs!), and corn on the cob before you dig into your lemony pie.

Please share!

Your shares are how this site grows and I appreciate each one. Do you know someone who would enjoy this recipe? I’d love it if you would share it on Facebook or on your favorite Pinterest board!

a slice of atlantic beach pie garnished with whipped cream and sea salt flakes.

Atlantic Beach Pie

Atlantic Beach Pie combines a creamy lemon-lime filling with a salty-sweet crust. Garnish with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkle of sea salt for a refreshing Summer dessert.
4.16 from 13 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 34 mins
Cooling Time  2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 49 mins
Course Pies & Pastries
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 463 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the crust:

  • 60 saltine crackers
  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:

  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup lemon or lime juice or a mix of the two
  • Fresh whipped cream for garnish
  • Coarse sea salt for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Finely crush the saltine crackers (but not to dust) and place in a large bowl with 1/2 cup sugar. Cut in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8-inch pie pan and chill for 15 minutes
  • Bake the pie for 18 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven to cool on a wire rack.
  • Using a hand mixer, mix the egg yolks and milk together until completed combined. Add the citrus juice and mix again until completely combined.  
  • Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Return to the oven and bake for 16 minutes, or until the filling has set. 
  • Cool completely, then refrigerate for 2-3 hours before slicing. Serve with fresh whipped cream and garnish with a sprinkling of sea salt.

Notes

From Our State Magazine – North Carolina
  • To make this recipe as fresh as can be, use fresh lemon or lime juice (or both) instead of concentrated juice from a bottle.
  • It is very important that the filling ingredients are mixed thoroughly. Otherwise, it may separate during baking.
  • For the best results, make sure to chill the beach pie completely before cutting. The longer you can leave it to cool in the fridge, the better!

Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingsCalories: 463kcalCarbohydrates: 60gProtein: 9gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 146mgSodium: 375mgFiber: 1gSugar: 42g
Keyword pie, sweetened condensed milk
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.
sheila thigpen in her kitchen

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

4 Comments

    1. Thanks so much, Carrie! If you try the recipe, please let me know how you like it. Have a great weekend!

  1. 5 stars
    I love this pie! It is my family’s favorite pie during the summer. If you don’t have saltines in your pantry you can use pretzels as a substitute; the pie is just as cool and delicious. My hubby loves it covered with sliced strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. I think I’ll make one for dessert tonight. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    1. Kristal, pretzels sound like a great substitute! I’m thinking I’d like to try that variation myself.

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