This is the creamiest, most ethereal no-bake lemon pie (with the easiest almond crust), and it contains no eggs or gelatin!
I call this creamy lemon pie magic pie. The filling contains just 4 ingredients (only 3, if you count the lemon zest and juice as one!) and has no eggs or gelatin. Yet, it magically sets up into a sliceable pie with an luscious filling that I dream about. You’ve got to try this!
Easy no-bake lemon pie
I was first introduced to this creamy lemon pie by my mother-in-law (a.k.a. Gram), who got the recipe from her sister Wendy via her other sister Lolli, who has been making it for years. Gram made it for us a few months ago when we visited Atlanta, and it BLEW. MY. SOCKS. OFF. She stirred lemon zest, lemon juice and sweetened condensed milk into freshly whipped cream, then poured the filling into a gluten-free almond crust that I had cobbled together (more on that below) and popped it in the fridge to set. That was it. Say what?
Yep, that’s it. That night we ate the pie for dessert, and I breathed one of those “ohhhh heavens” kind of sighs when I took my first bite. The filling is lightly lemon-scented and ultra creamy. Since there are no binders, the texture is pure silk.
Lemon icebox pie
This creamy lemon pie with almond crust is now a staple in my arsenal, especially since I can throw it together with mostly pantry staples. The filling is made with whipped cream and sweetened condensed milk, which is nothing more than milk that has been boiled down with sugar until it’s thick and rich. I use this organic brand, but any 14-ounce can will do. Since the milk is already sweetened, there’s no need to add additional sugar to this pie.
I’ve experimented with and adjusted Gram’s recipe slightly, which calls for 2 large, juicy lemons. While I kept the zest from both lemons, I’ve found that if you add too much lemon juice to the filling, it can start to weep near the crust, or worse, not set up at all. Since lemons can vary considerably in the amount of juice they contain (one lemon I tested contained 2 tablespoons of juice and the other contained a full quarter cup of juice), I found that measuring out 1/4 cup of fresh juice was the best way to ensure a stable, sliceable pie. If you prefer a tarter lemon flavor you can add another tablespoon of juice, but the texture will be a bit softer (and you might have a touch of liquid seep out along the bottom crust).
Easy almond crust (no rolling required!)
Speaking of crust, I also switched things up by making an easy, press-in almond crust, which is naturally gluten-free. The almond flavor is the perfect complement to the lemon filling (although Aunt Wendy uses a graham cracker crust and Aunt Lolli uses a crust made from crushed digestive biscuits, so you could go that route instead). I make the crust in a spring-form pan, which not only gives the pie a stunning appearance once un-molded, but also allows you to use a bit more of that delicious filling. Take note that the crust needs to bake and cool before adding the filling (it can be made the day before).
Candied lemon peel
You can serve the pie just as it is, but I love gussying it up with candied lemon peel. You can use store-bought or make your own! It’s easy to make, and I’ve included a recipe below. FYI, you can use this same method with any citrus peel (try dipping the candied peels in chocolate—it’s one of my favorite treats and is a fabulous hostess gift!).
Birthday (or any occasion) pie
This pie is perfect for nearly any occasion, no matter the season. But I especially love it in the spring, when we start to crave brighter, fresher flavors. It would be perfect for Easter or Mother’s Day, and as an April baby, I think it would also be a perfect birthday pie (long live team pie!). Luckily for me, it’s easy enough for anybody to make (meaning I can hand over the recipe to my family, hint hint! 😉).
Tips for making creamy lemon pie
- You’ll need a 9-inch springform pan for this pie. If you don’t have one, you can use a 9-inch pie plate (you won’t need to use all of the almond crust or filling).
- Almond flour gives the crust a lovely nutty flavor that complements the lemon filling. You will need to work the butter into the crust by using your fingers or a pastry cutter until it is evenly incorporated—the mixture should look sandy with little bits of butter. It will seem quite dry, but it will come together in the pan. Take your time pressing it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan to get an even crust (a measuring cup works well for getting the crust into the edges of the pan). If you prefer, you could go for a graham cracker crust instead.
- Whip the heavy cream to medium stiff peaks. The cream should hold a point but should look billowy, not grainy.
- Sweetened condensed milk is made from boiling milk with sugar until it’s thick and syrupy. I use this organic brand, but any 14-ounce can will do. Since the milk is already sweetened, there’s no need to add any additional sugar to the pie!
- You’ll need a microplane for zesting the lemons. Use two large lemons, preferably organic. Also, be sure to measure out the lemon juice, as if you add too much juice the pie might not set up (FYI – this lemon squeezer is one of my favorite kitchen tools, and it will save your hands!).
- You can use the method for making candied lemon peel using any citrus fruits. You’ll need to slice off just the outer rind—if you get any of the juicy fruit shave it off with a knife.
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Get the recipe!
Creamy Lemon Pie with Easy Almond Crust (Gluten-Free!)
This is the creamiest, most ethereal no-bake lemon pie! The filling contains just 4 ingredients and has no eggs or gelatin. Yet, it magically sets up into a sliceable pie with a luscious filling that you will dream about! The gluten-free almond crust is a cinch to make and gets pressed right into the pan (you can use a pie plate if you don’t have a springform pan, although you will have extra crust and filling). Take note that the crust needs bake and cool before filling (I love the flavor of the almond with the lemon, but you could use a graham cracker crust instead). It’s best to refrigerate the pie for several hours, or better yet, overnight, to let it set. Thank you to my mother-in-law Tina for introducing me to this recipe!
Easy Almond Crust
- Cooking spray or oil, for pan
- 1 1/2 cups (165 g) lightly packed almond flour
- 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
- 2 tablespoons (18 g) cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Zest from 2 large lemons
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 14- ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- Candied Lemon Peel, for garnish (optional, see recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray or oil.
Make the crust
In a bowl, whisk together the almond flour, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Scatter in the butter. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, rub the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is mostly incorporated—the mixture should look sandy and there should still be some small bits of butter. The dough will still seem too dry, but trust me here! Pour the crust into the prepared springform pan and press it evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan (using the flat side of a measuring cup helps to get it into the edges). The crust should go about 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inches up the sides. Bake until golden around the edges, about 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely (you can put it in the refrigerator to cool quickly, if desired).
Make the filling and chill
Using hand beaters, beat the heavy cream to medium peaks (the cream should hold a point but still look billowy). Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and sweetened condensed milk. Blend on low until fully incorporated. Pour the mixture into the cooled crust (don’t go over the top of the crust—you might not need all of the filling). Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
To remove the pie from the springform mold, run a small offset spatula or thin knife along the edges, then un-mold. Run a large off-set spatula under the pie to transfer it to a cake stand or platter (or serve it directly on the springform base!). Garnish with candied lemon peel, if you’d like. Serve cold (swoon)!
Storage: The pie can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Candied Lemon Peel Recipe
These candied lemon peels are a delicious treat on their own (try dipping them in chocolate!) and make for a beautiful garnish on the creamy lemon pie. Take note that the peels need to dry for 4 to 5 hours (you can make them weeks ahead).
- 2 medium lemons, preferably organic
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
- 1 cup water
Trim a small slice off the top and the bottom of each lemon. Standing a lemon on a flat side, cut off the peel and the pith by running your knife from top to bottom, removing the skin (try not to cut into the fruit, but if you do, lay the peel flat and shave off the juicy fruit). Cut the peel into 1/4-inch strips. Repeat with the second lemon.
- Place the lemon strips in a small pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then drain. Repeat the process two more times (this helps removes the bitterness from the peel).
- In the same pot (now drained), combine 1 cup of the sugar with the water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the lemon strips, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the peels are soft and slightly translucent, about 22 to 25 minutes. In the meantime, pour the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar into a shallow bowl.
- Drain the lemon peels, give them a quick rinse, then drain again. Transfer the peels to paper towels just for a second (to get rid of excess moisture), then plop them into the bowl with the sugar. Using your fingers, gently toss the peels in the sugar to coat. Arrange the candied peels on a piece of wax or parchment paper, and let sit until dry, about 4 to 5 hours.
Do Ahead: The candied lemon peels can be stored at room temperature, lightly covered, for up to 1 month.
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