Lemon icebox pie is a classic, no-bake dessert. Made with a graham cracker crust and silky lemon filling, this refreshing pie is a warm weather must.
Lemon icebox pie is the perfect summer dessert. No need to heat up the house - this pie is made without turning on the oven or stove!
Even better, it's made with just a handful of easy to find ingredients. Homemade graham cracker crust is filled with rich lemon cream cheese filling.
Serve lemon icebox pie as a spring or summer dessert. Plus, this pie can be served cold OR frozen! I've included directions for both in the recipe card below.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Graham cracker crumbs - Honey graham crackers work best with the other flavors in this recipe. You'll need 1 and ½ cups of graham cracker crumbs, which equals about 9 or 10 rectangular graham crackers.
- Melted butter - Salted or unsalted butter will work in this recipe, as long as the butter is melted. Melted butter acts as a glue to hold your crust together. I do not recommend using butter substitutes, as your crust can turn out oily.
- Granulated sugar - Granulated sugar can be substituted with brown sugar for a caramelized, light molasses flavor in your crust.
- Cream cheese - Regular, block-style cream cheese is needed for this recipe. Cream cheese is sturdy and makes your filling thick and sliceable when refrigerated.
- Sweetened condensed milk - Sweetens the filling and makes your pie rich and creamy.
- Heavy cream - You'll be making unsweetened homemade whipped cream for your filling. Heavy cream is needed to make whipped cream. It cannot be substituted with any other dairy product, like milk or half & half - these items do not contain enough milkfat to whip into whipped cream.
- Lemon juice & zest - You'll need 2 or 3 lemons (depending on their size) for this recipe. Lemon juice and lemon zest add lemon flavor to your pie.
- Vanilla extract - Adds another layer of flavor to your filling.
Graham cracker crust
Using a food processor is the easiest way to make your graham cracker crust. Grind the graham crackers into crumbs, then add sugar and blend for a few seconds. Last, add your melted butter and mix until evenly incorporated.
From there, your pie crust can be tossed straight into the pie pan.
If you don't have a food processor, place your graham crackers into a sealed bag, then mash with a rolling pin until you have even sized crumbs.
Or, look for graham cracker crumbs the next time you're at the grocery store. They're a great time saver!
For more tips on making a graham cracker crust, check out my post: Homemade Graham Cracker Crust
How to prevent a lumpy pie filling
Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature before beginning. If it's still cold, it will be difficult to mix without leaving lumps in your filling. This is the main reason your pie filling will have lumps.
First, add your cream cheese and mix with a hand mixer until smooth. Then, add your sweetened condensed milk and blend with the cream cheese. Start on low speed, then increase to medium speed slowly. Continue mixing until the two ingredients are fully incorporated and smooth.
Last, add your vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest and mix on low speed until combined. The lemon zest will add texture to your filling, but will not make it lumpy.
Icebox pie toppings
Want to add a little something extra to your lemon icebox pie? Here are a few of my favorite topping ideas.
- Dollops of whipped cream
- Lemon zest
- Graham cracker crumbs
- Crumbled golden Oreo cookies
- Vanilla wafers (add one on each slice)
Lemon Icebox Pie
- 1 ½ cups (165 g) graham cracker crumbs
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 8 ounces (227 g) block-style cream cheese, room temperature
- 14 ounces (397 g) sweetened condensed milk
- ⅓ cup (75 g) lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (227 g) heavy cream, very cold
- In a bowl, add graham cracker crumbs and granulated sugar. Stir to combine. Add melted butter and stir until fully incorporated. Using the back of a measuring cup, press graham cracker mixture firmly into bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Refrigerate while preparing filling.
- In a large bowl, add cream cheese and mix with a hand mixer until smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk and mix slowly on low speed, slowly increasing to medium speed. Mix until filling is completely smooth. Then, add vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix until incorporated. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture until just combined.
- Pour filling into graham cracker crust and smooth the top with a spatula. Refrigerate until firm and chilled through, at least 2 hours. Serve chilled and store any leftovers in the refrigerator. (Or, freeze for up to 6 hours, or until frozen throughout, and slice and serve as a frozen treat).
- This pie is even better the day after preparing - refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to meld.
- Pie will keep for 4-5 days covered in the refrigerator.
- Pie must be prepared in a standard pie pan, not a springform pan.
- Optionally, top your pie with additional lemon zest, graham cracker crumbs, or dollops of whipped cream.