Atlantic Beach Pie

Hello and welcome! We are satisfying our sweet tooth today with an Atlantic Beach Pie. I found this recipe on Food52, and after seeing a similar pie called a North Carolina Lemon Pie, I thought I’d give it a go. The main differences between the two versions, as far as I can tell is the Atlantic Beach Pie allows for a mix of lemon and lime juice and finishes with a sprinkling of flaky sea salt. These twists are thanks to Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill. I took another liberty with this recipe and crushed the crackers coarse, so the crust would have a more craggy texture. This made for a very crumbly crust, but I really like the bigger shards of salty Saltines. Let’s get to it!

Atlantic Beach Pie

Saltine Cracker Crust

The hallmark of this pie is the Saltine cracker crust. It gives what would be a typical Lemon, or Key Lime Pie, a salty/sweet/sour flavor that is just phenomenal. The salty/sweet crust keeps the pie from being cloyingly sweet and the saltiness also heightens the lemon and lime flavors. If this sounds weird to you, stick with me because it really is a beautifully flavored, well-balanced pie. Let’s preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

As I mentioned at the top, I went less-finely crushed than I think most Atlantic Beach Pie recipes advise, If you want a crust that will hold together a bit better, crush the Saltines to a sandier consistency – but not to a powder, you do still want a bit of cragginess to the crust. You can use a food processor, and pulse until the Saltines are more finely ground. Then, add a couple tablespoons of sugar, toss to combine. Then knead in a stick of softened, unsalted butter. If you want the crust to really stay together, try adding 2-4 more tablespoons of unsalted butter; or 1/4 cup corn syrup to the cracker mixture before you press it into the pie dish.

Press the crust into an 8-inch pie dish (9″ will work too). Really pack and press it in; use a flat bottom measuring cup to help evenly flatten and pack the cracker crust into the bottom and sides of the pie dish. If you go for less-than-finely crushed Saltines, I recommend making the bottom crust thicker than the sides. I went for even distribution, and you’ll see at the end, my bottom crust could have been way thicker. After forming the crust into the dish, refrigerate the crust for about 15 minutes. Then, pop the crust into the oven for 18 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden brown.

Lemon Lime Filling

The pie crust doesn’t have to be completely cooled before we add the filling, so you can make the filling while the crust is baking. Juice any combination of lemons and limes you like, to get 1/2 cup of citrus juice. I used one lemon and two and a half juicy limes. Separate your eggs to get four egg yolks. Then we have one 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk. And that’s it – super simple!

Atlantic Beach Pie filling ingredients

Mix the eggs and sweetened condensed milk together well, to fully incorporate the eggs. Then add the lemon/lime juice and again stir this together very well, to get a completely smooth, homogeneous mixture.

Pour the filling in the baked pie crust and bake for 16 minutes, until the filling is set. This means with a slight jiggle in the middle but not liquid-y.

You can see how yellow the filling has become after baking. So bright and sunny! Let this pie cool completely before topping with whipped cream and slicing. It will continue to set as it cools – crucial business for a custard pie.

Whip up some cream, give it a little confectioner’s sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla, to taste and then generously top the Atlantic Beach pie with waves of whipped cream. Add as much or as little whipped cream as you like!

adding whipped cream to Atlantic Beach Pie

Top with some lime or lemon zest, and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt.

Atlantic Beach Pie

Now for the reason I recommend making the bottom crust thicker than the sides if you go with a coarse crush on your Saltines: almost total crumble of my side-crust when cut and plated. Did this stop it from becoming my new favorite pie of all time, forever and forever? No, it did not.

Atlantic Beach Pie slice with lime zest

The bottom crust held together beautifully and achieved a crunchy, chewiness that kinda blew my mind. And the crumbly side-crust, was a nice crunchy contrast to the chewy bottom and the velvety smooth filling and whipped cream. I have made lemon custard pies many times, but I had never done a custard pie with sweetened condensed milk, and I have to say this way is so much easier and the results are just as luscious and creamy.

Atlantic Beach Pie slice

If you aren’t a fan of lemon or lime pie, this probably isn’t for you – but if you are like me and you love lemon and lime flavors, definitely give this Atlantic Beach Pie a try! The salty/sour/sweet flavors and the crunchy/chewy/creamy/velvety textures are everything! If you want to try another wonderful citrus dessert, try Campari Olive Oil Cake – it’s divine! Pin this recipe on Pinterest to make later this summer for a family cookout! Take care and be well, everyone! xo Kelly

bite of Atlantic Beach Pie

Atlantic Beach Pie

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 4.20 out of 5)
Dessert American
By Food52 Serves: 6-8
Prep Time: 45 Minutes Cooking Time: 16 Minutes Total Time: ~1 Hour + Cooling Time

If you love lemon desserts, you must give this a try. Salty/sour/sweet flavors and the crunchy/chewy/creamy/velvety textures are everything!


  • Saltine Crust
  • 1.5 Sleeves of Saltine Crackers (about 6 ounces or 60 crackers)
  • 1/2 cup Softened Unsalted Butter
  • 3 tbsp. Granulated Sugar
  • Filling
  • 1 14-oz. Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 1/2 cup Lemon or Lime Juice, or a mix of the two
  • Fresh whipped cream, for garnish
  • Lime or Lemon Zest, for garnish
  • Flaky Sea Salt, for garnish



Preheat oven to 350°F.


Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. You can use a food processor or your hands.


Add the sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough.


Press into an 8-inch pie pan. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust is light golden brown.


While the crust is cooling (it doesn't need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice.


Completely combine these ingredients into a smooth homogeneous mixture.


Pour into the Saltine crust and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set.


Completely cool pie before slicing.


Serve with fresh whipped cream, zest and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt.

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  • Lynne
    May 13, 2021 at 9:24 am

    Hi Kelly, I can’t believe I never realized a clear pie dish would be so important for the perfect crust! Thanks for teaching an old dog new tricks 😉 Great tip!
    Can’t wait to try this recipe!

    • Kelly Djalali
      May 13, 2021 at 9:35 am

      Hi Lynne! So simple, but yeah – it really makes it easier to be sure about the doneness of the crust, it also helps to spot a soggy bottom situation. Let me know how you like this pie. I really love it! Thank you so much for stopping by today, xo Kelly

  • Terry
    May 13, 2021 at 11:04 am

    Yumm this looks great can’t wait to give it a go.. ♥️Mom

    • Kelly Djalali
      May 13, 2021 at 11:14 am

      Hi Mom, yes, this pie is truly delicious, I know you and Grandma will love it. xo Kelly

  • Carroll
    May 13, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    I have lived in North Carolina for decades and this is the first I have heard of this pie. It sounds like I have been missing out! It looks delicious and I am going to give it a try.

    • Kelly Djalali
      May 13, 2021 at 1:48 pm

      Hi Carroll! Yes, definitely give this pie a try – it’s so good! And keep your eye out for it in NC, I bet you’ll come across some good versions of it! Thanks for stopping by today, have a wonderful rest of your week. xo Kelly

  • Mary
    May 14, 2021 at 3:24 am

    I first came across this recipe on food52 in 2014. It is a great, simple dessert and I love your idea of leaving the saltines in larger pieces. I’ll remember that the next time I make it.

    • Kelly Djalali
      May 14, 2021 at 9:44 am

      Hi Mary, Give it a try with the coarser crust…it’s a little less “put together” but I didn’t mind that at all, the larger chunks of cracker gave it a more dramatic texture, which I really enjoyed. Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a great weekend, xo Kelly

  • Karen
    May 14, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    Kelly, this is one of my favorites! I sometimes bake it in a 9 inch square pan and cut the result in to squares. Place each square in a cupcake liner and watch it disappear at your next BBQ or get together!

    • Kelly Djalali
      May 14, 2021 at 3:21 pm

      Hi Karen! Oh, squares is a perfect way to go! I love this idea. Thank you so much for your suggestion! Have a great weekend, xo Kelly

  • Natalie
    May 22, 2021 at 6:38 pm

    I love this! This is the second time I’ve made it — I think it’s going to be a regular for me. Thanks!

    • Kelly Djalali
      May 22, 2021 at 10:19 pm

      Hi Natalie, I am so happy you love the pie! It’s definitely something we will make all summer long. Thank you so much for dropping me a line to let me know you made it and it’s a hit! Have a lovely weekend, xo Kelly

  • JoAnne
    June 6, 2021 at 11:11 am

    Thank you for the recipe, it was so very good. The adding saltines sounded intriguing & the results were delicious. Since the recipe creates four left over egg whites, I topped the pie with meringue. Really liked that topping also.

    • Kelly Djalali
      June 6, 2021 at 12:35 pm

      Hi JoAnne, great call on the making the meringue with the leftover egg whites! I am so happy you enjoyed the pie, thank you for writing in to let me know you made it! Have a great Sunday, xo Kelly

  • Suzanne Smith
    August 25, 2022 at 9:29 am

    Oooh, this sounds great. I remember making a saltine cracker crust in the past, but I’d completely forgotten about that! I’ll have to try this. Sounds wonderful.

    • Kelly Djalali
      August 25, 2022 at 9:35 am

      It really is, Suzanne! I love the salty Saltine crust with the sweet tart lemon lime flavor of the filling. Such a satisfying combination! xo Kelly

  • Deanna
    August 25, 2022 at 10:40 am

    This looks delicious! Different to use saltines, but I can see this would elevate the flavors overall. Definitely going to give this one a try! Thanks!

    • Kelly Djalali
      August 25, 2022 at 10:46 am

      Hi Deanna, You’re right, the Saltines are amazingly good with the sweet/tart lemon lime flavor of this pie. It’s a winning pie for sure! xo Kelly

  • Linda
    August 25, 2022 at 10:43 am

    Kelly, thanks for the amount of time and thought you put into each post. I love reading them, and making some of the recipes even more. Keep up the fabulous work!

    • Kelly Djalali
      August 25, 2022 at 10:46 am

      Thank you so much, Linda! I am really happy you enjoy the posts and the recipes! xo Kelly