No-Bake Lemon Icebox Pie

published Mar 14, 2023
Lemon Icebox Pie Recipe

No-bake lemon icebox pie has a creamy bite from cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and lemon juice and zest — topped with Cool Whip or whipped cream.

Serves8-12

Makes1 (9-inch) pie

Prep20 minutes

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Slice of lemon icebox cake with bite out.
Credit: Maria Do

My Southern sweet tooth can never resist an icebox pie — a class of pie that earns its namesake from simply chilling the pie layers, so there’s no baking involved. They’re wildly simple to assemble, and lightly sweet with a crisp graham cracker crust and the most stately pile of whipped cream on top. With fillings, the flavors are endless, from strawberry to coconut to chocolate. Lemon ranks at the very top for me — fresh lemon zest and juice in this pie contribute to its natural lemony flavor, with no artificial colors or extracts required. 

What Is Lemon Icebox Pie Made Of?

  • Graham cracker crust: Whole sheets of graham crackers, along with sugar, melted butter, and salt, are pulsed in a food processor until the mixture looks like wet sand. The crumbs are pressed into a pie tin and chilled before adding other layers to keep the crust firm. 
  • Lemon filling: A creamy, refreshing filling of lemon juice and zest, condensed milk, and cream cheese is whipped together in the food processor until silky-smooth and thick as yogurt.
  • Whipped cream topping: Cool Whip is my go-to topping for icebox pies because it doesn’t split, leak, or get weepy, especially if the pie will be refrigerated for a few days. You can always opt to make homemade whipped cream instead — just be sure to enjoy it the day of. 
Credit: Maria Do

What Makes the Filling So Creamy?

Lemon icebox pie filling gets its creaminess from softened cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk. When these ingredients are combined in a food processor with lemon juice and zest, they achieve a silky-smooth consistency. 

If You’re Making Lemon Icebox Pie, a Few Tips

  • The graham cracker crust can be homemade or store-bought. In my recipe, I call for making the crust from scratch. If you want to make it even easier, you can opt for a pre-made graham cracker crust. 
  • Try freezing your icebox pie. To get extra-clean slices, I suggest freezing the pie beforehand. You can freeze the pie after assembly for at least four hours, then let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes before slicing. 

Lemon Icebox Pie Recipe

No-bake lemon icebox pie has a creamy bite from cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and lemon juice and zest — topped with Cool Whip or whipped cream.

Prep time 20 minutes

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie

Serves 8-12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the crust

  • Cooking spray

  • 6 tablespoons

    (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

  • 12

    full sheets graham crackers (6 1/2 to 7 ounces)

  • 2 tablespoons

    granulated sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

For the filling and topping

  • 8 ounces

    cream cheese

  • 3

    medium lemons

  • 1 can

    (14-ounce) sweetened condensed milk

  • 2 cups

    (9 ounces) Cool Whip or homemade whipped cream

Instructions

  1. Let 8 ounces cream cheese sit at room temperature until softened.

Make the crust

  1. Coat a standard 9 or 9 1/2-inch pie pan (not deep dish) with cooking spray. Melt 6 tablespoons unsalted butter in the microwave or on the stovetop.

  2. Break 12 full sheets graham crackers in half and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until finely ground, about 30 seconds (about 1 1/2 cups).

  3. Add the butter, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand and holds together when pinched between your fingers, 10 to 12 (1-second) pulses.

  4. Transfer the mixture to the pan. Using a flat-bottomed measuring cup, press it evenly into the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides. Refrigerate while you make the filling.

Make the filling

  1. Wash and dry the food processor. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon). Juice the zested lemon and more as needed until you have 1/2 cup. Add the cream cheese, zest, juice, and 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk to the food processor. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds.

  2. Pour evenly into the crust and smooth the top. Spoon 2 cups Cool Whip or whipped cream evenly onto the pie and smooth the top with an offset spatula or spoon. Refrigerate uncovered until filling is set, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Recipe Notes

Pre-made graham cracker crust: To make this pie even easier, you can use a store-bought 9-inch graham cracker crust rather than making it from scratch. No pre-baking required.

Storage: Cover leftover pie loosely with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate for up to 3 days if using Cool-Whip or 1 day if using homemade whipped cream (homemade will weep a little bit).