Lemon Icebox Pie


Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, which is the longest-running African-American holiday and the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19th, 1865, Union soldiers arrived at Galveston, Texas and announced to the enslaved people there that they had been declared free by the Emancipation Proclamation two and a half years earlier.

June 19th, shortened to “Juneteenth,” became a day of celebration for Black people in Texas and later across the country. Celebrations became an opportunity to reunite with family and loved ones, dress in their finest attire, eat lots of good food, and reflect on our history and heritage as a people. Juneteenth is an official holiday or day of observance in 47 of 50 states and the District of Columbia, but is not yet a national holiday.

This year, Juneteenth is even more significant. With continued police killings of Black people prompting worldwide uprisings and motivating so many to take action, it is a reminder of how far this nation has to go to undo the many generations of harm caused by slavery and white supremacy. Although these efforts need support every day and will need to continue far into the future, Juneteenth is a meaningful day to support the efforts of organizers and funds that are fighting to support and protect Black lives. CLICK HERE FOR WAYS TO DONATE.

This Juneteenth, take time to celebrate with your family, and if you’re looking for some delicious foods to help with your celebration, in addition to this lemon icebox pie, you can check out ALL of the amazing recipes in the 2020 Juneteenth Cookout below!
lemon icebox pie

I still remember the first time I watched my father make a lemon icebox pie. I was a little kid, and we were at my grandmother’s house in Sandusky, Ohio. Such a special place for our family, where we experienced so many moments filled with love and laughter. And on that day, my father was separating eggs.

Me: Daddy, what are you making?

Dad: An icebox pie.

Me: Why is it called that?

Dad: Because you don’t cook it in the oven, you let it set in the refrigerator.

Me: Why don’t you use part of the eggs?

Dad: Because you don’t need them.

And the conversation continued like that for some time. I asked too many questions back then (still do).

When I finally tasted the icebox pie he made, it was SO good. And it seemed too easy — it was just eggs, lemon juice, and condensed milk in a pre-made graham cracker pie crust! This recipe is in honor of him, and the Lewis family’s love for desserts — there are some slight variations from how his mother and grandmother used to make it, but I got his seal of approval! 🙂

lemon icebox pie


I’m so excited to be sharing this recipe in celebration of Juneteenth. I didn’t grow up knowing about the celebration, but it’s never to late to celebrate your history, and I am so excited to do that this year! One of my favorite parts about Black American culture is our food — how it brings us together and it sets us apart. How recipes are passed down like oral histories, and how our flavors and spices are unforgettable.

I chose to share this icebox pie for the Juneteenth Cookout because this classic Southern recipe, having traveled with my family up north to Ohio during the Great Migration, and then passing down to me, is a perfect representation of the spirit of Juneteenth — celebrating our joys in the face of struggle, remembering where we came from, and sharing love, food, and good times across the generations.


The ingredients list is not that different from what my dad used all those years ago. To make this pie, you’ll need:

  • lemon juice & zest – for that amazing lemony flavor!
  • egg yolks – to help the pie set and give it that rich texture.
  • sweetened condensed milk – makes the pie sweet and creamy! My family uses Eagle Brand milk.
  • graham cracker crumbs – for that crunchy crumb crust.
  • salted butter – helps solidify the crust and adds buttery flavor.
  • brown sugar – gives your crust a caramel sweetness.
  • cinnamon – optional to add a little spice to your pie crust.

I’m also including a quick whipped cream recipe to serve with this pie! It’s not part of my family’s traditional recipe (my dad made sure to point that out, haha), but I love the contrast of the light, fluffy whipped cream with the richer, tart lemon pie. For the whipped cream, you’ll need:

  • heavy cream
  • vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar

And with all those ingredients gathered, you’re all set to make this easy icebox pie!


The most essential piece of equipment for this lemon icebox pie recipe is a pie or tart pan with a removable bottom, like this one. I use one like that for most of my pie recipes, because it makes serving the pie SO much easier than a traditional pie pan! No more sacrificing the first slice because it’s too difficult to neatly remove it from the pan. With this type of pan, you can remove the entire pie from the pan all at once, and then easily slice it like a cake.

Although a pan with a removable bottom is my preference, you are free to use any kind of 9-inch pie pan you like for this recipe, as long as it has sides that are at least 1.5 inches high.

lemon icebox pie


This original, old-fashioned southern recipe made with sweetened condensed milk, eggs, and a homemade graham cracker crust is so easy! Learn how to make the best lemon refrigerator pie for your summer celebrations!
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:20 minutes
Chilling Time:6 hours
Total Time:6 hours 40 minutes
Course: Dessert  
Cuisine: American, Soul Food
Servings: 8 slices
Calories: 574kcal
Recipe Source: Chenée Lewis



deep-dish tart pan

  stainless steel egg beater
mixing bowls
rolling pin
 hand grinder
  silicone wrap 
Microplane grater/zester


Graham Cracker Crust Lemon Pie Filling Whipped Cream (Optional)
  • Preheat oven to 325°F.

  • In a bowl, combine the crust ingredients and mix well until graham crackers are fully saturated with butter and mixture holds together when pressed.

  • Pour graham cracker mixture into a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan with removable bottom. Use the bottom of a cup or jar to press the crust down and along the sides. Set aside.

  • Combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour into prepare pie crust.

  • Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until filling is just set.

  • Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered in plastic wrap for 6 hours or overnight.

  • To make whipped cream, combine heavy cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar in a bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip for 3 minutes or until soft peaks form. Serve immediately with chilled pie.

Graham cracker crumbs: To crush the graham crackers, I placed them in a gallon freezer bag and crushed them with a rolling pin. You can also use a food processor to crush them or buy pre-crushed graham cracker crumbs.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 574kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 235mg | Sodium: 301mg | Potassium: 456mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 63g | Calcium: 317mg | Iron: 1mg