EASY LEMON CREAM PIE
I set out this week to make some no-churn lemon ice cream, but at the last minute, I was like, “I don’t want to wait for it to freeze…” so I made it into a pie instead. The filling for this super easy Lemon Cream Pie is the same simple combo as no-churn ice cream: sweetened condensed milk + heavy whipping cream + whatever flavors or add-ins you want. It creates a sweet and creamy cloud-like mixture that I could eat up with a spoon (or in a pie crust ).
This simple pie has so many options, so make sure you keep reading to find a couple of quick ways to change it up and make it your own.
PIE CRUST OPTIONS
Graham Cracker Crust – I made a simple pie crust out of vanilla wafers to play on the whole vanilla-lemon pie theme, but you can easily use the same method with graham crackers instead.
No-Bake – I baked my crust for 10 minutes to make it more solid, but baking is not 100% necessary. If needed, you can make the pie completely no-bake; the crust will be a little more crumbly.
Store-Bought – To make this pie faster and easier, you can use any store-bought crust you like. If it’s a traditional pie crust, you’ll want to pre-bake and cool it before adding the lemon cream filling. For graham cracker crusts, fill and refrigerate!
WHAT KIND OF DISH TO USE
This recipe fills a standard 9-inch pie plate. But you can also make this into lemon cream squares using an 8×8 or 9×9-inch square baking dish instead. If using a square container, I suggest only pressing the crust into the bottom and not up the sides as you would with a pie plate.
As I mentioned in the introduction, this pie’s filling is exactly the same as no-churn ice cream. For that reason, this lemon cream pie is very freezer-friendly. You can eat it frozen, like an ice cream pie, or store your leftover slices in the freezer (for a few months). If you plan to consume your pie frozen, skip the baking step for the crust below because it will be easier to cut when frozen if the crust isn’t quite as solid.
DO I NEED TO USE FRESH LEMONS?
Fresh lemons are mandatory for this recipe, not because of the juice but because of the zest. A lot of the lemon flavor in this pie comes from the spice itself. Without the zest, the pie will be nice and tart from the juice but without a vibrant lemon flavor.
Here are some tips for getting the most juice from your lemons because I know they’re costly!
CAN I USE PREPARED WHIPPED TOPPING?
Yes, if you don’t want to whip your heavy cream (it only takes three minutes with a hand mixer), you can use 2 cups of store-bought whipped topping. But homemade will always taste better.
1.5 cups crushed vanilla wafers ($0.83)
6 Tbsp butter, melted ($0.54)
2 Tbsp sugar ($0.04)
Lemon Cream Filling
1 14oz. Can sweetened condensed milk ($1.25)
Three lemons ($1.54)
1 tsp vanilla extract ($0.28)
1 cup heavy whipping cream ($0.78)
Preheat the oven to 350oF. Use a food processor or rolling pin to crush the vanilla wafers into fine, even crumbs. Add the melted butter and sugar and stir until everything is well combined.
Press the butter crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and use a flat-bottomed glass to compress the mixture until solid. Bake the crust for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. After baking, transfer the crust to the refrigerator to cool.
Zest and juice the lemons. You’ll need 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1 Tbsp zest. Slice any leftover unjuiced portions of the lemon to use as garnishes.
Add the sweetened condensed milk to a bowl with lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract. Whisk until everything is well combined.
Wash 1 cup of heavy whipping cream in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form.
Add 1/4 of the lemon and sweetened condensed milk mixture to the whipped cream and gently fold until combined. Repeat with 1/4 of the lemon mixture until it has been folded into the whipped cream.
Pour the lemon cream filling into the cooled pie crust and refrigerate until completely chilled (about two hours). Slice into 8 pieces and serve.