Atlantic Beach Pie is a staple at seafood restaurants on the North Carolina coast.
One bite, and it will be a staple in your kitchen, too!
I grew up on the beach. Building sandcastles (or destroying my sister’s sandcastles) was a common weekend activity. Just after kindergarten, my parents moved from Dallas, TX to Charleston, SC. I spent my childhood surrounded by old homes, horse-drawn carriages and pirates in downtown Charleston. But on the weekends, we’d often pile into the family station wagon and head out to one of the nearby beaches.
Right before high school, we moved from Charleston to Raleigh, NC. While Raleigh isn’t exactly a beach town, the beaches were just 2 hours away, and we took many weekend trips down to the North Carolina coast. One of my mother’s friends had a cottage right on the beach, so we’d occasionally go down and hang out there for a weekend. We’d do nothing but read books, watch movies and walk on the beach. Oh, and eat seafood. If there’s one thing I miss about living near the beach, it’s the seafood.
And if there’s one thing coastal towns have, it’s lots of seafood restaurants. There’s everything from little shacks serving up fried shrimp to fancy restaurants serving up the catch of the day. And nearly every seafood restaurant on the coast has some form of lemon pie for dessert. This Atlantic Beach Pie is a classic in eastern North Carolina, and it’s an incredibly simple recipe.
Atlantic Beach Pie features a delicious layer of lemon filling topped with whipped cream. But what makes this pie unique is the crust. Instead of crushed graham crackers or cookies, the crust is made from crushed saltine crackers. Yes, saltines. Just stay with me for a minute here! The combination of sweet lemon filling combined with the salty crust is nothing short of genius. Trust me when I say you need a slice of this pie.
Living in upstate New York, we’re a good 800 miles from the North Carolina coast. I had a craving for Atlantic Beach Pie the other day. As good as this pie is, I wasn’t about to make an 800 mile drive to get a slice. Fortunately, NPR had done a feature on this pie a while back, so I was able to just whip this one up in my kitchen. And it’s just as good as I remember!
I’ll be honest that I was a little skeptical of this saltine crust. It was fairly loose and crumbly, but it does get baked for a bit before the pie filling goes in. That pre-baking helps turn the saltine crumbles into a legit pie crust. And then the lemon filling + whipped cream on top takes this Atlantic Beach Pie to a whole new level. If you live near the NC coast, then you’re lucky. If not, then whip up one of these pies soon. You can even dump a bag of sand in your backyard if you want to feel the sand between your toes. Enjoy!
P.S. Looking for more dessert recipes? Check out TheBestDessertRecipes.com! Several of my favorite desserts (like this New York Caramel Apple Cheesecake) are featured there…along with thousands of other awesome recipes. Embrace that sweet tooth!
Atlantic Beach Pie
For the Crust
- 6 oz. saltine crackers ~1½ sleeves
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling
- 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 4 large egg yolks
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Crust
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Using a food processor, crush the saltines into coarse crumbles. Add the sugar and melted butter; stir until well combined. Press mixture into bottom of a greased 9” pie pan. (Tip: Use a flat bottomed glass to help push crust into pan.)
- Bake at 350° for 17-19 minutes, or until light golden brown in color.
For the Filling
- While the crust is baking, add all of the Filling ingredients (condensed milk, heavy cream, egg yolks, lemon juice and lemon zest) in a medium bowl; whisk together until well-combined.
- Once crust has been removed from oven, pour filling into pie. Bake for 15-17 more minutes, or until filling has set.
- Let pie cool at room temperature and then refrigerate until cold. (Note: This pie needs to be cold before slicing.)
- Using a handheld mixer, whip the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Using an offset spatula or a spoon, spread the whipped cream evenly on top of pie before serving.