Atlantic Beach Pie

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!

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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.

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!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 is a staple at seafood restaurants on the North Carolina coast. One bite, and it will be a staple in your kitchen, too!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.

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!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!

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’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!  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 is a staple at seafood restaurants on the North Carolina coast. One bite, and it will be a staple in your kitchen, too!

Atlantic Beach Pie

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!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Cooling Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 509kcal


For the Crust

  • 6 oz. saltine crackers ~1½ sleeves
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling

For Garnish


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.)

For Garnish

  • 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.


Recipe barely adapted from NPR.

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  1. Now I could totally eat this pie myself! I LOVE salty/sweet combos so this pie is right up my alley. Plus, I’m a huge fan of lemon is this pie is calling my name, for sure! P.S. Sand between my toes sounds pretty good right about now 😉

    1. I might have eaten most of that pie by myself, Dawn. Laura’s been out of town for a week at grandma’s…and someone’s gotta eat the food, right? 🙂 I hope you make it to a beach sometime this summer!

  2. I am totally in love with the recipe and the look of the pie. Mouth watering and delicious. Wish I could grab a slice right away. Have a great weekend 🙂

    1. This pie is super tasty, Kushi…and it’s really pretty darned easy to make. Give it a shot! I hope you had an awesome weekend, too! 🙂

    1. The sweet + salty thing going on here is amazing, Medha…make sure you’ve got some friends around when you make this pie! (Or else you might eat the whole thing yourself…not that I’m talking from experience or anything…)

  3. Hi David! Gary would eat this in no time…he is a pie guy! What a wonderful summer dessert! When we vacationed on the Outer Banks a number of years ago I remember all the fantastic, fresh seafood and the prices were amazingly ! That is one thing I miss living in very rural TN – the availability of certain foods! But that’s what the internet is for! As in crawfish 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Yeah, we have the same availability issue with a lot of my favorite foods, too! Well, that’s not entirely true. I can get (most) of the foods I go looking for (minus the Cajun ones…), but I often have to pay an arm and a leg for ’em. I miss the cheap summer produce down south. I hope you and Gary had an awesome weekend! (And tell him happy belated Father’s Day!)

  4. This is my first time feasting my eyes on an Atlantic Beach Pie – and, I can see why you were skeptical about the crust with saltines. But dang, the thought of that sweet lemon filling combined with the salty crust is BRILLIANT – and making me drool! Seriously EPIC pie here!
    Hope y’all have a wonderful weekend, David!

    1. Yeah, I was like…saltines? In the crust? Say what? But woah. This pie is legit, Shashi! I bet I could eat this entire thing by myself…but don’t actually challenge me to that one. Haha! 🙂 Hope you and lil Shashi had an excellent weekend!

  5. Yes x 100 to swap out the saltines over graham crackers- That is my one qualm with graham cracker based crusts, it’s WAY too sweet. This would be the perfect post seafood treat- You seriously had the best upbringing! Maybe you should do the same with Robbie, but international style. (I hear Australia is good).

    1. I dunno, I do like a good graham cracker crust on certain pies. But this saltine crust? It’s a new tool in my crust-making repertoire! I hear Australia has great food, too…like Marmite Pie with Kangaroo Crust. I think Robbie needs to experience that one!

    1. That’s totally true, Kathy…you owe it to yourself to try this one out! I mean the saltine crust sounds super strange at first (and second) glance…but woah. It’s awesome. Like crazy awesome! I hope you had a crazy awesome weekend! 🙂

  6. Nice call, David! I’m partial to the beautiful beaches of the Third Coast. A fresh-water ocean beats salt water in just about every way … except that I’ve never had this type of pie before! This injustice must not be allowed to continue! I must make this pie!

    1. I may or may not have had to Google ‘third coast.’ I had an idea what it referred to…but I needed to confirm my suspicions first! I’m thinking you can totally make this pie on the Third Coast. You don’t need saltwater to justify this pie! (Plus, saltwater oceans have all kinds of strange creatures in them…)

    1. Oh, you owe it to yourself to make this pie…and soon! That saltine crust is so darn addicting. It sounds strange, but just go with it. You’ll be glad (very glad) that you did! 🙂

    1. It was indeed a lot of fun to grow up on the beach…and I do miss the beach. But what’s funny is that I’m more of a mountains guy than a beach guy. I’ve told Laura that the next time we move, I want to be in a mountain area! 🙂 Thanks Linda…hope you are doing well!

  7. David, I feel you! I also live by the seaside and the memories of seafood and the fresh pies and pastries served along the shores will always be some of my favorites! Also, I’m loving this pie! And to me, the more crumbly the crust, the better! Delicious!

    1. Ah, I do miss living by the shore. There is just a feel in the air when you’re by the ocean…and it’s not just the salt! 🙂 This pie is totally worthy of summer dessert (beach not required). Thanks so much, Lucie!

    1. Thank you so much, Eden! This is indeed a great summer recipe. We’ve made it a couple of times already. It’s become our go-to dessert to take to summer parties. 🙂 I really appreciate you stopping by to comment!

  8. Even though I live in Northwest Idaho now, (Born in Ohio, raised in Florida (home of the keylime pie) I moved to Asheville North Carolina and lived there for 12 years (vacationed in NC since 1992) I traveled to the east coast of NC and had Bill Smith’s pie, but not with added 1/4 cup of cream to the filling. Does this add volume or lightness to the pie? I like this idea, but the only recipe I have seen, is straight condensed milk.

    1. Hey there, Debbie! Oh man, I love Asheville. I’ve been telling my wife for years that when we finally leave upstate NY and move back south…then Asheville (or at least the mountains of western NC) is where I want to go! 🙂

      Great question about the extra bit of cream. I do like adding the cream and I’d venture to guess that it does lighten the condensed milk filling a bit. But honestly, this is the only way I’ve ever made it…and it turns out so darned well every time that I’m not willing to mess with it! Haha! I have no idea where I got the idea to add the cream (it’s certainly optional!), but I do know that it works well. Thanks so much for stopping by, and happy baking, my friend! I hope this pie brings back good NC memories!

  9. I’ve been on the beach in Florida, South Carolina, California, Hawaii and now in Washington where I live now. But I have never heard of this pie. It sounds amazing. Hey, they use salted pretzels as dessert crusts, so why not saltines. Can’t wait to try it.

    1. This pie is totally one of our favorite summer desserts, Bev! You’ve definitely got to try it out. 🙂 The salty + sweet combination is just mouthwatering. But your comment about pretzels totally got me thinking…I need to make some sort of pie with a pretzel crust now! Thanks so much for your comment, and I hope you enjoy this pie as much as we do around here!!

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