Let me introduce you to a family favorite: Grammy’s Lemon Cream Pie. It’s sunshine bright, lusciously creamy, and the vehicle is a buttery pie crust. She bakes two every Easter, because one is never enough!
When I called Grammy to ask for this lemon cream cheese pie recipe, I expected her to reach for a classic cookbook or a magazine article she’d clipped.
Little did I suspect that the source of this luscious, citrusy lemon lover’s dream was a 1960s cream cheese package.
To be specific, this lemon cream pie recipe (or rather, my Grammy’s inspiration for it—as with any experienced baker, she’s made her own changes over the years) hails from a 1960s cream cheese cookbook pamphlet my Grammy received by mailing in a coupon clipped from the back of her cream cheese package.
Although you might find many no bake lemon custard pie, lemon cream pie with cream cheese, or lemon cream pie with condensed milk recipes online, you will not find this one—believe me, I looked.
Every lemon cream pie I found used a combination of instant pudding mix, canned sweetened condensed milk, and/or whipped topping from a tub.
While shortcuts have their place (like in Lemon Poke Cake), Grammy has stood firm on making this pie from scratch, because the results are worth it.
- Spend a few extra minutes juicing real lemons, stir them together with real eggs on the stove, and watch the magic as they thicken into the richest, most luxurious lemon custard you’ve ever tasted.
- Try your hardest not to devour the entire bowl of creamy filling before you’ve poured it into the pie crust.
- Then, top the lemon pie with homemade whipped cream. Lick the spoon.
5 Star Review
“I made this and it’s the best lemon pie I’ve ever had!! It was so good!”— Sarah —
How to Make Grammy’s Lemon Cream Pie
In my family, we are serious about our desserts, so I assure you that if you try this pie, you will understand why my Grammy has been baking it all these years. (If you like custard pies like this one, you’ll love this .)
While other shortcut recipes for lemon cream pie with condensed milk may be good, this easy lemon cream pie without condensed milk is the queen.
It’s silky, sweet, and delicious!
- Pie Crust. I used my Darn Good Whole Wheat Pie Crust. It’s an easy pie crust made in the food processor and wonderfully flaky.
- Eggs. Lemon pie filling is made of a scrumptious custard, and the eggs help ensure the custard is thick, silky, and rich. Another reason I love this recipe is that, unlike some recipes for lemon curd, you use the whole egg, not just the egg yolks.
- Sugar. Sugar is critical for the texture of the custard, and it adds sweetness.
- Lemon. Lemon juice and zest are the secret to the pie’s delightful lemon flavor. You MUST use fresh lemon juice!
- Cream Cheese. I used reduced fat cream cheese to make the pie a bit lighter and thought it was still plenty rich and creamy.
- Whipped Cream. We love this as a lemon pie with whipped cream instead of lemon meringue pie (and it’s easier too!). Homemade whipped cream beats the storebought stuff every time! It’s easy and delicious.
- Roll out the pie crust with a rolling pin, fit into a deep 9-inch pie dish, then bake until golden. Let cool. (This is a no bake lemon cream pie, other than the crust.)
- Cook the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest over a double boiler (the water should be simmering but not at a gentle boil), until it thickens into a custard. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Beat the cream cheese, then fold together with the lemon custard. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Refrigerate the lemon pie for at least 4 hours. Top with whipped cream and ENJOY!
- To Store. Refrigerate leftover cream pies for up to 3 days.
- To Freeze. Wrap pie tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, prepare the pie as directed (minus the whipped cream). Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Pie Dish. You’ll need one with a little extra space for all that creamy lemon custard pie filling.
- Hand Mixer. This one has a handy whisk attachment.
- Mixing Bowls. A set of mixing bowls is a must-have in every kitchen.
The Best Pie Dish
You’ll use this beautiful pie dish for everything from lemon cream pie to Healthy Chicken Pot Pie. It’s dishwasher-safe too!
From the 1960s to your table: the best-ever lemon pie recipe.
Grammy, thanks for mailing away for that pamphlet all those years ago!
Frequently Asked Questions
To make sure your lemon pie is not runny, do not fill the pie crust before it has cooled completely. Overmixing your custard can also cause the filling to become runny. Lastly, make sure to let your pie chill and set for the appropriate amount of time before serving.
Cream pies are called cream pies because of the cream-like custard filling made from eggs. A chiffon pie uses a similar custard filling, but only the egg whites are used to create a light and airy meringue custard.
I think adding some fresh strawberries just before serving would be delicious! Strawberry and lemon pair wonderfully together, and they would look beautiful for presentation purposes too. For another creamy, fruity pie (also my Grammy’s recipe!) check out Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie.
Grammy’s Lemon Cream Pie
For the Lemon Cream Pie:
- 1/2 recipe Darn Good Whole Wheat Pie Crust enough for 1 deep, 9-inch pie
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice about 3 large lemons
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest from about 1 lemon
- 12 ounces reduced fat cream cheese* softened to room temperature
For the Homemade Whipped Cream:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Prepare the crust according to my Darn Good Whole Wheat Pie Crust recipe, either halving the recipe (it yields enough for 2 crusts) or freezing the second crust for a later time. (I recommend making the recipe as written and freezing the second crust. It will be great to have on hand and you are going to the effort anyway, so you might as well enjoy twice the crust!)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roll out the pie crust, then fit into a 9-inch wide pie plate that is 1 1/2 to 2-inches deep. Trim any overhang, then crimp the crust edges as desired. Line the crust with aluminum foil or parchment paper so that the foil/paper comes all the way up the sides of the dish and fits against the sides and bottom snugly. Fill the dish with dried beans or pie weights. Place in the preheated oven and bake until the edges are barely beginning to turn golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the foil/paper and weights, then return the crust to the oven and continue baking until the bottom looks dry and lightly golden and the edges have browned, about 5 to 8 additional minutes. The bottom of the crust will puff a little as it bakes, but it will deflate again once removed from the oven. Let cool completely.
- Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water to create a double boiler. Add the eggs into the bowl, then with a hand mixer on medium speed (or a whisk and some serious arm power), beat the eggs until thick and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes if using a mixer. With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar, then the lemon juice and lemon zest. Once incorporated, switch from a mixer (or whisk) to a rubber spatula. Continue to cook the mixture over the simmering water, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the bowl with your spatula, until it forms a thick, smooth custard, about 8 additional minutes. When you dip your spatula into the custard, the custard should easily coat the spatula's back, and if you draw a line through the custard on the back of the spatula with your finger, the sides of the custard should stay separated. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool to almost room temperature.
- In a large mixing bowl or a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until it is completely soft and smooth, about 3 full minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium, then gradually add the cooled lemon custard to the cream cheese, beating until smooth and fully combined so that no white streaks remain. Pour the cream cheese into the baked pastry shell. Refrigerate the pie until fully chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Up to 4 hours before serving, prepare the homemade whipped cream: In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment over medium speed. When it starts to thicken, add the powdered sugar and vanilla, increase the mixer speed to high, and continue to beat until soft peaks form. (Do not overbeat or the cream will separate.) Spread over the chilled pie, slice, and serve cold.
- *My Grammy uses full fat cream cheese. I used reduced fat cream cheese to make the pie a bit lighter, and thought it was still plenty rich and creamy. Feel free to choose whichever you like—just do not sure fat free cream cheese as both the texture and flavor will be off.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate pie for up to 3 days.
- TO FREEZE: Wrap pie tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
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