Lemon Icebox Pie


This creamy, tangy pie is perfect for potlucks, picnics, or anytime you need an easy but impressive dessert.

Southern Living Lemon Icebox Pie

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Active Time:
10 mins
Chill Time:
7 hrs
Total Time:
7 hrs 10 mins
6 to 8
1 (9-inch) pie

Whether you're a beginner or an old hand, Lemon Icebox Pie is a great choice when you need a highly impressive dessert but don't have time for a lot of hands-on effort. This no-bake pie, made with just six ingredients, requires only 10 minutes of active work (if you use a store-bought crust), and it can be made the night before you plan to serve it so you're not stressing over last-minute details.

A cousin of the Key lime pie, this icebox pie relies on the combination of sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese for thickness and body, no cooking required. So make sure you leave enough time for the pie to chill. Otherwise, you might have a gloppy mess when make the first slice.

Why Lemon Icebox Pie Is Such a Beloved Dessert

No matter what the temperature is, as buds start setting and pansies push up in yards around the South, thoughts turn to getting outside. And what goes best with dreamy weather better than a refreshing pie that takes little effort to make? Enter the icebox pie.

Named after the ice box they were historically kept cool in, these pies were quick treats that required no baking—the filling was chilled until set so there was no need to turn on the oven in the summer heat for a sweet treat.

Crusts can be store-bought or created from ingredients like our Gingersnap version, but homemade graham cracker crust always delivers the perfect counterpoint to this tangy, creamy pie.

Southern Living Lemon Icebox Pie whole ready to serve

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

What Is a Lemon Icebox Pie Made Of?

Lemon icebox pie is made with six ingredients: cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, graham cracker crust, and whipped cream.

A homemade graham cracker crust is a great addition to this pie if you have the time, but a store-bought pie crust will work, too. Plus, a pre-made crust helps you get this pie made and into the fridge faster.

Homemade whipped cream is also a wonderful addition, but in a pinch, whipped topping works. Add lemon zest to the top for a refined, homemade look.

Southern Living Lemon Icebox Pie ingredients

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

How To Make Lemon Icebox Pie

Besides it's refreshing flavor and creamy, dense texture, the best thing about a lemon icebox pie is how easily it comes together. Here's a recap of how a lemon icebox pie is made:

Step 1. Make pie filling: Add the cream cheese, milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest to a large bowl. Grab an electric hand mixer (or do this in a stand mixer bowl), and beat until well combined.

Step 2. Add filling to crust: Spread the lemon icebox pie filling into the graham cracker crust. If using a homemade crust, make sure it has cooled entirely before adding the filling.

Step 3. Chill: This pie will need several hours to set up into the dense texture that is associated with this type of pie. Plan for seven hours in the fridge.

Step 4. Add topping: Make whipped cream, and scoop it (or thawed whipped topping) onto the pie, and spread it out evenly. Add lemon zest for a refined, homemade garnish.

More Classic Pies

Looking for a dessert that will impress? These favorite pie recipes are good choices:


  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature

  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

  • 2 Tbsp. lemon zest (from 2 lemons), plus more for garnish

  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 6 lemons)

  • 1 homemade or store-bought graham cracker crust

  • Whipped cream or frozen whipped topping, thawed, to serve


  1. Prepare the pie filling:

    In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

    Southern Living Lemon Icebox Pie filling ingredients combined in a bowl

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

    Using an electric mixer on medium, mix until smooth.

    Southern Living Lemon Icebox Pie filling mixed until smooth

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  2. Add filling to crust:

    Spread into pie crust and smooth top. Refrigerate for 7 hours (or until set).

    Southern Living Lemon Icebox Pie in the pan to chill

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  3. Add topping and zest:

    Once the pie is set, pull it out and top it with a layer of homemade whipped cream, and sprinkle with additional lemon zest, if using.

    Southern Living Lemon Icebox Pie ready to serve

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is it called an icebox pie?

    The name "icebox pie" harkens back to the pre-refrigerator days when an insulated box was kept cool with a block of an ice—an ice box. Then, Southerners would make these pies and chill them in the icebox until ready to serve.

  • How long can you refrigerate lemon icebox pie?

    Leftover lemon icebox pie can be stored in the fridge up to one week. Be sure it's wrapped with plastic or aluminum foil to protect the pie's toppings.

  • How do you serve lemon icebox pie?

    Once this pie has its whipped cream topping, it's ready to serve. It's best right out of the fridge, while it's still chilled. As the pie warms, the texture of the pie softens slightly.

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