Margarita Pie

5.0
(1)

The lime zest salt on top is the chef's kiss on this pie.

a whipped pie on a light brown background
Photo: Alison Miksch
Active Time:
20 mins
Chill Time:
6 hrs
Total Time:
6 hrs 50 mins
Servings:
8

Creamy and tart with just a hint of booze—your favorite alcoholic beverage is now in pie form. Perfect for folks who love citrus in their pie, but hate that pucker-inducing sour tang, this pie swings more to the sweet side.

Whipped cream and sweetened condensed milk give this pie its luscious filling, along with the delicate taste of tequila and orange liqueur. Baked into a salty crust, you'll almost be positive you're sipping a bevy by a pool.

This is the ideal summer pie, especially when the idea of turning on the oven is out of the question. The filling is unbaked. Instead, it sets by chilling in the freezer. Don't forget the lime zest salt; it adds to the flavor of a whipped margarita.

But be sure to plan ahead. This pie needs at least six hours to set in the freezer, or overnight is even better.

What Is a Margarita Pie?

A classic margarita is made with tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice and may be served with a slice of lime. Inspired by the flavors of that classic cocktail, this margarita pie has a salty crust to mimic the salted rim of the glass and a sweet and citrusy alcoholic filling that represents the beverage.

Like other icebox pies, the margarita pie has a par-baked press-in crust and a frozen filling. Frozen versions of the drink may include some sweetener and ice to create a smooth and creamy texture.

How to Make Margarita Pie

This pie couldn't be simpler, but it does require a bit of planning ahead. In just 20 minutes, you can have the whole pie prepped and ready for the chill down in the freezer. Then in a few hours, dessert is served. Find out how to make margarita pie so you can plan it for a future picnic or party.

1. Press the crust

If you're used to making sweet pie crusts with crushed cookies, wait until you try this version. Saltine crackers add a subtle saltiness to this delicately sweet crust, and because the crust is parbaked before the margarita pie filling is added, the crackers can stay a bit more crisp for your first bite.

Crushed saltine crackers aren't a new crust choice for us. We love them in this Atlantic Beach Pie, too.

For this one, you'll crush two sleeves of Saltines. (If you have any frustrations to work out, now's a great time!) Combine the cracker crumbs with melted butter, sugar, and an egg white. Stir until well blended, then pour the mixture into a deep-dish 9-inch pie plate. Use your best massage technique to work the crust filling into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.

When the crust is formed, pop it into a preheated oven, and bake about 10 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned. Remove the crust from the oven, and let it cool completely before you add the pie filling.

empty pie crust baked in a pie plate
Alison Miksch

2. Whip it up

While the pie crust cools completely, it's time to make the whipped margarita filling. You'll turn whipping cream into whipped cream by beating it in a bowl with a hand mixer for several minutes. If you have a stand mixer, that's fine to use, too.

Tip: For a faster whip, stick the bowl and the whisk attachments in the freezer before you begin whipping.

Once the whipped cream has reached soft-peak phase (it'll stay at a point for a little bit before slowly dissolving back into the rest of the cream), it's time to prepare the other ingredients. Combine sweetened condensed milk, tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and 3 teaspoons of the lime zest in a separate bowl. Stir until well blended.

Next, gently fold the sweetened condensed milk mixture into the soft whipped cream.

a whipped pie filling with specks of green lime zest
Alison Miksch

3. Fill and chill

When the whipped cream and sweetened condensed milk mixture are well combined, pour the filling into your now-completely-cooled pie crust.

Make space in the freezer because you need to stick the pie there for several hours to chill and harden. Six hours is the minimum; 12 hours is better.

filled pie on a marble surface
Alison Miksch

4. Get zesty

Before you sit back with your actual margarita, you need to make the lime zest-salt seasoning. It, like the pie, needs several hours before it's ready to use.

To make the seasoned salt, gather the remaining teaspoon of lime zest and the flaked sea salt. Rub the two ingredients between the palms of your hands. This helps to release the lime zest's natural oils, infusing the salt with the citrus zing of the fruit.

Once you've done that, spread the salt across a small plate, and set it out of reach somewhere. You don't want anyone to mistake it for trash and throw it away. The salt should sit uncovered for six to 12 hours so the zest can dry out. You'll add it to the pie just before serving.

lime zest and flaked sea salt in a white plate
Alison Miksch

5. Slice and serve

After at least six hours in the freezer, your pie filling will be firm and ready to serve. Take the pie out of the freezer, and put it on a kitchen counter or table for 10 minutes. That will give it time to soften just enough to easily slice and serve.

Garnish the pie with the salt and lime wheels. Got leftover salt? That's a good reason to make a margarita to drink with your margarita pie slice. Yes, double up on that margarita! Might we suggest this Frozen Margarita?

prepared margarita pie on a light brown background
Alison Miksch

Is the Filling Safe to Eat Uncooked?

Like all icebox pies, the margarita pie has an unbaked filling. But don't fret. This is totally safe to eat. In this pie, the filling contains heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, tequila, orange liqueur, and lime zest, which are all fine to eat uncooked.

Do You Need to Bake the Pie Crust?

Because the pie filling doesn't get baked, the crust has to be baked by itself. In this recipe, you must par-bake the crust to create a crisp and firm base for the creamy, rich filling.

How Do You Prevent Runny Pie Filling?

Hold back the urge to dive into this pie before you've allowed it to fully set in the freezer. Margarita pie requires at least six hours to chill down and set firm. If you're finding the filling is still a bit runny, pop your pie back in the freezer to allow it to firm up.

Can You Use Margarita Mix?

This recipe calls for lime juice and two types of alcohol to flavor the filling, not margarita mix, which is often sweetened. Depending on the brand, drink mixes may contain various ingredients, including citrus juice, sugar or sugar alcohol, salt, preservatives, and sometimes alcohol. While there's no shame in using a shortcut, this recipe wasn't tested with margarita mix and could be on the sweeter side if you use it.

How to Store Margarita Pie

Whether you store your margarita pie in the fridge or freezer is up to you since this is a chilled dessert. Margarita pie will keep in the refrigerator for three to four days and three months in the freezer, if properly wrapped for long-term storage.

Enjoy directly out of the fridge, or let your pie sit on the counter for at least 10 minutes to soften if you're keeping it in the freezer.

Editorial contributions by Alexandra Emanuelli.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups finely crushed saltine crackers (from 2 sleeves; about 56 crackers)

  • 6 Tbsp. (3 oz.) unsalted butter, melted

  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar

  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

  • 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 ½ Tbsp. blanco tequila

  • 1 Tbsp. orange liqueur (such as Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, or Gran Gala)

  • 4 tsp. grated lime zest, plus 1/2 cup fresh juice (from 4 limes), divided

  • 2 Tbsp. flaked sea salt

  • Lime wheels, to garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together crushed crackers, melted butter, sugar, and egg white in a medium bowl until combined. Transfer mixture to a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate; press firmly into bottom and up sides of pie plate. Bake in preheated oven until crust is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; cool completely, about 30 minutes.

  2. Beat heavy cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Stir together sweetened condensed milk, tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and 3 teaspoons of the lime zest in a separate large bowl until well combined. Gently fold the whipped cream into the condensed milk mixture just until combined. Pour filling into cooled crust. Freeze, uncovered, until filling is set, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.

  3. Meanwhile, use your hands to gently rub together salt and remaining 1 teaspoon lime zest in a small bowl to release oils. Spread in an even layer on a plate. Let stand at room temperature, uncovered, to dry out, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.

  4. Let pie stand at room temperature 10 minutes before slicing. Garnish with lime wheels and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons lime salt, reserving remaining salt for other uses, such as rimming margarita glasses.

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