We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Lemon Ice Box Pie?

By Sandi Johnson
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
DelightedCooking is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At DelightedCooking, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Lemon ice box pie is a chilled, creamy, and tart American dessert, often credited as having roots in the traditional cuisine of the American South. The dessert traditionally includes filling ingredients such as lemon juice and condensed milk in a pressed crumb crust. Typically, the pie requires no cooking, with fillings allowed to set in the refrigerator until firm. Characteristically, lemon ice box pie bears a strong resemblance to key lime pie, substituting lemons or lemon juice instead of limes.

Ice box pies are cream-type pies, so named for the need to keep such pies chilled in an ice box or refrigerator. Stories regarding the origins of lemon ice box pie typically place the dessert's creation somewhere in the southern United States, although many recipes originated in other areas as well. Since the recipe requires refrigeration, it is unlikely that any ice box pie recipe existed prior to the invention of ice boxes in the early 1800s at the earliest, and more likely came after the invention of electric refrigerators in the early 1900s.

Variations on lemon ice box pie recipes are numerous. Some recipes use lemonade instead of lemon juice, or add additional ingredients such as cream cheese, whipped cream toppings, or nuts or bits of lemon and other citrus fruits. No matter the specific ingredients or recipe used, pies typically require continuous refrigeration to prevent the filling from melting or separating at room temperature. Thickening agents, such as gelatin, are sometimes used to ensure pies set firm enough to slice and can withstand longer exposure to room temperature.

Recipes for lemon ice box pie and similar desserts are a favorite for young and beginner cooks, due to the ease with which such pies can be made. All that is required is the right ingredients, a way to whip the filling, and a crust. Graham cracker crumbs mixed with butter is the typical crust for a lemon ice box pie, requiring the maker to simply mix and press the crumbs into a pan. Fillings are poured into the crust after a short period of whipping. Once assembled, a lemon ice box pie only takes a short time in the refrigerator to set up enough to serve.

Since lemon ice box pies and similar desserts are chilled, these desserts are more commonly served during warm summer months. In fact, the ease of preparation, lack of cooking required, and chilled serving requirements illustrate why this particular dessert has enjoyed a long history as a Southern favorite. Prior to World War II, few Southern farms had electricity, relying on ice boxes and various cool desserts to alleviate the characteristically high heat and humidity of summers.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Wisedly33 — On May 07, 2014

I've had people tell me about key lime pies, but really, key lime pies are just lemon icebox pies with lime instead of lemon. It's the same basic recipe. I like a shortbread cookie crust instead of graham cracker, but that's just me.

Lemon ice box cake is pretty tasty, too! The filling you would pour into a piecrust, you now use to fill the layers of a lemon yellow cake. Yummy!

By Scrbblchick — On May 06, 2014

My Ohio-born husband blames lemon ice box pie for the weight he gained when he moved South. He still loves them.

Most lemon ice box pies use sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice, obviously. Lemon zest also helps amp up the lemon flavor.

Some people lean more to the sweet side of the pie. I lean more toward the tart side. A good lemon icebox pie should make your mouth pucker before the sweet taste hits it.

DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.