I set out this week to make some no-churn lemon ice cream, but at the last minute, I was like, “I really don’t want to wait for it to freeze…” so I made it into a pie instead. The filling for this super easy Lemon Cream Pie is the same simple combo as no-churn ice cream: sweetened condensed milk + heavy whipping cream + whatever flavors or add-ins you want. It creates a sweet and creamy cloud-like mixture that I could just eat up with a spoon (or in a pie crust 😄).
This simple pie has so many options, so make sure you keep reading to find out a couple of quick ways you can change it up and make it your own.
Pie Crust Options
Graham Cracker Crust – I made a simple pie crust out of vanilla wafers to play on the whole vanilla-lemon theme of the pie, but you can easily use the exact same method with graham crackers instead.
No-Bake – I baked my crust for a brief 10 minutes to make it more solid, but baking is not 100% necessary. You can make the pie completely no-bake if needed, the crust will just be a little more crumbly.
Store-Bought – To make this pie faster and easier, you can use any type of store-bought crust that you like. If it’s a traditional pie crust, you’ll want to pre-bake and cool it before adding the lemon-cream filling. For graham cracker crusts, just fill and refrigerate!
What Kind of Dish to Use
This recipe fills a standard 9-inch pie plate. BUT you can also make this into lemon cream squares by using an 8×8 or 9×9-inch square baking dish instead. If using a square dish, I suggest only pressing the crust into the bottom and not up the sides as you would with a pie plate.
As I mentioned in the introduction, the filling for this pie is actually exactly the same as no-churn ice cream. For that reason, this lemon cream pie is very freezer-friendly. You can eat it frozen, like an ice cream pie, or just store your leftover slices in the freezer (for a couple of months). If you do plan to consume your pie frozen, I suggest skipping the baking step for the crust below because it will be easier to cut when frozen if the crust isn’t quite as solid.
Do I Need to Use Fresh Lemons?
I consider fresh lemons to be mandatory for this recipe, not because of the juice but because of the zest. A lot of the lemon flavor in this pie comes from the zest itself. Without the zest the pie will be nice and tart from the juice but without a vibrant lemon flavor.
Here are some tips for getting the most juice out of your lemons, because I know they’re not cheap!
Can I Use Prepared Whipped Topping?
Yes, if you don’t want to whip your own heavy cream (it really only takes three minutes with a hand mixer), you can use 2 cups of store-bought whipped topping. But homemade will always taste better. 😉
Easy Lemon Cream Pie
- 1.5 cups crushed vanilla wafers ($0.83)
- 6 Tbsp butter, melted ($0.54)
- 2 Tbsp sugar ($0.04)
Lemon Cream Filling
- 1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk ($1.25)
- 3 lemons ($1.54)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract ($0.28)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream ($0.78)
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Use a food processor or rolling pin to crush the vanilla wafers into very fine, even crumbs. Add the melted butter and sugar and stir until everything is very well combined.
- Press the butter crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and use a flat bottomed glass to compress the mixture until solid. Bake the crust for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. After baking, transfer the crust to the refrigerator to cool.
- Zest and juice the lemons. You'll need ½ cup lemon juice and 1 Tbsp zest. Slice any leftover unjuiced portions of the lemon to use as garnishes.
- Add the sweetened condensed milk to a bowl along with the lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract. Whisk until everything is well combined.
- In a separate bowl, whip 1 cup heavy whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks.
- Add ¼ of the lemon and sweetened condensed milk mixture to the whipped cream and gently fold until combined. Repeat with ¼ of the lemon mixture at a time until all of it has been folded into the whipped cream.
- Pour the lemon cream filling into the cooled pie crust and refrigerate until completely chilled (about two hours). Slice into 8 pieces and serve.
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
How to Make Lemon Cream Pie – Step by Step Photos
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. You’ll need 1.5 cups of vanilla wafer (or graham cracker) crumbs for the crust. Use either a food processor or a rolling pin to crush the wafers, making sure the crumb is very fine and even. Add 2 Tbsp sugar and 6 Tbsp melted butter.
Stir (or pulse in the food processor) until the butter, sugar, and crumbs are well combined.
Press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and use a flat bottomed glass to really compress the mixture. Bake the crust in the preheated oven for 10 minutes (this helps solidify the crust), then transfer to the refrigerator to cool.
Next, zest and juice the lemons. You’ll need ½ cup lemon juice and about 1 Tbsp zest. That’s about 2-3 lemons worth of juice and 1 lemon worth of zest. If you have any leftover lemon that hasn’t been juiced, you can slice it and use it as a garnish for the pie.
Add one 14oz. can of sweetened condensed milk to a bowl and whisk in ½ cup lemon juice, 1 Tbsp lemon zest, and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Whip 1 cup of heavy whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks. Add ¼ of the lemon and sweetened condensed milk mixture to the whipped cream and gently fold until combined. Repeat adding ¼ of the lemon mixture at a time, until all of it has been folded into the whipped cream. If you need help with the folding technique, here is a video tutorial on how to fold ingredients together.
After all of the lemon mixture has been folded into the whipped cream, it should still be very light, fluffy, and creamy.
Pour the lemon cream filling into the pie crust (I had some extra zest so I added that on top, too). Refrigerate until it’s completely chilled (about 2 hours). You can also freeze it if you want it to be more solid.
Slice the pie into eight pieces and then serve.
OK, I think I may have a new summer dessert favorite! Rather than a pie, could I make in Mason Jars? Would make it easy and picnic friendly!
Hi Deb! Mason jars would work well. Though they need to be wide-mouthed and squat. If you want to bake the crust at all, I don’t recommend you put your jars in an oven as they can shatter.Instead, try placing the glass jars with the crust pressed into them in the microwave for a few minutes.
I was looking for lemon cream filling for some mini-puffed pastry shells…this was PERFECT! Added a little blueberry compote on top for an amazing Mother’s Day dessert.
I have a problem that my filling starts to weep the lemon juice with time. I read that some people use gelatin, but I’m afraid it will change the texture. Not sure what to do.
This mixture is naturally going to separate over time and will do so faster when left out at room temperature — keeping in the fridge as long as possible or freezing it (like Beth mentions in the post) is a great way to make it stay emulsified for a longer period of time. You can also pre-slice the pie (before adding the whipped topping) to make it easier to thaw out in single portions. With tweaking, I’m sure adding gelatin could work — but as you said, it will change the texture. I also hesitate to give you any specific instructions on adding gelatin without testing it myself because they may not be successful. ~Marion :)
Thank you! I just found you and your recipe!! I was CRAVING something with lemon and this was it! You made it so easy and your tips were matternof fact and helpful. I’m old so I don’t “tweet” and I’ve just learned to watch Instagram, so I thought leaving you a comment would be best. Thanks again! Now I have to figure out how to follow you, but my niece will help!
This is not easy lemon cream pie. Easy lemon cream pie is made with lemon pie filling, whipped cream, & store bought pie crust. Bake the pie crusts, add the lemon pie filling, and top it off with whipped cream. That’s it!!!!!!!!!
Easy for some, but definitely not all. Do you, and keep cooking! Thanks for being here. XOXO -Monti
I absolutely love this recipe. I made it for company and had rave reviews, I used a 9×9 pan. It does get a little wet after 2 days so eat it fast lol. The 2nd time I made it, I used limes and my lazy self used a store bought graham crust. My daughter suggested we freeze it. Boy, was it FANTASTIC!!! It doesn’t melt too fast and it isn’t a brick, so you can eat it straight from the freezer.. So refreshing. I love an adaptable recipe. This will be a summer staple for us years to come in South Carolina! Thank you Beth!!
I LOVE this pie. I’ve made it numerous times and as I sit here daydreaming about it I thought how could I make a chocolate version???
I’ve seen people do this with chocolate pudding and whipped cream, but I think you need the acid in the lemon to make it set correctly when doing sweetened condensed milk and whipped cream. :)
I made this for Easter dessert. It was a big hit! So light and creamy. It is a keeper recipe!