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A&E >  Food

Dorothy Dean presents: When life gives you lemons, make a refreshingly sweet and tart pie

UPDATED: Tue., May 18, 2021

By Audrey Alfaro For The Spokesman-Review

When life gives you lemons, make pie. But not just any pie – make this luscious lemon pie that tastes like sunshine and is irresistibly refreshing on a hot summer day.

Full of those sweet tart flavors, the creamy filling is complemented with a buttery graham cracker crust and fluffy almond-kissed whipped cream.

Made with sweetened condensed milk, the filling only requires three ingredients, and, using a ready-made pie crust, this recipe couldn’t be simpler to make.

The condensed milk is mixed with egg yolks and lemon juice. The mixture is then poured into a graham cracker crust and baked for about 20 minutes until the edges are set and the center is a bit jiggly.

It’s then cooled and refrigerated to set. Once the pie is completely chilled, the whipped topping is made by beating heavy cream and almond extract to soft peaks.

Powder sugar and instant vanilla pudding mix, which helps stabilize it, are beaten in until stiff peaks form. Then it’s ready to be piped or dolloped on.

Garnished with lemon slices, lemon zest or a sprinkle of sliced almonds, this pie dresses up beautifully, making it ideal for brunches, bridal and baby showers and holidays. Additionally, it can be made 3-4 days in advance.

You can go super easy and used canned whipped cream, or make it 100% homemade by using your favorite graham cracker crust recipe.

I highly suggest using fresh lemon juice, as its flavors are brighter and more vibrantly citrusy than bottled.

Also, you can swap out the lemon juice for key lime juice to turn this into a scrumptious key lime pie.

Lemon Pie

3 large egg yolks

⅓ cup lemon juice, fresh or bottled

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (9 ounce) graham cracker pie crust

For the topping:

1 cup heavy cream

½ teaspoon almond extract, or flavor of choice

2 tablespoons powder sugar

1 tablespoon instant vanilla pudding mix

Optional garnish: Lemon slices and lemon zest

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, beat together the egg yolks, lemon juice and sweetened condensed milk.

Pour into the graham cracker crust and bake for 18-21 minutes, or until the pie is slightly jiggly in the middle but completely set around the edges.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once cool, transfer to the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours or overnight.

When the pie is completely chilled, make the whipped cream by beating the heavy cream and almond extract to soft peaks. Add in the powdered sugar and tablespoon of vanilla pudding mix and beat to stiff peaks, scraping down the bowl as needed.

Be careful not to over beat, or it’ll separate into butter. Pipe the whipped cream onto the top of the chilled pie for a decorative effect, or simply spread it over the top of the pie in an even layer.

Garnish with lemon slices and lemon zest, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Audrey Alfaro can be reached at

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