Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach Pie made its debut at the 2011 Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium and his recipe became not only a staple dessert at his Crook’s Corner restaurant in Chapel Hill, but also gained national fame as it was reprinted in North Carolina’s own Our State Magazine (https://www.ourstate.com/atlantic-beach-pie/) and other publications online. This is a DELICIOUS take on the traditional lemon pie that Bill Smith used to enjoy when his family would come down here to Atlantic Beach pie when he was a boy. All of us Carteret County locals know that all of the seafood restaurants serve some kind of lemon pie. They are nearly as expected as hush puppies!
That said, there are some variations in Mr. Smith’s recipe in comparison to the traditional recipes you’ll find in cookbooks like Island Born and Bred from a Harker’s Island church group. Ladies down here like to make their lemon pies with either a Ritz cracker crust or a graham cracker crust, but I will say I love Mr. Smith’s saltine crust, though I don’t always bake it first. (Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Just depends.)
Atlantic Beach Pie Recipe
You may very well have the ingredients to make this in your kitchen so I recommend you whip this one up right away and enjoy it as the weather gets warmer. Let it take your taste buds to a sunny day at the beach here on the Crystal Coast.
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- 1 ½ sleeves of saltine crackers
- ½ cup softened butter
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 4 egg yolks
- ½ cup lemon juice
- Crush saltines well, but not into a fine powder. Add sugar and butter and mix together until you can squeeze some of the mixture in your hand and it holds a shape.
- Press saltine mixture into pie dish and chill for a few minutes.
- Bake bake pie crust at 350º for about 15 minutes for a crispy crust, then while it cools, mix pie filling.
- Mix together egg yolks, lemon juice, and sweetened condensed milk. Make sure you mix this well and that there are no lumps.
- Pour pie filling into crust and bake in 350º oven for about 17 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool a bit, then transfer to the refrigerator and let it chill completely. This pie should be served very cold.
- Serve with homemade whipped cream or your favorite whipped topping.
NOTE: If you prefer, you can make a meringue topping for the pie instead of using whipped cream or other whipped topping. Watch my Chocolate Pie video for instructions on how to make meringue topping. https://youtu.be/6G-1TsIillM
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