August 8, 2006

Lemon Box Pie (aka, Lemon Ice Box Pie)

This is Lusty Bit’s first recipe from a guest contributor, my friend and colleague, Barbara Cire. Please hold your applause until the end of the recipe or once you have successfully made it. I plan on making it this weekend.

The name of this pie comes from the fact that you must refrigerate it before serving. At least through the 1960s, refrigerators were referred to as “ice boxes” by my family, who come from Mississippi. This, of course, goes back to earlier days when refrigerators actually had blocks of ice in them to keep everything cool.

When my niece, Elizabeth, was younger, she left out some of the words (not knowing what an ice box was) and referred to this as a Lemon Box Pie. So, that’s what we call it now. She also called the serrated bread knife an Ocean Knife because of the waves on the blade.

  • 1 box of vanilla wafers
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • one-third to one-half cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbs sugar

Vanilla Wafer pie crust

Cover the bottom of an 8” pie plate with vanilla wafers and prop them up along the sides of the pie plate. Then, finely crush a handful or so of vanilla wafers and use them to cover the spaces between the cookies on the bottom of the pie plate. (You can also use a commercial graham cracker crust if you absolutely don’t have time to make this crust, but it’s not nearly as good as a vanilla wafer crust.)

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the egg yolks with the condensed milk. Then, add about half of the lemon juice and slowly blend it with a whisk. Then, add the rest of the lemon juice, again mixing it slowly. Pour the mixture into the pie crust.

Beat the 2 egg whites into a meringue, adding 2 spoons of sugar when the meringue is almost stiff. Spread the meringue evenly over the top of the pie, sealing it to the vanilla wafers around the edges. Brown meringue in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until meringue is a light golden brown.

Remove pie from oven and cool thoroughly. Then put it in the refrigerator and chill it thoroughly, preferably overnight. (But, if you make the pie first thing in the morning, it should be OK for dinner that night.)


1. This pie does not travel well because the meringue always sticks to the tin foil and looks bad when you unveil it at your potluck

2. Double the recipe for a larger pie plate.

3. Fresh-squeezed lemon juice is best, but the Minute Maid frozen lemon juice works well. (Make sure it’s thawed before mixing it with the condensed milk.) Under no circumstances should you use ReaLemon or MiLem or any kind of reconstituted lemon juice product. That would be a sin and the recipe might not work.

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