No-Bake Lemon Icebox Pie is for lemon lovers and summer days. A puckery citrus mousse is chilled in a wafer crust and topped with mounds of sweet whipped cream.
Growing up, Mom made this awesome summer dessert called Lemon Fluff. According to the wise world of Google its origins may have come from a 1951 issue of Better Homes and Gardens!
Inspired by my Mom's recipe from my childhood, this No-Bake Lemon Icebox Pie was born. It the perfect combination of a sweet and sour filling with a nice thick layer of whipped cream on top. What's not to love!
This lemon icebox pie recipe is one of my favorite desserts for summer. I love a creamy, silky fruit custard pie. This lemon fluff pie may even rival my award-winning Mango Pie with Coconut Crust at summer parties, it's just that good.
Inspiration for This Lemon Icebox Pie Recipe
I loved Lemon Fluff as a kid. I'm pretty sure my little brother had named it as his favorite dessert, so for years it was "Taylor's favorite dessert," instead of Lemon Fluff.
The name alone says 50's dessert. The main ingredients and method say 50's as well. By then, Jell-o had been around for quite some time.
Convenience foods had a grand introduction in the decades before. By the 50s it was felt that using convenience food was cheating, and housewives were better than that!
I made a no-bake lemon icebox pie by creating a fluffy, tangy filling in a cookie crust. This will be your go-to easy summer lemon pie recipe.
Housewives would use convenience foods within a more complicated recipe to feel like they were cooking from scratch. There was no just making Jell-o and serving it. You had to add to it and create a process using the convenience food!
The women's magazines jumped on board and Lemon Fluff heralded from that exact philosophy. Take convenience foods like lemon Jell-o, canned milk, and boxed cookies and make a more elaborate treat!
As summer approaches I knew I needed to up my game on the no-bake treat category.
My Easy Cheesecake In A Jar ranks as one of my favorite no-bakes. As does Coconut Key Lime Bars and No Bake Cheesecake Tart — but both of those cheat a bit and the crust gets baked for about 10 minutes!
No-Bake Lemon Pie Ingredients
I took to re-creating the old 50's dessert into a lemon mousse pie. No prepared Jell-o for me, I wanted a brighter flavor rather than just citric acid and lemon flavoring. I also wanted an easy lemon icebox pie without condensed milk, for a more tart flavor.
I swapped the Jell-o for lemonade concentrate and plain gelatin. I swapped the canned milk for heavy cream and added butter to the wafer crumbs so I could get a slightly sturdy pie crust without baking.
Oh, you better believe I kept those Vanilla Wafers as the crust. That classic flavor couldn't be swapped out!
You can garnish the top with lemon zest curls or extra crumbled cookies. The crumbled cookies are more reminiscent of the classic dessert, but the lemon curls are just so pretty!
How to Make No-Bake Lemon Icebox Pie
A mousse is similar in texture and often made with chocolate. Mousse pie is what most of us think about when we make icebox pies in the summer. Whipped cream is folded into the thickened base instead of egg whites and the mixture thickens in the fridge.
I made this mousse pie with a lemonade gelatin as the thick base, and folded pillows of whipped cream in to make it have a chiffon texture. It's seriously dreamy in your mouth.
Give yourself some time to make and chill the homemade Jell-o. The secret to perfection is making sure the plain gelatin is completely dissolved in the lemonade before chilling in the fridge. This ensures the gelatin activates all of the lemonade evenly and you get a sturdy base for the mousse.
Lemon Icebox Pie FAQs
Absolutely! In fact, this lemon ice box pie recipe is best when made ahead of time. It needs to chill for at least 4 hours in the fridge, but it can be left for much longer as desired.
No, it cannot. If you're looking to reduce the dairy in this recipe or cut back on the fat, this isn't the dessert for you.
Your local grocery store should stock it in the baking aisle. You want to buy unflavored gelatin for this easy no-bake lemon pie recipe, NOT flavored Jell-o.
Tips for Making a No-Bake Lemon Pie
• You want to set the lemonade gelatin only partially, so keep checking. It should just be starting to jiggle and solidify. Blend it until it's fluffed quite a bit (incorporating air is key for this dessert), and then fold in your whipped cream.
• Get a set of mixing bowls: I've never promised this dessert is a one-bowl creation! You'll use quite a few of your mixing bowls! But really, how hard is it to wash a few bowls? Not hard at all. There is lemonade gelatin to make, cream to whip, and butter to melt! You won't regret it.
• A delicate crust: Your cookie crust will have been chilling in the fridge or freezer while the jell-o sets, so it's ready for the filling. That crust isn't baked, so it's pretty fragile. It's not your typical sturdy, cookie pie crust. But that's one of my favorite parts of this no-bake lemon icebox pie — it is completely reminiscent of its origin dessert, Lemon Fluff.
More recipes for summer:
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No-Bake Lemon Icebox Pie Recipe
- 1½ cups vanilla wafer cookie crumbs about 50 cookies
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- ¾ cup frozen lemonade concentrate thawed, but cold
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup water (DIVIDED)
- 1 envelope Knox gelatin (almost 2¼ teaspoons)
- 1⅔ cups heavy cream (DIVIDED)
- yellow food coloring (4 to 5 drops liquid color)
- 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a food processor blend cookie crumbs with the 5 tablespoons butter. Evenly press into a 9-or 10-inch pie plate and chill or freeze while preparing the filling.
- In a medium bowl sprinkle gelatin over ½ cup of the room-temperature water. Let the gelatin bloom (or soften), so there are no dry bits visible. Boil the remaining ½ cup water in the microwave or on the stovetop and stir into gelatin mixture. Stir until gelatin is dissolved.
- Stir in cold lemonade concentrate, sugar, and food coloring. Stir until sugar is dissolved and then refrigerate until mixture is the consistency of loose jelly, about 2 hours. Mixture will jiggle like just-setting jell-o.
- In a separate bowl whip 1 cup heavy cream to firm peaks; set aside. Whip barely-set lemonade gelatin until frothy, about 1 minute on high speed. Add whipped cream and mix just to combine.
- Pour filling into chilled crust and chill until set, 4 hours or more.
- To serve, whip remaining ⅔ cup cream with confectioners' sugar to soft peaks. Top pie with whipped cream and garnish with extra cookie crumbs or lemon zest. Serve immediately.
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I know a talented group of cooks and love to share their creations. Try some no-bake pies from my foodie friends!
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Recipe by Tara Teaspoon. Photography courtesy of Ashlin Almquist. Updated May 2023