Atlantic Beach Lemon Tart

Native to Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, this smooth and creamy pie—a vibrant lemon filling set atop a crumbly saltine cracker crust—is the perfect blend of sweet and salty.

Atlantic Beach Lemon Tart
Makes 1 (9-Inch) Tart
  • 60 saltine crackers (about 6½ ounces)
  • ¼ cup plus ⅓ cup sugar, divided
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • ¾ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 5 drops liquid yellow food coloring (optional)
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
  • Garnish: flaked sea salt, lemon zest
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
  2. In the work bowl of a food processor, place crackers and ¼ cup sugar; pulse until coarsely ground, about 15 pulses. Add melted butter; process just until mixture clumps when pressed together, about 10 pulses, stopping once to scrape sides of bowl. Press mixture into bottom and 1½ inches up sides of prepared pan.
  3. Bake until lightly golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly on a wire rack.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together condensed milk, lemon zest and juice, egg yolks, and food coloring, if using. Pour filling into prepared crust.
  5. Bake until filling is set, about 30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  6. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and remaining ⅓ cup sugar with a mixer at medium speed until smooth and well combined. Reduce mixer speed to medium-low. Gradually add ⅓ cup cream, beating until smooth, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Increase mixer speed to medium. Gradually add remaining ⅔ cup cream, beating until soft peaks form. (Do not overbeat.) Spread topping onto pie. Just before serving, garnish with sea salt and zest, if desired.
KITCHEN TIP: For easy transport, pack any toppings or garnish to go along with your dessert and decorate when you arrive at the gathering. If your potluck is outside, we recommend keeping the icebox cake, tart, and pie inside in a cool place until serving.