Lemon Chiffon Pie with Saltine Cracker Crust


Pastry chef Kelly Field's great-aunt Jean, who first made this pie during the Great Depression, swapped pricey graham crackers in the crust for less-expensive saltines, which play well with the tart lemon filling. To create the voluminous filling, be sure to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks; if they’re too soft, the filling will be dense instead of airy.

Lemon chiffon pie with saltine cracker crust
Photo: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Christine Keely
Active Time:
1 hrs 25 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs



  • 8 ounces saltine crackers (2 sleeves), crushed (about 3 cups)

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (8 ounces), cut into pieces, at room temperature


  • 1/4 cup cold water

  • 1 (1/4-ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin

  • 4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4 lemons)

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

  • Lemon slices, for garnish (optional)


Make the saltine crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together crackers and sugar in a medium bowl. Add butter; knead with your hands until mixture holds together. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Chill 15 minutes. Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour.

Make the lemon chiffon filling

  1. Stir together 1/4 cup cold water and gelatin in a small bowl; let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat egg yolks with an electric mixer on high speed until thick and lemon-colored, about 1 minute and 30 seconds. Transfer to a medium saucepan. Add 1 cup sugar, lemon zest and juice, and salt; stir until smooth. Cook mixture over low, stirring constantly using a rubber spatula and scraping down sides of pan constantly, until mixture is thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. (Do not let eggs scramble. If mixture becomes too hot, temporarily remove pan from heat, stirring constantly, until slightly cooled.) Remove from heat; add gelatin mixture, and stir until dissolved. Let cool, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.

  2. Beat heavy cream with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 45 seconds. Set aside.

  3. Beat egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy, about 20 seconds. Gradually beat in remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Increase mixer speed to high; beat until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.

  4. Whisk about 1 cup egg white mixture into cooled lemon mixture. Add half of the remaining egg white mixture and half of the whipped cream to lemon mixture; using a spatula, fold in until almost combined. Add remaining egg white mixture and whipped cream; fold in until just combined. Spoon into crust. Chill until set, about 1 hour.

  5. If desired, beat cream with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 45 seconds; dollop over chilled pie. Garnish with lemon slices.

Make Ahead

Ungarnished pie may be loosely tented with aluminum foil and stored in refrigerator up to 3 days.

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