Lemon Pie Recipe

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My twist on Joanna Gaines’ famous Magnolia Lemon Pie — a thick graham cracker crust with a creamy, rich lemon filling and fresh whipped cream on top. 

Slice of Lemon Pie recipe on a plate with fresh mint on top.

The Best Lemon Pie

Yes, I’m one of the millions of fans obsessed with the Gaines family. I’ve loved “Fixer Upper” (their television show) over the years, own way too many dishes from her collection, and have been in love with her famous lemon pie.  There are loads of Lemon Recipes that have been shared on this site over the years, but when I read about Joanna’s famous lemon pie, I knew I had to try it. And it did not disappoint!

This pie is so delicious that it has joined the top of my favorite lemon recipes. While this recipe is similar to the original pie recipe shared, I’ve tweaked a few aspects over the many times preparing this treat that I thought it was worth sharing my changes!

Below is a quick breakdown of the changes I made to the pie.

Tweaking Joanna’s Lemon Pie

  1. More Lemon Flavor: Added extra lemon juice and lemon extract for a stronger lemon flavor without it being overwhelming.
  2. Reduced Sweetness: Added salt and vanilla extract to help balance sweetness.
  3. Graham Cracker Crust: I replaced with my personal favorite Graham Cracker Crust recipe (recognize it from this Coconut Cream Pie?)
  4. Whipped Cream: Adding some vanilla bean paste for a stronger flavor and for those pretty black flecks throughout!


Not to be confused with lemon juice, lemon extract makes lemon flavor stronger without affecting consistency like extra juice would. Use pure lemon extract found near baking extracts. Extract is different from from emulsions/flavoring oils.  

Crust being prepped and baked and the filling ingredients being added to a bowl.

Lemon Pie Filling Ingredients

  • Sweetened Condensed Milk: This makes the filling sweet and gooey, so no need for extra sugar. Make sure it’s sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated), and go for the full-fat kind.
  • Citrus Juicer: Makes juicing lemons easy!
  • Salt: Might sound weird in a sweet pie, but it really boosts and balances the flavors. Salt isn’t just for savory dishes; it’s surprisingly effective in sweets too.
  • Egg Yolks Only: The recipe calls for just the yolks, leaving out the whites. Save those whites for meringue cookies or an egg wrap, adding a nice finish to the pie.


Why is my lemon pie bitter? Your lemon pie might taste bitter because there’s too much lemon juice or extract, or if parts of the lemon’s white skin got mixed in. It can also happen if the egg yolks are overcooked, you used a naturally bitter type of lemon, or if the pie wasn’t stored right. 

Lemon Pie filling being added to the crust and whipped cream being added on top.

Favorite Graham Cracker Crust

This thick, sweet crust has a nice strong butter flavor. Here are a few tips:

  • Let melted butter cool to room temperature before mixing (hot butter will melt sugar, causing a greasy crust).
  • Measure crumbs precisely, slightly overfilling measuring cups and leveling off with a knife.
  • Thoroughly blend graham crackers into fine crumbs to avoid large chunks affecting clean slices.
  • Press crumbs up sides evenly so crust doesn’t crumble when slicing.
  • Bake crust before adding filling to prevent sogginess. Let cool slightly before filling.

Fresh Whipped Cream

There is nothing like real, fresh whipped cream and on this Lemon Pie– it is a show-stopper! There is an entire post on how to make whipped cream if you haven’t made your own whipped cream before. Below are a few tips:

  • Use a good heavy whipping cream. The best tasting heavy cream doesn’t have additives; if possible, find a brand that lists only one ingredient: cream.
  • Use cold cream. To whip up beautifully, you want to use the coldest (straight from the fridge) heavy cream.
  • Don’t forget the flavor additions. We add a tiny pinch of salt, vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract), and some powdered sugar to the cream to add flavor and vibrancy. As the cream becomes fluffy and thick from beating, it will taste less sweet. Make sure to give your nearly finished cream a taste and add a bit of extra sugar or vanilla as needed.

Whipped cream being whipped together.

How To Make Lemon Pie

This pie can be broken down into 3 simple steps:

  1. Crust: Combine crushed graham crackers with melted butter, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Press into a pie dish and bake until set. Let the melted butter cool to avoid a greasy crust.
  2. Filling: Mix sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon extract, and a pinch of salt. Pour into the crust and bake until firm.
  3. Whipped Cream: Whip heavy cream with powdered sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Spread over the cooled pie. Using pre-chilled ingredients will give you quicker, fluffier whipped cream. Enjoy chilled!

Lemon Pie slice


Storing Lemon Pie

  • Keep at room temperature: Up to 2 hours.
  • In fridge: Airtight container for 2-4 days.
  • Can you freeze lemon pie?: Yes! Wrap slices, place in container, and freeze for up to 2-3 months. Thaw in fridge, then 30 minutes at room temp before serving.

More Lemon Desserts

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Lemon Pie

5 from 8 votes
My twist on Joanna Gaines' famous Magnolia Lemon Pie -- a thick graham cracker crust with a creamy, rich lemon filling and fresh whipped cream on top. 
Slice of Lemon Pie on a plate with fresh mint on top.
Print Recipe

Lemon Pie

Slice of Lemon Pie on a plate with fresh mint on top.
5 from 8 votes
My twist on Joanna Gaines' famous Magnolia Lemon Pie -- a thick graham cracker crust with a creamy, rich lemon filling and fresh whipped cream on top. 
Course Dessert, Snack, Vegetarian
Cuisine American
Keyword lemon pie
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Chilling 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 12 pieces (1, 9-inch pie)
Chelsea Lords
Calories 543kcal
Cost $8.12


Graham Cracker Crust:

  • 1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (12-13 full graham cracker sheets)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar or light brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

Pie Filling:

  • 2 cans (14 oz each) sweetened condensed milk (I use Eagle Brand)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspons lemon extract Note 1
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Optional: lemon slices/zest, mint sprigs for garnish


  • PREP: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch pie dish with non-stick spray and set aside.
  • CRUST: Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl and let it cool for 5 minutes to prevent a greasy crust. Process graham crackers in a blender or food processor until fine. Measure 1 and 3/4 cups of crumbs into a large bowl, add sugar and salt, and mix in the cooled butter using a spatula. Pour mixture into a prepared pan, pressing firmly into the bottom and up the sides with the flat bottom of a measuring cup. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes and allow to cool.
  • PIE FILLING: Using a stand or hand mixer, blend the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon extract, and salt. Beat on medium speed for 2-4 minutes until mixture is smooth and well combined.
  • BAKE: Pour the mixture into the pre-baked pie crust and bake for 12-17 minutes, or until it slightly jiggles in the center and bubbles appear on the surface. If the crust browns too quickly, cover it lightly. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • CHILL: Cover the pie and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • WHIPPED CREAM: Mix cream, sugar, and vanilla. Beat with a stand or hand mixer until soft peaks form. Spread over the entire cooled pie for immediate consumption or add to individual servings. Avoid covering the whole pie with cream if expecting leftovers, as it may become watery.
  • ENJOY: Cover leftovers tightly and refrigerate. Garnish with lemon zest, lemon slices, or fresh mint before serving chilled.


Recipe Notes

Note 1: Lemon extract is a flavor enhancer not to be confused with lemon juice, like vanilla extract, that intensifies the pie’s citrus flavor. It’s typically found near other baking extracts and spices in grocery stores. For the best results, use pure Lemon extract. If it's unavailable, you can omit it, but the lemon flavor will be milder.
Note 2: To get clean slices, run your knife under hot water for a few seconds, wipe to dry, make 1 slice, and repeat.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 543kcal | Carbohydrates: 76g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 112mg | Sodium: 371mg | Potassium: 343mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 56g | Vitamin A: 713IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 236mg | Iron: 2mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.


I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.

Lemon Pie FAQs

1Why does my Lemon Pie get watery?

Sometimes the acid (from the lemon juice) and the heat from baking can break down the thickening of the pie. This is most often found with pies using cornstarch as the thickener, so it shouldn’t be a big concern with this pie — we’ve never found it to get watery!

2Does Lemon Pie need to be refrigerated?

Lemon Pie can stand at room temperature for up to 2 hours, but after that, it needs to be refrigerated. Bacteria grows rapidly between 40 and 140 degrees F, so if the pie is left out for over 2 hours it will need to be discarded.

3Why does my Lemon Pie taste like metal?

The high acidity of the lemon can cause metal to leach into the pie causing a metallic flavor. This is why I highly recommend using a glass pie dish, not metal!

4How many lemons does it take to make 1/4 cup of juice?

There is typically about 2 tablespoons juice in a medium lemon. To get 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons), you’ll need 2 medium juicy lemons.

For this Lemon Pie recipe, you’ll need around 6-8 lemons.

The ultimate BEST EVER creamy lemon pie! Based off of Joanna Gaine's famous lemon magnolia pie! via chelseasmessyapron.com #lemon #creamy #pie #dessert #summer #treat #cream #joanna #gaine #magnolia
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5 from 8 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Your pics are absolutely amazing! I’ve also had Joanna’s Lemon Pie a handful of times, and you’re right, it definitely does not disappoint. I’ve actually made it for Easter both this past Easter and last year as well. It was a huge hit! Thanks for sharing your tweaks. I’ll have to try it this way next time I make this Lemon Pie!

  2. Hi Chelsea,

    I love a lemon dessert — I’m with you though, I don’t want it to just be yellow and called lemon, I definitely want to taste the flavor. Love that this looks like a recipe kids can help with. Whenever I pull out a bowl, my son always shouts, “I’ll get my stool!” Future chef, right there, lol. Can’t wait to try it!

  3. 5 stars
    what a fun dessert, thank yo for sharing and tweaking this since I hadn’t seen the original, I also love lemon, even lemon scented stuff of all kinds, so this is perfect to round out this extended July holiday with some lovely pie

  4. Just made this tonight for Mother’s Day tomorrow (Sans whipped cream)- excited to try it! I’m curious where the dessert plates are from in your photos? They’re so cute! Thanks!

    1. I hope you love it DeAnna! 🙂 I’m pretty certain the plates were from Crate and Barrel 🙂 Happy Mothers Day!

  5. 5 stars
    I used the zest from the lemons and no extract and it was delicious. Also, made it a 2nd time and only had limes and that worked just as well.

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