Mini Lemon Pies

By Emily Russo, MS, RD, CDN

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Cool, creamy, sweet-tart mini pies are the perfect hand-held dessert for gatherings and can be made in advance with a few key ingredients!

 

When life gives you 🍋🍋🍋…make mini lemon pies!

During the first year of COVID, with two small children to wrangle, we often ended up ordering our groceries. It was certainly more convenient at times, but there were also its drawbacks (besides the price tag!).

Ground beef would arrive when we ordered turkey; or the wrong flavor snack arrived; or, they sent me a whole bag of lemons instead of just one (and yes, perhaps I did click one “bag” instead of one lemon – oops). 

What was I going to do with all of these lemons? Turns out, my error had an upside. I started recipe searching and noticed when I googled “what do I do with extra lemons?” lemon squares often appeared. And while I love a good lemon bar, my family typically prefers a hint of crunch. Something in the dessert to give more texture. Like pie crust….

The good news is Ann has enough pie crust recipes – including this Almond Crust to get us through any pie or dessert-making emergency, and she and I began to experiment. After taste-testing with our families and handing out samples at various soccer games, parties, and school functions – we are pretty sure we nailed it. 

These cool, creamy, and tart mini pies are the perfect hand-held dessert for gatherings, and can be made with a few key ingredients in advance!

The dry ingredients for the almond crust are mixed first.

These cool, creamy, and tart mini pies are the perfect hand-held dessert for gatherings, and can be made with a few key ingredients in advance!

About 1 tablespoon crust mixture is pressed into bottom of liners to create a base for the lemon filling.

We love the ease of the filling, and especially that it goes right into the warm pie crust without having to wait for it to cool. The active part of this recipe ends up being less than an hour, and because the mini pies keep well in the fridge, they can be made well in advance. And though we feel this nutty crust gives the pies good depth of flavor, a Homemade Graham Cracker Crust (or Gluten-Free Graham Cracker Crust!) provide nostalgic flavor and a classic pairing that work just as well. 

The results are stunning and look so pretty on a platter. Most of the responses to taking a bite included an eye-closing “oh my goodness” moment. What’s a better endorsement than that?

These cool, creamy, and tart mini pies are the perfect hand-held dessert for gatherings, and can be made with a few key ingredients in advance!

Sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, and egg yolks are mixed together to make the filling.

Recipe note: In our opinion, this perfect filling-to-crust ratio yields 18 mini lemon pies. However, I’ve used the same amount of crust and batter to make 24 mini pies. We feel it produces to thin of a crust and also not enough filling, but some may prefer it that way. 

I’ve also used them to make 12 crusts, but to keep a good ratio of crust to filling, there will be some batter leftover. And if you halve the batter recipe, you probably won’t be able to fill 12 mini pies.

These cool, creamy, and tart mini pies are the perfect hand-held dessert for gatherings, and can be made with a few key ingredients in advance!

A quarter cup measure is helpful to fill the mini pies.

Cool, creamy, sweet-tart mini pies are the perfect hand-held dessert for gatherings and can be made in advance with a few key ingredients!

For a lovely flavor complement and pretty look, we love to add homemade whipped cream and a garnish of lemon zest or crumbled crust (you can reserve a tablespoon or so – or crumble a graham cracker). A thin sliver of lemon is pretty, but it also ends up being something that people pick off. The cupcake liners make the mini pies easy to hand out and carry around. It’s a win-win all around! 

And though we do love a good homemade lemonade, when life hands us extra lemons, we’ll surely be making mini lemon pies.

These cool, creamy, and tart mini pies are the perfect hand-held dessert for gatherings, and can be made with a few key ingredients in advance!

Mini Lemon Pies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes (plus 2 hours cooling)
Total Time: 40 minutes (plus 2 hours cooling)
Yield: 18 Mini Pies
These cool, creamy, and tart mini pies are the perfect hand-held dessert for gatherings and can be made in advance with a few key ingredients.
Ingredients for the crust:
  • 1½ cups almond meal – I like to use coarser almond meal as opposed to finely ground almond flour (144g if using almond flour; 168g if using meal)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons (24g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (56g) butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon (14ml) water
Ingredients for the lemon filling:
  • 2 (14oz) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ cup (6oz) lemon juice*
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • Optional topping/garnishes: whipped cream; lemon zest; thin slices of lemon, halved; sliced fresh strawberries, crumbled graham cracker, finely chopped toasted pecans or walnuts

 

Instructions for the crust:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉. Place liners in an ungreased muffin tin.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together. Then add the melted butter or coconut oil and water.
  3. Mix until well combined.
  4. Add about 1 tablespoon crust to the bottom of each liner. Using your fingers or the base of a ¼ cup measuring cup, firmly press the crust into the bottom of the liner.*
  5. Cook crust for 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
  6. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Instructions for the lemon filling:

1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, and egg yolks.

2. When crusts come out of the oven, evenly pour the filling into the baked crusts using a small ladle, ¼ cup measure, or a spoon. All the filling will be used.

3. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until set. The pies can wiggle a little but should be fully set.

4. Allow to cool (about an hour), and then take the lined pies out of tin and put in the fridge to chill.

5. Before serving, top with whipped cream and optional garnishes of choice.
Notes

*The average lemon yields 3 tablespoons juice, but this will vary depending on size and freshness of lemon as well as how it is juiced. A lime yields 2 tablespoons juice with the same caveats. I find it easier to de-seed the lemons before squeezing, even with a citrus squeezer.

**This recipe can be halved to fill 12 pies but but there will be a smaller layer of crust-to-filling ratio. The recipe, as written, can also stretch to fill 24 pies. In this case the ratio of crust to filling will be smaller, and the pies will be smaller overall.

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