These Little Lemon Pie Jars are are the best no-bake dessert I’ve had in quite some time. They’re cold, creamy and tangy, but not overly rich, and their single-serve presentation makes them ideal for any socially-distanced gathering during these hotter months.Little Lemon Pie Jars are incredibly simple to make. The lemon filling is made with a fluffy combination of cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, whipped cream, and my favorite Lazy Lemon Curd. While the curd takes a little forethought so it can cool completely, it’s very easy to make—sweetened condensed milk does all the heavy lifting. You could certainly use store bought lemon curd or make a traditional recipe, but I really want to encourage you to try this easy version. It’s dead-simple to make, perfectly balanced, and one recipe makes twice the amount you’ll need for these little pies, meaning you’ll have plenty leftover for toast or biscuits or slapping together a few Lemon Meringue S’mores. Yum.Once the curd is made and cooled, the filling takes all of ten minutes to mix and spoon over the crust. Oooh, this crust. While the lemon filling is plenty sweet and refreshing on its own, the crust provides textural contrast and cuts the richness.Simply mix up some graham cracker crumbs, confectioner’s sugar, a pinch of salt and melted butter until everything is lightly moistened, then press the mixture into the bottoms of eight small mason jars. It won’t set hard, instead staying a little on the crumbly side. Where this wouldn’t work particularly well for a traditional pie, it works like a dream here. I love that I can dig my spoon into the bottom of the jar and get a little crust in every bite.You can garnish these little pies however you like or not at all. I’ve been saying some version of this a lot lately, but it’s the truth: we’re in a pandemic and there are no dessert rules. I dressed these pictured pie jars up with whipped cream, teensy lemon wedges and extra drizzles of lemon curd for their glamour shots, but I ate the leftovers plain out of the fridge and they were just as delicious.
Little Lemon Pie Jars
makes 8 4-ounce pie jars
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 8 whole graham crackers)
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 tablespoons heavy cream, very cold
3/4 cup Lazy Lemon Curd (or other lemon curd), recipe below
4 ounces (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Lazy Lemon Curd
small lemon wedges
8 4-ounce mason jars or ramekins
Make the crust. In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together graham cracker crumbs, confectioner’s sugar and salt. Add melted butter and whisk until everything is lightly moistened and resembles damp sand.
Divide mixture among 8 4-ounce mason jars (or ramekins), about 2-3 heaping tablespoons each. Tamp down the crust with the back of a spoon. Set aside.
Make the filling. Pour heavy cream into a small-medium mixing bowl, and use an electric mixer to beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In a medium-large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together Lazy Lemon Curd and cream cheese. It may be a little lumpy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt and beat to combine. Mix in vanilla.
Use a silicone spatula to stir half the whipped cream into the lemon mixture. Gently fold in the second half of the whipped cream. Spoon filling into mason jars, smoothing the tops with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or press plastic wrap to the surfaces and chill up to 2 days. If you are short on time, these may be frozen for an hour.
To serve, top with whipped cream. Drizzle with more Lazy Lemon Curd (I did this with a snipped piping bag) and garnish with a lemon wedge.
Lazy Lemon Curd
makes about 1 1/2 cups
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3-4 lemons)
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
Make the filling. Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.
In the heatproof bowl, whisk together lemon juice, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks. Place bowl over simmering water, creating a double boiler. Let cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and transfer filling to a heatproof container. Press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface. Let cool completely at room temperature before storing in the refrigerator.