Home Recipes Shaker Lemon Pie Recipe: Sweet, Sour, Delicious

Shaker Lemon Pie Recipe: Sweet, Sour, Delicious

Shaker Lemon Pie Recipe: Sweet, Sour, Delicious

Shaker Lemon Pie Recipe: Winter’s Best Pie!shaker lemon pie recipe - in all its glory

I came across this lemon pie with a twist years ago after reading an article in Saveur magazine: The Shaker Table. The resulting pie was simple, with an authenticity one would expect from anything created by the Shakers. I love the fact that such a spare recipe can have such delicious results–all with the basics of the farm: eggs, butter, sugar and lemons.

Lemons on the farm? Yep, I grow them on Vashon. Potted and placed in front of a south facing room between November and March, they bloom beautifully and produce nicley. By March, they find a place in the summer garden.


I couldn’t find my rolling pin (no surprise there), so I enlisted a bottle of port to take its place.  (Baking has its own rewards.)


The crust for this pie is buttery and flaky, and not too temperamental.

shaker lemon pie recipe begins with sliced sugared lemons

The day before making the pie, zest and thinly slice the lemons in abowl, layering with sugar to macerate overnight.


I just fold the crust under itself on the edge for a smooth finish and then use a cookie cutter on the folded top crust to create steam holes.

shaker lemon pie recipe

I call Shaker Lemon Pie a very adult pie. It’s somewhat sweet, but there’s a nice sharpness to it as well, thanks to the rinds being left on the lemon. It’s exceptional, and a pie I make each holiday season.

Shaker Lemon Pie Recipe from Saveur


2 large lemons
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
4 eggs
4 tbsp. butter, melted
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
10 tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces
2 tbsp. lard or vegetable shortening

1. For the filling: Thoroughly wash lemons, then dry with paper towel. Finely grate lemon zest into a bowl. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, slice lemons very thin; remove and discard seeds. Add slices to zest and toss with sugar and salt. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 24 hours. (TC: I even canned this mixture sometimes for later use, if I have a lot of lemons to use.)

2. For the crust: Sift flour and salt together into a large mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter or 2 table knives to work butter and shortening into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle in up to 5 tbsp. ice water, stirring dough with a fork until it just begins to hold together. Press dough firmly into a rough ball, then transfer to a lightly floured surface. Give the dough several kneads with the heel of your hand to form it into a smooth ball. Divide dough into 2 balls, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 425°. Whisk eggs in bowl until frothy. Add butter and flour, whisking until smooth. Stir into lemon mixture.

4. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into two 12″ rounds. Fit one round into a 9″ pie plate and pour in filling. Cover pie with remaining pastry round. Fold edges of dough under, then crimp edges. Cut steam vents in top crust. Bake until edges begin to brown, about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake until crust is golden brown, 25–30 minutes more. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

The recipe and article were first published in Saveur in Issue #50

What I was blogging about a year agoThe Spirit of Christmas Drives a Pickup


  1. Thom – btw we are making apple pies tonight (no dairy no eggs for Wilbur). Besides granny smith’s do you have any recommendations?

  2. Brion, Julia Child used to swear by Golden Delicious for pies, and I really like Jonagolds as well.

    As for Boz, he’s a pooch with a penchant for pastry. He once climbed up on my pedestal dining table on a quest for layered cake. Trouble is, 60 pounds of bulldog and a cake on the table’s edge is enough to bring them both down to earth. Covered in icing and crumbs, it did not deter Boz from his mission of enjoying dessert before bedtime.

  3. Beautiful Tom! I am in awe. I am taking pie to dinner on Christmas Day. Cherry from Sam’s “once every few years it’s dry enough to pollinate” crop. Have you every used the crust recipe with vodka? Fine idea to bring out the Port for rolling 🙂

    Aah the sounds of Christmas in Juneau… Listening to the planes overhead. Thank you for sharing your farm, it is so fun to follow the seasons with your stories and photos.

  4. Deb, I’d have to say few things rival a good cherry pie, perhaps a good friend from SE Alaska delivering one personally. My cherries are ready to pick in late July–so should you need a Lower 48 diversion, the welcome mat (and picking buckets) are out. Well wishes to you and Sam!

  5. Wow!! What a beautiful pie ! It makes your mouth water. I am definitely going to plant a lemon tree. Now that the canker scare is over, we are able to purchase citrus trees again in Miami-Dade County. They are only available in a few stores. I will be happy if I can grow lemons that look half as good as those grow on Vashon.

  6. Just had to let you know, the pie is absolutely incredible. Definitely puts the boots to plain old lemon curd or even lemon meringue. It wouldn’t have won a beauty contest like the one above (blame it on new oven curses), but it is delicious. Thanks again for the link and your comments.

  7. This is a gorgeous-looking pie. Love how the crust turned out after you removed the sides of your pan. It’s beautiful.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and for the nice comments!


  8. Finally got my piece of this and it is every bite as amazing as portrayed. It’s the pie version of Don’t Tempt Me, one of Tom’s favorite films–sweet, sour, complex, rich and aglow with lemonosity.

  9. It is a beautiful pie, but also a beautiful pie plate. May I ask what it is (looks deep, not a removable bottom? 9 inches) and where you found it? I like the wide fluting. I have looked for this sort of thing, but can’t find what I want in shops, and it is hard to tell on-line just what one is getting into. Thank you.

  10. well of course. i keep wishing for a flea market, because i know i could get just the pie pan i want. i don’t mind ceramic, traditional metal or pyrex, but i really really want a pretty fluted pie plate like yours! i’ll keep looking. and thank you for the answer.

  11. I found your website through Bitten, and I made this pie a couple of days ago for my daughter’s birthday. It was fabulous. Loved it! I didn’t have any vegetable shortening, so used all butter, it worked fine. I am wondering what it might be like if made with oranges.

    • Hi Julie, funny you should ask. Every year I say I’m going to try it with oranges or perhaps limes, and I’ve yet to do it. Soooo…maybe the coming weeks will prove me wrong. If I do, I surely blog about and let you know.,/i>

  12. Hi Tom – I am a fr iend of your mother and dad and I have a recipe for a wonderful blackberry cobbler and I would be very happy to share it with you. If is old-fashion, but delicious with either ice cream or whipping cream. Marilyn

  13. Because I love all things lemon I will definitely give this a try once the extra lbs from the last week of feasting have gone away. Do you think this would work with preserved lemons? Have a couple of jars sitting in the pantry

  14. Hi Laura, I would think the preserved lemons may work if preserved in sugar. Most lemons are preserved in salt though which would make one wacky, and horribly awful salt-lick pie.

    If preserved with sugar, simply add the eggs, flour and butter to it. Let me know how it goes.

  15. Tom! This pie is a knock-out. You made a very large group of my parents’ friends very happy when I brought it over for a potluck this past week.

    I didn’t have a pastry cutter, so I tried a method I’d heard about from a friend: freezing the butter and then grating it with a cheese grater. It worked like a charm!

  16. Hi Tom,
    This pie looks soooo delicious! But I was wondering, do you leave the pith on the lemons or do you zest the lemons then peel the pith off? It looks like the pith is still left on them and I’m worried about the pie having some bitterness–or does the sugar negate that effect?

    • Hi Terry, surprisingly, you leave the lemon pith and use the entire lemon. There’s is a slight bitterness, but also a wonderful puckery sweetness. I, too was suspect at first, and now it’s one of my favorite pies, ever. Good luck.


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