This Lemon Chiffon Pie is light as a feather with a crunchy salty pretzel crust. Ricotta cheese gives it the richness of a cheesecake, but egg whites keep it light and fluffy for a fabulous no bake dessert.
Lemon Chiffon Pie sounds old fashioned, maybe something your grandmother would make. This is an updated version of a typically sweet lemony dessert. Nothing wrong with an old stand by, but this version is light and fluffy without being overly sweet.
The salty pretzel crust is a great compliment to the lemon filling. Citrusy like an Atlantic beach pie or a cream cheese key lime pie, but lighter. If you would prefer, you can use a homemade graham cracker crust.
Why you’ll love a no-bake lemon pie
- Who doesn’t love a no-bake dessert?
- There’s no heavy sweetened condensed milk
- A pretzel base is a great alternative to a traditional or graham cracker crust
- Perfect anytime of year
You can make this one day ahead of time but it should be eaten within a day or two. Otherwise we’ve found that the pretzel crust gets a bit soggy. If you need pie to last a few days, try a baked lemonade pie.
A crust made of pretzels is not only easy but the salty crunchy texture is divine with the light and airy filling. It’s the same crust I use for a strawberry icebox pie. However, as the pie sits the pretzels will absorb the moisture from the filling and you will lose the crunch. If you need to make this days in advance, I would suggest freezing it or using a graham cracker crust.
One thing to plan for, is that this has to refrigerate for several hours to set up before slicing, so give yourself enough time. I find it works best if you can make it the night before you plan on serving it.
The ricotta not only adds a richness to the filling but it gives it more strength than a typical chiffon pie. When you cut this beautiful pie, the pieces will stay formed. The flavors are similar to a lemon chess pie but much lighter.
What is ricotta cheese
Ricotta is an Italian cheese that is creamy and mild with a thick texture. Since it has a thick creamy texture it can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. I use it when making Sausage and Apple Pie, and Penna Alla Vodka, but it’s also great on a Crostini with Roasted Grapes. If you have an Italian market close by, try to buy fresh ricotta, it is even better than what you find in the grocery.
Ingredients for a light and fluffy lemon pie
- Pretzels – the salty buttery pretzels make a great crust. Place them in a ziplock bag to crush with a mallet, or use a food processor to crush them.
- Unflavored gelatin – this gives body and structure to the pie.
- Lemon juice and zest- you will need several lemons to get ¾ cup of lemon juice. You also will use the zest from one of the lemons, just remember to zest the lemon first. Check out some tips to help you get the most juice out of a lemon.
- Ricotta cheese – this gives the pie a great texture
- Egg whites – use the leftover egg yolks to make some breakfast omelets
- Sugar, lemon juice, butter, salt
Pro Tip: If your egg whites don’t form stiff peaks it could be because some of the yolk go mixed with the whites. Learn some cool tricks for separating eggs whites so you don’t ruin your chiffon pie,
How to make lemon chiffon pie
Step 1 The Crust
Crush the pretzels in a food processor or do it manually by crushing them in a ziplock, you want them to be pretty fine. Add melted butter and process until the crumbs are coated. Press into the pie pan.
Step 2 The Filling
Place gelatin in a food processor and sprinkle with ⅓ cup of lemon juice. Let stand until it has softened, about 5 minutes.
Boil the lemon juice and pour over the gelatin and process for a minute. Then ad ricotta and sugar and process until it’s smooth. Add lemon zest and refrigerate for about 15 minutes until it has cooled and starts to thicken a little.
Remove from the refrigerator. With an electric mixer, beat egg whites with sugar until glossy peaks have formed. Stir ¼ of the egg whites into the ricotta mixture gently folding with a rubber spatula. Add the remaining whites and fold until blended.
Pour into the prepared crust and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can mix this with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer.
To serve the pie
- You can enjoy this with a garnish of lemon zest over the top.
- You can add a whipped topping to each slice.
- Fresh raspberries will compliment the yellow and tart lemon with a bit of sweet red fruit if you have some handy!
If you like lemons as much as we do, here are some more lemon recipes to try
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No-Bake Lemon Chiffon Pie
- 4 ½ ounces mini pretzels or 3 ½ cups
- ¼ cup sugar
- 12 tablespoons butter melted
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin or 2 ¼ teaspoons
- 1 tablespoons lemon zest
- ¾ cup lemon juice 3-4 lemons
- 10 ounces ricotta cheese 1 ¼ cups
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large egg whites
- pinch salt
- Combine pretzels and sugar in a food processor and process until it is fine crumbs. Add melted butter and process until the crumbs are coated. Place in a 9 inch glass pie pan. Spread the crumbs to coat the bottom and sides of the plate including the rim. Once distributed, press down firmly.
- Zest a lemon, and reserve the zest.
- Place gelatin in a food processor and sprinkle with ⅓ cup of lemon juice. Let stand until it has softened, about 5 minutes.
- In the microwave, bring remaining lemon juice to a boil. Pour over gelatin and let stand for 2 minutes. Process until gelatin is dissolved, about 1 minute. It should feel smooth to the touch.
- Add ricotta, ¾ cup sugar and salt. Process until smooth, about 45 seconds. Pour into a medium bowl and stir in lemon zest. Refrigerate, until it starts to thicken, about 15 minutes. Don’t let it get too thick.
- Remove from the refrigerator. With an electric mixer, beat egg whites on medium high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining ¼ cup sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until glossy peaks have formed. Stir ¼ of the egg whites into the ricotta mixture gently folding with a rubber spatula. Add the remaining whites and fold until blended.
- Pour into the crust and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- You can make this one day ahead of time but it should be eaten within a day or two. Otherwise the pretzel crust gets soggy.
- If you need to make this more than a day ahead of time use a graham cracker crust.
- If you don’t have a food processor, you can use an electric hand mixer instead.