Once you’ve tried a Southern Strawberry Icebox Pie, you’ll be hooked. This old fashioned pie with fresh strawberries is a classic. Both cooked and fresh berries are combined for a pie bursting with flavor.
I don’t say this too often, but strawberry icebox pie really is the BEST recipe for strawberry pie I’ve ever had. The method of cooking some of the strawberries first came from a Cooks Illustrated that I had saved form 2014.
The color is a gorgeous red, the texture is not too watery, but it’s the flavor that makes this sensational. This comes from cooking two pounds of strawberries down to a concentrated jam and then adding fresh strawberries.
What is an icebox pie
An Icebox pie is a Southern classic named for the icebox they were kept cool in. They are generally no bake pies that can be made without turning on the oven.
This technically is an icebox pie because it needs to be kept refrigerated and is not baked. However, it does require some cooking as you start by cooking down some frozen strawberries. By cooking down the strawberries it concentrates the strawberry flavor just like when you’re making jam.
What you’ll need
- Fresh strawberries – you’ll need about 1 pound or around 4 cups. You can use all fresh berries if you have enough, if doing so, you will need about 12 cups.
- Frozen strawberries – you’ll need 2 lbs or about 8 cups.
- Lemon juice – this helps thicken the pie and is a nice contrast to the sweet berries
- Knox unflavored gelatin – this is needed to thicken the filling.
- Sugar – you can adjust the amount based on how sweet your berries are.
- Pretzels – for the crust, you can substitute graham crackers or make a traditional crust, but I like the salty pretzel crust with the sweet strawberries.
- Cream cheese and heavy cream – by adding some cream cheese to the whipped cream, you’ll get a thick and rich topping.
How do you make a strawberry icebox pie
Step 1: Start by cooking down the frozen strawberries until they have thickened. This will take about 25-30 minutes. If you are using fresh strawberries, you may need to adjust the time based on how juicy they are.
Step 2: To the cooked strawberries you will add gelatin softened in lemon juice and sugar and cook this for a couple of minutes and then let it cool for 30 minutes.
Step 3: Once cooled fold in fresh sliced strawberries and pour it into either a cooked pie shell or a pretzel crust. You could also use a graham cracker crust.
Step 4: Beat cream cheese and add heavy cream vanilla and a little sugar and beat until thickened then either spread on the cooled pie or dollop on each slice.
This only has a cup of sugar for the whole pie so it’s not too sweet. For the topping, I added a little cream cheese to the whipped cream. It gives the topping a little more substance and it tastes perfect with the strawberries. A dollop is all you need to make the most amazing strawberry pie.
Our strawberry season will be over soon, so grab a basket and give this a try. Since it uses frozen and fresh strawberries, if your strawberries are only so-so, the pies is still amazing. It’s also a good excuse to freeze some of your extra berries for later in the summer.
The first time I made this pie, I used a traditional cooked pie crust, like what I use for banana cream pie. However, after making strawberry pretzel salad, I tried it with a pretzel crust and liked it even better.
If you’re planning on eating it the same day, then a pretzel crust works great and adds a nice salty touch. It will get soggy after a day or so though, so if you are planning on letting it sit around a bit, a traditional pie crust might be better.
FAQ’s and tips
An icebox pie is a Southern dessert that you could make without turning on the oven and was stored in an icebox to keep it cool.
While the recipe calls for a mixture of fresh and frozen strawberries, it is even better if you use all fresh berries. You need at least four cups of fresh berries for texture.
A traditional pie crust will work great for this pie and is better if you can’t eat it all in one day as the pretzel crust will get soggy after a day. If using a regular crust you will need to pre-bake it first. You can also use a graham cracker crust.
To slice the strawberries, first remove the stem with a huller or knife and turn it so the point is facing up, then just slice the strawberries into even slices.
For fresh delicious strawberries for over a week, just rinse them in a vinegar wash first. It’s amazing how it protects them in the refrigerator. For all the steps, check out this post on using a vinegar wash.
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More STRAWBERRY recipes you’ll love
Strawberry Icebox Pie
- 2 lbs frozen strawberries
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 lb fresh strawberries hulled and sliced thinly
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 ¼ cups crushed pretzels
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ cup butter melted
- CRUST: Combine pretzels and sugar in a food processor and process until fine crumbs. Add melted butter and process until coated. Place in a 9 inch glass pie pan and cover with plastic wrap. Spread the crumbs to coat the bottom and sides of the pie pan including the rim. Once distributed, press down firmly and refrigerate or freeze until cold.
- Cook frozen strawberries in large saucepan over medium-low heat until they begin to release their juice, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is thick and jam like and measures 2 cups, about 25 minutes. Make sure you have 2 cups, if not, continue to cook until reduced to 2 cups.
- Combine lemon juice and water in small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over lemon juice mixture and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Stir 1 cup sugar, salt, and gelatin mixture into cooked strawberry mixture and return to simmer, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl and let cool for 30 minutes.
- Fold fresh strawberries into filling and spread evenly in the cooled pretzel crust or cooled cooked regular pie shell. Cover pie with plastic and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
- With a hand held mixer, beat the cream cheese, vanilla, and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar until smooth. Add cream and whip until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Dollop individual slices of pie with topping and serve.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- You can also use a pre-cooked pie crust or a graham cracker crust.
- Make sure the cooked strawberries are as thick as jam before adding the gelatin.
- You can use all fresh strawberries, you might need to adjust the cooking time depending on how juicy they are.
- If you don’t cream cheese, you can use regular whipped cream for the topping.
- If using a pretzel crust, it is best eaten the same day, after a day the pretzels will get soggy.
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