This gorgeous Cranberry Meyer Lemon Pie with gingersnap crust is a show-stopping holiday dessert that’s perfect for Thanksgiving. It’s like Key Lime Pie, but better. It’s intensely creamy, perfectly tart and so, soo festive. After indulging in a huge meal, I can’t think of anything that would be more welcome and refreshing to eat. It’s so rich and strongly flavored that just a skinny slice will do the trick!
This Cranberry Meyer Lemon Pie is the pie to beat all other pies on Thanksgiving. It’s a brilliant twist on key lime pie that will not only stand out on the table, it will completely steal the show. No one will even remember that turkey was served. It’s that good.
What does it taste like?
This pie is best described as Key Lime Pie’s older, more sophisticated sister. The filling consists of a rich, creamy and intensely tart cranberry-Meyer lemon curd, and in lieu of a graham cracker crust, this one is made with gingersnaps instead. The crunchy, spiced crust along with the smooth, puckery filling is absolute perfection. As someone who usually prefers traditional Thanksgiving desserts, this one left me speechless.
What are Meyer Lemons?
Meyer lemons are a cross between lemons and Mandarin oranges. They are tart like lemons, but taste just a hint sweeter, a bit more floral and overall more interesting. I absolutely adore them. They can be challenging to find depending on where you live, but are becoming more common. In my grocery store, they’re sold in a bag (not loose) and are located by the other bagged fruits.
Can the Meyer Lemons be substituted?
Yes. You can use regular lemons or limes instead. I don’t recommend using oranges, as they are too sweet and not sour enough. However, you can use a mixture of ¾ lemon juice and ¼ orange juice to mimic the flavor of Meyer lemon if you can’t find them.
How to make sugared cranberries
The sugared cranberries are a totally optional addition but make such a fun and festive garnish! They’re made by simmering cranberries in sugar water until softened, then letting them dry out on a rack to get tacky. They’re then rolled in a mixture of sugar and Meyer lemon zest to look like sparkling little red gems. Unfortunately they don’t keep very well, so I recommend making them no more than 2 hours before serving.
If you’d like to at least start them in advance, simmer the cranberries in sugar water and then store them with the sugar water in a container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Then, strain, let dry and roll in sugar as normal.
Tips for getting the filling to set up
This pie filling is thickened in three different ways:
- The natural pectin from the cranberries (think jellied cranberry sauce).
- Eggs (think custard).
- Whipping butter into the filling (think whipped cream or a beurre blanc sauce).
There are 4 different steps that are crucial to getting the filling to thicken:
- The first step is to make sure the cranberries are not too liquidy when they cook down with the sugar. The mixture should resemble cranberry sauce or jam.
- The second and most important step is to make sure the curd properly thickens. You have to cook the mixture slowly, while stirring constantly over medium heat, until it gets thick. Not just a little bit, but really thick, like the texture of a loose pudding or pancake batter. Stir and scrape the bowl constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. If you’d like some extra insurance, use a candy thermometer and cook until 165 degrees F.
- The third step is the least important, but still worth noting. Whipping the butter into the warm curd will help emulsify it even further. Be sure to incorporate the butter gently, one piece at a time – if it starts to melt, the mixture is too hot. If the butter won’t incorporate, then the mixture – OR your butter – is too cold. Add it back to the double boiler and gently reheat while stirring until just warm (avoid this if possible). The mixture should be a few shades lighter when you’re done.
- The fourth step is also an important one. In order to finish setting up, the pie needs to chill. You’ve put a lot of time into making this pie, so don’t risk it by cutting it too early. Give it a solid 8 hours to be sure. Overnight is recommended.
If I don’t like gingersnaps, can anything else be used for the crust?
Yes. Graham crackers, vanilla wafers or any other crisp cookie would work well in this crust. Just be sure to use 2 cups of cookie crumbs.
Can this recipe be made gluten free?
Yes. Just use a gluten free gingersnap or other gluten free cookie in the crust. The filling is already gluten free.
There is a video tutorial on how to make this pie saved to my Instagram story highlights, which you can find here. If you plan on making this recipe I highly recommend watching this video first! It will be especially helpful to see all of the steps in action.
Can this recipe be made ahead?
Yes. In fact, it has to be made ahead. It needs at least 8 hours to set up in the refrigerator to ensure it holds its shape once sliced. It’s best made 1-2 days in advance.
This is not a beginner recipe and it can be time consuming, so be sure to plan ahead. Several of my friends made it and gave me crap about the amount of dishes it created, so also be aware of that and just embrace it as part of the experience. If you’re looking for the perfect Thanksgiving dessert that will be sure to impress EVERYONE at the party, look no further.
Did you make this recipe?
Please drop a comment and star rating below! I love reading all of your comments and am here to help you troubleshoot if need be. They’re also super helpful for other readers! Thank you so much for supporting Coley Cooks!
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This gorgeous Cranberry Meyer Lemon Pie with gingersnap crust is a show-stopping holiday dessert that’s perfect for Thanksgiving. It’s like Key Lime Pie, but better! It’s intensely creamy, perfectly tart and so, soo festive. After indulging in a huge meal, I can’t think of anything that would be more welcome and refreshing to eat. It’s so rich and strongly flavored that just a skinny slice will do the trick!
Adapted from Bon Appetit. I recommend reading the entire recipe in full before starting.
For the Crust:
- 2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs *see note
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the Filling:
- 1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, divided
- 3 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons finely grated Meyer lemon zest
- ½ cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
- Pinch of kosher salt
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
- Fresh whipped cream, for serving
For the Sugared Cranberries (optional):
- 1 ¼ cups fresh cranberries
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest
Make the Crust:
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Add gingersnap cookie crumbs, butter, brown sugar and salt to a food processor. Pulse until the crumbs are moistened, then transfer to a deep 9-inch pie dish. Use a measuring cup to press the crust firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the dish.
- Bake for about 12-13 minutes or until crisp and slightly darkener. If the crust falls off the sides, use the measuring cup to gently press it back into place while still hot. Let cool.
- Crust can be baked up to 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until needed.
Make the Filling:
- Add cranberries, 1 cup granulated sugar, and ¼ cup water to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the berries burst open and the mixture thickens, about 15-20 minutes. The texture should resemble cranberry sauce. Puree in the food processor (or blender) until it’s as smooth as possible. This may take a good 3-4 minutes. *Use caution blending hot liquids.*
- Add the eggs, egg yolks, Meyer lemon zest, Meyer lemon juice, salt, and remaining ½ cup sugar to the food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
- Scrape the mixture into a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water) at about medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly with a rubber spatula until it thickens up like a curd and nicely coats the back of a spoon, about 15-20 minutes, or until a candy thermometer reaches 165 degrees. Don’t rush this step – it’s essential to getting the filling to set up.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Set a fine meshed strainer over a bowl, then pour the curd through. Press with a rubber spatula to make sure you get as much of the curd through as possible while leaving the bits of cranberry skin and coagulated egg in the strainer. Let cool until just barely warm.
- Beat the curd with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, adding softened (very important) butter one piece at a time. Be sure each piece of butter is fully incorporated before adding in the next.
- Continue beating the curd until all of the butter has been incorporated and it looks a few shades lighter in color, about 6 minutes.
- Pour the curd into the prepared crust and smooth out the top. Gently bang the pie dish on the counter to remove any air bubbles, then chill until firm, at least 8 hours or overnight is best.
- Pie can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled until ready to serve.
Make the Sugared Cranberries:
- Boil ½ cup granulated sugar and ½ cup water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Lower the heat, then add the cranberries and cook until just starting to soften, about 1 minute. Use a perforated spoon to transfer the berries to a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Let sit for 30 minutes until the cranberries feel tacky.
- Mix together the remaining ½ cup granulated sugar and Meyer lemon zest in a small bowl. Roll the cranberries in the sugar mixture until coated.
- Place the sugared cranberries a plate to set up for about 5 minutes. Can be made up to 2 hours in advance. They cannot be made the day before.
- Top the pie with sugared cranberries right before serving. Serve with fresh whipped cream on the side.
*The amount of gingersnap cookies needed for the crumbs will vary by brand (or use homemade for even better results). I found about 3 cups of loosely packed cookies produced enough crumbs. Use the food processor to buzz them up, then measure.
Keywords: cranberries, meyer lemon, key lime pie, gingersnaps