Million Dollar Pie Tastes Like a Million Bucks

If you purchased bone-in lamb, you’ll want to remove the bone and cut it into chunks. You can do this by first cutting your meat into vertical strips then follow up by using the strips to cut them horizontally into about 1-inch cubes.
As a baker, my friends have grown to expect me to arrive to events with a dessert to give. Usually, I’m happy to oblige. However, on a hot day, I am reluctant to heat my oven for an extended period of time. This is where old icebox recipes, such as million dollar pie, come in.

Million dollar pie is a classic icebox pie with pecans, coconut, and pineapple in a whipped cream filling on a crumbly graham cracker crust. When all of this is combined, the result is rich, creamy, tangy, and nutty. It’s an ideal dessert for a hot, leisurely summer day.

What Is Million Dollar Pie?

Million Dollar Pie Tastes Like a Million Bucks

If you purchased bone-in lamb, you’ll want to remove the bone and cut it into chunks. You can do this by first cutting your meat into vertical strips then follow up by using the strips to cut them horizontally into about 1-inch cubes.
Icebox pies were popular in the 1930s and 1940s, when refrigerators became more ubiquitous in homes. Many people believe that million dollar pie was originated in South Carolina, but I have been unable to confirm its actual roots. This much is true: it’s a Southern recipe from the 1930s or 1940s.

Pecans, shredded coconut, and canned pineapple are all staples of a typical million dollar pie. The filling is made by folding store-bought whipped topping into sweetened condensed milk. When blended with sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice balances the sweetness while also thickening the filling. It usually has a graham cracker or shortbread crust.

My Take on the Classic

If you purchased bone-in lamb, you’ll want to remove the bone and cut it into chunks. You can do this by first cutting your meat into vertical strips then follow up by using the strips to cut them horizontally into about 1-inch cubes.
I improved this old recipe by adding handmade whipped cream, a baked graham cracker crust, and toasted pecans and coconut. Yes, you will need to turn on your oven for a few minutes. The toasted flavor, crunchy pecans, and coconut are worth it, and you can bake the crust while toasting the nuts.

In my study, I discovered that cream cheese is a contentious item. I choose to include it since a small amount of cream cheese is my preferred way to stabilize homemade whipped cream. It works better as a substitute for store-bought frozen whipped topping, and I appreciate how the tanginess balances off the sweet filling.

What Makes This Pie Worth a Million Bucks?

Million Dollar Pie Tastes Like a Million Bucks

With a name like million dollar pie, this recipe has a lot to live up to. Here’s why I think it’s worthy of its name.

  • Million dollar pie is an almost no-bake recipe. You only need your oven for 10 short minutes. As a comparison, a traditional fruit pie takes about an hour to bake, which makes a big difference on a hot day.
  • You can make it ahead. It needs to set for several hours in the refrigerator, making this a fantastic contender for any event where you want to get some of the prep work done ahead of time.
  • In terms of flavor and texture, it has everything—it’s sweet and tart, creamy and crunchy, and rich and nutty. It’s a total crowd-pleaser.

Shortcuts and Upgrades

Million Dollar Pie Tastes Like a Million Bucks

My version only adds a few steps for an upgraded million dollar pie. You can take a few shortcuts from the original, or upgrade it even further for a billionaire pie.

  • Completely no-bake pie: Skip baking the crust and skip toasting the pecans and coconut. Chill the crust for at least 1 hour before adding the filling.
  • Shortcut pie: The original million-dollar pie uses frozen whipped topping (thawed) instead of whipped cream. Substitute a store-bought crust and a container of whipped topping for the homemade versions, then you can assemble the pie in five minutes.
  • Billionaire pie: A variation on a dollar pie incorporates a can of cherry pie filling. To avoid adding too much liquid to the filling, I would instead add one-half to one cup of chopped maraschino cherries.

You can swap the graham crackers for 1 1/2 cups of store-bought graham cracker crumbs, then mix with the remaining crust ingredients in a bowl.

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 12 whole graham crackers (180g)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons (113gunsalted butter, melted

For the filling and topping

  • 1 cup (113gchopped pecans
  • 1 cup (85g) sweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1 (20ounce) can crushed pineapple
  • 1 (14ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 cups (480mlheavy cream
  • 8 to 10 maraschino cherries, optional

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

    Arrange racks in the bottom and top thirds of the oven.

  2. Make the graham cracker crumbs:

    Use a food processor to grind the graham crackers into fine crumbs. If you do not have a food processor, place the graham crackers in a 1-gallon zip-top bag and use a rolling pin to crush them into fine crumbs. You should have 1 1/2 cups of crumbs.

    Graham Crackers in a Food Processor for Million Dollar Pie Recipe
     
    Graham Cracker Crumbs in a Food Processor for Million Dollar Pie Recipe
     
  3. Mix the graham cracker crust:

    Add the sugar, cinnamon, and salt to the food processor and pulse a few times to distribute. Pour in the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are evenly moistened and the mixture looks sandy. Alternatively, mix in a large mixing bowl.

    Graham Cracker Crust Crumb Ready in a Food Processor for Million Dollar Pie Recipe
     
  4. Shape the crust:

    Transfer the crumb mixture to a 9-inch pie plate. Use your hand or the bottom of a measuring cup to press the crumbs firmly into an even layer along the bottom and sides of the pie plate.

    Bottom of Measuring Cup Used to Press Graham Cracker Crumb Securing Into the Pie Pan
     
    Pie Dish With Graham Cracker Crust
     
  5. Prepare the pecans and coconut:

    On an ungreased baking sheet, spread the pecans in an even layer on one half of the pan and the desiccated coconut on the other half.

    Sweetened Desiccated Coconut and Chopped Pecans on a Baking Sheet
     
  6. Bake the crust, and toast the pecans and coconut:

    Place the crust on the bottom shelf and the pecans and coconut on the top shelf. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust and coconut begin to turn golden. Keep an eye on the coconut. If it browns too much, stir it, or take the pan out early.

    Let the pecans, coconut, and crust cool completely before filling, at least 15 minutes for the nuts and 30 minutes for the crust.

    Pie Pan With Graham Cracker Crust Resting on a Cooling Rack and on the Counter Next to It, the Baking Pan With Toasted Coconut and Chopped Pecans
     
  7. Strain the pineapple:

    While the crust cools, strain the pineapple. Empty the can of crushed pineapple into a fine mesh strainer. Use the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much juice from the pineapple as possible. Set the mesh strainer with pineapple over a bowl to continue draining while you prepare the filling.

  8. Start the filling:

    In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice. Set aside while you make the whipped cream.

    Lemon Juice and Condensed Milk Whisked Together for Million Dollar Pie
     
  9. Make the whipped cream:

    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar on medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer still running, slowly pour in the heavy cream in a steady stream. Continue beating on medium speed until the mixture thickens and stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. When you lift the whisk out of the cream, the cream should come to a point at the tip of the whisk that stays upright.

    Reserve 1 cup of the whipped cream for the topping and store it, covered, in the fridge until needed.

    Cream Cheese and Powdered Sugar Creamed Together in a Stand Mixer Using the Whisk Attachment
    Hand Holding the Whisk Attachment With Whipped Cream, and Behind It, the Mixer Bowl With the Rest of the Whipped Cream
  10. Finish the filling:

    Fold 1/3 of the remaining whipped cream into the sweetened condensed milk mixture using a silicone spatula, then fold in the remaining whipped cream until just combined.

    Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the pecans and 2 tablespoons of the coconut to use for the topping. Gently stir the remaining pecans, coconut, and all of the strained pineapple into the filling mixture until evenly distributed.

    Whipped Cream Carefully Folded Into the Condensed Milk and Lemon Juice Mixture
     
    Toasted Chopped Pecans and the Toasted Desiccated Coconut Added to the Whipped Cream Filling
     
    Million Dollar Pie Filling in a Bowl After Canned Pineapple Was Added to the Filling
     
  11. Fill and chill:

    Use a silicone spatula to scrape the filling into the cooled crust and smooth the top. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate the pie until chilled and set, 4 to 6 hours.

    Depending on the depth of your pie plate, you may have extra filling.

    Pie Dish With Million Dollar Pie Covered in Plastic Wrap
  12. Add the topping:

    Once the pie has thoroughly chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and take off the plastic wrap.

    Spread the reserved whipped cream over the top of the pie. Sprinkle the reserved pecans and coconut on the whipped cream. Garnish with 8 to 10 maraschino cherries along the perimeter of the pie.

    Slice and serve cold.

    Store leftover million dollar pie covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

    Million Dollar Pie Surrounded by Bowls With Toppings (From L to R: Bowl of Whipped Cream, Bowl of Maraschino Cherries, Bowl of Toasted Chopped Pecans, and Bowl of Toasted Desiccated Coconut)
    Whipped Cream Spread on the Million Dollar Pie Using an Offset Spatula
    Million Dollar Pie After Decorated With All the Toppings

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