The Secret Ingredient To Elevate Your Graham Cracker Crust

If you love baking up pies at home, then you've likely worked your way through a variety of classic recipes. Perhaps lemon meringue pie is your jam, the creamy lemon filling towering with an ethereal meringue puff. Maybe a classic double-crust apple pie, all warm and fragrant with spices, is your favorite. Or how about a decadent peanut butter pie that tastes like a peanut butter cup in pie form? That's a solid choice, too.

Whichever type of pie strikes your personal fancy, we're willing to bet you've baked — and sampled — varieties that are based on a graham cracker crust. From the aforementioned PB pie to tart key lime pie to, of course, that star of the pie world known as cheesecake, so many irresistible pie recipes take their flavor and texture, in part, from this sweet, crispy, honied type of crust.

 It doesn't hurt that graham cracker crusts are almost unbelievably simple to make at home, coming together in just a minute or two and requiring none of the careful rolling out of a flour crust. Typically, graham cracker crusts call for just three ingredients — graham crackers, melted butter, and sugar — but Tasting Table recipe developer Kate Shungu features a flavorful fourth ingredient in her version of a simple graham cracker crust, and we think you'll want to try her suggestion at home — stat.

Fresh lemon zest brings brightness and zing to this graham cracker crust

If you've ever made a graham cracker crust at home, then you already know that it's a quick, simple choice for homemade pies, which — let's face it — can be somewhat labor-intensive. Graham cracker crusts take some of the pressure (and time) off baking pie, calling simply for blitzed graham crackers that are stirred with melted butter and sugar and pressed into a pie pan. Typically, if the filling for your pie will be baked, you don't even need to par-bake a graham cracker crust, another time- and effort-saving plus of this type of crust.

And although graham cracker crusts are straightforward, there are easy ways to take their flavor to the next level, one of which is employed in Tasting Table recipe developer Kate Shungu's fresh take on a simple graham cracker crust. In addition to graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and granulated sugar, Shungu adds the zest of half a lemon to her pie crust. "The lemon zest provides a hint of citrus that really nicely complements a variety of fillings," she told Tasting Table, adding that she likes to pair this lemon-scented graham cracker crust with "creamy pie fillings such as banana cream pie, chocolate cream pie, or even key lime pie." So the next time you set out to bake a graham cracker crust, make sure you've got a lemon kicking around your crisper drawer.