The Salty Crust Ingredient That Will Elevate Your Citrus Pies

Pie crust is one of the best parts of the pie. The flaky, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth experience that you get at the bottom of every bite is the perfect contrast to a silky, citrusy, creamy, or even chocolatey filling. But what determines whether a pie calls for a traditional crust versus a crumb crust?

Well, according to Papa C Pies, pie crust requires a longer baking time, and therefore is best accompanied by a filling that needs at least 25 minutes in the oven. For instance, fruit fillings, chicken pot pie, and quiches need time to cook and fully set. Furthermore, if you're wanting a lattice design, crimped edges, or just a picture-perfect design on top, a pie crust can give you that. However, a crumb crust is much easier. There's no rolling out dough on a floured work surface, no required rest time, and definitely no long cook times. 

A quick pulse in the food processor with melted butter, and a good pat into a pan is all it really takes. The best part? The world is your oyster when it comes to the types of cookies and crackers you can crush up to make a crust. From the basics like Oreos and graham crackers to more unique options like speculoos cookies and animal crackers, it's easy to make it your own. But, when it comes to fruity pies, a salty ingredient balances well, so why not pulse a salty cracker into the crust?

Saltine crackers

According to MyRecipes, saltine crackers are the perfect star to a crumb crust when wanting something salty, yet not as buttery as a Ritz cracker. These sidekicks to soup are so satisfying and provide enough salt to balance out the tangy, sweet, citrusy filling in most fruit pies. In fact, salt is becoming more talked about in the food world, with much emphasis on how important it can be in a sweet dessert. Without it, flavor falls flat.

Furthermore, according to Food & Wine, chef Kelly Fields' great-aunt developed her lemon chiffon pie during the Great Depression and used saltine crackers in place of graham crackers due to their low cost. The combination not only was budget-friendly, but brilliant in that its saltiness balanced the tart flavor of lemon well. While you can easily pulse the saltine crackers with melted butter and call it a day, Southern Living adds a bit of decadence by sprinkling some sugar into the mix and uses it as the crust for their Key Lime-Buttermilk and Mango-Lemon-Buttermilk pies.