Joy’s Prize Winning Secret Ingredient Tropical Icebox Pie | Grain and Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Raw.

If you’ve been visiting Foodie with Family for any amount of time, you know by now that I won’t give you a recipe JUST because it’s healthy, right? You know that I take a serious stand on the fact that food must -above all else- taste great.  Have I steered you wrong yet?

Joy's Secret Ingredient Lemon Lime Avocado No Sugar Icebox Pie |

So when I tell you I have a creamy, lemon-lime, sweet, luscious, icebox pie with a lovely crumb crust that is *GASP* actually good for you and has ZERO sugar, dairy, gluten, or grains in it, will you believe me? Oh you’d better believe me. What’s the secret? Let me tell you a story…

I have a friend on a very restrictive diet. She’s become something of a wizard at making delectables that fit all of the rules that limit what she can and cannot eat. A few weeks ago, a highly-regarded local restaurant held a pie contest. Contestants were asked to bring the pies along with a copy of their recipe. The recipe was to remain sealed and unexamined until the blind taste test was done. The winner would receive a meal at the restaurant, a generous cash prize (or gift card for the equivalent), and have their pie featured on the restaurant’s menu for the summer. There were categories for fruit pies, custard pies, and savoury pies. My friend entered her grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free pie in the contest with few hopes that it would get any attention.

When she came back later to collect her pie plate, she couldn’t find it anywhere. She found one of the contest organizers to ask where it was and was flabbergasted to learn that she had not just won her category, she had won the overall grand prize.

Now, let me tell you a little something about where we live. It’s full of hard-working, salt-of-the-earth people who aren’t always known for adventurous or mega health-conscious eating.

…And my friend won the contest with a pie that was arguably health food. If that and the fact that I don’t do-health-food-for-the-sake-of-health-food doesn’t convince you this is worth a try, maybe this picture will.

Joy's Secret Ingredient Lemon Lime Avocado No Sugar Icebox Pie |

How to make a delicious grain-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, raw pie. No joke!

Icebox pies are some of my all-time favourites, and this one is the current top of the heap. It’s like a pie plate full of the creamiest lemon lime ice cream of all time. Somehow it manages to be rich and indulgent but not weigh you down after you eat it. Are you ready to find out what’s in it? Maybe you’ve already figured out some of it!

The crust is finely chopped almonds or pecans, unsweetened flaked coconut, and pitted dates whizzed together in the food processor until it forms a clumpy, crumbly mess. This is pressed into the pie plate and refrigerated while the filling is prepared.

The filling? Are you holding onto your hat? Avocados, honey, lemon and lime juice and zest, extra virgin coconut oil, and just a kiss of vanilla extract are blitzed together in the food processor to form a smooth custard then poured into the crumb crust and frozen. Don’t even look at me like that. This isn’t just good. It’s GREAT!

Joy's Secret Ingredient Lemon Lime Avocado No Sugar Icebox Pie |

Look at that crust! I liked this crust so much that I think this might be my new go-to crumb crust for all pies that require them. In fact, I might even start using this instead of my graham cracker crust on my cheesecakes. The texture is the perfect combination of crumbly and coherent. It’s sweet and nutty. Gosh, folks… it’s just so good.

I am going to hop up and down on my couch until you try this. I won’t hear any excuses… even my avocado hating kids couldn’t get enough of this pie. Granted, they DID refer to it as guacamole pie, but I think it’s because they ate it, so who cares?

Some preparation notes:

  • There are a lot of ranges in this recipe instead of specifics. For instance, the recipe specifies six to twenty pitted dates. I know, it sounds crazy, but there’s a reason. Dates vary widely in size and moisture content. If you have adorable, tiny, pitted dates, you’re going to need more. If you have massive, luscious pitted dates, you’ll need fewer. In the places where I’ve given you ranges, start with the lower amounts and work your way up, tasting as you go. Because all of the ingredients used in this recipe are safe to eat raw, there’s no danger in doing that!
  • These can easily be made into individually sized pies. Use small single-serving pie shells to press your crust into and divide the filling between them. Voila! Mini icebox pies!
  • If you favour lime over lemon, replace all of the lemons called for with limes. Likewise, if you prefer all lemon to lime, sub in lemons for the limes.
  • The pie in my pictures is almost vegan… ALMOST, but not quite. It does contain honey, so if you’re looking to adapt this, you’ll want to nix the honey in favour of agave syrup. I personally prefer the honey, but it’s an easy substitute to flip this recipe all the way into the vegan camp.
  • There’s no doubt this pie is expensive with six whole avocados in it. If you’d like to make it more affordable, halve the amount of filling and make it in a standard pie plate instead of a deep dish one.
  • Don’t be tempted to substitute some other oil for the extra virgin coconut oil. Part of the alchemy that makes this pie filling so ever loving creamy is the viscosity and melting properties of this particular oil. It is creamy and solid at anything under 75°F. You can’t get that PLUS the mild flavour it delivers from any other oil.

4.0 from 1 reviews
Joy’s Prize Winning Secret Ingredient Tropical Icebox Pie | Grain Free, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Raw.
Prep time
Total time
This beautiful, creamy, indulgent, lemon-lime, mile-high, icebox pie just so happens to be good for you. How is that possible? It's also friendly for a wide-range of dietary restrictions because it is gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, sugar-free and raw. With one minor adjustment it is also vegan-friendly. Ever so slightly adapted recipe courtesy of my friend Joy Hinterkopf
For the Crust:
  • ¾ cup whole, raw almonds
  • 1 cup unsweetened, finely flaked coconut
  • 6-20 pitted dates
For the Filling:
  • 6 perfectly ripe avocados
  • The juice and zest of 4 lemons, or more
  • the juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 1 cup extra virgin coconut oil, heated just to the melting point: 76°F.
  • ¾ to 1½ cups honey, or more to taste (Use agave instead to make this pie vegan.)
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch of salt
Optional Garnish:
  • Thinly sliced limes
  • lime zest
To Make the Crust:
  1. Add the almonds and coconut flakes to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until it is the texture of fine fresh bread crumbs. Add 6 pitted dates to the work bowl and process until the dates are completely ground into the nuts and coconut. Open the food processor and pull out about a tablespoon of the mixture. Press it firmly together in your hands. If it clumps, it's ready. If it falls apart and doesn't hold together, return it to the food processor and add dates, 1 at a time, processing and testing after each addition, until it clumps well. Turn the mixture into a deep dish pie plate and press it firmly and evenly on the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Put the pie plate in the refrigerator while working on the filling.
To Make the Filling:
  1. Wipe or rinse the food processor work bowl and blade clean. Halve and pit all of the avocados. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh from the shells into the work bowl of the food processor fitted with a metal blade. Immediately add the lemon and lime juice and zest, coconut oil, ¾ cup of the honey, vanilla extract and salt. Fit the lid in place and process until smooth. Taste the mixture. If it needs additional sweetness or acidity, adjust it with more honey and/or lemon juice. Remember that things taste less sweet when they're frozen so you might want the mixture slightly sweeter than you think you'd like it. Scrape the filling into the prepared pie crust and smooth or mound it as you'd like. Put it directly into the freezer until the surface is firm (about 2 hours), then cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pie.
To Serve the Pie:
  1. If you wish, you can garnish the pie with thin slices of lime and a scattering of lime zest. Slice the pie into wedges of desired size and serve while still frozen like an ice cream pie.




  1. Anita says

    Do you think that sunflower seeds work work.okay instead of the nuts for the crust? I have a darling nephew who is allergic (mostly to peanuts, but they prefer to avoid all nuts) and I would love to make this for them (and honestly, for myself) :)

    • says

      Pumpkin seeds are another option for the nut-intolerant, and have a less distinctive flavor than sunflower seeds – a plus in this recipe, I think.

  2. says

    Well, if there was ever a perfect pie ever made for Africa this one is it!
    Coconut oil…..check!
    Lemons and limes…..check and check!
    Avocados……..check! {and in season, no less}
    Now just have to wait for Ramadan for the dates to show up and we are good!
    Makes me happy just to think about it!

  3. says

    I love your blog. It’s the first place I go to when I’m ready to cook. But I have one quibble on this recipe–I ran it through, and one serving (of 8 per pie) was 700 calories, nearly 54 grams of fat, and 45 grams of sugar. The pie is beautiful and sounds delicious, and I’m all for indulging now and then, but how does this count as healthy?

    • says

      Hi Nancy! Thanks for being so loyal! I understand what you’re saying, but for myself, I don’t believe calories determine how healthy a dish is. Before I get into why, though, let me mention that I think 8 slices from the pie is a bit conservative. Because it is so rich, I’d say you could get twice that from the pie.

      Now, the why… I think the degree to which a dish can be called healthy relies more on the quality and type of ingredients. It is more about how the body digests and metabolizes the fat and calories from ingredients. Avocados are VERY easily digested by the body and the fats are of the ‘good fat’ variety. The same goes for the extra virgin coconut oil and nuts. In addition to all that goodness, you’re getting a nice dose of dietary fiber and Vitamin B-6, Vitamin C, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, Folate, and Copper just to name a few!

      The same holds for the type of carbohydrates (or sugars) in the recipe. Honey is far easier for the body to digest than regular old white granulated sugar. There are much smarter people than me who have written treatises on the subject. If someone here could weigh in with one of those studies, I’d be much obliged!

      Were you to have a pie of comparable calorie and fat count that was made of margarine and whipped topping and graham crackers, you’d be looking at another thing entirely. As it stands, though, there is a lot of what is very good for you in this dessert. And as you said, this is an indulgence. As far as indulgences go, though, I’m stickin’ with calling it healthy!

  4. Christina says

    I just put one of these babies in the freezer! I am running my finger around the bowl of my food processor and licking it clean. Holy cannoli, this is severely decadent in the best of ways! I was going to comment on your FB page, but didn’t want the husband to see- it’s his father’s day surprise. :)

  5. Christine says

    Well- it’s in the freezer!!! I am feeling a little nervous about it – I couldn’t decide how much of some stuff to add. I had nice sticky dates, but fairly small. I think I probably used at least 125g before it just started to clump – then I stopped. I appreciated the direction detail on that! I couldn’t decide how much honey I wanted either – was trying to minimize. It tasted good from the start but not sure if sweet enough for the kids to buy in – so added another glop (technical honey term there…) I am not a fan of the colour on mine – it is pretty drab green – not especially appetizing – but as my husband is in the army I am going to play that up as intentional for Father’s Day. Too bad we’re Canadian or I’d call it Semper Pie or something marine-ish!

    • Christine says

      BIG HIT with husband and adult son. 11 and 14 yr old thought too sour. Whatever. We put raspberries on the side. It plates beautifully, and we cut ours for 16 servings and were happy with portion size. Next time, AND THERE WILL BE A NEXT TIME(!) I may try adding raspberries right into it. Or other fruit. Lovelovelovelovelove.

      • says

        Yay!!!! I love the pie, too! Joy did mention to me that she adds raspberries on top of the pie. I couldn’t lay my hands on any, so off they stayed!

  6. Leslie says

    Long time reader, first time poster. I can’t wait to make this! My hubby is a self-proclaimed picky eater, and I LOVE food…all food. He particulary will not relent on avocados, and I keep threatening that I’m going to find a way to sneak them into his food and he will never know the difference. I think this recipe may be the one. My guy cannot turn down a slice of key lime pie! Muahahahah :)

    • says

      As long as you pour the lemon juice over the avocados immediately after halving them and scooping them into the food processor, they should avoid browning. I used Haas avocados. It doesn’t really matter, though, as long as they’re perfectly ripe. That’s part of why there are ranges for the honey and lemon/lime juices. You can taste it and adjust it to your liking!

  7. Michelle G says

    I would personally love to hear if Leslie was able to slip this lovely sounding pie past her Avocado hating hubby o.0
    … and what his response was if she pulled it off =P

    Thought I would also share a little tip on how to tell a ripe Avocado.

    Most folk slightly squeeze around the fruit to check for softness as an indicator of ripeness. PLEASE DON’T DO THAT! We are just bruising the poor berry (yes it is botanically classified as a berry) when we “squeeze the Charmin” like that. Checking for softness can be deceiving as we might actually be feeling bruising and not a true ripening. I have been totally guilty of this myself until I discovered the real way to do it from an old chef friend.

    You simply push in, ever so slightly, on the stem connecting end of the fruit. You know, the spot where the Avocado was detached from the tree; it’s Belly-Button if you will (and it’s usually an “outty” lol). When the fruit is ripe, this spot will sink in a bit when gently pushed. Easy peezy AND we save the fruit from unnecessary bruising =)

  8. says

    Today is menu planning day and I am so going to put this at the top of my list. I’m excited already. Thank you :) Love your blog btw.

  9. says

    Oh my. This is heaven on a plate with just a smattering of ecstasy sprinkled on top. Not sure if I am planning on sharing! I had some left over filling which I have put in the freezer labelled “Mummy’s Ice Cream” I don’t usually eat ice cream so I reckon I am safe from inquisitive children!

  10. Patrick says

    WOW!! I was at a 4th party and had a chance to eat this great pie! Awesome, fresh light all around goodness. If. Someone is allergic ( or claims to be) to coconut what can be substituted for the flakes? I say claim because I’ve seen them eat other things with coconut & no reaction except for complaining about the flakes being stuck in their teeth… I’ve bookmarked this and will share it with others, keep up the great work! Why don’t you have a cooking show!?! This needs to be brought to the masses.

  11. says

    Love it! Looks beautiful and I’m sure it’s delicious too. I’m going to try it soon. I also featured it on my latest post New Ways to Eat Avocado | 10 Savory and Healthy Avocado Recipes. My readers loved it too!

  12. Jo Merrell says

    How much avocado should I use? Four California Haas avocados equals less than two Florida avocados?

    an aside:
    I live in Florida and had to cut my avocado trees down years ago. The Florida avocado population might get wiped out soon due to the laurel wilt disease attacking all trees in that family. We lost four huge Bay trees this year. So people, enjoy your avocados while you can!

  13. The MamaS says

    OMG! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! SOOO amazing. I had my own homemade pie crust (made from a kombucha scoby) and made only the filling from this recipe. I’m seriously lucky I that me and my 3.5 yr old DD didn’t eat the entire batch before filling my pie crust! It was enough for me to make 2 normal pies, and I had a couple cups left over which I threw into a blender with 3 frozen bananas and 1.5 cups milk. Made a MASSIVE smoothie that I shared with the wee one for snack, and had enough left over in the blender to make 6 popsicles for later! And I haven’t even tried it as a pie yet! Just the filling alone makes me know that it’s going to be amazing once it’s a little more solid! Again thank you! For in my house, we are renaming it Feel Better Pie, since it’s SO high in Vit. C, good fats, and with the kombucha crust, probiotics – This will be one of my go to food medicine, besides, you always feel better and happy eating pie! And how fitting the creators name is Joy, she is certainly bring joy into our house tonight!!! Thanks again!!

  14. Melissa says

    I am wondering if I can keep this in the freezer for a few days and let it thaw a bit before serving. I am making it for a birthday- and my avocados are perfectly ripe today. Thanks- m

  15. says

    Let me tell you…it is so refreshing to finally see an ice box pie recipe on Pinterest that does not involve pudding mix and cool whip. And the fact that it’s full of delicious avocado…I must make this soon! Or at least a mini version, cause I’d end up eating it all myself. :)

  16. Cami says

    Anyone tried this filling with gluten free ginger snaps (trader joe’s) made into a crust? Wondering how they’d do together.

  17. Sylvia Lansberg says

    I noted that this recipe was touted as “no sugar”. Not quite true…..honey or agave are sugars. As a recently diagnosed type 2 diabetic I thought that “no sugar” was very misleading. Can you think of a substitute that might work for a diabetic diet?

    • says

      Actually, it’s not misleading at all. There are quite a few diets out there (Paleo and Weston A. Price, for example) in which honey and maple syrup are acceptable but sugar and other sweeteners are not. I didn’t call it sweetener free. As for a substitute, the honey does not really make a huge difference in the overall texture of the pie, so you’re welcome to substitute any sweetener in there you’d like, but I cannot vouch for the results as this was tested with honey.

  18. Caitlin says

    What would be best to replace the almonds with? I am allergic to them (but not any other nuts). Thanks!

    • says

      Macadamia nuts might taste nice. I haven’t tested this with any other nuts, though, so you’d be experimenting. I’d love to hear what you use in place of the almonds.

  19. Christine says

    May I provide some feedback now that I’ve made it? It might help someone avoid the pitfalls I unfortunately discovered. It is a good pie. But prep time is no where close to 15 minutes – six avocados to process, six limes to zest and juice, dates to pit, crust ingredients to process and press into a pie plate – this is somewhat labor intensive and realistically this was more like 45 minutes to an hour. The color of my pie was more like another reader mentioned, not a bright summery green, but more of an intense deep green that might give one pause when looking at it on the serving table. I brought this to a party, thinking it was “ready to eat out of the freezer”, but sadly ended up bringing the entire thing back home with me as no one was able to cut into the rock hard pie in the hour-long period we were eating dessert. Save yourself the embarrassment and take it out at least an hour before serving. I sure wish I had. It was quite the joke of the party! We’ve since been enjoying it at home, but I sliced it when the pie was out one day and now remove it piece by piece and let it thaw.

    • says

      Thanks for your feedback, Christine. My prep time may be skewed by the fact that I’ve spent years working in professional kitchens prepping food and I’m wicked fast at it. I will say, though, that I start with pitted dates and that in and of itself is a huge time saver. I think the longest part of the process is the zesting of the limes and that is made significantly easier when you have a microplane handy.


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