Grapefruit Cream Pie, 1941 – Mid-Century Recipe Test

Posted on May 13 2015 - 4:18am by RetroRuth

I was pretty excited when I picked out this recipe. Grapefruit Cream Pie! How good does that sound?


Well, it probably sounds better if last week you had to eat a Crabmeat and Grapefruit Cocktail. Compared to that, a Grapefruit Pie sounds like the best thing in the world.

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Grapefruit Cream Pie001

Grapefruit Cream Pie
Serves: 6
  • ¼ cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2½ cups fresh grapefruit pulp
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • Baked pastry shell
  1. Combine ingredients, chill, and fill 8-inch pastry shell. Chill until ready to serve.

In a quick side note, I subbed out a graham cracker crust for the pastry shell, which I do for almost every mid-century recipe that calls for a pre-baked pie shell.


On a positive note, I am finally starting to get the hang of sectioning citrus fruit. On a not so positive note, right after I took this picture I crushed these to pulp.


This pie reminded me of another rather famous pie, the Borden Magic Lemon Pie. The idea behind that pie is that you mix together lemon juice and sweetened condensed milk and, thanks to the “magic” of cooking science, the filling thickens with no cooking. They still publish that same recipe today, though now they have updated the filling to be baked.

In any case, I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that this pie would be delicious.

That’s usually where you run into trouble.




“This is gross.”

“Really? I thought grapefruit pie would be good!”

“You have to try this.”

“Ugh! Why is this so bad?”

“I don’t know. You tell me.”

The Verdict: Gross

From The Tasting Notes

Almost inedible. Basically tasted like milk that’s past its expiration date. So, so bad. This was a shock, because based on Magic Lemon Pie I thought this was going to be good. The only thing it really had going for it was the graham cracker crust. Maybe the egg yolks in Magic Lemon Pie are the secret ingredient? In either case, don’t waste your time with this one, just go straight for Magic Lemon Pie and be done with it.

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

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13 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. AE May 13, 2015 at 8:40 am - Reply

    Milk with grapefruit?! Pretty gross!

  2. Yinzerella May 13, 2015 at 9:28 am - Reply

    Yeah, right off the bat this screamed “GROSS” to me.
    But, also, I don’t eat grapefruit, so there’s that.

  3. RD May 13, 2015 at 9:28 am - Reply

    I could have told you that before you even tried it! Yuck! Your husband is a great sport though!

  4. Lassie May 13, 2015 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Lemons and grapefruits are both citrus, but the lemon pie uses a bit of rind and lemon JUICE. Combined with sweetened condensed milk, it melds into a smooth sweet-and-sour tasty treat. This recipe uses mashed up grapefruit (which is bitter compared with a lemon, not just sour – bitter) so you not only have a bitter grapefruit note, but blobs of mashed up fruit floating around in it. The texture is bad…Maybe using oranges would be better. I would whir orange pulp only (no white or skin) in the blender to make it ultra smooth, and a little finely grated orange rind.

  5. OLD&GRUMPY May 13, 2015 at 6:21 pm - Reply

    I have 3 grapefruit trees that if you keep the fruit on the tree until the skin looks ugly are so sweet you can just peel and eat them.Citrus in the supper market is picked too early and will never reach the peak flavor. A tip—NEVER put fruit or tomatoes in the frig. The cold causes the sugars to convert backwards . Just buy less and eat faster. Caned is punishment!

  6. Lisa B. May 13, 2015 at 8:25 pm - Reply

    I adore grapefruit (as Old&Grumpy suggests, the ugly ones are just delicious).

    This recipe had “OH. NO.” written all over it. What a shame to waste perfectly lovely fruit. And once again, poor poor Tom.

    • OLD&GRUMPY May 13, 2015 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      If you ever get the chance try a meyers lemon that has been left on the tree until it’s over ripe. Lemon candy!!!!!!

  7. Mark. May 15, 2015 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    Sometimes spoilt milk, at least the modern-style pasteurized stuff, goes bitter when it goes bad. Add a bit of curdling from the acidity to the bitterness of grapefruit, and, yeah, I can see how this recipe could bring bad milk to mind.

    I do like chicories and don’t mind tonic water to maybe I should give grapefruit another chance after avoiding them for years. Not this way, though.

  8. Michael May 16, 2015 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    The reason the Lemon Pie works is that it’s just an old Lemon Ice Box Pie recipe with a meringue topping. Nothing beats Lemon Ice Box Pie. As for the Grapefruit Pie…I’ve always found grapefruit too bitter for most uses. Was the pie bitter?

  9. Amorette May 19, 2015 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Grapefruit can react differently than other citrus because it is slightly different chemically. That’s why my husband can’t eat grapefruit. It interferes with his medication.

    I wonder if someone dreamed this up to fill out a recipe book and never actually tried it because my first thought, oh, I wonder if grapefruit juice reacts badly with dairy products.

    Apparently, it does.

  10. Susan May 22, 2015 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    Hi there! I do know a similar recipie; although i always use the pulp from squeezing the juice of the grapefruit not the actual sections – so you have no lumps in it. However my recipe uses egg yolks… perhaps they were just forgotten to be written up.

    Looking forward for more experiments!

  11. Altitude5280 June 8, 2015 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    The stuff in the bowl looks like something ate and lost. 😛

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