Key Lime Pie

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Classic key lime pie, a tangy chilled custard pie with lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, in a graham cracker crust.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

There is something irresistible about key lime pie. Like its cousin lemon meringue, key lime pie is mouth-puckering tart and a smile-making sweet, like a pie version of lime flavored starburst candy, but in custard form, surrounded by whipped cream and graham cracker crumbs.

This all American pie is easy to make, too. Key lime pie ingredients are simple: sweetened condensed milk, lots of lime zest and juice (preferably from key limes), and just enough egg to give it a good set.

Are Key Limes Necessary for Key Lime Pie?

Key limes are great if you can get them! They’re from the Florida Keys, where they now grow wild, and are smaller and more tart than our standard Persian limes, and with yellow centers and rinds.

If you, like me, live nowhere near Florida, you can easily make key lime pie do with regular limes.

Key lime pie is one of those sweet indulgences that you probably shouldn’t eat on a daily basis. But on a hot summer day? Or for a special gathering? This key lime pie is just perfect!

 

Key Lime Pie Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Chilling time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 8

If you are using a store-bought graham cracker crust, please follow the directions on the package to pre-bake. Store-bought crusts are thinner than homemade and don't need as much time in the oven.

This filling will be enough for a standard store-bought crust. A homemade crust in a regular pie plate will hold more filling. You should be able to double the amount of filling if using a homemade crust if you want a thicker pie, in which case you will want to bake it longer, perhaps 15 minutes, for it to set.

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers (from about 9 crackers, 145 g)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp white granulated sugar

Filling:

  • 1 Tbsp lime zest for filling plus 1/2 teaspoon for the topping
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup lime juice (from about 20 key limes or 4 to 6 regular limes)

Whipped cream:

  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

1 Make the graham cracker crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix the ground graham crackers, melted butter, and sugar in a bowl.

Pour into a 9-inch pie dish and spread the graham cracker mixture with your fingers, all over the inside of the pie dish in an even layer.

You can use your fingers to do this, and then use the bottom and sides of a measuring cup or drinking glass to make smooth.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove and set aside.

2 Make the lime filling: Put the egg yolks into a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer or whisking by hand, beat until the yolks thicken and lighten up a bit in color, about 3 minutes.

Beat in the lime zest and sweetened condensed milk for another 2 minutes.

Whisk in the lime juice until smooth.

3 Bake: Pour filling into the prepared graham cracker crust and bake in the middle rack for only 10 minutes, until the filling is just set.

4 Chill: Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour to overnight.

5 Make whipped cream topping: For a good sturdy whipped cream topping, it helps to start with a chilled bowl and very cold heavy whipping cream.

Pour the cream into a large chilled bowl. Add the powdered sugar (sifted is best) and vanilla. Use an electric mixer (or whip by hand if your gym membership ran out and you want the exercise), start on low speed and increase the speed to the highest level. Whip for several minutes until firm enough to hold shape.

Don't over-whip or you'll make butter.

Spread the whipped cream over the top of the chilled key lime pie. Sprinkle with a little more lime zest.

Chill until ready to serve.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

Key Lime Pie topped with whipped cream and lime zest

15 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Patti

    Jenny had a question about how much condensed milk. Recipe actually says; 1 (one) 14 ounce can. Look at again, I think you’ll see it more clearly now.

  • Vita

    Another winner, Elise! Thank you! 17 year old niece followed the recipe to a T, and it was absolutely delicious and a hit at the Thanksgiving table. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Jenny

    Is that 1+1/4 ounce or 114 ounce of condensed milk!

  • Rivka

    Delicious and easy to make! My family could not get enough. Thanks Elise.

  • Tri

    I decided to make this tonight as a last minute dessert for a brunch I’m going to tomorrow. We will see how it tastes, but so far smells and looks delicious. One tip to add since I doubled the recipe: the key limes are pretty labor intensive so I used my garlic press to squeeze out the juice. It worked great and saved my thumbs a lot of work! I’ll report back on how the pies taste!

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