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Key Lime Pie

This Key Lime Pie is an American classic. Ours is made with lime juice and sweetened condensed milk in a graham cracker crust and topped with whipped cream. Use key limes if you have them, otherwise substitute regular limes.

One slice of the best key lime pie on a plate with the rest of the pie in the background
Elise Bauer

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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.

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!

Video: How to Make Key Lime Pie

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Key Lime Pie

What Is Key Lime Pie?

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.

Pour the filling into a pre-baked graham cracker crust, bake briefly until the pie is set, and let it chill. Top the pie with whipped cream and serve.

  • For more information on making graham cracker crusts, see this post.
One slice of homemade key lime pie on a round plate
Elise Bauer

Can You Use Regular Limes to Make This Pie?

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

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

Can You Add a Meringue Topping?

Our version of Key Lime Pie has a whipped cream topping. If you'd prefer to make a meringue topping, just follow the instructions in our Lemon Meringue Pie recipe.

Key Lime Pie topped with whipped cream and lime zest
Elise Bauer

Storing Key Lime Pie

Key lime pie will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge, covered loosely with foil or plastic wrap. For presentation purposes, we recommend waiting to top your pie with whipped cream until the day you plan to serve it.

While "Frozen Key Lime Pie" exists, that's actually a different recipe. We do not recommend freezing this particular version of key lime pie.

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Key Lime Pie

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Chilling 60 mins
Total Time 100 mins
Servings 8 servings
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

  • For the Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers (from about 9 crackers, 145 g)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons white granulated sugar
  • For the Filling:
  • 1 tablespoon 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)
  • For the Whipped cream:
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon 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 at 350°F for 10 minutes, then remove and set aside.

    graham cracker crust in bowl for key lime pie
    Elise Bauer
    Pressing graham cracker crust into pie dish for key lime pie
    Elise Bauer
  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.

    Mixing the key lime pie filling with a hand mixer
    Elise Bauer
    Pour the key lime pie filling into the pre-baked pie crust
    Elise Bauer
  3. Bake:

    Pour filling into the prepared graham cracker crust and bake at 350°F 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.