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
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.
- 1 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers (from about 9 crackers, 145 g)
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 3 Tbsp white granulated sugar
- 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)
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
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 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.
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