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The Best Key Lime Pie Recipe

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This key lime pie recipe is tart, sweet, creamy, and easy to make! Only four ingredients in the easy key lime filling and three ingredients for the graham cracker crust. Even people who don't like key lime pie will like THIS one (ask me how I know).

Key Lime Pie slices on a blue and white dish towel

I have a confession to make: I never used to like key lime pie. I love basically anything else lime-flavored, but key lime pie was always a no-go for me. I just couldn't get on board… until now.

I think this is truly the best key lime pie recipe. Even I will sit down and happily chomp away at a creamy slice of this pie! Extra lime zest on my slices, please and thank you.

This key lime pie is always a hit

I've had a ton of different taste testers over the years and this is the recipe that people rave about.

I've made mini key lime pies for Friendsgiving celebrations, I've made key lime pie bars for work parties, and I've made it in its original key lime pie form (like you'll see in this post). Every time it's been a hit.

I once made the pie for a Fourth of July party where there were going to be ten people, so I sliced them into sixteen smaller slices (since it's usually eight slices). I showed up and put it in the fridge, walked away for about fifteen minutes to say hi to everyone, and by the time I came back to the kitchen to help set up there was one tiny sliver left.

Key Ingredients (pun intended)

Ingredients for key lime pie on a greenish surface
  • Graham crackers – These are going to be ground up to use in the crust.
  • Granulated sugar – This will be added to the crust for additional sweetness.
  • Unsalted butter – The butter will be melted and added to the crust to hold it together.
  • Egg yolks – You don't need any of the whites, so go ahead and save them for another recipe! Maybe make some adorable meringues.
  • Sweetened condensed milk – This is the bulk of the pie filling and adds thickness, texture, and sweetness.
  • Key lime juice – The star of the show! The key lime juice (freshly squeezed or bottled) will shine through in the pie filling.
  • Lime zest – Adds even more lime flavor.

How to Make Key Lime Pie

Pulsed graham crackers being combined with melted butter

Step 1: In a food processor, pulse graham crackers until they form small crumbs. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter and stir until combined.

Graham cracker crust being spread around a pie plate

Step 2: Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9″ pie dish.

Graham cracker crust in a pie plate

Step 3: Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Set aside, and leave the oven on – you'll need it soon.

Lime zest being poured into a bowl of egg mixture

Step 4: In a large bowl, combine egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and lime zest.

Key lime pie filling being beaten with a hand mixer

Step 5: Use a hand mixer on low speed to combine – you can also whisk by hand if desired.

Key lime pie filling being poured into a graham cracker crust

Step 6: Once combined, pour into your prepared crust.

Key lime pie filling in a graham cracker crust

Step 7: Bake for 20 minutes at 350°F, or until the top is set to the touch and appears just a little bit jiggly in the center if you wiggle the pan.

Whipped cream being piped around the crust of a key lime pie

Let cool for at least 30 minutes on a wire rack, preferably until completely cooled. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until ready to serve, or for at least 1 hour. Top with whipped cream and lime slices, slice and serve.

What's the difference between limes and key limes?

I've always wondered what the heck the difference is between limes and key limes, so I did a little research and here's what I learned:

  • The limes you usually see in grocery stores are called persian limes, and actually turn yellow when they're fully ripe, but they're only sold when they're still green.
  • Key limes are slightly more yellow in color, and used to be more prevalent in the United States before the 1920s when a hurricane wiped out many of the groves. 
  • Key limes are smaller, tarter, and their juice is more aromatic and intense.
  • And the zest of a key lime has more… well, zest, than a persian lime. 

Can I use bottled lime juice?

Key limes are harder to find in stores, but don't despair! Most stores sell bottled Nellie & Joe's Famous Key Lime Juice, so if you can't get your hands on key limes you can still make key lime pie. 

Lime slices and lime zest garnishing a key lime pie

Decorating Key Lime Pie

I don't think you need to invest time in some fancy key lime pie decoration. I love making my mascarpone whipped cream to pipe around the border, and then add thin, quartered lime slices. People have commented that having a less-sweet whipped cream on top creates a really nice balance between the sweet and tart pie.

And if you've never had my mascarpone whipped cream, it's my favorite thing and I want to put it on absolutely everything. It's less sweet than your typical canned whipped cream, and it's stabilized so it won't fall apart on you once you've piped it (but it's not stiff like buttercream).

I'm also a big fan of a big dollop of whipped cream with a cute little twist of lime right in the center. Then I add some fresh lime zest all over the top, and we're all set. It makes a pretty presentation, don't you think?

Key Lime Pie

How to store key lime pie

Store in the fridge covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil for up to 3 days.

Can I freeze key lime pie?

Without decorations or garnish, wrap the pie in two layers of plastic wrap, and place in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months.

So once your pie has cooled, you could decorate it with the whipped cream ahead of time to save yourself a few minutes before serving.

How many slices does this recipe make?

You can slice it into 8 slices, or – if you're better and slicing pan than me – you can manage to get 16 thinner slices out of it. 

Or you can just slice it in half, lift one side onto a plate and hand the pie plate with the other half to your significant other and call it a day. I'm not here to judge.

I recommend using a 9″ pan, because it gives you a decently thick crust and filling with some height. We're not talking Cheesecake Factory towering heights or anything, but it's respectable.

Sharing is caring, so invite a friend over to help you demolish the pan.

Key lime pie with a forkful taken out to reveal the creamy center and graham cracker crust

FAQs

How do I store key lime pie?

Store in the fridge covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil for up to 3 days.

Can I freeze key lime pie?

Without decorations or garnish, wrap the pie in two layers of plastic wrap, and place in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months.

What's the difference between limes and key limes?

The limes you usually see in grocery stores are called persian limes, and actually turn yellow when they're fully ripe, but they're only sold when they're still green.

Key limes are slightly more yellow in color, and used to be more prevalent in the United States before the 1920s when a hurricane wiped out many of the groves. Key limes are smaller, tarter, and their juice is more aromatic and intense.

And the zest of a key lime has more… well, zest, than a persian lime. 

Can I use bottled lime juice?

Key limes are harder to find in stores, but don't despair! Most stores sell bottled Nellie & Joe's Famous Key Lime Juice, so if you can't get your hands on key limes you can still make key lime pie. 

How many slices does this recipe make?

You can slice it into 8 slices, or you can manage to get 16 thinner slices out of it. 

Leaving a comment and star rating is a great (and free) way to support Stress Baking. After you've enjoyed this recipe, click on the stars below and leave a comment to share your experience – thank you!

The Best Key Lime Pie Recipe

4.17 from 6 votes
This key lime pie recipe is tart, sweet, creamy, and easy to make! Only four ingredients in the easy key lime filling and three ingredients for the graham cracker crust. Even people who don't like key lime pie will like THIS one (ask me how I know).
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 8 slices

Ingredients
 

Graham Cracker Crust

Key Lime Filling

Toppings (optional, but encouraged)

Instructions

Graham Cracker Crust

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a food processor, pulse graham crackers until they form small crumbs.
    1 1/2 cups (135 g) graham crackers
  • In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter and stir until combined.
    1/3 cup (66 ⅔ g) granulated sugar
    6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9″ pie dish. Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Set aside, and leave the oven on – you'll need it soon!

Key Lime Filling

  • In a large bowl, used a hand mixer on low speed to combine egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, lime juice and lime zest. You can also whisk by hand if desired.
    4 large (4) egg yolks
    2 cans (2) full-fat sweetened condensed milk
    1 cup (242 g) key lime juice
    Zest of 2 limes
  • Once combined, pour into your prepared crust.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is set to the touch and appears just a little bit jiggly in the center if you wiggle the pan.
  • Let cool for at least 30 minutes on a wire rack, preferably until completely cooled. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until ready to serve, or for at least for 1 hour.
  • Top with whipped cream and lime slices, slice and serve. Enjoy!
    Mascarpone whipped cream
    Lime slices
    Lime zest

Video

Notes

How long does key lime pie last? Stored properly in the fridge covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, it will last for up to 3 days.
Can you freeze key lime pie? Yes! Without decorations or garnish, wrap the pie in two layers of plastic wrap, and place in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months.
Key lime juice: Key limes are harder to find in stores, but don't despair! Most stores sell bottled Nellie & Joe's Famous Key Lime Juice, so if you can't get your hands on key limes you can still make key lime pie. 

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 216kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 120mg | Sodium: 118mg | Potassium: 79mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 408IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition Disclaimer

The provided nutrition information is generated by an automatic API and does not take variations across specific brands into account. This information is provided as a general guideline and should not be treated as official calculations. Learn more here.

Recipe created by Leslie Kiszka

I'm including the below picture because I think that piece of pie looks like a little lime-eared bunny and it makes me laugh. LOOK AT ITS LITTLE WHIPPED CREAM NOSE. I slay me.

Key Lime Pie slices on a blue and white dish towel

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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    As a key lime pie purist, I love your recipe. However, I’d like to offer a correction and a recommendation. You reference (and link to) a bottled product, however, this product is NOT key lime juice as the label (and ingredient list) states. “Key West Lime Juice” is exactly that, (regular) Persian lime juice from concentrate, reconstituted, preserved and bottled in Key West. One would b much better off using fresh Persian limes (sans sodium benzoate) than this bottled product, which we recommended for stripping paint or removing rust but has no place in a food product.

    Again, I love the recipe and methods you use, the pie looks great.

  2. 5 stars
    I have a friend with a key lime tree, calling her today & telling her to bring me some so I can make this pie!