Key Lime Pie

filed under: Dessert · Pies + Tarts on July 3, 2020

Key Lime Pie is a creamy and refreshing pie with just the right amount of tartness, all topped with a homemade whipped topping. For a slightly sweeter pie, try my Lemonade Pie!

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie is considered the official pie of the Florida Keys, and everyone claims to have the authentic recipe! I stuck with the traditional ingredients of the key lime juice, egg yolks, and condensed milk for this recipe. I went with homemade whipped topping and a graham cracker crust, but some may argue that it needs a meringue topping with a pastry crust.

ONe Slice of Real Key Lime Pie on White Plate with White Fork

What is the Difference Between Key Limes and Limes?

After having tested it several times I can tell you that without a doubt, there is a difference between regular limes (Persian limes) and key limes. Those limes you buy at the grocery store a typically bigger and greener than the smaller, and often yellower, key lime. 

A visual comparison of Persian limes and key limes
A true Key Lime Pie will be tart. Truly. It is lip-smackin delicious, but it is tart. A true key lime pie will also be more on the yellow side. If the pie is green it either has food coloring or is a Persian lime pie, which is ultimately less tangy tasting and it is a noticeable difference. 

Key Lime Pie Recipe

There are three important parts to this recipe–the crust, the pie filling, and the whipped topping. Since Key Lime Pie is named after key limes (smaller than golf balls with yellow-green skin), make sure to use key lime juice for the distinctive flavor.

Crust Ingredients (full recipe below)

  • Graham cracker crumbs–Can’t find graham cracker crumbs? You can always make your own crumbs by adding graham crackers into a storage bag and crushing them with a rolling pin.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Butter

Pie Filling Ingredients

  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Egg yolks
  • Key lime juice–You can find bottles of key lime juice next to lime juice at the grocery store. If you stick with regular lime juice, the pie will not turn out as flavorful.
  • Lime zest

Whipped Topping Ingredients

  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Confectioners’ sugar

Slice of Key Lime Pie Showing the Side - tall crust and creamy filling

How to Make the Crust

You may have noticed, I have a LOT of crust in this pie. You could use less, of course, but over the years I have heard that it’s something people love about my key lime pie!

If possible, make your own crust. The store-bought crusts are okay, but they just aren’t up to par with the homemade ones. To make the graham cracker crust, you could buy the graham cracker crumbs or crush about 10 graham crackers.

If you have to crush your own crackers, add them to a food processor and process until you have a fine crumb. You could also use a rolling pin to roll over the cookies that are in sealed plastic baggies to get them into fine crumbs. A hammer also works, but just gentle taps!

Combine the crushed crackers, granulated sugar, and melted butter in a medium bowl until the mixture is combined. When mixing together the ingredients (with a fork), make sure every single graham cracker crumb is coated in butter. The butter acts as the binding agent, so when you see recipes that have piles of graham crackers left on the plate, it is usually because they were not coated with butter.

Press the crust into a prepared 8-inch pie dish using your hand or the bottom of a glass to get the crust flattened across the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 15 minutes while you prepare the key lime pie filling.

Overhead View of Key Lime Pie with Whipped Cream Dollops and a sliced key lime next to it

How to Make the Key Lime Pie Filling

This filling is where all that key lime flavor is. I even added a little zest of lime to give it a little boost. To make the filling, use a medium bowl to stir and combine the condensed milk, whipped egg yolks, key lime juice, and lime zest.

Pour the mixture into the baked pie crust, and put the pie back in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes. The internal temperature of the filling should be 145°F when done baking. Chill the pie in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. When the pie is almost completely chilled, make the homemade whipped topping.

How to Make Homemade Whipped Cream

  • Don’t aim for “stiff peaks”. You want the whipped cream to keep its shape and be soft, billowing peaks. If by chance you OVERBEAT the whipped cream (I have done this and cried!) fixing it is actually very easy. Simply add in more fresh heavy whipping cream and whisk by hand. My life was changed when I found that out!
  • Wait until peaks start to form before adding in the confectioners’ sugar. I much prefer confectioners sugar in this recipe, as it dissolves entirely and leaves a smooth texture. If you choose to use granulated sugar be sure to add it immediately at the beginning and whip it with the cream.
  • Homemade whipped cream is best used immediately, but it can be stored for up to 10 hours if needed. After that, it may start to separate.

Top the chilled Key Lime Pie with the whipped cream and serve! If you would rather top this pie with a meringue topping, just use the meringue recipe in my Lemon Meringue Pie. Store the pie in the refrigerator, loosely covered with aluminum foil, for up to three days.

To freeze Key Lime Pie, freeze it without the added whipped topping. Place the pie in the freezer for a couple of hours before double wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap. Keep it in a heavy-duty freezer bag. Remember to label and date the wrapping; the pie will last for up to a month in the freezer. Thaw the pie in the refrigerator.

Fork Taking Out a Bite of Key Lime Pie

Looking for More Pie Recipes?

Lemon Meringue Pie

Banana Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie

Peppermint Cream Pie

Key Lime Pie
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Chill
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 25 mins
 

Key Lime Pie is a creamy and refreshing pie with just the right amount of tartness, all topped with a homemade whipped topping.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Key Lime Pie
Servings: 8
Calories: 593 kcal
Author: Amanda Rettke--iambaker.net
Ingredients
GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 10 crackers) graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter, up to 6 tablespoons, if needed
KEY LIME PIE FILLING
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 large egg yolks, whipped
  • ¾ cup key lime juice, fresh is best
  • 1 teaspoon key lime zest
WHIPPED TOPPING
  • 1 pint (454g) heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (31g) confectioners' sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and grease an 8-inch pie pan.

  2. In a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and 4 tablespoons of the butter. Add more butter if needed.

  3. Using a fork, mix well. You want every crumb coated in the butter as this will be the glue that holds it together.

  4. Pour the graham cracker crumbs into the prepared 8-inch pie dish. Pat them flat with your hand and then use a kitchen glass to press flatter. Start at the center and work out to the sides. You can go as far up the sides as you would like.

  5. Bake the crust for 15 minutes.

KEY LIME PIE FILLING
  1. While the crust is baking, add the condensed milk, egg yolks, key lime juice, and zest to a medium bowl. Stir to combine.

  2. Pour mixture into the baked crust.

  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The pie is done when you see the tiny surface bubbles start to pop, or the internal temperature is 145°F.

  4. As soon as the pie comes to room temperature, chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

WHIPPED TOPPING
  1. When the pie is almost done chilling, add heavy cream to a mixing bowl. Start mixing at the lowest speed, and then gradually increase speed to medium until the cream starts to get thicker. (The gradual progression prevents you from spraying yourself with cream.)
  2. When the cream starts to thicken, stop the mixer. Slowly add in the confectioners' sugar and then resume mixing again, starting with low speed and increasing to medium speed and eventually moving to a high speed.
  3. The cream will thicken and start to peak. Mix on high until the cream is thick and stiff. This happens quickly, the stage between soft and stiff peaks, so watch it closely.
  4. Top the pie with whipped topping and serve!

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Comments

  • Eunice Mashamba says:

    It looks yummmy

  • Bette J Prince says:

    In the list of ingredients for the crust you list 6 tablespoons of melted butter but in the directions you say to add 4 tablespoons of butter. What are the extra 2 tablespoons of butter for?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Bette! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. The extra tablespoons of butter are if you need any extra for the crust. If you notice the crust is not holding together, add a bit more butter. I hope this helps, and have a great day!

  • Kim Beattie says:

    Hi .. I live in Florida and I love Key Lime Pie. I have never made one though I go to restaurants that make it homemade and vote on my favs. I made a good Key Lime Cheesecake. I think I would like to make a Key Lime Pie now though . So my question is this looks creamy like I like it . But is it a thin pie or a taller one. If not tall can you use one and half times the filling to get a taller pie?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Kim! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. You could definitely double the recipe, but you would probably need to adjust the crust and pan size as well, as we have not replicated the recipe with increased amounts. I hope this helps, and have a great day!