Key Lime Pie Recipe


What are the main ingredients required for a traditional Key Lime Pie recipe?

Key Lime Pie is a classic dessert with a distinctive flavor, originating from the tartness of key limes. The core ingredients are:

Graham Cracker Crust: Either store-bought or homemade. If opting for homemade, you can crush graham crackers using a food processor or a rolling pin after placing them in a plastic bag.

Key Lime Pie Filling: A creamy filling made by whipping egg yolks until they’re pale yellow. The other two essential ingredients include a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk and key limes, utilized both for their zest and juice.

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Whipped Topping: While Key Lime Pie is delightful when served plain, many prefer to add a topping. Popular choices include homemade whipped cream, canned whipped topping, or a meringue topping. Some also like to top their pie with a meringue recipe , like the one from the Lemon Meringue Pie.

key lime pie

It’s worth noting that while the above are the foundational ingredients, there are many variations to the recipe, allowing for a personalized touch.

Why is Key Lime Pie often pale greenish-yellow and not bright green?

Key Lime Pie’s iconic pale greenish-yellow hue arises from the natural color of key lime juice. Some commercial bakeries or pre-packaged pies might contain artificial green coloring, leading some to believe that the pie should be a vibrant green. This isn’t traditional.

In fact, it’s mentioned that sometimes a bit of green food coloring can be added, especially during festivities like St. Patrick’s Day. However, the true shade of a Key Lime Pie should lean more towards a pale greenish-yellow. Bright green pies are usually a result of artificial coloring.

If you’re aiming for authenticity, it’s best to avoid unnecessary food dyes. Embrace the pie’s natural color, which is a testament to its rich and genuine key lime content.

How can you differentiate between regular limes and key limes?

When embarking on the journey of making a Key Lime Pie, it’s essential to know the difference between key limes and regular limes.

  • Size & Appearance: Key limes, often referred to as bartender limes or West Indian limes, are notably smaller than the standard lime. A ripe key lime transitions from a bright green to a more yellow hue, differentiating itself from the consistent green of regular limes.
  • Taste & Acidity: Freshly picked key limes are tart, more so than their larger counterparts. Their acidity level is significantly higher. As they ripen, they lose some of this tartness and become sweeter.
  • Juice Output: Due to their smaller size, you’d need more key limes to produce the same amount of juice as one regular lime. Typically, 6 fresh key limes can be replaced by 1 large regular lime.

Being informed about these differences ensures that you choose the right lime for your pie. While regular limes can be a substitute, key limes offer a distinct flavor that sets the pie apart.

What are the variations and additions that can be incorporated into a Key Lime Pie?

A classic Key Lime Pie is a treat on its own, but there’s always room for creativity in the kitchen. Here are some enticing variations:

  • Coconut Key Lime Pie: Integrating shredded coconut into the graham cracker crust or sprinkling toasted coconut on top introduces a tropical twist to the pie. For those who love the fusion of coconut and lime, there’s a delightful Coconut Lime Porridge recipe to explore.
  • Toasted Meringue Key Lime Pie: Swapping whipped cream for toasted meringue offers a light, airy texture with a touch of sweetness.
  • Key Lime Pie Bars: Transform the classic pie into convenient bars using a square baking dish. Perfect for parties!
  • Key Lime Cheesecake: Combining the tartness of Key Lime Pie with the creaminess of cheesecake creates a dessert that’s truly indulgent.
  • Key Lime Ice Cream Pie: For a summer treat, freezing the pie post-baking presents a cold, refreshing dessert.

These are just a few of the endless variations you can experiment with. Let your creativity soar, and who knows? You might just come up with the next big twist on this classic dessert.

key lime pie

How should one properly store and freeze a Key Lime Pie?

Preserving the texture and flavor of your Key Lime Pie is crucial. Here’s a guide on storing and freezing:

  • Short-Term Storage: After indulging, cover the leftover pie tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. This will maintain its freshness for 2-3 days.
  • Freezing: Ensure the pie has cooled completely. Then wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or place it in a freezer-safe bag. The pie can be frozen for up to 2-3 months.
  • Thawing: When you’re ready to relish the frozen pie, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. Keep in mind that post-freezing, the texture may slightly vary, but the flavor will remain intact.
  • Serving: Key Lime Pie is best enjoyed chilled. Before serving, refrigerate it for a few hours, preferably overnight. This not only allows the flavors to meld but ensures the filling sets perfectly.

Are there alternatives for key limes in a Key Lime Pie recipe?

Yes, alternatives do exist. While key limes provide that distinctive tartness synonymous with the pie, in their absence, regular limes can serve as a substitute.

  • Lime Substitution: If key limes or key lime juice are out of reach, you can opt for regular limes. Typically, 6 key limes can be swapped out for 1 large regular lime. As for the juice, maintain a 1:1 ratio.
  • Taste Consideration: While the pie will still be scrumptious, substituting regular limes might slightly alter its iconic flavor. Most people, however, might not discern the difference.

Always remember, while the type of lime can influence the pie’s taste, it’s the love and effort you pour into the baking process that truly makes it special. Whether it’s a Key Lime Pie or a Key Lime Pound Cake, it’s the passion for baking that shines through.

key lime pie

Key Lime Pie recipe

Dive into this delectable Key Lime Pie recipe, a culinary gem hailing from Savannah, Georgia. With its impeccable balance between tangy and sweet, it promises a delightful bite every time.
4.25 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Key Lime Pie, Lime Pie
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 8


  • Electric Hand Mixer
  • Traditional Oven



  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs


  • 4 egg yolks
  • 14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 key limes for both zesting and juicing
  • Nellie & Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice to supplement if required
  • Optional: Whipped topping for garnish


Crafting the Crust:

  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugar. Fold in the graham cracker crumbs.
  • Transfer this mix to a 9-inch pie dish, pressing down on both the base and sides to create an even crust. Tip: A flat base of a measuring cup can be effective in pressing the crumbs firmly.
  • Let it chill for about an hour till it’s firm. Alternatively, bake it at 375°F for 5 minutes. Let it cool before adding the filling.

Whipping up the Filling:

  • Start by preheating your oven to 350°F.
  • Zest the key limes until you gather about 2 teaspoons. Post that, juice them. Collect this fresh juice into a 1/2 cup. If it doesn’t fill up, you can use the Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice to top it up.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they’re thick and have a pale yellow hue. Ideally, use a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer. While still mixing, pour in the sweetened condensed milk steadily.
  • As you keep mixing, slowly introduce the key lime juice and zest until just blended.
  • Now, pour this concoction over your prepared crust and bake for 15 minutes. Post baking, let it cool.
  • Serve chilled. Garnish with whipped topping or a tiny lime wedge for an added flair. Always refrigerate until you’re ready to dig in!


In case you’re out of key limes or their juice, fret not! A simple substitute is using 1 regular lime for every 6 key limes mentioned in the recipe.


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