Refreshing Key Lime Pie Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 20 min. Bake: 15 min. + chilling
Key lime pie is tangy, sweet, cool and a little creamy (especially when you top it with whipped cream). And those are just a few reasons to give Florida's state pie a try.

Updated: Apr. 02, 2024

While that sky-high lemon meringue pie in a diner’s pie case may get all the attention, it’s Key lime pie that steals the show—and not just in the Florida Keys. With complex citrus flavor, creamy custard and a crisp graham cracker crust that gives a hint of caramel, Florida’s state pie can be enjoyed anywhere.

Make Key lime pie for a spring brunch, or save the recipe for a summer get-together. You can serve it chilled with a healthy dollop of whipped cream or try your hand at making a big meringue topping for extra flair.

Key Lime Pie Ingredients

  • Graham crackers: Graham crackers pulsed into fine crumbs serve as the base for this pie’s buttery graham cracker crust.
  • Sugar: Since graham crackers are already sweet, you only need a touch of granulated sugar for the crust.
  • Butter: Use melted butter to bind together the graham cracker crumbs for the crust. Salted and unsalted are both fine. Here are our Test Kitchen’s picks for the best butter brands.
  • Key lime juice: You can juice your own Key limes for this recipe or purchase Key lime juice (Nellie & Joe’s is the easiest to find). Fresh Key limes are smaller and more tart than regular limes, and will produce a more complex flavor in the pie. Save any leftover juice for other Key lime recipes.
  • Eggs: Eggs are key for Key lime pie filling. Because you’ll only use the yolks, you can whip the whites into a meringue for the pie or save them for another recipe. It’s best to separate egg whites from yolks while cold, but incorporate them into your recipe once they’ve reached room temperature.
  • Sweetened condensed milk: Sweetened condensed milk adds sweetness, creaminess and texture to the pie filling. You can even make your own sweetened condensed milk in the microwave with just two ingredients.

Directions

Step 1: Make the crust

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Preheat your oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Mix with a fork until crumbly. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch pie plate. Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Let it cool on a wire rack while making the filling.

Editor’s Tip: The best way to form a crumb crust is with your fingers, or by using the base of a measuring cup or glass to press the mixture into the plate. You’ll get a nice, even layer with clean angles around the plate. The sides should be as thick as the bottom.

Step 2: Make the Key lime filling

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In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or a stand mixer to beat the milk, egg yolks and lime juice on low for two minutes or until the filling is smooth and slightly thickened. Pour the filling into the prepared crust.

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Step 3: Bake the pie

Bake the pie for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the pie on a wire rack for one hour. Transfer it to the refrigerator and let it chill for about three hours. Slice and serve the pie either plain or garnished with whipped cream and lime wedges.

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Recipe Variations

  • Add nuts to the crust: Nuts take the texture and flavor of a graham cracker crust to the next level. Crushed walnuts or pecans pair perfectly with Key lime pie’s flavors.
  • Use a different crust: Graham cracker crust is a classic, but you can try other crumb crust ingredients for Key lime pie, like gingersnaps, Nilla Wafers or Biscoff cookies. You could even use a regular butter pie crust.
  • Make Key lime pie bars: Want all the vibrant flavors in a format that’s easier to serve to a crowd? Make Key lime pie bars!
  • Top it with meringue: Just like with lemon meringue pie, you can make a fluffy homemade meringue topping for a Key lime pie. Toast the top with a kitchen torch just before serving it.

How to Store Key Lime Pie

Since it’s a custard pie made with plenty of eggs, Key lime pie should be stored in the fridge once it has fully cooled. Keep the pie covered in an airtight container for up to five days.

Can you freeze Key lime pie?

Key lime pie freezes well, whether you have leftovers or are baking ahead of time. Flash-freeze the baked and cooled pie in its pie plate or on a baking sheet for three hours. Then, completely wrap the pie in a layer of storage wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil. Store the pie in the freezer for up to five months. Once it’s time to thaw the pie, leave it in the fridge for three hours to soften.

Key Lime Pie Tips

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Can you use regular limes to make Key lime pie?

If you don’t have access to Key limes, you can use regular limes. However, it’s important to note that the best Key lime pie is made with Key limes, and the pie won’t taste quite the same without them. If you compare Key limes to limes, Key limes have a more complex flavor profile. But either way, you’ll end up with a delightful lime pie.

How can you tell when Key lime pie is done?

This Key lime pie bakes for only 15 to 20 minutes. To confirm that it’s done, insert a knife in the center and check that it comes out clean. You can also look for some “wobble” (similar to a cheesecake test). Tap the pie plate with a wooden spoon; if it wobbles just slightly, then the pie is done.

How do you serve Key lime pie?

Key lime pie can certainly be served on its own, but you can dress it up further with whipped cream and lime slices or zest for a garnish. To get a clean slice of pie, be sure the pie is chilled. It’s also helpful to wipe your knife clean between each cut.

Refreshing Key Lime Pie

Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 15 min
Yield 8 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup Key lime juice
  • Sweetened whipped cream, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375. In a small bowl, combine cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until crumbly. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-in. pie plate. Bake until crust is lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while making filling.
  2. In a large bowl, beat milk, egg yolks and lime juice on low for 2 minutes or until smooth and slightly thickened.
  3. Pour into prepared crust. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. If desired, serve with whipped cream and lime slices.

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 637 calories, 24g fat (13g saturated fat), 158mg cholesterol, 321mg sodium, 96g carbohydrate (84g sugars, 1g fiber), 13g protein.

Everyone who has has this pie tells me it's the best Key lime pie they have ever had. It's so easy that you can make it last minute for a wonderful dessert! —Denise Gursky, Miami, Florida