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Published August 6, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This classic key lime pie is loaded with delicious key lime juice, a sweet filling, and a graham cracker crust that is amazing. You will love how delicious this pie is and just how easy it is to make.
Key Lime Pie
Key lime pie is a simple combination of condensed sweetened milk, egg yolks, key lime juice, and key lime zest that is mixed and quickly baked in a graham cracker crust and then chilled. It is traditionally topped off with either meringue or whipped cream. I personally like to serve it with raspberry coulis sauce over top.
Legend has it that the pie originated in Key West, Florida, in the 1930s by the Borden condensed milk company, which was based in New York. It was the Sunshine states rendition of the classic lemon cream pie, but using key limes instead.
What are Key Limes?
Key limes are much smaller than what you and I know of limes (Persian) and will start to turn yellow once ripe. They are aromatic and intense in flavor, with more seeds than regular limes.
Key limes are initially from Asia but were brought to the Keys in Florida, where they were grown for over 400 years. Unfortunately, a massive hurricane swept through in the early 1900s and they were never able to recoup. Nowadays, most of our key limes in the US come from Mexico.
- Eggs – You will need egg yolks from large eggs. These can be chilled or at room temperature.
- Condensed Milk – Sweetened condensed milk is the base of this pie recipe.
- Key Limes – You can find key limes in bags in the grocery store by other citrus fruits. If you do not see key limes, regular limes will work.
- Graham Crackers – Whole graham crackers or already ground graham crackers will work.
- Butter – I always use unsalted butter to control the salt content in my cooking and baking.
- Sugar – Regular granulated sugar is what you need for this key lime pie.
- Salt – I almost always use coarse salt in my cooking and baking.
How to Make Key Lime Pie from Scratch
- Make the crust by processing the graham crackers, melted butter, sugar, and salt together in a food processor until it becomes like a meal.
- Transfer the mixture to a 9” or 10” pie pan and form the crust to the pan.
- Par Bake in the oven at 325° for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely.
- Add egg yolks to a stand mixer or a bowl with a hand mixer. At high speed, using the whisk attachment, whisk for 2 to 4 minutes or until light and fluffy.
- Thoroughly mix the condensed sweetened milk, key lime juice, and key lime zest.
- Transfer the mixture to the par-baked pie crust and pour it in. You may have about a ½ cup left over if you are using a 9” pie pan.
- Bake the pie at 350° for 12-15 minutes just until settled.
- Cool at room temperature for 15 minutes, then chill thoroughly for at least 3 hours.
- Serve with whipped cream, key lime slices, and raspberry sauce
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: You can make this pie up to 3 days ahead of time for maximum freshness.
How to Store: Place it in the refrigerator covered in plastic for up to 5 days. The pie does not freeze well because when it thaws, it can liquify. However, it is tasty eaten frozen, so feel free to do that while storing it in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Chef Notes + Tips
- There is no need to buy this pie from a grocery store. You can do this at home and bring the restaurant right to your own kitchen.
- You can use either whole graham crackers or graham cracker crumbs when making the crust.
- Either size pie pan is OK, as there will be enough to jam-pack a 9” or comfortably fill up a 10”.
- Use the backside of a spoon to help pack the crust into the pie pan.
- Be sure to mix in the condensed milk, zest, and juice until combined—no need to over-mix.
- If using a 9” pie pan, you can simply add the leftover ½ cup of batter to a ramekin and bake and chill, and top off with graham cracker crumbs to make a fun single-serving essential lime dessert.
- Condensed sweetened milk is simply milk that has been cooked down, becomes very thick, and is sweetened with sugar. Same process as a sauce where you cook it down to make it thick.
More Dessert Recipes
Key Lime Pie Recipe
For the Crust:
- 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 5 tablespoons unsalted melted butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- pinch sea salt
For the Pie:
- 6 egg yolks
- 28 ounces of condensed sweetened milk
- ½ cup of fresh key lime juice
- 1 tablespoon of key lime zest
- Preheat the oven to 325°.
- Add the graham crackers, butter, sugar, and salt to a food processor and pulse on high speed until combined.
- Transfer the mixture to a 9” or 10” pan and form it completely into the pan.
- Par bake at 325° for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned and slightly firm. Cool to room temperature.
- Add the egg yolks to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk on high speed for 2 to 4 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Next, on medium speed, mix in the condensed milk, key lime juice, and zest just until combined.
- Transfer the mixture to the cooled pie crust and pour it in. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, just until set.
- Cool at room temperature for 10-12 minutes then transfer the pie and completely cool in the refrigerator for 3 hours or until firm.
- While the pie is cooling, add heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on high speed until stiff peaks are formed about 3 to 4 minutes. Add to a piping bag or keep in a bowl and chill.
- Raspberry sauce: Add all ingredients to a small-sized pot over medium heat and cook until thick and jammy, about 15 minutes. Strain and chill.
- Garnish the pie with whipped cream and serve with raspberry sauce.