Key Lime Pie
This post may contain affiliate links.
Key Lime Pie – This sweet and tart pie is a family FAVORITE! The recipe has been handed down from my grandma who made this pie for 40 years! An EASY graham cracker crust is filled with a creamy lime filling and topped with a fluffy meringue! Not too tart, not too sweet, just PERFECT!
Key Lime Pie Recipe
Everyone in my family adores Key lime pie because it’s perfectly tart, but not overly so, and just sweet enough to balance the tartness.
Coupled with a graham cracker crust which I prefer to regular pie crust any day, and a light and fluffy meringue, Key lime pie is the ultimate dessert.
I love Key lime pie and especially so in the warmer months of the year.
It’s usually served chilled making it as refreshing as a dessert can get!
Ingredients In Classic Key Lime Pie
In order to make Key lime pie, you’ll need the following ingredients which I have divided based on the three layers that pie contains:
- Graham crackers – you can crush your own graham crackers, buy graham cracker crumbs, or buy a premade graham cracker crust in the store bought silver pie tins
- Butter – I prefer real butter, but you can theoretically use margarine instead
Key Lime Filling
- Sweetened Condensed Milk – I like the regular, but I have used the fat free kind and it works well
- Egg yolks – gives body to the filling
- Lime juice – if you can get key limes, they are the best, but feel free to use regular lime juice
- Egg whites – you will be using the yolks and the whites separately and it’s very important not to get any yolk in the whites or they won’t form peaks
- Cream of tartar – this helps the egg yolks form peaks
- Vanilla – this is for flavoring the meringue
- Sugar – white granulated sugar or castor sugar is best for this
How To Make Key Lime Pie with Graham Cracker Crust
Begin by mixing together graham cracker crumbs with melted butter, pressing them into your pie plate to form the graham cracker crust, and bake for 10 minutes.
While the crust bakes, prepare the Key lime filling by whisking together sweetened condensed milk with the egg yolks, add the lime juice and whisk to combine, pour it into the pre-baked crust, and set it aside.
Make the meringue by beating together egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Then, add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Spread it over the key lime filling, making sure to seal the edges, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes in a larger class pan or in smaller foil pans bake for 10 minutes.
Cool the pie at room temp until it comes to room temp and then place it in the fridge to chill for at least two hours before serving.
Are Key Limes Absolutely Necessary
The difference between Key limes, which are also known as Mexican limes or West Indies limes, are small, round limes that grow in tropical and subtropical regions. In the US in states like California and Florida, they tend to only grown in summer months.
They become lighter yellow (not greener) when ripe and contain more seeds than regular limes. Their skin is also very thin.
Key limes are most known for their tartness, they’re super aromatic, and have floral notes which is their hallmark compared to regular limes.
Key limes are preferred, of course, for Key lime pie.
However, if you cannot get them, regular limes also known as Persian limes, are an okay substitute.
The difference between Key limes and Persian limes are that Persian limes are larger, darker green, have an acidic, tangy flavor, and lack the floral bouquet Key limes have which translates into a pie that tastes less “tropical”and has less depth of flavor overall.
Can Bottled Lime Juice Be Used
This is a tricky one because if you can’t get Key limes, I recommend freshly squeezed lime juice from regular, aka Persian, limes.
If you absolutely can’t deal with squeezing about 6 regular limes, then substitute bottled lime juice as a last resort.
Look for an organic version in glass bottles, usually kept in the juice aisle of your supermarket, rather than the plastic green squeeze bottles that are often found in the produce department. That tends to be nothing but chemicals that are supposed to taste like like juice but really are no where close.
Do I Need To Use Cream Of Tartar
The rare occasions that I post recipes that call for cream of tartar, I always receive questions asking if it’s absolutely necessary?
The answer is yes, you need to use it. You cannot skip it.
Cream of tartar helps stabilize egg whites and allows them to more easily form, as well as hold, stiff peaks.
If you don’t use it, the egg whites will deflate, and therefore so will your meringue, which would be a shame.
Take my word for it and just buy a little jar of it, found in the baking aisle of any well-stocked supermarket.
Tips For The Best Key Lime Pie
My Key lime pie recipe will make one large glass pie pan measuring 9 or 10-inches in diameter or 2 small tin foil pie pans.
If you’re using a store bought graham cracker crust already in a tin pan, you’ll need two of them.
Make sure you chill the pie for at least two hours before you serve it. Not only will it taste much better, it will also make it easier to slice and serve without it falling apart!
Key lime pie can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Make sure to cover it with saran wrap. Although you can store it for up to 5 days, it’s a guarantee this pie will be long gone before that!
- 150 grams (1 ½ regular size packages) graham crackers, crushed*
- ⅔ cup salted butter, melted
- 2 cans sweetened condensed milk (regular recommended although lite will work)
- 6 egg yolks
- ⅔ cup freshly squeezed Key lime juice**
- 6 egg whites
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup granulated or castor sugar
- Crust - Preheat oven to 350F and spray a 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. Note - Alternatively you can use two tin foil disposable pie pans but you will need TWO because although they are 9 inches, they are much shallower than a standard 9-inch glass pie plate.
- To a medium bowl, add the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and mix well with a fork to combine.
- Transfer to the pie plate or pans and press into the bottom and up the sides to form the crust.
- Bake for 10 minutes. While baking, prepare the filling.
- Lime Filling - To a large bowl, add the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and whisk well to combine.
- Add the lime juice and whisk to combine.
- Pour filling into pre-baked pie crust; set aside.
- Meringue - To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or large bowl and electric hand mixer, add the egg whites (be careful not to get ANY yolk in the bowl or the whites won't fluff), cream of tartar, vanilla, and beat on high speed until soft peaks form.
- Gradually add in the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
- Evenly spread the meringue mixture over the top of the lime filling, taking care to seal the sides.
- Bake for 15 minutes in a singular glass pie plate or about 10 to 15 minutes if using disposable pans.
- Remove from the oven and cool at room temp on a wire rack before transferring to the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours. Chilling is highly recommended not only for the classic taste and mouthfeel of Key lime pie, but it will also allow for easier slicing.
- Pie will keep airtight (cover well with saran wrap) in the fridge for up to 5 days.
*Alternatively you can use 1 cup store bought graham cracker crumbs. And for a thicker crust, you can use 1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs and 7 tablespoons melted butter.
**As discussed in the blog post, freshly squeezed Key lime juice is the preferred, then freshly squeezed lime juice from regular limes, then bottled organic lime juice, and finally bottle lime juice in a green squeeze bottle is the absolute last choice and I don't recommend it.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 566Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 146mgSodium: 582mgCarbohydrates: 63gFiber: 1gSugar: 30gProtein: 9g
Favorite Lime Dessert Recipes:
Key Lime Bars — There’s plenty of bold lime flavor in these easy bars that are a twist on the classic pie everyone loves! This is the perfect make-ahead dessert for potlucks and parties!
Key Lime Cake — An EASY and refreshing poke cake with plenty of zippy lime flavor that’s perfect for summer parties, picnics, and potlucks!! Everyone loves this tangy-and-sweet, light, and airy cake!!
Lime, Mint & Rum Cookies (aka Mojito Cookies!) — Super SOFT and chewy cookies that taste like you’re drinking a mojito!! Who can say no to rum, mint, lime, and sugar? A unique cookie that’s so GOOD and they’re PERFECT for spring and summer parties of any kind!!
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.