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This classic Key Lime Pie recipe has a buttery graham cracker crust and a sweet-tart filling that’s bursting with fresh lime flavor. It’s perfectly sweet and so easy to make!
The Best Key Lime Pie
If you love dessert pies and tarts, citrus desserts, desserts made with graham crackers, desserts that are super easy to make, and desserts you could probably eat in one sitting, then you’re going to love this key lime pie recipe!
A homemade buttery graham cracker crust is filled with a sweet, creamy, key lime custard filling, then topped with a light and creamy homemade whipped cream and a sprinkle of fresh lime zest! Do fruity desserts get any better than that?
What is Key Lime Pie?
Key lime pie is a dessert pie made with a creamy, custard filling made up of egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and Key lime juice that’s baked in a graham cracker crust.
The classic American dessert originated in Key West, Florida in the late 1800s. Since fresh milk and access to refrigeration weren’t readily available, people had to utilize canned milk, hence the sweetened condensed milk in this recipe!
What is the Difference Between Lime and Key Lime?
“Regular” limes, or Persian limes, are the limes we typically see in grocery stores. They have a tangier flavor with a peel that becomes greener as they ripen.
Key limes, on the other hand, take on a more yellow hue and have a sweeter flavor as they ripen. They are also typically much smaller than Persian limes and contain more seeds.
🧾 What You’ll Need
Here are a couple of ingredient notes to keep in mind before you head to the store! (Links are affiliate links and I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.)
- Graham Crackers: you’ll need about 10 rectangular graham crackers to get the 1.5 cups/6 ounces of crumbs needed for the crust.
- Butter: make sure you get unsalted butter. The last thing you want is a salty key lime pie!
- Lime Juice: squeeze your own lime juice! The lime juice is a key ingredient in this recipe so the fresher the better. If you can find key limes, great! If you can’t, regular Persian limes will work as well. Look for limes that have a little give when you squeeze them. Those are typically juicier.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk: double-check that you are, in fact, using sweetened condensed milk—not evaporated milk or another type of canned milk. They will not yield the same results.
It really doesn’t take much to put together this Key lime pie. Here’s what you’ll need in terms of equipment: (Links are affiliate links and I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.)
- Microplane: you can use a microplane to easily zest the limes. If you don’t have a one, a cheese grater will work as well.
- Juicer: squeezing by hand works, but you don’t get nearly as much juice out of the limes. I definitely recommend using a juicer to really get your money’s worth!
- Pie Pan: use a 9×1.5″ pie plate for a deep-dish crust that can hold all the filling.
There are just two main parts to this recipe: the crust and the filling! And they’re both super easy to whip up. Scroll below for the printable instructions and ingredient measurements.
To make the graham cracker crust:
- Crush the graham crackers in a food processor until they are fine crumbs, then combine with melted butter, granulated sugar, and salt. Stir until well-combined.
To make the filling:
- Whisk together the egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk.
- Combine heavy cream and powdered sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on medium-high speed until the cream is thick and holds medium peaks.
- Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a star tip, pipe rosettes around the outer edge of the pie, then top with lime zest and lime twists before slicing and serving.
How Can You Tell When Key Lime Pie is Done?
The best way to tell that a Key lime pie is done baking is to jiggle it slightly. It should be mostly set and firm to the touch but still slightly jiggly in the center.
Keep in mind the pie will also solidify as it cools overnight in the fridge.
Wanting to switch things up? Here are a couple suggestions:
- Use store-bought crust. If you want to save a little bit of time, you can use a store-bought graham cracker crust. However, store-bought crusts might be shallower than homemade crust, so you may end up with a little extra filling.
- Try a different topping. Try toasted meringue instead of whipped cream for the topping.
- Make lemon pie. You can use lemon juice and lemon zest instead of lime to make a lemon pie.
Here are a few of my tips to make the best key lime pie!
- Check the sweetened condensed milk. This is an essential part of the recipe as it reacts with the lime juice and helps the filling solidify. Make sure you’re using sweetened condensed milk, not evaporated milk.
- Freshly squeeze your juice. Bottled juice contains preservatives that can make the juice taste “off” or slightly stale. I recommend freshly squeezing the lime juice for the best flavor!
- Pre-bake the crust. Don’t forget to bake the crust for 15 minutes before you add the filling. If you add the filling right away you will end up with a soggy crust.
- Let the crust cool. After you pre-bake the crust, let it cool completely before you add the filling so it has time to firm up.
- Use a 2-inch deep pie pan. This recipe makes enough filling to fill a deep dish crust, so I recommend using a 2-inch deep pan so you can use up all the filling.
- Chill the pie. After the pie is prepped and baked, chill it in the fridge overnight (or for at least 6 hours) before you cut into it so it can set.
Make-Ahead and Storage Instructions
Finished Key lime pie will last for up to 4 days in the fridge. I don’t recommend freezing it because the texture of the filling will be affected.
If you want to prep your graham cracker crust ahead of time, you can assemble and bake it as directed, then store it in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months. When you’re ready to use it, thaw it in the fridge, then proceed with the recipe as instructed.
❤️ More Desserts You’ll Love
- Graham Cracker Crust
- Toasted Coconut Lime Meringue Tart
- Grapefruit Tarts
- Orange Bundt Cake
- Lemon Meringue Teacup Cakes
- Lime Coconut Pie
Don’t miss the step-by-step tutorial showing how to make Key Lime Pie – check out the web story here!
Key Lime Pie
For the graham cracker crust:
- 10graham crackers, to yield 6 oz / 1.5 cups
- 2.5ozunsalted butter, melted
- 1.5TBSPgranulated sugar
For the lime filling:
- 6egg yolks
- 2.14ozsweetened condensed milk, (1 can)
- 2TBSPfresh lime zest
- 1cupfreshly squeezed lime juice, from about 5 large limes, 9 medium limes, or 16-18 key limes
- 1cupheavy cream
- ⅓cuppowdered sugar
- Lime zest and lime slices, to garnish
To make the graham cracker crust:
- Crush the grahams in a food processor until they are fine crumbs. (Alternately, place them in a zip-top bag and roll over them with a rolling pin until very finely crushed.)
- Combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, granulated sugar, and salt in a bowl, and stir until well-combined. The mixture should have the texture of wet sand, and hold together a bit when you squeeze it between your fingers.
- Press the crust evenly on the bottom and up the sides of a 9 x 1.5” pie plate. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes, until set and lightly golden. Let the crust cool completely before filling.
To make the filling:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Whisk together the yolks and 2 cans of condensed milk. Then add the lime zest, lime juice, and salt, and whisk until smooth and well-combined.
- Pour the filling on top of the baked and cooled graham cracker crust, coming all the way to the top of the pie shell. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes, until the center only slightly jiggles when you nudge the pie.
- Let the pie cool completely at room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.
- Combine the heavy cream and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until the cream is thick and holds medium peaks.
- Transfer to a piping bag with a star tip and pipe rosettes around the outer edge of the pie. Garnish with a sprinkle of lime zest and lime twists around the edges.
Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.
About Elizabeth LaBau
I’m Elizabeth, but you can call me SugarHero! I’m a former pastry chef turned blogger, cookbook author, and baking instructor, and I consider myself sugar’s #1 fan. Learn more from my About page, or connect with me on social media: