Classic Key Lime Pie

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Yield: 9" pie, about 8 servings.

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Creamy, tart-sweet Key Lime pie has long been a favorite dessert of restaurant-goers. But if your dining-out days are few and far between, and you don't want to go long stretches without this delightful dessert, it's easy to make at home.

Read our blog about this pie, with additional photos, at Flourish.

Classic Key Lime Pie

star rating (20) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 9" pie, about 8 servings.
Published: 01/01/2010

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • *While it isn't traditional, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup (1 1/4 to 1 7/8 ounces) toasted coconut to the crushed cracker crumbs, if desired.

Filling

  • grated zest of 1 medium lime, about 3 tablespoons, not packed
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups)
  • 2/3 cup bottled Key Lime juice OR freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon lime oil, optional

Tips from our bakers

  • Lime oil (1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon) enhances the lime flavor of this filling. Keep in mind that bottled Key Lime juice is quite strong and "lime-y," requiring only the smaller amount of lime oil; while freshly squeezed juice from Persian limes is less strong, and could use the boost offered by the larger amount of lime oil.
  • If you're making your own whipped cream from heavy or whipping cream, it can be confusing to know how much to start with. FYI, 1 cup of whipping cream yields about 2 1/2 cups of whipped cream. So, for an 8-slice pie, with 1/4 cup whipped cream on each slice, you'd want to start with about 3/4 cup of whipping cream. And how much sugar? Completely up to you. Just add granulated or confectioners' sugar a spoonful at a time, to taste.

Directions

see this recipe's blog »

1) Select a pie pan whose inside top dimension is at least 9", and whose height is at least 1 1/4". Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2) Make the crust by stirring together all of the crust ingredients, mixing till thoroughly combined.

3) Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan.

4) Bake the pie crust for 15 minutes; it'll start to darken in color a bit. Remove it from the oven, and place it on a rack to cool while you make the filling.

5) Whisk the grated lime zest and egg yolks at high speed of an electric mixer for about 4 minutes. The mixture will lighten in color and thicken somewhat, looking kind of like Hollandaise sauce.

6) Stir in the sweetened condensed milk, mixing till smooth. Beat at high speed for 3 minutes; the filling will become slightly thicker, and gain a bit of volume.

7) Add the lime juice, stirring just to combine. The mixture will thicken. Add lime oil to taste.

8) Pour the mixture into the crust, and return the pie to the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, till it appears set around the edges, though still a bit wobbly in the center. The center should read about 145°F.

9) Remove the pie from the oven, and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. Slice and serve each piece with a lightly sweetened dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Yield: one 9" pie, about 8 servings.

Reviews

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  • star rating 04/27/2015
  • Gayle from Ventura, CA
  • I used KAF Key Lime Juice and followed this recipe as written. The tartness level and lime flavor were good. The flavor of the zest was terrible!! Three tablespoons was way too much and made the pie very bitter. I am an experienced baker and I made sure to only use the green part of the skin, avoiding the bitter part underneath. I also made sure the spoons were not packed. I would cut the amount of zest down to 1tablespoon. Also, the crust stuck to the bottom of the pie dish. I've never had that happen with a graham cracker crust, so I'm not sure what went wrong there. We topped the pie with generous dollops of freshly whipped, lightly sweetened cream. The whipped cream is the only thing that saved the pie because it was so bitter. Otherwise, the lime flavor was delicious. I like key lime pie and would try this recipe again.
  • star rating 03/08/2015
  • Babs from Charlottesville
  • This was my first attempt at making a key lime pie. After reading the reviews, I decided to add the coconut to the crust. I also left out the lime zest and lime oil due to several reviewers complaining the filling was too tart. After baking the pie for the recommended time, I added the sour cream-sugar topping as suggested by a reviewer and baked the pie for another 5 minutes. It got rave reviews at a gathering with one fellow stating it was the best key lime pie he had ever tasted, even commenting on how great the crust was too.
  • star rating 08/03/2014
  • Kenya from Toronto
  • So I definitely had high hopes for this recipe, but when you try it at the beginning it tastes great than at the end it's really bitter. Also my crust the outside turned really hard but the bottom was fine. Anything you think I did wrong. Btw I didn't use key limes I used normal ones. Thank you.

    Hi Kenya- I think it sounds like the crust may have just been a little overworked, so next time you make it, I would recommend handling the dough as little as possible and being careful not to over-mix it when you are bringing it all together. In regards to the bitterness, if you used the larger amount of lime oil,you could try reducing that the next time around. However, I am guessing when you zested your limes, you may have gotten some of the light green or white pith which is very bitter. So, the next time around, I would recommend being careful to ensure that you only zest the very outer bright green part of the lime where the oils are found. If you have any further question, please feel free to contact our Baker's Hotline at 1-855-371-2253 and we'd be happy to help you out over the phone. Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  • star rating 06/18/2014
  • AnneB from Idaho
  • This is the same recipe that I have used for 20 years and if I dont have fresh limes I use Nellies and Joes Key Lime juice. It has a pungent sweet tart flavor with smooth texture with a crisp crust. Awesome awesome! Put the graham cracker crust in a 9x9 pan or larger and my bars for womens Bible study. Also you can substitute lemon juice and peel or orange juice and peel both are awesome. It is recommended to use the lemon or orange oil to make the flavor stronger.
  • star rating 02/03/2013
  • BikerChicKnits from NH
  • I rate this recipe to infinity!! This is my second time at making this pie. It is so very delicious topped off with sweetened whipped cream. I am still shocked that a "key" ingredient is sweetened condensed milk. The first try my graham cracker crust cracked when I cut slices and this time it is too soft. I grew up with a butter crust so that is what I will make from now on. Do I pre-bake the pastry shell? I have to go cut another slice (small) for myself!
    Baking the shell can keep it from being too fragile. Only about 6-8 minutes should do the trick. ~ MJ
  • star rating 01/20/2013
  • AZ93 from Caribbean
  • You guys can do NO wrong as far as this household is concerned! Made this yesterday for 4 guests, along with my own homemade whipped cream. Everyone loved it. I didn't add lime oil because I couldn't find it. Used store bought key lime juice. I don't care what the true tradition may or may not be (though I really enjoyed the history lesson!), this recipe is perfect. The sweet crust really balances the tart in the pie. Key lime pie is my favorite dessert and once again you guys have nailed it. Thanks so much and keep it up! :D
  • star rating 12/25/2012
  • werthjennifer from KAF Community
  • Loved it. I used 4 yolks instead of 3, a bottled key lime juice from the grocery store, and I did add the 1/8 tsp of lime oil. RAVE reviews! It set up really nicely, and was so so so easy. I'll definitely make this again. Also - I used the Graham Cracker crust mix from KAF, and it was delicious.
  • star rating 11/14/2011
  • africachic117 from KAF Community
  • This is my new go-to dessert, and this version is the best I've found! I use the bottled key lime juice from King Arthur, and I think it's excellent. I put in only the juice, and leave out the zest and lime oil - and my family thinks it's very tart! Most recipes call for 1/2 cup lime juice instead of the 2/3 cup, so I think it's plenty without the additional lime ingredients.
    This is one of my favorites also! ~Amy
  • star rating 04/12/2011
  • mardee23 from KAF Community
  • My family raved about this pie! It is so simple and fast from beginning to end. Two changes to the crust that worked well for me were adding ¼ cup coconut and replacing ½ cup of the graham crackers with crushed waffle cone. The filling was silky smooth and we all found the tartness factor to be just right. I topped it with whipped cream and macadamia nuts. Very, very good.
  • star rating 10/11/2010
  • kpecan from KAF Community
  • I made this pie with freshly squeezed key lime juice and did not add the lime oil. The pie was too tart to eat!
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