Easy Homemade Key Lime Pie Recipe

Mary and Brenda Maher

By Brenda & Mary

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I have a soft spot for key lime pies that goes way back to a family vacation in the Florida Keys when I was a kid. We stopped at this little beachside joint that served the most mind-blowingly good key lime pie I’d ever had. Of course, it deserves a spot on my bakery shelves.

key lime pie

Luckily, it’s actually pretty easy to make at home once you know the tricks. So stick around and I’ll walk you through nailing this refreshing dessert.

Reasons You’ll Love This Pie

key lime pie complete

This homemade recipe ticks all the right boxes:

  • The texture is velvety, smooth, and creamy, melting in your mouth with every bite, beautifully contrasting with the crunchy, nutty crust.
  • The distinctive tang from the key limes packs a delightful punch of flavor that dances on your taste buds.
  • It’s a real looker, too – the bright green filling contrasted against the buttery graham cracker crust is an eye-catching delight.
  • Best of all, you don’t need any fancy techniques or equipment to whip this recipe up. It’s an easy-breezy recipe that even baking novices can nail.
key lime pie recipe

6 Basic Steps to Make Key Lime Pie

Ingredients

Below, you’ll find everything listed with clear measurements and a sprinkle of insight into their purpose:

Crust

Note: Okay, we won’t follow my classic pie crust recipe here. Let’s add a crunchy, nutty punch to the mix! 

  • Graham crackers (11 full sheets): Grab these from your pantry or purchase them already crumbled to save a bit of time. They’re going to form the base of our crust.
  • Salted macadamia nuts (⅔ cup, preferably roasted): I use roasted because they add a lovely nutty depth when swapped for some of the graham cracker crumbs. Trust me, it elevates the pie to another level.
  • Granulated sugar (2 tablespoons): Just a bit to sweeten our crust slightly.
  • Unsalted butter (5 tablespoons, melted): This binds our crust ingredients together. Nobody wants a crust that crumbles under pressure. Plus, it adds a lovely buttery richness.

Filling

  • Sweetened full-fat condensed milk (28 ounces or two 14-ounce cans): The backbone of our pie filling. It provides a creamy, sweet canvas that balances the tartness of the lime.
  • Key lime juice (1 cup): For that unmistakably tangy key lime flavor. Save yourself a lot of hassle and opt for a bottle of key lime juice. Juicing those tiny limes could take forever.
  • Egg yolks (4 large): They thicken the filling, giving it a smooth and custardy texture once baked.
  • Key lime zest (1 ½ teaspoons, optional): If you’re a fan of an extra zesty kick, this one’s for you. It enhances the lime flavor even further.

Topping

Go for the likes of lime zest, quartered lime slices, macadamia nuts, whipped cream, and meringue topping. It’s where you can customize this recipe however you prefer. Each option offers a unique twist to enhance its flavor or boost its visual appeal.

Instructions

Make the Crust

Step 1

Begin by warming your oven to 370°F and positioning an oven rack in the center.

Using a food processor, blend graham crackers and macadamia nuts until you achieve coarse crumbs. Don’t worry if you see a few larger nut pieces.

Transfer this to a medium-sized bowl, add sugar, and mix well. Then, stir in melted butter until the texture is uniform, somewhat coarse, and sandy. Be sure to crush any large chunks.

graham cracker

Step 2

Pour the mixture into a 9-inch ungreased pie dish. With your hands, firmly press the crumbs down on the bottom and sides of the dish to form the crust. Aim for crumbs that bond well, but avoid over-packing.

Step 3

Key lime pie baking

Pre-bake the crust for about 9-10 minutes, then remove from the oven while keeping the oven on.

Make the Filling

Step 4

Once done with the crust, lower the oven temperature to 350°F.

In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk together egg yolks, lime juice, and condensed milk until smooth. If available, an electric mixer works great here. Next, stir in the lime zest, then pour this filly lime mixture into your partially baked crust.

Make the Filling key lime pie

Step 5

Bake the pie again for about 20 minutes. You’re aiming for a center that’s slightly jiggly— mostly set but with a little wobble.

Allow the pie to cool completely on a cooling rack. Once done, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (for up to 3 days) before you plan to serve it.

Decorate and Serve

Step 6

Decorate and Serve Key lime pie

Slice the beautifully chilled pie into wedges. For an extra special touch, elevate each slice with a generous dollop of whipped cream and some decorative lime slices or zest.

Easy key lime pie

Still in the mood for that tangy-sweet, creamy goodness? Definitely must check out my lemon meringue pie recipe!

Tips on Making Key Lime Pie

Crust

A small, flat-bottomed measuring cup is perfect for an evening out the bottom of your crust. Running a spoon along the corner where the crust’s edge and bottom meet also creates a rounded edge that holds up better when slicing.

Topping Options

You can’t go wrong with a dollop of freshly whipped cream on top. For an extra zesty kick, sprinkle on some lime zest or add a few thin lime slices for decoration.

For a twist, you might try stabilized whipped cream frosting, which adds a light and airy texture. If you’re feeling decadent, chocolate buttercream frosting could provide a rich, unexpected contrast to the citrus flavors.

Making Ahead and Storage

The crust can be pre-baked, and the filling can be mixed up to 2-3 days ahead of time. Just cover and store the crust at room temp, and refrigerate the filling.

Once assembled and baked, the pie freezes beautifully for up to 3 months – just thaw overnight in the fridge. You can keep the leftovers in the fridge for about a week.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Regular Limes Instead?

Yes. A neat alternative is a 50/50 blend of regular Persian lime and lemon juice. It mimics the tartness and bright notes of key limes pretty darn well. The flavor might be slightly different, but fresh lime juice is still a good substitute.

Can I Make Key Lime Pie Without Condensed Milk?

Some alternatives are available. To maintain the rich consistency, you might experiment with cream cheese or full-fat Greek yogurt.

My Key Lime Pie Filling Didn’t Set. What Went Wrong?

It could be an issue with the ingredients or insufficient baking time.

Make sure you use the correct amount of egg yolks, our thickening agent. Overcooking or undercooking can also prevent the filling from setting correctly.

—That’s everything you need to whip up this tangy, creamy recipe for key lime pie! I hope you give it a shot and let me know how it turns out.

key lime pie

Key Lime Pie

A refreshing key lime pie recipe that combines tangy lime, rich condensed milk, and a unique macadamia crust for a sublime dessert experience. Add a little sunshine to your sweet treats!
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Course: Pie
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 453kcal
Author: Brenda Maher

Ingredients

Crust

  • 11 full-sheet graham crackers
  • cup salted macadamia nuts, preferably roasted
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 28 oz sweetened full-fat condensed milk
  • 1 cup key lime juice
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 ½ tsp key lime zest (optional)

Topping

  • Key lime zest, lime slices, macadamia nuts, whipped cream, meringue (all optional for garnish)

Instructions

Make the Crust

  • Heat your oven to 370°F and place the oven rack in the center.
  • Blend graham crackers and macadamia nuts in a food processor to coarse crumbs.
  • Combine in a bowl with sugar and melted butter until evenly mixed.
  • Press into a 9-inch pie plate and pre-bake for 9-10 minutes. Keep the oven on.

Make the Filling

  • Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
  • Whisk egg yolks, lime juice, and condensed milk until smooth, then mix in lime zest. Pour the key lime filling into the crust.

Bake

  • Bake for 20 minutes until the center is mostly set but slightly jiggly.
  • Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Serve

  • Garnish with whipped cream and lime slices or zest.

Notes

  • Use a flat-bottomed cup to even out the crust. Smooth the edges with a spoon for sturdier slices.
  • If key limes are unavailable, a 50/50 mix of regular lime and lemon juice works well.
  • Add toasted coconut flakes or a berry coulis for a twist.
  • The crust and filling can be premade and stored. Pie can be frozen for up to 3 months or refrigerated for a week.

Nutrition

Calories: 453kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 8.5g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 205mg | Potassium: 326mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 42g | Calcium: 353mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @cakegirls or tag #cakegirls!

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Mary and Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher, are the founders of Cake Girls, a Chicago-based online baking shop specializing in cake supplies, party decor, and DIY cake tutorials. They are known for their elaborate and artistic cake creations, which have been featured on the Food Network Challenge and in a reality show, Amazing Wedding Cakes.

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