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Homemade Key Lime Pie

The best key lime recipe uses real key limes for the most authentic flavor! I also garnish it with a whipped cream cheese topping, which gives the whole thing a made-from-scratch look, feel, and taste.

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homemade key lime pie with whipped cream and lime zest

This is the Best Key Lime Pie

Can you make homemade key lime pie with regular limes? Sure! Will it have the same taste as if you use key limes? No way! 

Key limes have a different flavor than other varieties — they’re more tart and have an almost floral taste. The difference is subtle… but noticeable! Once you try a true key lime pie made with the right limes, you’ll never go back.

To make this recipe easier, you can use fresh or bottled juice. The “key”  is to use key limes.

I’m also using a whipped cream cheese topping instead of the standard whipped cream one. I love the tangy cream cheese with the zesty citrus!

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If you’re a pie fan, try my peach pie with canned peaches, fresh strawberry pie, pecan pie, and sweet potato pie.

What You’ll Love About this Traditional Key Lime Pie Recipe

  • Traditional, authentic flavor
  • Homemade crust
  • Perfect for warm weather parties or celebrations
  • Beautiful presentation
  • Packed with fresh, citrus flavor
ingredients needed to make key lime pie

Homemade Key Lime Pie Ingredients

  • Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • Butter
  • Brown Sugar
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Egg Yolks
  • Key Lime Juice – fresh or bottled
  • Cream Cheese – softened
  • Heavy Cream
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Key Limes – for garnish and zest
  • Salt

How to Make Key Lime Pie Crust

A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.

STEP ONE: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Add the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, brown sugar, and salt to a medium-sized mixing bowl and mix to combine.

STEP TWO: Place the mixture in an ungreased 9-inch pie dish and flatten it to form an even layer along the bottom and up on the sides. To make things easier, use the bottom of a measuring cup or the back of a large spoon.

pressing graham cracker crumb into pie pan for crust

STEP THREE: Bake the crust for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool while you make the pie filling.

How to Make Key Lime Pie

STEP ONE: Add the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, lime juice, and salt to a medium-sized bowl and blend with a hand mixer until for about 1 minute.

STEP TWO: Pour the mixture into the cooked graham cracker crust and bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges of the filling are set and the center jiggles slightly.

mixing key lime pie filling
pouring key lime pie filling into cooked graham crust

STEP THREE: Place the baked pie on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes before transferring it to the fridge to fully set. It should take about 2 hours, though leaving it overnight is better.

STEP FOUR: To make the whipped cream topping, add the cream cheese to a large bowl and blend with a hand mixer until smooth. Incorporate ¼ cup of heavy cream and continue to blend until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and the rest of the cream and blend until you get soft peaks.

STEP FIVE: Add the whipped topping to the pie and gently spread. Zest the key limes directly over the topping and garnish with lime slices. Cut, serve, and enjoy!

adding whipped topping on top of baked key lime pie

The Best Key Lime Pie Recipe Substitutions and Variations

  • Skip the sweetened condensed milk and use evaporated milk or coconut milk for a different flavor. When you use coconut, you’ll give the pie an almost tropical feel. So fun!
  • Add fresh berries on top for even more fruity flavor. Toasted coconut or chopped nuts would also work well as a garnish.
  • Instead of a cream cheese topping, make some homemade meringue or whipped cream instead. The light flavor and fluffy texture complement the tart limes so well… just like lemon meringue pie!
  • Use the same ingredients to make key lime bars. Simply add the graham cracker crust to a square or rectangular baking dish instead of a pie dish. Once the pie is baked, cut it into bars instead of slices for a fun, handheld variation.
a slice of traditional key lime pie

Traditional Key Lime Pie Recipe Tips

  • Press the graham cracker crumbs firmly into your pie plate when making your crust. This helps it stay together when serving.
  • Another note for making the graham cracker crust: If you use an 8-inch pie dish instead of a 9-inch plate, I recommend that you remove about ¼ cups of the crust before pressing the mixture into the pie plate. Otherwise, you’ll have way more crust than filling!
  • Don’t overmix the pie filling. When combining the pie filling ingredients, be sure not to overdo it. If you incorporate too much air with the hand mixer, you’ll end up with a puffy, almost soufflé-like texture. Not the worst thing, but key lime pies usually have a smoother finish!
  • Add the topping just before serving. Remember to let your pie set in the fridge for as long as possible — and don’t add the whipped cream cheese, lime zest, or lime slices until you’re ready to serve! This will help everything stay fresh.

How to Serve This Recipe for Key Lime Pie

Serve your key lime pie cold with plenty of whipped cream cheese topping, lime zest, and lime slices. I like to top each slice of key lime pie with a slice of lime for the best presentation so that everyone gets a fair share of key lime goodness. 

For an even more indulgent dessert, serve with some vanilla ice cream or lemon or raspberry sorbet.

cutting a slice of lime pie

How to Store the Best Key Lime Pie

To store key lime pie, place it in an airtight container or cover it in plastic wrap. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

Can you freeze Key Lime Pie?

Yes, you can freeze key lime pie for longer storage. Follow the instructions on the recipe card, but don’t add the whipped topping or garnishes. Wrap it tightly in several layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2-3 months. 

Let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then add the toppings just before serving.

taking a bite out of key lime pie with a fork

Best Key Lime Pie Recipe FAQs

How do you thicken key lime pie filling?

The egg yolks work as a thickening agent in this recipe. If you find your mix is too loose, you can add some cornstarch or all-purpose flour a tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you’re looking for.

What’s the difference between a key lime pie and a lime pie?

The main difference between a key lime pie and a lime pie is the variety of lime used. Key lime pie is made with key limes, while lime pies are often made with Persian or Tahiti limes instead. 

Key lime pie is almost always made in a graham cracker crust and served with a whipped topping, which isn’t always the case with lime pies.

homemade key lime pie with whipped cream and lime zest

Traditional Key Lime Pie Recipe

Samantha Erb
The perfect Key Lime Pie recipe with a smooth and silky lime-infused filling with just enough sweetness-to-tartness ratio. The pie’s floral key lime taste will take you to the tropics.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Chilling Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Course Desserts
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 535 kcal

Ingredients

For the Graham Cracker Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs about 10 whole graham crackers, crushed
  • ½ cup butter melted
  • ¼ cup brown sugar lightly packed
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the Key Lime Filling:

  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ cup key lime juice *see note
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

For the Whipped Cream Topping:

  • ¼ cup cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup heavy cream chilled
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 4 key limes for garnish and zest

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, brown sugar, and salt.
  • Transfer the mixture to an ungreased 9-inch pie plate and flatten the crumbs to form an even layer along the bottom of the pie plate and up the sides.
    The bottom of a measuring cup or the back of a large spoon will flatten the crumbs easily.
  • Bake the graham cracker crust for 15 minutes until golden in color. Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool on a wire rack.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, add the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, lime juice, and salt. Blend with a handheld mixer for 1 minute until lighter in color.
  • Pour the mixture into the cooled graham cracker crust and bake for 15 minutes until the edges of the filling are set and the center is slightly jiggly.
  • Remove the pie from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for half an hour before chilling in the refrigerator to fully set (2 hours or overnight).
  • To make the whipped cream topping, place the cream cheese in a large bowl and blend with a handheld mixer until smooth, add ¼ cup heavy cream and continue blending until smooth and free of clumps.
  • Add the powdered sugar and remaining heavy cream and continue blending until soft peaks start to form.
  • Dollop the whipped topping onto the pie and gently spread it just short of 1 inch from the edge.
  • Zest 2 of the key limes (1 tablespoon zest) directly over the whipped topping and garnish each slice of pie with a slice of lime.
  • Cut and serve!

Notes

  • You can use the juice from key limes (15 will yield about ½ cup juice). Or the quicker option is to use Nellie and Joe’s bottled Key Lime Juice, which is what I used.
  • Any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Just note, that the crust will become soggy if not eaten within a day or two.

Nutrition

Serving: 8gCalories: 535kcalCarbohydrates: 55gProtein: 8gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 19gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 185mgSodium: 513mgPotassium: 312mgFiber: 2gSugar: 43gVitamin A: 1169IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 214mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


samantha

About Samantha

I’ve always had a love of cooking and creating new recipes, so it only made sense to create a food blog so I could share those recipes with you. This site is designed to provide easy and flavorful recipes with as little ingredients as possible. That means you still get great flavor combinations without all that extra time and effort. Read more...

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5 from 1 vote

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