Key Lime Pie


“When life gives you key limes, make pie!” Totally random thought that popped into my head as I came upon a bin full of key limes on sale at the grocery store the other day. The fact that I’ve never made key lime pie before didn’t make me hesitate at all, because I definitely have some serious experience at eating it, and that has to be worth something, right? The tart and sweet custardy goodness, cradled in a toasted, buttery graham cracker crust, and slathered in fresh whipped cream… simply droolworthy.  Because I have less baking experience than my neighbor’s 10 year old daughter, I turned to Martha Stewart, queen of baking made easy for the masses, for a recipe that I would have to work hard to mess up.

I didn’t.  Mess it up I mean.

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I may have promised to bring a piece to work for a coworker who loves the stuff as much as I do, but it has magically disappeared from my refrigerator. Next time I’ll make two so I have extra. Maybe three, just in case.

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 Key limes are miniscule little things that deliver barely enough juice to wet your fingers.


So you’d better set aside some squeezing time in your schedule, maybe take in an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s, No Reservations while you lovingly labor to squeeze out enough juice from a whole heap of key limes to get the ½ cup you will need for this recipe.


Use a microplane zester to get really finely grated zest.


You can grind up you own graham crackers in a food processor, but I just went ahead and bought a box of the pre-ground stuff. It worked just fine and dandy.


Key Lime Pie
Adapted from

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
5 tbsp sugar
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
½ cup freshly squeezed (bottled will work if you can’t find fresh) key lime juice
1 tablespoon finely grated key lime zest
Whipped cream (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and 3 tbsp sugar until completely combined. Press the crumbs into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate. Bake 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool completely before using.
Preheat oven to 325°F.  Whisk together the condensed milk, egg yolks, key lime juice, and zest. Pour into the crust and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the filling is set but still quivers when the pan is nudged. Cool completely before serving. Serve sliced with a dollop of whipped cream on top, or spread whipped cream over the pie before slicing and serving.

Whipped Cream

1 ½ cups heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

Beat the cream, sugar and vanilla in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

(Printable Recipe)

20 comments to Key Lime Pie

  • this looks good! I don’t know If I’ve ever had a key lime pie..all those little limes! I just made a lemon tart, I was thinking about making a Key Lime before as well.. perhaps i’ll try this recipe soon! Yum =)

  • Just wanted to tell you how beautiful your photos are! They really make everything look so delicious.

  • Key lime pie might just be my favorite pie. That is really a great picture, and the recipe sounds so good!

  • I love, love, love key lime pie, and the other day I thought about making a peach pie, incorporating pureed peaches for limes! You’ve inspired me to make that today!

  • My favourite pie… What a beauty!

  • Karen

    Alicia: If you like tart desserts, you’ll love key lime pie

    emily: Thanks for that. 🙂

    Carrie: It’s my favorite too! Key lime ice cream runs a close second.

    Kitty: You will definitely have to let me know how that pie turned out.

    Nicoletta: And it’s so easy to make, even for me 😉

  • You make great pictures too, Karen. I’ll be back often! 🙂

  • Look at all that zest! This looks just about perfect.

    I May have been just the teeniest bit more generous with the zest than the recipe called for, but I love the flavor it brings! – Karen

  • key lime pie..mmmm mmmm. what a classic!!

  • Will

    Do you have to use “sweetened condensed milk” to make key lime pie? Not thrilled with that : (.

  • Karen

    Hi Will

    The sweetened condensed milk is the only sweetener in this recipe, and it also acts as a thickening agent for the pie. I suppose you could use regular milk or cream, but you would probably need a thickener, like cornstarch, and I’m not sure of the correct amount without trying it out. You’d also have to make sure to dissolve the sugar completely. Let me know if you give it a try and how it turned out:)

  • Will

    Thanks for your reply. It made me look some more… and man, seems like every key lime pie recipe on the internets uses sweetened condensed milk! I guess the convenience is worth the coming-out-of-the-can attribute for most people.

    I found this:,1937,147161-235205,00.html

    “1 (8 inch) graham cracker crust
    4 egg yolks
    1/2 c. sugar
    1/2 c. fresh key lime juice
    2 c. heavy whipping cream, unwhipped
    1 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
    1/2 tsp. vanilla

    Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in the top of double boiler. Set over simmering heat and whisk in the lime juice. Cook, stirring often, about 10 minutes or until mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon.

    Remove from heat. Cover and refrigerate until mixture is cool and thick, but not stiff. (About 1 hour.) Whip 1 cup of cream to very stiff stage. Fold into cooled filling. Pour into prepared crust and chill. Just before serving, whip remaining cream with confectioners’ sugar and add vanilla. Ladle cream over pie.”

    Not sure when we’ll try it though!

  • Karen

    Interesting. Not baked at all. Well if you decide to make it, let me know how it turns out 🙂

  • Krista

    How do you get the “zest?” What is it?

    • Karen

      It’s the skin of the lime. The green part only. The white stuff underneath is the pith, and it’s very bitter. You can use a potato peeler to carefully remove the zest, then chop it up fine, or you can use a fine grater, or my personal favorite, a microplane zester. You can pick one up at Walmart for about $10. Works great for parmesan cheese too!

  • Hi, I’m baking in Romania and haven’t really seen key limes around here, just regular limes. Do you think those would do?

    • Karen

      Hi Eliza, I’ve acutally made this pie with just regular limes, and it has turned out very well. Go ahead and use them, and their zest. I’ve seen bottled key lime juice, but i think that juice from fresh limes, Key lime or not, would be best. Let me know how it turns out!

  • Jimmy Rhoads

    If you ever want to eat the best friggin key lime pie ever to grace a pie pan, then you better get over to Kutchie Pless’s place Kutcharitaville Key West Restaurant. My girl friend took-us there about 15-years ago and WOW! I always loved key lime pie but Kutchie’s pie was the best one I have ever eaten. If you’re anything like me, no one else’s key lime pie can beat-it.

    Jimmy Rhoads

  • Kellie Jacinson

    Now that looks like a pie that we would like to try. Have you ever compared it with the Famous Key Lime Pies from Kutchie and Anita Pelaez’s…Key Lime Pie Factory and Grill over next to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville? I swear, Kutchie and Anita’s pie are the best thing that I have ever put into my mouth. Sorry honey you don’t count. I wish we had a nickle for every one of the pies that we order from Anita and Kutchie. Oh what the hell, we would just order more of their awesome pies. Now that wouldn’t be such a bad idea. We’ll order more next week anyway. OH WOW I’ve typed myself into being Happy again.