Key West Key Lime Pie! This classic pie recipe features a sweet, tart and creamy key lime filling in a traditional graham cracker crust topped with fresh whipped cream.
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If you're looking for an authentic key lime pie recipe Key West is the place to find it! The recipe I'm sharing here is a copycat of Key West's famous Kermit's Key Lime Pie Shoppe pie, and you might be shocked to find out just how easy it is to make.
Just a handful of ingredients make up this classic pie. A sweet & tart filling made from sweetened condense milk, egg yolks and lime juice is baked into a graham cracker crust, then topped with fresh whipped cream. (Or meringue! More on that later.)
Bring a little taste of Key West to your dessert table!
This recipe is naturally vegetarian and can be made gluten-free.
What is the different between key limes and regular limes?
Key limes are a variety of lime that is smaller and more tart than regular limes. They are sometimes also referred to as West Indian limes, Bartender's limes, Omani limes, or Mexican limes.
While Key limes are native to the Florida Keys, they are now grown in many tropical and subtropical regions.
Some of the key differences between key limes and Persian limes:
- Size: Key limes are smaller; about the size of a golf ball. They contain less juice than Persian limes.
- Color: Key limes tend to be light yellowish green in color.
- Taste: Less acidity and a more floral and citrusy flavor.
- Seeds: Key limes have more seeds than regular limes.
The bright and less acidic flavor of Key limes make them a good option for use in pies, cocktails, and other desserts as well as savory dishes such as curries and salsas.
If you can't find key limes, regular limes may be used in their place. However, the recipe may need a bit more sugar in order to balance out the tartness.
- Graham cracker pie crust. Graham cracker crust isn't too hard to make, but if you're looking to speed up the pie process, a store bought crust is just fine.
- Sweetened condensed milk. Evaporated milk is NOT the same as sweetened condensed, so make sure to purchase the right stuff!
- Egg yolks. Using only yolks makes for a rich, creamy filling, but hang on to the whites if you want to attempt a meringue topping!
- Key lime juice. Key limes are small and aromatic, making them perfect for dessert. If you don't have key limes available, regular limes will work in a pinch. You may also be able to find bottled key lime juice at specialty stores.
- Heavy whipping cream. Whipped cream topping is completely optional, but it complements the tartness of the pie and also looks beautiful.
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the graham cracker crust on a baking pan. This will make the pie a lot easier to move once you've poured in the filling! (Trust me, I have sloshed filling into the oven one too many times.)
In a medium bowl, combine condensed milk and egg yolks. Add key lime juice and whisk until fully combined.
Poor the key lime pie filling into the graham cracker pie crust.
Bake the pie for 15-17 minutes or until just set. You'll know it's done when it has just a slight jiggle in the center, but isn't too liquidy.
Bring the pie to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for 3-5 hours or overnight. This will let the pie finish setting.
For Whipped Cream
In a medium bowl, whip together the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract with a hand mixer until soft peaks are formed.
When ready to serve, pipe the whipped cream around the pie or dollop on each slice before serving.
Tip: Some places serve Key Lime Pie with meringue topping instead of whipped cream. See the notes section of the recipe card below for instructions on how to make a meringue topping.
Key Lime Pie can be wrapped well with plastic wrap or placed in an airtight container, then stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Yes! Cover the key lime pie well with plastic wrap or place in a freezer-safe container before freezing. It will keep for 2-3 months in the freezer. Thaw for 20-25 minutes before serving.
Variations & Substitutions
Try these variations!
- Coconut Key Lime Pie. Try adding ⅓ cup of chopped coconut flakes to the graham cracker crumbs for a coconutty flavor.
- Chocolate Key Lime Pie. Substitute chocolate cookie crumbs for graham cracker crumbs in the pie crust for a chocolatey version.
- Fruity Key Lime Tart. Top the key lime pie with assorted fruit such as berries or diced mango for a fruity twist.
- Chocolate Dipped Key Lime Pie. Slice the pie and place the pieces on a parchment lined baking pan. Insert a popsicle stick into each piece as a "handle". Freeze the slices until solid. Drizzle or dip the pieces in melted semi-sweet chocolate and let harden.
- Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free graham cracker crumbs instead of regular.
- Vegan: I haven't adapted or attempted to make this recipe vegan, but this looks like a great Vegan Key Lime Pie recipe!
Key West Key Lime Pie
For Key Lime Pie
- 1 9-inch graham cracker pie crust store-bought or homemade
- 28 ounces sweetened condensed milk 2 14 oz. cans
- 6 egg yolks see notes
- ½ cup key lime juice
For Whipped Cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the graham cracker crust on a baking pan.
- In a medium bowl, combine condensed milk and egg yolks. Add key lime juice and whisk until fully combined.
- Poor the key lime pie filling into the graham cracker pie crust.
- Bake the pie for 15-17 minutes or until just set.
- Bring the pie to room temperature, then place in the refrigerator and chill for 3-5 hours or overnight.
Make the Whipped Cream Topping
- In a medium bowl, whip together the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract with a hand mixer until soft peaks are formed.
- When ready to serve, pipe the whipped cream around the pie or dollop on each slice before serving.
- 6 egg whites
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
speed until egg whites are stiff. Pipe or dollop the baked pie with the meringue. Bake an additional 10 minutes. Cool pie before serving.