Key Lime Pie

Key lime pie with whipped cream

Granny always felt at home in South Florida and the Key Lime Pie was a big reason why. This tart and creamy delight turns fresh Key lime juice and zest into a firm custard filling. Topped off with a sweet homemade whipped cream to complement the citrus flavor, the Key Lime Pie is like a trip to the beach.

Although regular limes will make a fine pie, Key limes are valued for their unique and intense flavor profile. Common in in the Caribbean, they may be harder to find in other regions but this hybrid citrus fruit is worth the search. Unlike regular limes, these appear yellow when ripe and have a stronger acidic taste. Thy're what makes a Key Lime Pie so special – that perfect balance of sweet custard and tart citrus.


For the Filling
  • 4 teaspoons grated lime zest
  • 12 cup lime juice from 3 to 4 limes
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 11 graham crackers, processed to fine crumbs (1 14 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • For the Topping
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) heavy cream
  • 14 cup powdered sugar
  • Method

    • 1. Whisk the lime zest and egg yolks in a medium bowl until it’s tinted light green - about 2 minutes. Then beat in milk and juice. Set aside at room temperature to thicken..

    • 2. Preheat oven to 325 F (162 C). Mix crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl. Add butter and stir with a fork until well blended. Pour mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Press crumbs over bottom and up the sides of pan to form an even crust. Bake until lightly browned and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

    • 3. Pour the lime filling into the crust. Bake until center is set, yet wiggly when jiggled, about 15 to 17 minutes. Return the pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.

    • 4. Up to 2 hours before serving, whip cream in medium bowl to very soft peaks. Adding powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, continue whipping to just-stiff peaks. Decoratively pipe whipped cream over filling or spread evenly with rubber spatula.

    Key Lime Pie - Green with Envy

    The Key Lime Pie, a beloved American dessert, has a history as rich and tangy as its flavor. The pie is named after the small Key limes, which are more aromatic than the common Persian limes, and which have yellow juice. The filling in a Key lime pie is typically yellow because of the egg yolks.

    The origins of the Key Lime Pie are somewhat disputed, but it's generally agreed that the pie was probably derived from the "Magic Lemon Cream Pie" published in a promotional brochure by Borden, a producer of condensed milk, in 1931. The recipe was altered with local ingredients, and it's described as "a stunning reminder of how deeply America's traditions are shaped by advertising".

    A "Tropical Lime Chiffon Pie", using condensed milk and egg yolks, is documented in a 1933 Miami newspaper article. An "icebox lime pie", was mentioned as a specialty of the Florida Keys in 1935, and a recipe under the name "Key Lime Pie" was published in 1940.

    The pie is made of lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk. It may be served with no topping, topped with a meringue topping made from egg whites, or with whipped cream; it may be cooked in a pie crust, graham cracker crust, or no crust. The filling is made similarly to a Magic Lemon cream pie, by simply mixing the ingredients without cooking: the proteins of the egg yolks and condensed milk and the acidic lime juice curdle, thickening the mixture without baking. Today, Key lime pies are usually baked to pasteurize the eggs and thicken the filling further.

    In 2006, Key Lime Pie was designated as the official Florida state pie. So, the next time you enjoy a slice of this tangy, sweet pie, remember the rich history and cultural significance that it carries.