Describe your BEST Key Lime Pie…is it citrusy, sweet-tart, creamy — with the perfect sweet to-pucker ratio; light and bright with a crisp not-to-sweet graham cracker crust? Well look no further…you found it!
THE BEST KEY LIME PIE
Last weekend after a long, hot day at a swim meet, we invited dear friends, Scott & Wendy for dinner to celebrate his birthday! I was a bit late asking what his favorite dessert was, but was able to whip this up just in time for dinner that night.
PLAN AHEAD FOR KEY LIME PIE – IT’S SO WORTH IT!
It does take a bit of pre-planning as it needs to cool and then chilled a couple of hours before being eaten, but WOW! If you are a key lime anything lover you will L O V E this crazy good Key Lime Pie!
I’ve had this recipe from Souffle Bombay in my “MAKE SOON” file, which grows faster than I can make and bake things. I made a few modifications to it, but I know why it’s a Prize Winning recipe! Ooh-the perfect Key Lime Pie!
Recipe for a Quick, Easy Graham Cracker Crust
Start by making the crust as it will need to bake and cool prior to placing your filling in it.
Preheat oven to 350° and gather your ingredients.
Melt the butter and set aside, I love my butter melter, I still do it on the stovetop, so my microwave doesn’t get splattered.
In a food processor or blender (I used my Ninja – love it!) whir your crackers into fine crumbs. Or place crackers in a gallon sized freezer baggie, crush your graham crackers; if using a baggie, I like to hand break them, then using a rolling pin, roll back and forth until the crumbs are about the same size.
1 1/2 – 2 sleeves of graham cracker equals about 2 cups. You can use store bought Graham Cracker Crumbs, but honestly it’s so easy and fresh to make your own.
Pour in sugar, pulse a few times, then pour in butter and pulse, or just mix with a fork as I’ve done here. Reserve about 1/8 cup of graham cracker crumbs for topping, if desired.
GLUTEN FREE & EGG FREE?
Easily convert this recipe to gluten free, by substituting gluten free grahams and egg free (simply omit the eggs, it will still set up)!
Press the graham mixture into your pie plate. I chose a 9″ rimmed deep dish pie plate, so I could easily press the crumbs all of the way up the edges. Using my knuckles (knucks!!) I gently pressed into the sides and smoothed the edges/tops creating a pretty fluted edge.
Carefully place the crust in the preheated oven and bake for 6-8 minutes. You want it golden, not brown.
TIPS FOR COOLING YOUR CRUST QUICKLY
Allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then place in freezer for 20 minutes until pie plate is cool to the touch. Careful you don’t put it somewhere it will get scraped or bumped, the crust is still rather fragile. While the crust cools, make your key lime filling.
HOW TO MAKE THE KEY LIME FILLING
Wash and dry the limes and get out your zester, zesting just the green part of the lime, not into the bitter white “pith.” This microplane is my favorite zester, I use it for everything from zesting citrus, to grating chocolate, nutmeg and nuts, and I love it’s small profile.
It took 24 Key Limes to get a little over 2/3 of a cup of juice, plus 1 Persian lime to get it up to 3/4 cup lime juice. I reserved one key lime to use as garnish.
Can’t Find Key Limes?
If you can’t find fresh Key Limes in the store, I can tell you that I’ve used regular (larger) Persian limes for other Key Lime recipes; it’s not quite as tart, so I’ll add another lime or two worth of zest, but otherwise it’s delicious. I do much prefer fresh lime juice over bottled juice, but if you must, I like this brand of Key Lime Juice.
DON’T SKIMP ON BEATING THE KEY LIME FILLING
Now that you’ve done the hardest part, pour the sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, key lime juice, egg* yolks and lime zest into the bowl of a mixer (I love this type of recipe, where you just dump and mix) and beat on low until combined, then increase speed and beat medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Scraping down the sides every now and then. It should be thick and creamy, nice and thick, whip longer if it’s still a bit runny.
OTHER USES FOR SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK
- Leftover sweetened condensed milk? Check out this post from Bon Appétit and this one from Serious Eats for some great ideas.
- I’ve drizzled over cinnamon rolls and cakes, but have never put it in my coffee, um, YUM! Transfer to a glass jar though and refrigerate.
Eggless Key Lime Pie?
The eggs may be omitted if allergies, they provide a bit of the lift and creaminess and enhance the color of the pie au naturel, but it will still set up just fine.
Pour mixture into cooled graham cracker crust.
Bake for 350°, 15-20 minutes, just until filling wiggles a bit in the center when gently shaken back and forth, careful you don’t allow it brown.
Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes, then place in fridge for at least 3 hours before serving (you can still serve earlier, it just won’t be quite as set as it will a bit later. I personally recommend you bake it the day before you need it.
A beauty isn’t it! While the pie is cooling, make your whipped cream, it’s optional, but does add a beautiful touch.
HOW TO MAKE STABLE, PIPEABLE REAL WHIPPED CREAM
In a cool mixing bowl (sometimes I’ll put mine in the freezer for a few minutes if it’s a hot day) pour your cold whipping cream (heavy cream) into the mixing bowl and using a hand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.
Add in powdered sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until firm, more firm than you are used to, you want it nice and thick, almost to butter!
Scoop whipped cream into a piping bag with a tip (this is a good starter set), and keep in the coldest part of your fridge until the pie is completely cooled and ready to serve.
No Piping Bag or Tip?
No problem, scoop whipped cream into a sandwich baggie and once ready to pipe, snip off a corner to desired size — about 1/2 inch), pipe as desired.
Garnish, if desired with a whipped cream, slices of lime, reserved graham cracker crumbs, and grated lime zest. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Scott & Wendy asked for small slices (we’re all watching our wastes aren’t we), they each went back for seconds! It’s that good! Scott said his test for a really great Key Lime Pie is that his cheeks feel like someone ran ice cubes over them!
I thought he was kidding, then he had me feel his face and IT WAS cooler than the rest of his face, ever heard of such a thing? By the way, his wife was there, along with my husband (who felt it too), no weirdness going on.
Try these recipes they go beautifully with Key Lime Pie!
- Start with a light and vibrant Mediterranean Dip
- Maybe a flavorful Shawarma Chicken for the main dish
- Wash it all down with this crisp Colorado Mule
Like this recipe?
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GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs* (about 1 1/2-2 full sleeves of graham crackers) Substitute with Gluten free if desired.
- 1/4 cup sugar, I like all natural cane sugar
- 6 Tablespoons butter, melted
KEY LIME FILLING
- 2 - 14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk (I used Organic) not fat free
- 1/2 cup sour cream (I used full fat organic - may replace with plain thick greek yogurt)
- 2-3 Key Limes, zested (or 1-2 regular), washed dried and zested
- 3/4 cup Key Lime juice*, washed, squeezed* (about 24-25 Key Limes, or 3-6 Persian Limes)
- 2 egg yolks (omit if making egg free)
- 8 oz Heavy Whipping Cream (I used organic), very cold
- 2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3-4 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 reserved key lime, cut into little slices and placed on whipped cream dollops
- Zest from regular lime, sprinkled over the top
- 1/4 cup reserved Graham Cracker Crumbs sprinkled on top
GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter and set aside. Finely crush graham crackers in food processor, blender or freezer baggie with rolling pin until all the same size. Add in sugar and pulse a few times until blended, pour in butter and stir with fork or pulse a couple times until mixed. Reserve 1/4 cup crumb mixture for topping, if desired.
- Pour crust mixture into 9" deep dish pie dish and using hands, press into bottom and up sides, evenly. Bake for 6-8 minutes, just golden, not browned. Remove from oven and cool completely on wire rack.
- *If needed, cool for 10 minutes on rack, then transfer to freezer for 20-30 minutes to cool completely.
KEY LIME FILLING
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Wash, dry and zest limes, set zest aside until ready to use. Squeeze 3/4 cup of lime juice (about 24 key limes, or 6 Persian limes). Pour lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, egg yolks (if using) and zest into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low until combined, then increase to medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Scraping down sides once or twice. DO NOT SKIP THE LONGER WHIPPING.
- Whip until batter is thickened.
- Pour Key Lime filling into COOLED graham cracker crust. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until center is set, but still jiggles slightly when shaken. DO NOT ALLOW TO BROWN. Remove from oven to cooling rack and cool for 30 minutes. Place in fridge for at least 3 hours -- if you remove sooner it will still taste good, it will just not be quite as set if you had let it sit longer in the fridge.
WHIPPED CREAM AND GARNISH
- While your pie is cooling, make whipped cream.Pour cold whipping cream into cool bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla and powdered sugar, mixing on low until combined, then increase to speed to medium-high and whip until thick, almost to a light butter stage.
- Scoop out and into piping bag with star tip. Whipped cream in bag may be kept in fridge until ready to garnish pie. Garnish with whipping cream stars, a little lime zest, graham cracker crumbs and a slice of lime. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve and chill all leftovers.
GLUTEN FREE | Swap GF Graham crumbs for regular.
EGG FREE | Omit eggs all together, will still set up nicely.
KEY LIMES | May substitute regular Persian Limes or purchase Key Lime Juice (usually on the baking isle). If using Persian limes and you want it more tart, add additional zest from 1-2 additional limes.
*Several readers have replaced the sour cream with full fat & 2% thick greek yogurt (plain) and it tasted great! I do not recommend using fat free items in this dish.
This recipe was adapted from Souffle Bombay's Prize Winning Key Lime Pie.
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Serving Size:1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 668Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 139mgSodium: 288mgCarbohydrates: 98gFiber: 6gSugar: 68gProtein: 12g
The nutritional information is estimated and may not be entirely accurate.