Skip to Content

The BEST Key Lime Pie

This post may contain Amazon or other affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Thanks for making my day by SHARING!

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? Look no further…you found it!

I am a sucker for a good sweet-tart key lime pie! Creamy, plenty of pucker power and the best part is you make it ahead of time! A year round dessert delight!

If you dig make ahead desserts, try these other reader favorites; Traditional Italian Tiramisu, Mile High Mud Pie, or Old Fashioned Chocolate Ice Cream!

Slice of creamy key lime pie, on white place with two swirls of whipped cream, slice of lime and lime zest sprinkled on top.

THE BEST KEY LIME PIE

Last weekend after a long, hot day at a swim meet, we invited dear friends, for dinner to celebrate a 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.

Pinterest image for best easy key lime pie, with empty graham cracker crust on top image and bottom image of pouring key lime filling into baked shell.

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 an Award winning Key lime Pie recipe! Ooh-the perfect Key Lime Pie!

Image of a beautiful slice of key lime pie topped with a kiss of whipped cream, graham cracker crumbs and lime zest.

Easy Graham Cracker Crust RECIPE

  • 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.
Wedge of key lime pie, topped with creamy whipped cream, lime zest and some extra graham cracker crumbs sitting on a white plate.
  • 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.
Pinterest Pin for how to make an easy three ingredient graham cracker crust with images with ingredients, pressing crust into pie plate and finished crust.
  • 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.
butter into graham cracker crumbs | www.thefreshcooky.com
  • 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, I gently pressed into the sides and smoothed the edges/tops creating a pretty fluted edge.
Graham Cracker Crust pressing with knuckles | www.thefreshcooky.com
  • Carefully place the crust in the preheated oven and bake for 6-8 minutes. You want it golden, not brown.
Graham Cracker Crust after baking and cooling

TIPS FOR COOLING A GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST QUICKLY

Allow to cool on a cooling 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. 

Image of bright turquoise pie plate filled with a graham cracker crust, ready for baking, with crumbs on board behind

How to make the best key lime filling

  1. Wash and dry the limes and get out your zester, zesting just the green part of the lime, not into the bitter white “pith.”

PRO TIP | 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.

zesting limes with microplane on cutting board, cut limes and zested limes laying around | www.thefreshcooky.com
  1. Juice all those limes, this hand juicer worked like a charm and is probably the MOST used tool in my kitchen, besides my favorite knife and mini measuring cup, is that weird?
  2. 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 I Replace Key Limes with Persian 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.

pile of juiced limes limes and juicer | www.thefreshcooky.com

DON’T SKIMP ON BEATING THE KEY LIME FILLING

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
Image of empty graham cracker crust with spatula, near a mixing bowl filled with best key lime filling

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.

Can I make Key Lime Pie Gluten Free and Egg Free?

YES! Easily convert this recipe to gluten free, by substituting gluten free grahams.

EGG FREE
Simply omit the eggs, it won’t be quite as creamy, but it will still set up!

Eggless Key Lime Pie?

The eggs may be omitted if necessary, 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.

Egg, sweetened condensed milk, lime zest and sour cream in mixing bowl of mixer for key lime pie. www.thefreshcooky.com
  1. Pour mixture into cooled graham cracker crust.
Pouring key lime mixture into baked and cooled graham cracker crust on marble countertop
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
key lime pie cooling on counter | www.thefreshcooky.com

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 

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.

Dressed up key lime pie with whipped cream and graham crumbs | www.thefreshcooky.com

Garnish, if desired with a whipped cream, slices of lime, reserved graham cracker crumbs, and grated lime zest.

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

KEY LIME MINI PIE RECIPE

I love when my readers get creative, make it their own! She reached out to me to see if she split it into mini pie pans how long she should bake them and here’s her response.

Eight minutes worked perfectly for the mini pies! This recipe made 12 mini pies and they were delicious!

~ Jennifer
image of key lime pie on wooden plate with limes in background. Individual dollops of whipped cream marking slices on pie

Let me know if you enjoyed making this award winning key lime pie recipe! Pop down below the recipe to the comments!

Recipes that compliment Key Lime Pie!

Don’t forget that while we think of Key Lime Pie as a summertime dessert, it’s a delicious, tasty and beautiful non-chocolate, non-pumpkin holiday dessert as well!

Don’t forget to PIN to your favorite Pie Board!

Pinterest image for award winning key lime pie with piece of pie on plate with fork and whipped cream decor.

Like this recipe?
Don’t forget to give it a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️star rating in the recipe below!

Yield: 8-10 slices

The BEST Key Lime Pie

Best Key Lime Pie wedge on a plate with two swirls of whipped cream, garnished with a sliced lime and lime zest.

This is the BEST Key Lime Pie...citrusy, sweet-tart -- the perfect sweet to-pucker ratio; light and bright with a crisp not-to-sweet graham cracker crust!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Chill Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 48 minutes

Ingredients

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)

WHIPPED CREAM

  • 8 oz Heavy Whipping Cream (I used organic), very cold
  • 2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tablespoons powdered sugar

GARNISH

  • 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

Instructions

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. *If needed, cool for 10 minutes on rack, then transfer to freezer for 20-30 minutes to cool completely.

KEY LIME FILLING

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. 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.
  3. Whip until batter is thickened.
  4. 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. See notes for details if making key lime mini pies.

WHIPPED CREAM AND GARNISH

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Notes

MAKE MINI PIES | A reader split the batter between 12 mini pies, baked on a cookie sheet for 8 minutes and they were perfect!

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.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10 slices

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.

Did you make this recipe?

Go ahead, MAKE MY DAY! PIN on Pinterest and Comment on the blog!

Try these other Citrus Recipes

Best Key Lime Pie wedge on a plate with two swirls of whipped cream, garnished with a sliced lime and lime zest.

Slow-Roasted Veggie Pasta | www.thefreshcooky.com #roastedveggies #roastedvegetables #vegetarian #whatsfordinner
Previous
Slow-Roasted Veggie Pasta
Asian Ramen Noodle Salad | #thefreshcooky #asiansalad #sidesalad #cabbage #ramen #ramensalad #salad #easyrecipe
Next
Asian Ramen Noodle Salad (All Natural)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Erin

Wednesday 17th of March 2021

Hi, this sound delicious and I plan to make it for Easter dinner. 15-20 minute cook time seems very short - how jiggly should the middle be? And do you have any other tips for detecting the doneness? Thank you!

Erin

Wednesday 17th of March 2021

@Kathleen, thank you!! I can't wait to make it

Kathleen

Wednesday 17th of March 2021

Hi Erin, It is so delicious! You don't have to bake it long to achieve the desired set to the custard filling, make sure you whip it really well before pouring into the pie shell, it should be the consistency of cooked pudding. The center should just jiggle slightly, you don't want it getting brown on top, the pie will continue setting up as it cools and then as you chill it. Hope that helps and hope you love it! Happy Easter! Kathleen

Sue

Friday 12th of March 2021

I have made this recipe twice for parties and making it again. Everyone enjoys it. I used fresh key limes. Thanks for sharing.

Kathleen

Friday 12th of March 2021

Thank you so much Sue, I love hearing this!! Always exciting when I hear from my fellow bakers that something turned out so well!

Gaby

Thursday 26th of November 2020

I think I over mixed the cool whip topping. It’s watery, I put in refrigerator right now. But i will try another batch, just thinking that’s what I did wrong.

Kathleen

Sunday 29th of November 2020

Hi Gaby, sorry I am just getting to this, hope it all went okay. There actually isn't Cool Whip in this recipe, real whipped cream or whipping cream is what is used. You can certainly top it with Cool Whip, but I wouldn't advise whipping it, let me know if you have more questions about how to whip whipping cream, the longer you whip it the firmer it gets, and you can actually make butter if you whip it too much! Hope it all turned out okay! Happy baking, Kathleen

Jennifer

Friday 6th of November 2020

I have made this recipe several times and it is SO GOOD!! I love how tart it is! I am going to make it for a friend this week and want to make it in several mini pies. How long do you suggest baking the mini pies?

Kathleen

Saturday 7th of November 2020

Love hearing this Jennifer, thank you!! Okay, did a little research, if you are using those premade mini graham cracker pie crusts, I would start at about 5-8 minutes (placing the mini pies on a large baking sheet for easier testing and removal). Pull them out when there is just a teensy jiggle in the middle. Let me know how they work out!

Betsy

Tuesday 8th of September 2020

I have a 10 inch prepared graham cracker crust. Will I need to pre-bake it for this recipe?

Kathleen

Tuesday 8th of September 2020

If store bought Betsy, it should already be prebaked, so no need, if you however made it and just have on hand, then bake and cool first! Hope you love the recipe!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

shares