Key Lime Pie

For Mom’s birthday last week, I made my first Key Lime Pie, and it came out perfectly. I love them rather tart, and this recipe, with both the juice and zest, nails the flavor. The tiny green zest bits give the filling an interesting green-dotted yellow color that may put off some diners (not at my table!), so cover it up with whipped cream!


Key Lime Pie

Use key limes or Mexican limones for best flavor. This is a classic recipe. The multiple teaspoons of zest really make it exceptional, but only for palates desirous of sharp citrus flavors trumping the sweetness.

This is a morning or next-day recipe, so it has time to cool thoroughly in the refrigerator.

It’ll take a while to do the squeezing and zesting, so do it first. Then preheat oven to 350°F.


  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (less than one pack)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Use food processor to turn crackers into crumbs, and mix crumbs with sugar. You can use cinnamon-and-sugar topped grahams for a subtle change in the crust flavor, but decrease the sugar by a teaspoon so the crust doesn’t fuse. Add the melted butter (microwave makes melting easy) and mix to thoroughly incorporated dry ingredients, then press into 9-inch pie plate (glass is best).

Pop into oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until slightly browned. Remove, leaving oven on.


  • 1 13-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk, can be no-fat
  • 4 egg yokes, large
  • 1/2 cup key lime juice
  • 2-4 teaspoons key lime zest, finely grated

Begin by whisking milk and yokes together (by hand is fine). Then add juice and zest, whisking until the mixture is homogeneous. It will thicken a bit as the juice reacts.

Pour into graham crust (doesn’t have to be cooled), and bake about 15 minutes until filling is set, although center can be slightly jiggly.

Cool at least 4 hours or overnight. You can top it with meringue (using up the egg whites), whipped cream, or eat it plain. Otherwise, use leftover egg whites in scrambled eggs or another dish.


  1. Kel says:

    OK, here’s my favorite version of my favorite pie — Key Lime! This one, by the way, is from Julee Rosso & Shiela Lukins’ The New Basics Cookbook but is a bit more complex than basic to be sure…

    Three components are Syrup, Crust, and Filling as follows:

    1 C water
    1/2 C sugar
    2 T finely julienned lime zest (1/2 inch long)

    22 grahm cracker squares
    1/4 C packed light brown sugar
    1 T grated lime zest
    5 T unsalted butter, cut in pieces

    1 envelope unflavored gelatin
    1/3 C fresh lime juice
    1/2 C sugar
    2 separated eggs
    1 C heavy or whipping cream
    1 t vanilla extract

    1. Prepare syrup by combining water, sugar in small sauce pan, heat to simmer. Stir in julienned lime zest, simmer 30 min. Strain, reserve zest and syrup separately. (I sprinkle granulated sugar over the cooled zest; this seems to keep it separated and makes it easier to sprinkle later onto the top of the finished pie…)

    2. Preheat oven to 375.

    3. Prep crust by combining grahm crackers, brown sugar, grated zest, butter in food processor, proces until mix holds together. Press into bottom and sides of 9-in pie plate, back 8 min. Set to cool.

    4. Prep filling by heating 1/3 C reserved syrup in small saucepan. Remove pan from heat and sprinkle gelatin over syrup, let it soften 1 minute. Stir in lime juice, 1/4 C sugar, 2 egg yolks. Stir over low heat until mix is thick, frothy (5 min.) Set aside and cool to room temp.

    5. Beat egg whites and 2 T sugar with electric mixer until stiff. Transfer the whites to large bowl. Wash and dry mixer blades.

    6. In another bowl, whip cream, vanilla, and remaining 2 T sugar with electric mixer until thick. Fold whipped cream into egg whites, drizzling in reserved lime mixture at same time. When mix is smooth, spoon it into the prepared crust. Sprinkle lime julienne on top, chill uncovered until firm, 2 – 3 hours.


  2. Sammy says:

    Sounds like your version would have a more delicate and interesting texture. Thanks for taking the time to type it up!