This fresh, tart, authentic key lime pie recipe is the same one you’ll remember from when you were a kid, and it’s a breeze to make — all you need are a few ingredients to blend together!
Homemade Key Lime Pie
One word of advice: Do not put lime rinds down the disposal. If you do, the result will be:
- 1 day of dirty dishes drying with caked-on, day-old food.
- $67 rental for snake at Home Depot.
- 1 argument with the husband.
- $234 fee for Roto Rooter to clear the drain.
- 17 minutes of scrubbing caked-on, day-old food from plates.
- But an awesomely delicious key lime pie.
We’ve learned our lesson the hard way. Don’t put lime rinds down the garbage disposal. My sister-in-law learned it too. But with potato peels right before everyone showed up for Thanksgiving dinner.
There are a lot of things that seem indestructible. Garbage disposals aren’t one of them.
Last summer Smudge went on a bender. A key lime bender. She made this recipe for Key Lime Pie at least 9 times. Not bad for a 10-year-old who has a penchant for drawing henna tattoos on her hands and taking some pretty cool selfies akin to fine artist’s self-portraits of yesteryear.
Now, she’s the grand old age of 11 (12 in June!) and I am one proud mama when she kicks me out of the kitchen so she can set to work at baking pies.
For Pi Day this year, she took two pies to school as part of her math assignment. Now that’s some math I can wrap my head around. She made a key lime pie (natch) and she and her friends requested her Birthday Cake Pie, normally reserved for, you guessed it, her birthday. I was more than happy to oblige to make that one.
It was the perfect occasion to snap a few pics of my Smudge at work mixing, juicing and doing her thing. Before too long she’ll be out of the house on her own and I won’t have anyone with a toss of fiery red hair to shoosh me out of the kitchen.
But at least we’ll always have pie.
This recipe is a long time favorite from the Junior League of Salt Lake City’s Heritage Cookbook. We haven’t amended it much from the original, because like so many other homemade key lime pie recipes out there, there are few substitutions that could, or should, be made. We did omit the meringue topping in favor of whip cream because 11-year-olds prefer whipped cream.
Key limes were on sale at Smith’s Marketplace for 10 for $1 so this time around we went the key lime route. Key limes are more aromatic and bit sweeter than regular limes so when available, I suggest you use the smaller in stature citrus. Sure, they’re small. And you need more than a few. But like I tell Smudge, patience is a virtue. Plus, all that juicing builds muscles.
Key Lime Pie Ingredients
Key lime pie requires surprisingly few ingredients, so there are really no substitutions you can make (besides using regular limes in place of key limes, in a pinch). For this authentic key lime pie recipe, you’ll need:
- Graham cracker crust (store-bought or homemade)
- Egg yolks
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Fresh lime juice
- Lime zest
- Heavy whipping cream
How to Make Key Lime Pie
If going the homemade graham cracker crust route, make sure to give yourself enough time for the crust to chill before making the rest of the pie. (It’ll need at least 2 hours to chill).
Once the crust has had time to set, you can start in on the filling. Beat the egg yolks until light in color, then blend in the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and zest. Spoon into the pie crust and bake until set, then remove from oven and let cool in the fridge.
When you’re ready to serve the key lime pie, whip the cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form and then pipe onto the pie. If you don’t have any piping bags, you can use a plastic zip-top bag (just snip a tiny corner off). You don’t even need a piping tip for this, even-sized dollops of whipped cream will do!
Can I Use Evaporated Milk for This Recipe?
NO. Sorry for the all caps, but please do not use evaporated milk in place of the sweetened condensed milk. They’re two very different milk products and your homemade key lime pie would turn out all wrong.
Can I Use Regular Limes in Key Lime Pie?
Of course! I realize this is a key lime pie recipe, but you can get away with juicing regular limes if you don’t have any key limes on hand.
Can I Freeze Homemade Key Lime Pie?
You can, actually! Let it sit in the fridge for 4 hours after baking, then wrap the key lime pie tightly in plastic wrap and foil before freezing it. To thaw, set the frozen key lime pie in the fridge overnight.
Note that you should freeze this easy key lime pie plain — you can whip up a fresh batch of cream just before serving the pie.
Can I Make Key Lime Pie in Advance?
Not only can you make this key lime pie in advance, but you pretty much have to! Homemade key lime pie needs to chill for at least 4 hours before you can serve it, so you might as well make it the night before you plan on serving it to friends and family to make your life easier the next day.
Tips for Making the Best Key Lime Pie
The original recipe calls for a store-bought pie crust, but I always crave a yummy graham cracker crust for this pie. You could buy these little graham cracker pie crusts that Smudge usually uses for her mini key lime pies, but we went the homemade route with this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
The pie crust isn’t baked, but refrigerated to meld it all together. To avoid a crumbling crumby crust, the key is to let the pie crust chill for a good long while so it sets up. I found the next day really works best.
I love my new hand crafted cake stand from Brooklyn’s AHeirloom and couldn’t wait to use it for when I eventually make a cake, so it proudly displayed our pie instead. You’ll be seeing a whole lot more of it in posts to come.
More Fruit Desserts to Try
- Grandma’s Peach and Blackberry Cobbler
- Meyer Lemon Bars
- Quick and Easy Raspberry Fool
- Blueberry Buckle with Lemon Glaze
- Apple and Blueberry Crumble
- Meyer Lemon Tart
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Key Lime Pie
- 1 9- inch graham cracker crust pie shell I used this recipe
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 14 ounce cans of sweetened condensed milk 2 1/4 cups
- 1 cup lime juice
- 2 tablespoons grated lime rind
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
If making the graham cracker pie crust from scratch, allow at least 2 hours for it to chill in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat the egg yolks until light and lemon colored. Using a wire whisk, beat in the condensed milk. Blend in the lime juice and grated lime rind. Spoon into the pie crust and smooth the top.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until gently set. Cool and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight to set.
- Before serving, whip the cream with the vanilla until stiff peaks form. Pipe the cream onto the pie and garnish with extra sliced limes if desired.
Recipe from The Junior League of Salt Lake City's Heritage Cookbook
More Easy Pie Recipes to Try
- The Berry Best Four Berry Pie
- Caramel Apple Pie
- Skillet Cherry Pie
- Mountain Fresh Peach Pie
- Apple and Pear Chocolate Hand Pies
I hope these recipes inspire you to get into the kitchen and make something seasonal, and good.
Craving more life balance, less stress, and better health? Check out my Nourished Planner, the daily planner to help create simplicity and under-schedule your life.
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