Key Lime Pie

published Jul 18, 2024

This classic Key lime pie is sweet, creamy, and perfectly tart.

Serves8 to 10

Makes1 (9-inch) pie

Prep20 minutes

Cook30 minutes to 35 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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A trip to the Florida Keys isn’t complete without tasting a slice of Key lime pie. If your travel plans don’t include a visit to the state’s southernmost tip, we’ve got you covered. This recipe makes a Key lime pie that has the very same citrusy flavor and silky texture that the beachside restaurants do. Make a simple graham cracker crust, then bake it with a filling of sweet-tart Key lime juice (which is also the secret to delicious frozen daiquiris), creamy sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks. Plan on making it ahead so that the pie is thoroughly chilled before topping it with swirls of fluffy whipped cream. You’re sure to be thrilled at how easy it is to make. 

Credit: Photo: Erik Bernstein; Food Styling: Spencer Richards

Why You’ll Love It

  • The sweet-tart flavor in the easy filling can’t be beat. Key limes have a distinctly sweet and citrusy flavor. The zest and juice perfume the creamy filling that only has only 3 ingredients and some salt.
  • It’s a make-ahead dessert everyone will love. Key lime pie is made with a simple graham cracker crumb crust and a filling that comes together with a whisk. The pie is chilled after baking, so make sure to prepare it at least a few hours before serving.

Key Ingredients in Key Lime Pie

Credit: Photo: Erik Bernstein; Food Styling: Spencer Richards

How to Make Key Lime Pie

  1. Make the crust. Combine finely ground graham cracker crumbs with melted unsalted butter, sugar, and kosher salt, then press the crumbs into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake until the crust is light golden-brown and fragrant. 
  2. Prepare the filling. Whisk Key lime zest and juice, sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and kosher salt until smooth, then pour into the warm crust.
  3. Bake the pie. Bake until the edges of the filling are set and the center wobbles slightly.
  4. Cool the pie. Let the pie cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until completely chilled.
  5. Garnish with whipped cream. Make homemade whipped cream with heavy cream and powdered sugar, then pipe around the edge of the pie.

Helpful Swaps

Fresh Key limes are in season from June to September, and may be difficult to find outside of those months. Luckily, bottled Key lime juice is available year-round and is an excellent substitute. Use 1/2 cup bottled Key lime juice and the zest from 2 Persian limes in place of the fresh Key limes.  

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

With eggs as an ingredient in this pie, you’ll need to store leftovers in the refrigerator where it’ll last for up to 4 days. For longer storage (or to keep homemade Key lime pie ready at a moment’s notice), freeze the pie, without the whipped cream topping, for up to 3 months. Thaw the pie in the refrigerator before topping with whipped cream and serving.

What to Serve with Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie Recipe

This classic Key lime pie is sweet, creamy, and perfectly tart.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes to 35 minutes

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info


For the crust:

  • 6 tablespoons

    (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

  • 12

    whole graham cracker sheets (about 6 1/2 ounces), or 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

  • 2 tablespoons

    granulated sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    kosher salt

For the filling and topping:

  • 15

    Key limes, divided, plus more for garnish if desired

  • 5

    large egg yolks

  • 1

    (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

  • 1

    pinch kosher salt

  • 3/4 cup

    cold heavy cream

  • 3 tablespoons

    powdered sugar


Make the crust:

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F.

  2. Place 6 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 20-second bursts until mostly melted, 40 to 60 seconds total (it will melt completely as it sits.) (Alternatively, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.) Set aside to cool slightly.

  3. Break 12 whole graham cracker sheets into rough pieces and place in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt. Process until the crackers are the texture of sand, about 15 seconds. Add the butter and pulse to combine, 6 to 8 (1-second) pulses. (If using graham cracker crumbs, stir 1 1/2 cups crumbs, the butter, and salt together in a medium bowl.)

  4. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch regular (not deep dish) pie plate. Use the bottom of a measuring cup or your fingers to press the crumbs into an even layer, making sure to reach the edges and up the sides.

  5. Bake the crust until fragrant and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Place on a wire rack. Make the filling while the crust is still warm.

Make the filling and topping:

  1. Finely grate the zest of 15 Key limes until you have 1 tablespoon. Juice the limes until you have 1/2 cup juice. Place the zest and juice in a large bowl. Add 5 large egg yolks, 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk, and 1 pinch kosher salt. Whisk until smooth. Pour into the still-warm crust and smooth the top.

  2. Bake until the edges are set and the center wobbles slightly, 20 to 25 minutes. Place the pie on the rack and let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

  3. When ready to serve, place 3/4 cup cold heavy cream and 3 tablespoons powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, 2 to 5 minutes. (Alternatively, use a large bowl and an electric hand mixer, or whisk by hand.)

  4. Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag or large zip-top bag fitted with a star piping tip. Pipe the whipped cream decoratively around the edges of the pie. (Alternatively, spoon the whipped cream over the pie filling and spread into an even layer.) Garnish with more finely grated Key lime zest and/or thinly sliced rounds of fresh Key lime, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Ingredient variation: 1/2 cup bottled Key lime juice, such as Nellie & Joe’s, and the finely grated zest from 2 regular limes can be substituted for the fresh Key limes.

Equipment variation: If you don’t have a food processor, place the graham crackers in a large resealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin into fine crumbs.

Make ahead: The pie, without the whipped cream topping, can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before topping with the whipped cream and serving.

Storage: Cover the pie and refrigerate for up to 4 days.