Classic Key Lime Pie

This Classic Key Lime Pie is the perfect dessert to share
with friends on a warm evening on the back deck!

Classic Key Lime Pie:  a tart key lime filling inside of a sweet graham cracker crust!Warm weather.  I thought it would never arrive.  I thought maybe it got lost in Florida this year.  But nope, it finally made it’s way to upstate New York, and I couldn’t be happier!  Now that Spring is here and Summer is just around the corner, I’ve been craving warm weather desserts like it’s my job.  (Ok, maybe it kinda is my job…hmmm.)  What’s a better summer dessert than a classic Key Lime Pie?  It’s bright, full of flavor, and served cold!  I’m already imagining sitting on the back deck eating a slice of this pie….oh wait, I did that last night?  Then I’ll do it again tonight!

Key limes are a funny fruit.  They’re small.  Really small.  It took about 25 or so key limes to make this pie.  I’m all about growing my own fruit and veggies, but sadly citrus doesn’t grow so well in upstate NY.  That’s ok, I’ll settle for picking up key limes at the market and going with apple and cherry trees in the backyard.  Actually, I did read somewhere that you can grow key lime trees indoors.  I think they’re potted, and then you just move them indoors for the winter.  I don’t see my wife going for that one.  “Hi, honey, we have a guest for dinner tonight.  Actually, we have a guest for the next 5 months.  It’s a tree.  But it’s ok, I’ll water it.”  Yeah, not gonna happen.  Luckily for me, one of my local markets carries key limes…so I can have this Classic Key Lime Pie whenever the urge hits me.  Like right now.

Classic Key Lime Pie:  a tart key lime filling inside of a sweet graham cracker crust!Key lime pie is my Dad’s all-time favorite dessert.  I remember him always talking about it when I was a kid.  I also remember not particularly loving it.  But then I grew up and my tastes changed.  And now this Classic Key Lime Pie ranks pretty high up there on my dessert list.  So here’s to a long summer of fun evenings in the back yard with friends…and lots of key lime pie!

Baker’s Note #1: In case you’re wondering, key limes do indeed have a different flavor than regular limes.  Check around to see if you can find key limes in your local market.  (I had to check two stores to find mine.)  Another option is key lime juice, but the actual key limes are your best bet if possible.  It’s worth the extra effort…trust me!

Baker’s Note #2: You may notice that the graham cracker crust for this Classic Key Lime Pie is extra large.  This isn’t a mistake!  The graham cracker crust is on the sweeter side, and I’ve found that a thicker crust helps balance the tartness of the key lime filling.  (The thicker crust also provides support for the individual slices of pie, too.)

Baker’s Note #3 (last one, I promise!): This pie really does need to be refrigerated overnight.  In a pinch, you might be able to freeze the pie to chill it super fast, but I’ve never actually tried this myself.  But I have tried to only refrigerate it for a couple of hours, and it just doesn’t quite set up as nicely as when it’s been in the fridge overnight.  So just plan accordingly!

Classic Key Lime Pie

Ingredients

    For the Graham Cracker Crust
  • 14 full-sized graham crackers
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • For the Filling
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup Key lime juice (about 23-28 Key limes)
  • For Whipped Cream Garnish
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • Lime zest

Instructions

    For the Graham Cracker Crust
  1. Using a food processor or mini-chopper, pulse the graham crackers until finely ground. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and melted butter. Stir until fully combined.
  2. Lightly butter or grease a 9” pie dish. Press the crust mixture evenly into the bottom and about half-way up the sides of the dish. (Tip: A flat-bottomed glass helps pack the crust mixture down evenly.)
  3. Bake crust at 325°F for 13-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  4. For the Filling
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks for 2-3 minutes, or until yolks turn light pale in color. Add the condensed milk and whisk together until fully combined. Add the Key lime juice and stir until fully combined.
  7. Pour mixture into cooled graham cracker crust.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, or until center of Filling has just set.
  9. Allow pie to cool to room temperature. Cover pie lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  10. For the Whipped Cream Garnish
  11. In a medium bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and powdered sugar.
  12. Using a hand mixer, beat on high until stiff peaks form.
  13. Transfer whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe stars around the outside of the pie. Sprinkle a small amount of lime zest on top of each star.
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Comments

  1. I had some amazing key lime pie in the Keys! Ever since I have wanted to try making it!
    I never thought the warm weather would arrive here either! I heard 80s for Monday?! Crazy!
    For a couple years I have wanted a lemon tree, but have yet to do anything about it since we don’t live in the most citrus-friendly area!

    • I bet you had some amazing key lime pie down in the Keys! I’m jealous! And yes, I can’t believe that it’s finally getting warm…dare I say hot…up here! (Haha, it’s so funny how my definition of hot has changed after living up here for a couple of years. But then again, 40s used to be cold to me. Now I laugh at 40s and go outside in shorts and a t-shirt!)

  2. It’s going to be 80 on Monday so I’m super excited and in all summer mode. This key like pie will be perfect!! Now just how will I get my hands on it? Fine, I guess i jut need to hunt me down some key likes since you decide to live so far away even though we have established that we would be fabulous neighbors! But seriously I love this recipe and will be trying it soon!! Hope you have a great weekend!

    • Yay! Thank you so much, Zainab! I bet you won’t have a hard time finding key limes in your area since you have Wegman’s over there (curse you!). Here’s to the unofficial start of the summer, awesome drinks and even tastier grilled foods!

  3. The heat has finally hit Vancouver too… And it totally caught me unaware. Which means I am still wearing boots and jeans every day.
    This key lime pie looks fabulous! I have never baked anything with key limes before, but I definitely want to now!

    • It’s crazy how we spend all winter looking forward to warmer weather, and then it still sneaks up on us out of nowhere! You totally need to track down some key limes…I found them in one of my big supermarkets around here, so it wasn’t too hard. Juicing them is a bit of a pain, but it is so worth the effort! Thanks for commenting!

  4. Kudos for using fresh key limes and making your own crust, I’m amazed with how many “chefs” and high-profile cooking sites (even bakeries in the FL Keys) refer people to or use bottled juice over fresh. Cheers.

    • Thank you so much, Steve! It took one extra stop to find the key limes up here in upstate New York, but it was so worth the effort. (The first store tried to sell me a bag of “mini-limes” but they weren’t key limes…) And the homemade crust just goes without saying. I appreciate the comment. :-)

  5. We love key lime in our house as well. Love how delicious this pie looks! BTW I think it would be super fun to have a key lime tree in the house :)

    • Thank you so much, Laura! I would love to have a key lime tree in the house…but I’m afraid it would take the whole tree (or more?) to make just 1 pie each year! Haha!

  6. Shashi @ RunninSrilankan says:

    Loving the extra thick crust – I usually cut 2 smaller slices and stack them so I get more crust in each bite – but if I were having your version, I wouldn’t need to do that!
    I do have one comment, a small correction – with all due respect, David I think you got it so wrong when you said “This Classic Key Lime Pie is the perfect dessert to share with friends..!” WHAT???? NO way would I be sharing this one – when friends came over, I would move this to the back of the fridge!!!! The Nerve! :)
    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

    • Hahaha! I totally agree, Shashi! This Key Lime Pie might have to hide in the same place as the chocolate, right? :-) And I completely agree about the crust…the key lime filling is so tart that it needs extra crust to balance it and make that perfectly delicious bite. Happy Memorial Day!!

  7. Key limes are funny indeed David, but you seriously used 25 to make this pie? That’s a lot!
    Btw, the pie is genuinely legit and HURRAY for the warm weather, was about time…

    • I know! 25 of those little buggers. They’re small, so not much juice came out of each one…but it was so worth the effort! Here’s to summer! *clinking beer glasses together*

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