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Scratch Key Lime Pie Recipe

Scratch Key Lime Pie Recipe

  • Prep 10min
  • Total6hr10min
  • Servings8

Key limes for Florida recipes can be hard to come by, but frozen limeade concentrate works in a pinch. Grated zest from any type of lime will help your pie taste a bit more like a Florida key lime pie.MORE+LESS-


Updated September 17, 2015



1 1/2

cup crushed graham crackers (from about 9 crackers)



can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk


cup plus 2 tbsp key lime juice


cup heavy whipping cream


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  • 1

    Make crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl with a fork until combined well, then press mixture evenly onto bottom and up side of a 9-inch (4-cup) glass pie plate. Bake crust in middle of oven 10 minutes and cool in pie plate on a rack. Leave oven on.

  • 2

    Make filling and bake pie: Whisk together condensed milk and yolks in a bowl until combined well. Add juice and whisk until combined well (mixture will thicken slightly). Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven 15 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack (filling will set as it cools), then chill, covered, at least 8 hours.

  • 3

    To make topping: just before serving, beat cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Serve pie topped with cream at room temperature a few minutes before cutting.

Nutrition Information

No nutrition information available for this recipe

According to Jean A. Voltz, author of The Flavor of the South, Key lime pie originated when a newfangled canned food product arrived in Florida in the mid-19th century. During this time, there were few cows in the Florida Keys. In 1856, sweetened condensed milk𠅊 new food invention𠅊rrived on the scene, offering a ready source of milk for the area.

Fortunately for us, someone soon discovered that sweetened condensed milk, eggs, and lime juice made a wonderful filling for a pie. Not just any limes were used—the original recipes for Key lime pie filling called for locally harvested Key limes, which are about the size of large walnuts and yellow-green in color, both inside and out.

Good news for people who don&apost live in Florida: There&aposs no need to chase all over town to find true Key limes for our easy Key lime pie filling. Regular (Persian) limes make a wonderful pie as well. The real secret is to use fresh lime juice, not bottled, for the best flavor.

What about the crust? Some Key lime pie recipes are made with a pastry crust, others with a graham cracker crust. There&aposs no definitive answer as to which crust is the more authentic Key lime pie crust, and both make a great pie. Another small difference is that some cooks top their Key lime pie recipes with luscious dollops of sweetened whipped cream, while others top them with airy meringue.

Our easy recipe for Key lime pie calls on a graham cracker crust and whipped cream�tures that make the dessert simple yet keep it true to its origins.


  1. For crust
    • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs from 9 (2 1/4-inch by 4 3/4-inch) crackers
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  2. For filling
    • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh or bottled Key lime juice (if using bottled, preferably Manhattan brand)
  3. For topping
    • 3/4 cup chilled heavy cream

Key Lime Pie

The graham cracker crust in this key lime pie recipe from culinary team member Ben Perez is just as buttery as the trademark tangy filling is creamy.

"My favorite part about a pie like this is the crust. I wrote this recipe making sure that the crust was not an afterthought and that each bite provided the perfect textural contrast between silky smooth filling and buttery, crispy crust."

What equipment do I need for key lime pie?

"After a few attempts at this classic dessert, I found that using an electric hand mixer resulted in a very light and fluffy filling. If you do not have an electric hand mixer or standing mixer, use a hand whisk, but it will take quite a bit of elbow grease to achieve a light and fluffy filling. If you do not have a food processor, crush the graham crackers in a large zip-top bag until finely ground, then add the remaining ingredients and evenly incorporate."

Do I need fresh key limes for key lime pie?

"If fresh key limes are not available at your local grocery store, you can absolutely use regular lime juice and zest. If you really aren't in the mood to juice and zest your own limes, you can purchase bottled key lime/regular lime juice, but you will notice a difference. Fresh is best, I promise!"

Key Lime Pie Basics

Key West locals—"conchs," as they&aposre called𠅍o adhere to a few universals for Key lime pie. First, Key lime pie is never green, but rather a natural creamy yellow. it&aposs always made with small, round key limes, not the large Persian limes found in grocery stores. And any Key lime pie worth its weight𠅊nd taste—is made with sweetened condensed milk. Never milk. That is because milk was unavailable in the Florida Keys until the 1930s with the opening of the overseas highway when tank trunks carrying ice could get to the region. And after much debate the Key Lime Pie was made Florida&aposs official pie in 2006.

How To Make Key Lime Pie

Step 1: Make The Crust

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and melted butter in a mixing bowl. Stir with a fork first, and then your hands until the mixture is well combined.

Using your fingers and the bottom of a measuring cup or glass, press the crumbs firmly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-in deep-dish pie pan. The crust should be about 1/4-in thick. (Hint: do the sides first.)

Bake the crust for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Then let the crust cool a bit while you make the filling.

Step 2: Make the Filling

Begin by zesting the limes.

It’s best to use a rasp grater, which is a long, skinny tool that works well for grating hard cheeses and zesting citrus.
Juice the limes using a citrus reamer, then combine the juice with the sweetened condensed milk, yogurt, and lime zest.

Pour the filling into the cooked graham cracker crust.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the filling is almost set.

Let the pie cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then place in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly, about 3 hours.

Step 3: Make the Topping

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or beaters), beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until medium peaks form. (Alternatively, the cream can be beaten by hand with a whisk.) Top the chilled pie with whipped cream and decorate with lime slices and zest.

Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)

Recipe Summary

  • 12 mini graham cracker crusts
  • 3 cups sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed Key lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons grated Key lime zest
  • 2 fresh Key limes, thinly sliced
  • 1 (7 ounce) can whipped cream topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place mini graham cracker crusts onto a baking sheet.

In a bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, Key lime juice, and Key lime zest until smooth. Pour the filling into the graham cracker crusts, filling to the top.

Bake in the preheated oven until hot, 5 to 8 minutes. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour. To serve, garnish each mini pie with a Key lime slice and a dollop of whipped cream topping.

Classic Key Lime Pie

Creamy, tart-sweet Key lime pie has long been a favorite dessert of restaurant-goers. But if your dining-out days are few and far between, and you don't want to go long stretches without this delightful dessert, it's easy to make at home.


  • 1 1/2 cups (128g) graham cracker crumbs (or 142g boxed graham cracker crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup (28g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 2/3 tablespoons (74g) butter, melted

*While it isn't traditional, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup (1 1/4 to 1 7/8 ounces) toasted coconut to the crushed cracker crumbs, if desired.

  • grated zest of 1 medium lime, about 1 tablespoon, not packed
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 14-ounce (397g) can sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups)
  • 2/3 cup (152g) bottled Key lime juice or freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon lime oil, optional


Select a pie pan whose inside top dimension is at least 9", and whose height is at least 1 1/4". Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Make the crust by stirring together all of the crust ingredients, mixing until thoroughly combined.

Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan.

Bake the pie crust for 15 minutes it'll start to darken in color a bit. Remove it from the oven, and place it on a rack to cool while you make the filling.

Perfect your technique

Key Lime Pie

Whisk the grated lime zest and egg yolks at high speed of an electric mixer for about 4 minutes. The mixture will lighten in color and thicken somewhat, looking kind of like Hollandaise sauce.

Stir in the sweetened condensed milk, mixing till smooth. Beat at high speed for 3 minutes the filling will become slightly thicker, and gain a bit of volume.

Add the lime juice, stirring just to combine. The mixture will thicken. Add lime oil to taste.

Pour the mixture into the crust, and return the pie to the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, until it appears set around the edges, though still a bit wobbly in the center. The center should read about 145°F.

Remove the pie from the oven, and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. Slice and serve each piece with a lightly sweetened dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • ⅔ cup fresh lime juice
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime peel
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add melted butter and stir until evenly moistened. Press mixture into bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate to form crust. Bake 10 minutes or until crust begins to brown. Cool 15 minutes on wire rack.

Whisk sweetened condensed milk, lime juice and sour cream in large bowl until blended. Stir in lime peel. Pour filling into crust. Bake 7 to 10 minutes or until tiny bubbles begin to form on surface of pie. Cool completely on wire rack.

Beat cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in large mixing bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until stiff. Top pie with whipped cream. Chill at least 1 hour before serving. Best served the same day.

Can Regular Limes Be Used Instead Of Key Limes?

Yes, it can be done, but the flavor won’t have that distinct “key lime” flavor. If you have no other choice, it will still turn out to be a very good pie and most people won’t even be able to tell a difference. If you can’t find key limes or key lime juice, you can substitute common limes. You can swap out 6 fresh key limes for 1 large regular lime. As far as the juice goes, you can swap it out at a 1:1 ratio (1/4 cup key lime juice for 1/4 cup regular lime juice).

Best Key Lime Pie Recipe

My best key lime pie recipe from scratch produces a scrumptious creamy filling not too tart - not too sweet.

I have more homemade pie recipes from scratch that will impress your family and are easy to make.

Best Key Lime Pie Recipe

It takes approximately 20 key limes for 3/4 cup of lime juice.


PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter with your hands. Press the mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie pan, and bake until brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before filling.

Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

Cut the limes in half and use a garlic press to extract the juice set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine condensed milk, sour cream, lime juice, and lime rind. Mix well and pour into graham cracker crust.

Bake in preheated oven for 5 to 8 minutes, or until tiny pinhole bubbles burst on the surface of pie. DO NOT BROWN. Chill pie thoroughly before serving. Garnish with lime slices and whipped cream if desired.