Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

Key limes are tarter than Persian limes (regular limes) but often difficult to find. To make a reasonable facsimile for this Key lime pie recipe, use 1/2 cup regular lime juice plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice in place of the Key lime juice here.–Josh Kilmer-Purcell | Brent Ridge

LC The Thing About Key Limes Note

The thing about Key limes is that they’re tart. Quite tart. Even though the authors include a handy little cheat sheet on how to substitute everyday limes (and a lemon) for these puckery little suckers (see the headnote above or the ingredients list below), the resulting pie will be just a touch sweeter than that classic. Not saying it’s a bad thing, just saying….

Key Lime Pie

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 1 H
  • Makes one 9-inch pie
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Special Equipment: 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom or 9-inch springform pan


  • For the graham cracker crust
  • For the Key lime filling
  • For the meringue


Make the graham cracker crust

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).

In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until finely ground. Add the butter, sugar, lime zest, and salt and process until well combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom or a 9-inch springform pan. (This can easily be done by using a flat-bottomed cup or glass to evenly press the crumbs into the pan.) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the crust is sorta firm and set.

Make the Key lime filling

While the graham cracker crust bakes, add the egg yolks to a bowl and beat on medium-high with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add the sweetened condensed milk and beat until thickened. Beat in the lime juice (or lime and lemon juice).

Pour the filling into the baked crust and return it to the oven to bake for 8 to 10 minutes more, or until the filling is just set. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool slightly. Increase the oven temperature to 450°F (232°C).

Make the meringue

In a bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high, beat the egg whites and salt until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, adding the vanilla toward the very end.

Immediately scoop the meringue onto the filling, making swoops and swirls in the meringue with the back of the spatula. Bake for 2 to 5 minutes, until the meringue is set and browned in spots. [Editor’s Note: Don’t be tempted to walk away from the oven. The browning—or, heaven forbid, blackening—happens pretty quickly, especially if your Key lime pie’s meringue has lofty peaks.] Let the pie cool. If time permits, refrigerate the pie until chilled through prior to serving.

Print RecipeBuy the The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

This Key lime pie recipe is definitely worth all the squeezing! I was actually able to find key limes and what a difference they make in the flavor and tartness of this pie! The recipe indicates that it takes about 20 key limes, and maybe it did take that many, but it felt like it took way more to get to 2/3 cup juice! That aside, this recipe is a breeze to throw together. I'm not sure why I've never made a key lime pie, I always tend to order them when they are available on a menu, but this was my first time making one. I had no idea how few ingredients it took to make such this lovely dessert. I really liked the addition of zest in the crust, and in fact this is something I can see myself incorporating into other graham cracker-based crusts. The directions were very good, and I appreciated that the recipe included some helpful hints on how to shape the crust using a flat-bottomed measuring cup. The times provided in the recipe were accurate as well. I actually was certain that the filling would not be "just set" after about 10 minutes, but to my surprise, when I tested it with a little jiggle, it was just set. The meringue also came together easily, and I liked that the recipe ended up using the whole eggs— 3 yolks in the filling and 3 whites in the meringue, as I'm usually stuck trying to figure out what to do with one or the other after making most meringue pie recipes. My mom, who is originally from Florida and loves key lime pies, declared that the pie was VERY good, so for me that was a great seal of approval! The two of us at ate the entire pie over the course of about a week, so it was indeed very good!

This Key lime pie recipe would make a great emergency dessert to have in your repertoire. The graham cracker crust was straightforward and this filling doesn't get much easier. I was unable to find Key limes, so I used standard issue Persian limes. I did as the recipe said and cut the lime juice with a few tablespoons lemon juice. I found the finished custard to be rather tart and I think leaving out a few tablespoons of juice next time would help tremendously. The meringue was soft and fluffy and baked nicely, although we would have preferred to top ours with whipped cream. Overall, the tart is exactly what one would expect out of a Key lime pie. It was incredibly simple to prepare, I had all the ingredients on hand already, and the nice fresh burst of citrus helped chase away some winter blues.

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