An undersung American classic, you can’t do better than a cool, creamy Key Lime Pie. My version has the delightful tanginess of the original, but it’s lightened up with the addition of Greek yogurt. Trust me, it’s going to hit the spot.
Why You’ll Love This Easy Key Lime Pie Recipe
- A (Real) Taste of Americana. Despite the saying about apple pie being American, it actually originated in England. Key lime pie is the real deal, with origins in the Florida Keys where the eponymous Key limes used to grow abundant. (Don’t worry, you can use regular lime juice instead!)
- Creamy and Cool. A chilled Key lime pie is an absolute treat in the summer. It feels more festive than a scoop of ice cream, but it’s still got that cool-and-creamy quality to it like a coconut cream pie or Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie. Basically, it’s the best way to cap off a summer get-together.
- Graham Cracker Crust—With a Twist. To amp up the tropical flavor in this Key lime pie, I add grated coconut to the graham cracker crust. It’s an optional addition, but it makes this pie taste like vacation. (If vacation smells like coconut sunscreen, it definitely tastes like Key lime pie with coconut crust.)
- Even Better with Yogurt. I use Greek yogurt to healthify the filling (probiotics! protein!), but it brings other benefits to the table, too. It’ll make your Key lime pie thicker, creamier, and a little bit tangier.
- No-Stress Dessert. Mix all the crust ingredients and bake it; mix all the filling ingredients and bake again. No stiff peaks, no electric mixer, and absolutely nothing complicated.
How to Make Key Lime Pie
For the Crust:
- Graham Cracker Crumbs. Use store-bought crumbs or pulse about one sleeve of graham crackers in a food processor until fine crumbs form.
- Grated Unsweetened Coconut. Not a coconut fan? Use additional graham cracker crumbs.
- Light or Dark Brown Sugar. Dark brown sugar has a more pronounced molasses flavor.
- Unsalted Butter. Melt this in a microwave-safe bowl or on the stovetop.
For the Key Lime Pie Filling:
- Sweetened Condensed Milk. Be sure to buy condensed milk, not evaporated milk—condensed milk is sweetened.
- Greek Yogurt. 2% or full-fat plain are best.
- Egg Yolks. Save the leftover egg whites for an Egg White Frittata.
- Freshly-Squeezed Lime Juice. Preferably from Key limes.
- Lime Zest. Be sure to zest the limes first, then juice them.
- Kosher Salt. Always my choice for baking and cooking.
- Whipped Cream. Homemade or store-bought.
- Lime or Key Lime Slices. For garnish.
- Prepare. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F.
- Start the Crust. Mix together the dry ingredients, then stir in the melted butter.
- Bake the Crust. Press the crust mixture into a pie plate, then bake until set.
- Make the Filling. Stir together all of the filling ingredients in a bowl.
- Bake Again. Pour the filling into the crust and bake until set but still jiggly.
- Chill. Cool the pie on a wire rack, then cover with plastic or foil and chill for a minimum of 3 hours.
- Serve. Finish Key lime pie with whipped cream and lime wedges, then ENJOY!
- Use a Pastry Crust. Instead of a graham cracker crust, you can swap in a store-bought or homemade pastry crust. My Whole Wheat Pie Crust recipe works well too!
- Lemon Pie. Swap the limes for lemons to create a brand new dessert. Dust with a little powdered sugar before serving. (Love lemons? Check out my Lemon Cream Pie and Lemon Tart.)
- Key Lime Meringue Pie. Add a layer of cloud-like meringue to the top of your pie and bake it until the peaks turn golden brown. (You can grab the meringue topping recipe from your favorite lemon meringue pie.)
- To Store. Refrigerate Key lime pie covered in the pie plate or in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.
- To Freeze. Cover the pie with a tight layer of plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator before serving, then add the whipped cream.
Meal Prep Tip
Whipped cream doesn’t store well, so if you plan on making Key lime pie in advance, don’t add the whipped cream until you’re ready to serve.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Pie Dish. A classic white pie dish never goes out of style.
- Citrus Juicer. For juicing all those limes!
- Mixing Bowls. This set is dishwasher safe.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Remember the Cooling and Chilling Time. You’ll need time for the crust to cool, then at least 3 hours for the finished pie to chill in the refrigerator. If you cut into the Key lime pie too soon, the slices will ooze out everywhere. (Plus, warm Key lime pie is not as appetizing as you might think.)
- Press in the Crust. Use a decent amount of pressure when forming the crust. A dry measuring cup can help—use it to press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and up against the sides.
- Get the Most Out of Your Limes. Roll the limes on the countertop under your palms a few times to help extract more juice. Another trick is to pop them in the microwave for 20 seconds before juicing them—the sacs that hold the juice will burst from the short time in the microwave.
- Use a Citrus Press for Key Limes. If you’re lucky enough to find Key limes, you’ll want to use a citrus press to juice them, as they have more seeds than Persian limes. A citrus press extracts the juice while catching the seeds, making the whole process much easier!
Key Lime Pie
For the Crust
- 1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs about 1 sleeve
- 1/4 cup grated unsweetened coconut or additional graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
For the Filling
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup 2% or full-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 3 large egg yolks save the whites for Egg White Frittata
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice preferably key lime, but regular lime will work—about 6 regular or 8-10 key limes
- 1/2 tablespoon finely grated lime zest preferably key lime, but regular lime will work—about 2 regular limes or 3 to 4 key limes
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- Whipped cream for serving
- Thinly sliced lime or key lime wedges optional for serving
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 350°F.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and sugar. Pour in the butter and stir until you have a mixture the texture of wet sand. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate (I prefer regular, but you can get away with deep dish) and press the mixture into the bottoms and up the sides of the plate. You don’t need to press too hard, or the crust will become tough. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until set and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature.
- For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, yogurt, egg yolks, lime zest (I like to zest the lime directly into the bowl), lime juice, and salt until smoothly combined.
- Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the filling is just set and a bit jiggly in the center. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.
- Serve with whipped cream—you can decorate the whole pie with whipped cream and thinly sliced lime wedges, or allow guests to add their own.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate Key lime pie covered in the pie plate or in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.
- TO FREEZE: Cover the pie with a tight layer of plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator before serving, then add the whipped cream.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Key lime juice tastes very similar to lime juice, but it’s much more fragrant and tropical, and it’s a bit more tart too. You can substitute regular lime juice for Key lime in a pie, or you may be able to find bottled Key lime juice if you’re unable to find fresh.
Many Key lime pies are made with “regular” or Persian limes because Key limes are not as widely available.
Traditional Key lime pie is finished with whipped cream, but there are some variations that are made with meringue.
Most Key lime pies are baked until the filling is set, but the pie is then chilled and served cold.