This Key West Key Lime Pie recipe is a Florida classic! Tart and puckery with a sweet homemade graham cracker crust, it’s super refreshing for summer.
If you’ve ever had real key lime pie before, you know how delicious it is. And with this easy recipe, you can make the real deal at home any time the craving hits.
Although I’m native to the Northeast, I’ve spent a whole lot of time in Florida. Growing up, summers and the holidays were spent in South Florida visiting my dad’s family. I attended graduate school in South Florida, and my Mom still lives there today.
Any time I visit – especially when I’m in Key West – I make a beeline for a slice of key lime pie. It’s always been a favorite, and you just can’t get it as good anywhere else in the world!
The Origins of Key Lime Pie
Key lime pie’s origins are rooted in the tropical climate and lush landscapes of the Florida Keys, where key lime trees grow in abundance.
This pie emerged in the late 1800s or early 1900s, back when access to ingredients was limited. Its main ingredients were readily available on the islands, making it a practical and accessible creation.
Traditionally, key lime pie consists of three primary components: a graham cracker crust, a creamy lime-infused filling, and a dollop of whipped cream on top.
And authentic key lime pie recipes are never green! They’re always yellow.
Key limes vs. regular limes
The main differences between key limes and regular limes lie in their taste and appearance. Key limes are yellow when fully ripe and have a thinner skin and higher acidity than Persian limes.
Persian limes, i.e. the ordinary limes you’ll find in grocery stores, are larger and have a bright green color with a milder, sweeter flavor.
The unique tangy taste of Key limes gives Key Lime Pie its characteristic zing, making it a refreshing dessert that’s perfect for warm weather.
What’s in this Key West Key Lime Pie recipe
Here’s what you’ll need to make this authentic Key lime pie:
- Fresh key limes. If you’ve worked with Key limes before, you know that they are tiny! Squeezing enough fresh key lime juice to make this recipe will require a ton of little key limes and be very tedious. There’s a very good bottled Key lime juice that’s available in most grocery stores called Nellie & Joe’s. My recommendation is to use Nellie & Joe’s for the juice and grab a handful of real key limes to use for the zest.
- Egg yolks
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Graham crackers. We’re going to pulse these in a food processor to create graham cracker crumbs. It’s the crumbs and the butter that will form the homemade graham cracker crust.
- Heavy cream. We’ll beat this with a little sugar and vanilla to create the homemade whipped cream layer.
How to Make Real Deal Key West Key Lime Pie
Make the Crust
Making homemade graham cracker crust is very easy. Just pulse the graham crackers in food processor and combine them with melted butter. Press the mixture into a pie pan and bake it for 5 minutes.
Make the Key Lime Filling
It will be set but jiggly when it comes out of the oven, so be sure to refrigerate it to completely set the pie.
Make the Homemade Whipped Cream
My advice for making homemade whipped cream is always the same: find a large mixing bowl bigger than you think you need, and put the bowl into the sink. This will help reduce some of the inevitable splatter that happens when you start whipping cream with a hand mixer on high speed.
Keep it covered with plastic wrap in the fridge and spoon it over the pie when you’re ready to serve.
Variations on this Key Lime Pie Recipe
Can’t get enough of Key West Key Lime Pie? Here are some other ways to enjoy:
- Coconut Key Lime Pie: Give this pie a tropical vibe by incorporating coconut flakes into the crust.
- Frozen Key Lime Pie: For a cool and refreshing twist on the classic pie, store it in the freezer and enjoy it on those hot summer days.
- Key Lime Pie Bars: Make a party-friendly version of this pie by using a square baking dish instead of a pie plate.
How to Store Key Lime Pie
This Key West Key Lime Pie is best stored in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap. It can be frozen if you’d like to keep it for longer.
When you make this Key West Key Lime Pie recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a rating or leave a comment below. Enjoy!
For more citrusy dessert recipes, try these:
- Lemon Shortbread Cut Out Sugar Cookies
- Citrus Cupcakes with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting
- Double Lemon Cream Cake
For more pie recipes, try these:
- No-Bake Lemon Ice Box Pie Recipe (3 Ingredients)
- Homemade Blueberry Pie (That is Not Runny!)
- Arizona Sunshine Lemon Pie (Blender Recipe)
The Best Florida Key Lime Pie (Key West Recipe)
- 4 egg yolks
- 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
- 3/4 cup key lime juice
- 1 tsp. key lime zest about 3 key limes
Graham Cracker Crust
- 8 oz. graham crackers
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted 1/4 cup
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut out a circle of parchment paper and place it on the bottom of a 9" springform pan. Coat the bottom and sides of the pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a food processor, combine the graham crackers and pecans until fine. With the motor running, slowly pour the melted butter through the feed tube until mostly combined.
- Dump the crust mixture into the springform pan. Using your fingers, press the crust down onto the bottom of the pan and slightly up the sides. Bake 5 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before pouring in the filling.
- In a large bowl, beat egg yolks on medium-high speed. Lower the speed and beat in the sweetened condensed milk. Stir in the lime juice and zest using a wooden spoon.
- Pour the pie filling mixture into the cooled crust. Bake 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill until set.
- When ready to serve, make the whipped cream: Whip cream, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl on high speed using a handheld electric mixer. Beat until stiff peaks form. Spoon over the pie and serve.