This Key Lime Pie Recipe only needs only 3 ingredients for the filling: condensed milk, key limes and sour cream.
What makes Key Lime Pie so special? It all starts with the star ingredient—the key lime. These small, yellow-green limes pack a punch with their intense citrusy flavor and distinct aroma. The tartness of the key lime is perfectly balanced by the rich and smooth sweetness of the pie filling, creating a harmonious combination that will have you coming back for more.
Key Lime Pie is known for its luscious, velvety texture. The filling is made from a combination of key lime juice, condensed milk, and egg yolks, which are blended together until they form a creamy and custard-like consistency. This mixture is then poured into a buttery graham cracker crust, adding a pleasant contrast in texture and flavor.
What is Key Lime Pie?
Key Lime Pie is a classic dessert that originated in the Florida Keys, United States. It is known for its tangy and creamy filling, made primarily with key lime juice, condensed milk, and egg yolks. The pie gets its name from the key limes, which are smaller and more acidic than regular limes, and are typically found in the Florida Keys.
The crust of Key Lime Pie is traditionally made with crushed graham crackers mixed with melted butter, which provides a sweet and crumbly base for the pie. The filling is prepared by combining the key lime juice, condensed milk, and egg yolks, which are then poured into the pre-baked crust. The pie is usually baked briefly or chilled in the refrigerator until it sets. I ended up using a pre-made pie crust to make it so much easier.
Why is Key Lime Pie so great?
- Unique and Tangy Flavor: The distinct flavor of Key Lime Pie sets it apart from other desserts. The use of key lime juice gives it a tangy and refreshing taste that is both zesty and satisfying. The tartness of the limes combined with the sweetness of the filling creates a harmonious balance that is incredibly enjoyable.
- Creamy and Smooth Texture: Key Lime Pie has a luscious and velvety texture that melts in your mouth. The combination of key lime juice, condensed milk, and egg yolks creates a creamy and custard-like consistency that is indulgent and satisfying.
- Tropical Vibes: Key Lime Pie is often associated with tropical and beachside settings, evoking feelings of relaxation and vacation. The vibrant flavors and bright citrus notes transport you to a sunny paradise with every bite. It's like having a slice of summer all year round.
- Versatility: While the classic Key Lime Pie recipe is beloved, there are endless variations and adaptations that can be explored. From adding creative toppings and garnishes to incorporating different crusts or even infusing additional flavors like coconut or chocolate, the versatility of Key Lime Pie allows for personalization and experimentation.
Key Lime Pie Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Key limes
- Condensed Milk
- Sour cream
- Graham cracker pie crust
See recipe card for Key Lime Pie Recipe quantities.
How to make Key Lime Pie
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Zest and juice the key limes. In a medium bowl, combine condensed milk, sour cream, lime juice, and lime zest.
Mix well and pour into gluten free graham cracker crust.
Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 12 minutes, until tiny bubbles burst on the surface of pie.
Put in the refrigerator immediately after and garnish with lime slices. Enjoy this Gluten Free Key Lime Pie.
Hint: Don’t let it brown – take it out if it starts to!
What to serve with Key Lime Pie
- Whipped Cream: A dollop of freshly whipped cream on top of each slice of Key Lime Pie is a classic and indulgent pairing. The light and creamy texture of the whipped cream balances the tangy citrus flavors of the pie.
- Graham Cracker Crumbs: Sprinkle some crushed graham cracker crumbs on top of the whipped cream or around the edges of the plate. This adds a delightful crunch and a nod to the classic graham cracker crust.
- Vanilla Ice Cream: For an extra indulgent treat, serve a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream alongside the Key Lime Pie. The creamy and sweet ice cream pairs well with the tangy and tart flavors of the pie.
- Coffee or Tea: Pair your Key Lime Pie with a cup of freshly brewed coffee or your favorite tea. The contrasting flavors and warmth of the beverage can complement the cool and zesty pie. Check out my Cuban Coffee Recipe.
- Key Limes: If you're unable to find key limes, you can use regular limes as a substitute. While the flavor may be slightly different, regular limes will still provide a citrusy tang to the pie.
- Condensed Milk: To replace condensed milk, you can use coconut milk or coconut cream for a dairy-free option. Alternatively, you can make your own homemade condensed milk using non-dairy milk alternatives such as almond milk or soy milk, combined with a sweetener like maple syrup or agave nectar.
- Sour Cream: If you prefer a tangier flavor, you can substitute sour cream with Greek yogurt or dairy-free yogurt alternatives like coconut yogurt or almond yogurt. These alternatives will provide a similar creamy texture and tanginess to the filling.
- Gluten-free Graham Cracker Pie Crust: To make a gluten-free version of the crust, you can use gluten-free graham crackers or gluten-free cookie crumbs to create the base. There are several gluten-free options available in stores, or you can make your own by crushing gluten-free cookies and mixing them with melted butter or a dairy-free alternative.
Key Lime Pie Recipe Variations
- Coconut Key Lime Pie: Add a tropical flair by incorporating coconut into your Key Lime Pie. You can substitute some of the graham cracker crumbs in the crust with shredded coconut, and even add a touch of coconut extract to the filling for an extra burst of flavor.
- Chocolate Key Lime Pie: For chocolate lovers, try adding a chocolate element to your Key Lime Pie. You can mix cocoa powder or melted chocolate into the crust, or even layer a thin chocolate ganache between the crust and the filling. The combination of chocolate and tangy lime creates a delightful contrast.
- Vegan Key Lime Pie: To make a vegan version, you can use a combination of ingredients such as avocado, coconut milk, and cashews to create a creamy and dairy-free filling. Replace the eggs with a vegan egg substitute or use a flaxseed or chia seed gel as a binding agent.
- Frozen Key Lime Pie: Create a refreshing frozen version of Key Lime Pie by turning it into an ice cream pie. Prepare the filling as usual and pour it into an Oreo or graham cracker crust. Freeze until solid, then serve chilled for a cool and creamy treat.
If you love this recipe, you need to try my Buñuelos Recipe.
- Mixing Bowls: Use a set of mixing bowls in various sizes to prepare the crust and filling. Opt for bowls that are large enough to comfortably mix the ingredients.
- Whisk or Electric Mixer: A whisk or an electric mixer will help you thoroughly combine the ingredients for the filling, ensuring a smooth and creamy texture.
- Citrus Juicer or Reamer: A citrus juicer or reamer will make it easier to extract the juice from the key limes or regular limes for the filling. This will help you get the most juice out of the citrus fruits.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons: Accurate measurements are crucial for achieving the right balance of flavors in your Key Lime Pie. Have a set of measuring cups and spoons on hand to measure the ingredients precisely.
- Spatula: A spatula is handy for scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl and ensuring that all the ingredients are well combined. It's also useful for smoothing the filling into the pie crust.
- Pie Dish: Choose a standard 9-inch pie dish or tart pan with a removable bottom to hold the pie crust and filling. Make sure it's oven-safe and deep enough to accommodate the filling.
- Fine Mesh Sieve (optional): A fine mesh sieve can be used to strain the lime juice to remove any pulp or seeds, ensuring a smooth filling.
- Zester or Microplane Grater (optional): If you want to garnish your Key Lime Pie with lime zest, a zester or microplane grater will help you finely grate the lime peel.
How to store Key Lime Pie
To properly store Key Lime Pie and maintain its freshness, follow these guidelines:
- Cool the Pie: Allow the Key Lime Pie to cool completely at room temperature before storing it. This usually takes about 1 to 2 hours. Cooling the pie helps it set properly and prevents condensation from forming inside the storage container.
- Cover the Pie: Once the pie has cooled, cover it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Ensure that the wrap or foil is in direct contact with the surface of the pie to create a seal and prevent air exposure.
- Refrigerate: Place the covered Key Lime Pie in the refrigerator to keep it chilled. Refrigeration helps maintain the pie's texture and prevents the filling from spoiling. It is best to store Key Lime Pie in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature.
- Avoid Odor Absorption: Key Lime Pie can absorb odors from other foods in the refrigerator. To prevent this, you can place the pie in an airtight container or use a cake carrier with a tight-fitting lid. This additional layer of protection helps maintain the pie's flavor and prevents any unwanted smells.
- Storage Duration: Key Lime Pie can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days. After this period, the texture and flavor may start to deteriorate. It is best to consume the pie within this timeframe to enjoy it at its best.
- Freezing: If you need to store Key Lime Pie for a longer period, you can freeze it. Wrap the pie tightly in plastic wrap and then place it in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag. It is advisable to freeze the pie without any toppings (such as whipped cream) as they may not hold up well in the freezer. Frozen Key Lime Pie can be stored for up to 2 to 3 months.
- Thawing and Serving: When you're ready to enjoy the stored Key Lime Pie, transfer it to the refrigerator to thaw gradually. Allow it to thaw overnight or for at least 4 to 6 hours before serving. Once thawed, you can add fresh whipped cream or other toppings if desired.
Key Lime Pie Recipe Top tips
- Use Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice: For the best flavor, squeeze fresh key limes or regular limes to obtain the juice. Avoid using bottled lime juice, as it may lack the fresh and vibrant taste of freshly squeezed juice.
- Adjust Lime Juice to Taste: Key Lime Pie is known for its tangy flavor. Taste the filling as you mix in the lime juice and adjust the amount according to your preference. Some people prefer a more tart pie, while others prefer a milder citrus flavor.
- Zest the Limes: Consider grating the zest from the limes before juicing them. Lime zest adds an extra burst of citrus flavor and aroma to the filling. Sprinkle some zest on top of the pie for an attractive garnish.
- Pre-Bake the Crust: To prevent a soggy crust, pre-bake it before adding the filling. This helps the crust retain its crispness even after the creamy filling is added. Brushing the crust with a thin layer of beaten egg white before baking can also create a barrier and further prevent sogginess.
- Let the Pie Cool Completely: After baking, allow the pie to cool completely at room temperature before refrigerating it. This ensures that the filling sets properly and maintains its texture.
- Garnish Creatively: Enhance the presentation of your Key Lime Pie by adding creative garnishes. Some popular options include whipped cream, lime zest, lime slices, or even a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove