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This Key Lime Pie recipe comes straight from Savannah, Georgia. It is smooth and creamy with the perfect blend of tart and sweet.
The BEST Key Lime Pie Recipe
This Key Lime Pie is perfect for the summer time when you want a nice, cool, citrusy dessert. It’s also a family favorite at Thanksgiving. I got this Key Lime Pie recipe when I was visiting Savannah, Georgia with my friend, Amie. Savannah has got to be one of the most beautiful and charming cities ever. We had so much fun touring the historic city squares, walking along the river, and eating! We went to Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room for a southern style dinner that was incredible. Although we had to wait in line for a while to get in, but, it was totally worth it. Ah! Southern cooking and hospitality at it’s best.
When we were shopping downtown, I found this easy key lime pie recipe on a magnet. I love the tangy lime taste of key lime pie, so I bought it and tried it out as soon as I got home. I made it for my family and we can’t get enough of it! At family birthday parties, key lime pies are often requested over birthday cakes. This is a super easy recipe (it is even EASIER if you just buy a pre-made graham cracker crust). Thanks to my trip to the South, we now have another favorite family recipe!
Ingredients Needed for Key Lime Pie
Graham Cracker Crust
The graham cracker crust can be a pre-made crust purchased at the grocery store. However, if you have the time, a homemade crust does taste better. You can also purchase pre-made graham cracker crumbs or make your own by doing one of the following:
- Place graham crackers in a food processor or blender and pulse until they are finely crushed.
- Place graham crackers in a resealable plastic bag. Squeeze all of the air out and lay it flat on the countertop. Use a rolling pin to roll over the crackers until they are a crumb consistency.
Key Lime Pie Filling
The key lime filling is made by whipping egg yolks (save the egg whites if making a meringue topping) until they are a pale yellow color. After that, only two more ingredients are needed: A 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk and key limes. The key limes are used for the juice and the lime zest in the filling. Be sure to zest the limes before juicing them.
This pie is great served plain or with a lime wedge but we prefer putting some kind of topping on the pie to help round out the bright flavor. The most common topping that people use is fresh, homemade whipped cream. Canned whipped topping or Cool Whip works fine too. Some people prefer to have their key lime pie with a meringue topping instead of using whipped cream. We have topped this key lime pie with the meringue recipe from our Lemon Meringue Pie and it is FABULOUS. Try it both ways and decide which way you like it best!
Key Lime Pie Variations and Additions
There are several delicious recipe variations you can try to put a unique twist on this classic Key Lime Pie:
- Coconut Key Lime Pie: Add shredded coconut to the graham cracker crust or toast it and sprinkle it on top of the filling for an extra tropical flavor.
- Toasted Meringue Key Lime Pie: Instead of whipped cream, top the pie with toasted meringue for a light and airy texture with a hint of sweetness.
- Key Lime Pie Bars: Transform the pie into portable and easy-to-serve bars by using a square baking dish and cutting it into squares.
- Key Lime Cheesecake: Combine the flavors of Key Lime Pie and cheesecake by adding a creamy cheesecake layer to the classic pie.
- Key Lime Ice Cream Pie: After baking, freeze the pie for a refreshing and cold dessert on hot days. Remove from the freezer and serve cold.
Feel free to experiment with these variations or combine multiple ideas to create your own unique Key Lime Pie recipe!
Tips For Making Key Lime Pie
- Fresh Key Limes: Use fresh key limes whenever possible for the most authentic and vibrant flavor. They have a distinct tartness that sets Key Lime Pie apart from regular lime pie.
- Zest for Extra Zing: Incorporate some extra key lime zest into the filling for an extra burst of citrus flavor. The zest adds brightness and enhances the overall taste of the pie.
- Properly Pre-Bake the Crust: Pre-bake the graham cracker crust to ensure it holds up well when the filling is added. This step helps prevent a soggy crust and ensures a nice texture.
- Avoid Overmixing: When mixing the filling, avoid overmixing to prevent excessive air incorporation, which could result in cracks during baking.
- Don’t Overbake: Avoid overbaking the pie to maintain the smooth and creamy texture. The filling should be set but still slightly jiggly when you remove it from the oven.
- Balance the Sweetness: Adjust the sweetness to your taste preference. Some like a more tart pie, while others prefer it sweeter. Taste the filling before pouring it into the crust and adjust accordingly.
- Chill Thoroughly: Allow the pie to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. This will help the flavors meld together and create a more cohesive taste.
- Whip Cream Topping: Top the pie with freshly whipped cream just before serving. The light and airy whipped cream complement the tangy filling perfectly.
- Serve Chilled: Key Lime Pie is best enjoyed chilled. Refrigerate the pie for at least a few hours, preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to develop and the filling to set properly.
Storing and Freezing Suggestions
To store leftover Key Lime Pie, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Alternatively, to freeze leftover Key Lime Pie, make sure it has cooled completely and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or place in a freezer safe bag. Freeze for up to 2-3 months. When ready to enjoy, thaw the frozen pie or slices in the refrigerator overnight before serving. Note that the texture may be slightly different after freezing, but the delicious flavor will still be there.
Frequently Asked Questions
Key limes (also known as bartender limes, West Indian limes, or Mexican limes) are smaller than regular limes and have higher acidity (especially when freshly picked). The more ripe the key limes, the less tart and more sweet they become. Key limes are bright green when they are first picked but as they ripen, they become more yellow. You can decide how tart or sweet your pie is by choosing limes based on their ripeness.
Traditional key lime pie is not bright green in color, even though some bakeries or pre-made pies may have a green tint to them. Traditionally, it is more of a pale greenish-yellow color. Sometimes we like to add a little green food coloring if we are making this for St. Patrick’s day or to make the green “pop” a little more. Most of the time we just leave it how it is though.
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 (¼ cup key lime juice for ¼ cup regular lime juice).
We’ve had over 75 reviews from people who love this recipe as much as we do. Here are just a few:
I’ve made this multiple times and it is always a hit! Everyone who tries it wants the recipe. I use lime juice only because I can’t get key limes where I live (Newfoundland, Canada) and it’s still wonderful!Keri
I have made this super easy key lime pie recipe so many times for friends and family. I always get rave reviews from everyone. Thank you so much for posting this recipe because I am a VIP when I make this for a party. I love all your recipes:)Sandra
Absolutely perfect. I have tried many that did not set up or were too sweet. This is as good as the restaurant with the best key lime pie where I live. Thanks for sharing.Lorelei
This was delicious, and so easy. Thank you for helping me find my go to key lime pie recipe!Jocelyn
More Delicious Pie Recipes from Favorite Family Recipes
If you love tangy citrus-infused desserts like this one, be sure to try our Homemade Lemon Meringue Pie, Cream Cheese Lemon Bars, Coconut Lime Cheesecake Bars, or our super easy Orange Pineapple Cake! Or try these luscious desserts:
- Coconut Cream Pie – Coconut Cream Pie is a dreamy island dessert with a flaky crust, coconut filling that is made from scratch, and toasted coconut sprinkles.
- Creamy Lemon Pie – This Creamy Lemon Pie is packed full of tart, lemon flavor and creamy goodness. This recipe is super easy to make and is always a crowd pleaser!
- Butterscotch Pie – This creamy butterscotch filling is spread into a flaky pie crust and drizzled with butterscotch topping then sprinkled with butterscotch chips. It’s basically a butterscotch lovers dream.
- Island Pecan Pie – Loaded with coconut, pecans, and pineapple, this pie is creamy and full of flavor.
- German Chocolate Pie – This pie recipe comes straight from Amish country. The rich, gooey, chocolate filling is to die for!
Key Lime Pie
- Hand Mixer
- Conventional Oven
For the crust:
- Combine melted butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in crushed graham crackers.
- Spread evenly into 9-inch pie plate and press onto bottom and sides to form an even crust. The bottom of a measuring cup works great for pressing the crumbs firmly into the pie plate.Chill for an hour until firm OR bake at 375-degrees for 5 min and allow to cool before filling.
For the filling:
- Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Zest key limes until there are 2 teaspoons of zest, then juice them. Pour the fresh key lime juice into a ½ cup measuring cup.If the ½ cup isn't filled, add bottled key lime juice to fill it completely.
- Beat the egg yolks until they are thick and turn to a light yellow. Use a stand mixer or an electric mixer. Slowly add sweetened condensed milk while mixing on a low speed.
- Gradually add the key lime juice and zest and continue to mix on a low speed just until blended.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell and bake 15 minutes. Remove and let cool.
- Serve with a garnish of whipped topping and a small slice of lime if desired. Store pie in refrigerator until ready to serve
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