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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 pie 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!
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:
- 1/3 cup butter melted
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
For the filling:
- 4 egg yolks
- 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 6 key limes for zesting and juicing
- Nellie & Joe's Famous Key West Lime Juice (if needed)
- whipped topping to garnish (optional)
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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5 stars because it’s key lime.
My question is I’d like to juice 9 key limes instead of 6.(for that extra kick).
What do I need to change the recipe to keep the filling thick?
Thanks in advance,. Frostproof,FL.
The whipped egg whites are what gives the pie structure, so I would start there!
Hey thanks for the fast reply.
Since I plan on 50% more juice, I’ll go with 50% more egg whites.
We’ll start there. Gonna do one today.
I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out.
Step one is a little unclear. You zest the limes and juice them- but the next step says to cut the zested limes in half and juice them. Is that an accidental repeat?
Oh, yes the juicing is mentioned twice. Thanks for catching that! I will change it!
In the oven now but it doesn’t look like it made enough to fill the pie crust. Is it going to rise?
It doesn’t rise very much. What size pie crust did you use?
Hi! I want to try Key Lime Pie!
But if i get the Lime jus in a bottle will it be the same taste?
Or shoudl i get Bottle of Key lime jus on Anazone? And also amouch key lime jus do we need to use 1/4 cup?
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).
Really good recipe! I enjoyed making the Key Lime pie.
Can you just use the key lime juice and no limes and will it still taste good?
Does this freeze well?
Yes! It freezes great!
So easy to make. Directions are clear and simple to read. A real down home and delicious pie.
Easy and delicious!
This was the 1st key lime pie I ever made and will definitely make this recipe again. Thank you!
Simple to make and very tasty
Ultimately the best key lime pie there ever was. It reminds me of my dear sweet mama’s key lime pie. My God bless you, and thank you.
Have to try this key lime pie. Looks yummy!!!
Mine didn’t set. We ate it with a spoon!
You have to beat the egg yolks for about 5 minutes on high speed. If you didn’t do that it could be why it didn’t set up. I just made it and I looked up how long to beat the egg yolks for them to thicken and turn light yellow. My pie came out fine.
Hi there! Can you clarify – *If key limes are not available, you can still make this pie! Substitute 1 lime in place of the 6 key limes.* Does this mean if you are using a regular lime, we only use one for the entire recipe? Thanks!
Yes that is correct. One regular sized lime replaces 6 key limes.
Key limes are not available locally. But I buy Nellie and Joe’s bottled key lime juice and this pie tastes fabulous. If you cannot find it it’s available at Amazon and Walmart.
How much total juice did you use?
This really is so simple to make and so, so good! Perfect amount of lime. So creamy too!
Tart & tangy is the best combination! Key lime flavor reminds me of spring & I’m so excited it’s here! We will be making this asap!!
Thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe! Will surely have this again! It’s really easy to make and it tasted so delicious! Highly recommended!
I noticed the ingredient list says ¼ Cup Lime Juice and the directions say ½ Cup lime juice. Which is it? I think that will make a difference…..
Sorry its a little confusing, but you juice the key limes into a 1/2 cup. If they fill up the cup, great! If they don’t then fill the rest up with the key lime juice. Hope this helps!
I love this key lime pie! The perfect tart and tangy and sweet mix that is perfectly balanced. So delicious!
Very good recipe.. Made it today.
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!
I’ve tried this twice already. My mixture liquefies when i add the lime juice. I add it slowly while mixing in on low speed just as you described it. Any idea what could be the problem?
Oh shoot! I haven’t had that happen before. It could be that your eggs aren’t whipped enough before adding the next ingredients.
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:)
Hi. If I am using mini graham cracker pie shells (purchased from grocery store) how long should I bake them?
The mini ones? I’m not sure we have never used those ones before. I would say start at 10 minutes and check it every few minutes until the center isn’t jiggly anymore. Hope this helps!
I make a key lime pie that tastes fabulous, but it always falls apart! This pie looks great – before I make it, does it keep a firm consistency so that it does not fall apart?
The consistency is perfect, I’ve never had an issue with it falling apart. I think you will love this one!
My son-in-law is lactose intolerant but loves my pies so I substituted vegan butter for regular butter in the crust and condensed coconut milk in the filling. It turned out great although it did have a very faint coconut flavor which I thought made it even tastier!
Thanks for letting us know how you made this lactose free! I am sure there are many of our readers who will find that extremely helpful. I’m not lactose intolerant and that sounds SO good with the coconut milk. YUM!
Dam good pie cheese family all good here
Can I use just the strict just the Nellie and Joe’s key lime juice and no limes??
That should work!
As a variant, you can whip the whites from the eggs until stiff peaks form and fold them into the milk, yolk and juice mixture. Fill the crust and bake as directed in the recipe. Makes for a lighter textured pie and cuts a bit of the sweetness. Plus it uses up those pesky extra whites.
FWIW – I have made variations of this pie using real key limes, bottled key lime juice, RealLime lime juice and fresh juice from standard limes. They ALL work and they all make delicious pies. The fresh lime juice just makes an EXTRA delicious pie…
Great ideas, thank you for suggestions and also for sharing your information about the lime juices. Super helpful!
I made this last night. I found it to be way too sweet. Next time I will use a cup and a half of lime juice and five egg yolks.
Love this recipe! Thanks for sharing!
How do you add the meringue topping? Do you bake the key lime first then reduce the temp and add the top and then bake the extra 10 minutes or add the topping before baking the key lime?
Hey Gemma- Usually we don’t go meringue topping on the Key Lime pie but if you would like to, you can use these instructions from our lemon meringue pie: https://www.favfamilyrecipes.com/moms-lemon-meringue-pie/ Hope this helps!
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.
Thank you for the compliment! I love this recipe. It turns out perfect every time. I’m also a fan of the tartness of the pie. I’m so glad you like it!
Excelent recipe !!! It was a hit !! Will make again !!!
Can this pie be frozen? How long will it keep frozen?
We haven’t tried freezing it before but it I’m sure it is possible. I wouldn’t keep it frozen than more than a couple weeks, if it were me. I don’t like the freezer flavor so the less time in the freezer (at least for me) the better!
Love this recipe, I use 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed key lime right from my tree! Perfect pie everytime!
Love that you have a lime tree. Now I want one! 😀
Sounds very delicious, as I live in Brazil, can you tell
me what the crackers are and what can I use as a substitute.?
We have wonderful limes here in Bahia , can I use all this juice etc.
Thank you so much.
Hi Hugo– Graham crackers might be tricky to find in Brazil. If you can’t find them, you can use Nilla Wafers, ginger snaps, or any kind of plain vanilla cookie. Even animal crackers. Hope this helps!
How far in advance can you make this? This looks like a good recipe and I can’t wait to try it.
You can make this probably 2 days in advance … I wouldn’t do much longer than that. Hope this helps!
I can’t find key limes in my local store, can I use regular lime juice?
Yes you can, they just won’t have that key lime tangy-ness. Hope this helps!
I am not huge fan of Key Lime pie but husband loves it. I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago and he said it was the best ever. I tried it and I really liked it. I am making it again today. Thank you.
So glad you and your husband liked it! This is our favorite recipe for Key Lime Pie hands-down (and we are big fans too)!
Do you have to refrigerate the pie to firm it.I put it in the oven at 350 degrees and it rose up some but still had a lot liquid.so I put it in refrigerator.
That should be totally fine. If it was still liquid-y I would but it in the refrigerator to firm. Hope this helps!
This may be a silly question but would it be okay to just use a 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice?
Yes, you can definitely do that. The key lime juice has a slightly different flavor, but either will taste great!
Can we use lemon instead?
Yes, it will absolutely work with lemon. We also have these lemon pie recipes you can try:
Can we use lemon instead??
Yes, it will absolutely work with lemon. We also have these lemon pie recipes you can try:
This was delicious, and so easy. Thank you for helping me find my go to key lime pie recipe!
Thank you for taking the time to comment! Glad you liked it 🙂
all one has to do is remember the color of the inside of the lime….it is never bright green. Take it from there.
I’m so excited to make this! This may sound like a dumb question, but in your ingredients you say you need 1/4 cup lime juice but in the method it says you put half a cup in. Is this on the basis that you’d be getting 1/4 cup from the actual lime but then you must add another 1/4 cup of lime juice? Sorry, it’s probably a silly question but I don’t want to accidentally make the most sour pie in the world haha. Thanks x
That is right, you use 1/4 c. fresh and 1/4 c. of the key lime– making 1/2 c total
In this particular recipe for the key lime pie….notice the canned milk used, it is very sweet, and believe me condensed milk takes
it to another level of sweetness. So go ahead and use what the recipe indicates. No fear!
There are many recipes out there for this pie, and i have tried them all……
I had the same question!
you use 1/4 c. fresh and 1/4 c. of the key lime– making 1/2 c total. Hope this helps!
What if I live in Missouri & it’s January & I can’t use Key limes?!
hmm… if you are in desperate need of key limes you could probably find a place that will ship them to you!
If you live in St.Louis Dierbergs market carries key limes. But it is not necessary..I use the liquid from Nellies & Joes and it tastes fine. I have made at least 5 of these pies this month. It has been so cold and this just screams…warmth and sand and sun!!!
Couldn’t agree more!
that is easy….ever heard of Roses lime? Used
in making margaritas…..it works in a pinch…
And it is tasty.
Sel, with all due respect, as the owner/operator of a chain of nightclubs, we use Rose’s in mixed drinks, but my opinion is that it has a twinge of bitterness after taste to it, which might not translate well into this recipe. Same as grocery store bottled lime juice (ReaLime brand), which is not nearly as clean and bright in flavor as real squeezed limes. Although, its companion brand “ReaLemon” is totally satisfactory to use in place of real squeezed lemons, and does not have that “off” after taste that Rose’s and ReaLime has. Note, that I have not tried your suggestion in this recipe so I could stand corrected. Just a cautionary.
You can make this with regular limes. Key limes are preferred, but if you can’t get them, just use regular limes. Also, most markets sell key lime juice. That is another great option. But don’t sweat this – it will still taste great either way. 🙂
I have made this pie on 3 different occasions and it has been a crowd pleaser. As others have noted, this is a very easy recipe to follow to achieve a well balance of flavor and creamy textured pie.
I made this key lime pie for Sunday dinner and my family said it was the best key lime pie ever. I loved that it was so easy to make.
I've been looking for a good Key Lime Pie recipe…think I just found it! Thanks!
I have never had success with my key lime getting firm With any recipe
I love, love, love Key Lime Pie!!!
Easy and delicious