Best Key Lime Pie

I found this recipe a few weeks ago and was really excited about trying it since we love key lime pie. Unfortunately, all my pie plates were in storage and it took me a while to buy a new one because I kept forgetting I needed it. This weekend I became the proud owner of a new 9 inch deep dish Pyrex pie plate and finally tried the recipe.

As far as key lime pie goes, I think this might be the best key lime pie — the one. It’s perfect in almost every way (the almost being that it’s hard to cut because the crust gets frozen before slicing) but the balance of sweet and sour and overall flavor is just what I’d been looking for. I think my key lime pie quest has ended right here.

This recipe is adapted from a version said to be used by Joe’s Stone Crab, a restaurant I’d probably visit for the key lime pie alone. The only thing I found confusing in the original recipe was that it called for the 1 ½ teaspoons, zest of 2 limes. I used the zest of 2 limes, but that turned out to be more like 2 tablespoons which was just right.

key lime pie

Best Key Lime Pie
Best Key Lime Pie -- Adapted from Joe's Stone Crab
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
  • 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (1 sleeve plus 4 extra squares)
  • 5 tbsp melted butter, salted or unsalted is fine -- salted has more flavor
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest (use more if desired)
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (I used Nellie's Key Lime Juice)
  • 1 cup heavy or whipping cream, chilled
  • 1-2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 inch deep dish pie plate.
  2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Press the mixture into the bottom and up sides of the pie pan. Bake the crust until set and golden, 8 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack; leave the oven on.
  3. Using high speed of an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and lime zest at high speed for 5 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3 or 4 minutes longer. Add the lime juice and stir until combined, then pour the mixture into the crust.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes or until the filling has just set. Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate.
  5. Whip the cream and the confectioners' sugar until nearly stiff. Add the vanilla. Spread the whipped cream over the top of the pie or pipe it neatly around the edges.
  6. Before serving, freeze the pie for about 20 minutes. Cut and serve.
The original recipe said to freeze the pie before cutting. I usually forget to do this and the pie is always fine.



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  1. Ginny Kochis says

    This looks great – I was just thinking about making one, actually 🙂

    Regarding the zest discrepancy, do you think it could be possible that the recipe assumes you would use key limes instead of persian, which are much smaller?

  2. says

    Ginny, you are absolutely right! I should have thought of that yesterday.

    As it happened, I used 2 tablespoons of Persian and was very happy with the results.

  3. says

    My dad absolutely adores Key Lime Pie, I might have to give this one a go.

    Poor him, he’s trying to lose weight xD.

    Key lime juice?? Oh golly, I wonder where that is around here! Last time I made Key Lime Pie, I wasted two hours of my life juicing 60 (I counted) key limes!

  4. Angelica Macklin says

    Mmmm!!! Can’t wait to try it out. I am an absolute fiend for Key Lime Pie.

  5. says

    I LOVE key lime pie!!! I’ll definitely try this recipe some day.
    For Clara (and anyone else who might interested). I made a key lime cheesecake for Easter and I juiced the key limes by putting them in a garlic press. It worked really well for me.

  6. says

    My husband and I are key lime pie addicts, so I’m definitely going to try this recipe. But, no matter how many recipes I try, we still like the one from our local Wegman’s the best.

  7. says

    Clara, Nellie & Joe’s is in most grocery stores, near the lemon juice in the juice aisle.
    A chef told me the best way to juice key limes is to not cut them in half, but about 3/4 on one end. Then you have a bigger piece to squeeze and get more juice from it. I did that last time I made a key lime pie and it worked great.
    I made the recipe on N&J’s bottle, which is the same as this only just has 1/2 cup juice and no zest. Hmm. Now I want to try this one, Anna. When I made the N&J recipe, I followed their recipe, but had some fresh key limes, so I used those.
    My chef friend said N&J’s is a good brand close to using the real thing in case anyone was thinking fresh must be much better, she said it’s a great compromise.

  8. CindyD says

    I think King Arthur also sells key lime juice (mail order). Haven’t used either so I can’t recommend or compare.
    We had a bad experience at Joe’s Crab Shack and haven’t been back but you almost make me want to go at least for dessert – love key lime pie, we had such good pie at a restaurant at Everglades City Florida we changed our itinerary so we could eat there a second time.

  9. says

    Cindy, are Joe’s Stone Crab and Joe’s Crab Shack owned by the same people? I thought they were different restaurants.

  10. says

    How good does this look! Because the filling is baked it also overcomes the squeamishness some might have about uncooked eggs.

  11. says

    I am a sucker for anything lime…I am afraid to make this because I will eat it all by myself…better print the recipe for when company comes.

  12. says

    Shannon, I think you’ll like this one. I guess the original recipe was meant to have 1 1/2 teaspoons of lime zest, but I was really happy with what appeared to be about 1 1/2 tablespoons from my 2 whole Persian limes.

  13. Katy says

    I think the “1 1/2 tsp Grated zest of 2 limes” is meant to be two different ingredients: “1 1/2 tsp *something*” and “Grated zest of 2 limes” – the first ingredient just got deleted somewhere along the way, probably when someone copied and pasted, then someone else copied and pasted, etc. I’d guess the *something* is maybe vanilla extract or a similar ingredient. Hope that helps!

  14. says

    Maybe it was 1 1/2 teaspoons of the “super secret ingredient” that make the pie even better???? ;).
    That’s a good guess, Katy. It’s kind of what I was thinking, but now I’m leaning toward the idea that they left the word “key” out of limes.

  15. says

    When I made Key Lime Pie recently, I noticed that the Key Lime zest was much more bitter than the Persian, perhaps that explains the discrepancy.

    I used this recipe from Cook’s Country, I’m definitely going to make it again soon, it’s an icebox version with no eggs, but has the texture and “punch” I remember from all those Florida vacations.

  16. says

    Babette, thanks for linking to that recipe. I’ll have to go through my files, but I think I might have made that Cooks’ Country pie at some point.

  17. marilyn says

    here’s a great hint for squeezing those little key limes to get enough juice – cut in half and then use a garlic press!!! It gets ALL the juice out plus saves you time and sore fingers!!! Enjoy!

  18. says

    I had bookmarked this and finally made it today after buying a bunch of key limes. You’re right – this recipe is The One. I’m not even going to try another one.

  19. Sharry M. says

    I’ve always wanted to make a homemade key lime pie! This sounds great. My question is since I have younger children, is baking the pie for only 10 minutes long enough for there to be no danger from the eggs? Not worried so much about the adults….just concern for the kids.

    Thanks for any advice!

  20. says

    Sharry, I know what you mean! Have you ever tried Safest Choice brand eggs? They’re pasteurized, so you can use them raw. There may be other brands, but I think pasteurized eggs are becoming fairly common. I really doubt using a regular egg would cause problems, but you can never be too safe.

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