Key Lime Pie

This Key Lime Pie features a graham cracker crust filled with key lime curd and topped with freshly whipped cream. It’s a fresh, flavorful and untraditional homemade pie recipe made without condensed milk.

easy key lime pie recipe topped with whipped cream and sliced with fresh limes on the side

If you know me well, you know I love to entertain and have guests over. When I start my cooking for a dinner party, I usually always make the dessert first. Desserts can almost always be made ahead of time.

And this Key Lime Pie recipe sure saves the day. This recipe comes from my Nonnie and it is my brother’s favorite dessert and a top 5 for my husband.

What is Key Lime Pie?

Key Lime Pie is a quintessential American dessert pie made of Key lime juice, egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk. It can be topped with meringue, whipped cream or nothing at all.

Traditionally, it is served in graham cracker crust, but regular pie crust or no crust is also common.

lime curd pie topped with whipped cream with fresh limes, plates and forks on the side

What’s the Difference Between a Lime and a Key Lime?

Key Limes are a specific varietal of limes that are more aromatic, with tarter and floral juice. They are yellow in color and contain more seeds and less juice (hence why you need more of them to get a decent amount of juice).

They used to be grown commercially in the Florida Keys, but have since been replaced with Persian limes due to a hurricane that wiped out the land.

Ingredients //

This is an untraditional Key Lime Pie. Most Key Lime Pie recipes have sweetened condensed milk in them and this one does not. It probably should be called Lime Curd Pie, but let’s not be picky.

Gather together sugar, eggs, key lime juice + zest, butter, gelatin, graham cracker crust and whipped cream.

graham cracker crust, sugar, butter, key limes, eggs

Key Lime Juice. If you can get your hands on key limes, snag a bunch! Or purchase bottled Key West Lime Juice in the produce section of your grocery store or online. I cannot always find key limes or the juice. Use regular limes. I won’t tell if you don’t.

Gelatin. The gelatin helps stabilize and hold the curd together. This recipe only requires 1 teaspoon. Just make sure to dissolve it in 2 Tablespoons water beforehand.

Graham Cracker Crust. Homemade or store-bought both work beautifully. Follow the instructions below if you have the time to make it at home.

Homemade Graham Cracker Crust

Combine 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup sugar and 6 Tablespoons melted butter. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan and pat into one even layer (the bottom of a measuring cup or glass helps here). Bake the crust in a 375-degree oven for about 9 minutes.

How To Make // The Steps

This easy key lime pie recipe is so simple to make with a homemade graham cracker crust. But if you go the store-bought crust route, it’s a complete no-bake dessert recipe. Simply:

  • On the top of a double boiler (I don’t have one, so I use a saucepan filled halfway with water and a large metal bowl on top) combine the sugar, eggs and lime juice.
  • Whisk constantly over medium heat. When the mixture starts to thicken, add one piece of butter at a time. Whisk constantly until the butter has melted. Add one piece at a time until you have added all of the butter. The lime curd will be thick.
  • Add the softened gelatin (I sprinkle the teaspoon of gelatin over 2 Tablespoons water until it has dissolved) to the lime mixture.
  • Strain your lime mixture to guarantee that there are no egg pieces in your lime curd.
  • Add the lime zest.
homemade lime curd filling in glass bowl with yellow spatula
  • Pour the lime curd into the cooled crust. Let chill for at least 3 hours before serving to let the filling set up. Garnish with whipped cream and extra lime zest.
lime curd in graham cracker crust in pie pan

What Makes This Key Lime Pie Recipe So Good?

Tart, sweet, rich and decadent, I love to make this pie recipe for dinner parties and friends because:

  • The homemade lime curd provides an unmatched texture and flavor compared to sweetened condensed milk.
  • It provides that special wow factor to impress all your friends!
  • It’s the best make-ahead dessert recipe for any special occasion.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Variation //

I absolutely adore this lime pie as written, but if you are short on time, you can go the more traditional route. Simply:

  1. Omit the lime curd ingredients – eggs, sugar, butter and gelatin.
  2. Use 2 (14-oz) cans sweetened condensed milk and 1/2 cup sour cream mixed with the ¾ cup key lime juice and lime zest.
  3. Pour it into the prepared graham cracker crust and bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Cool for 3 hours in the fridge. Finish with whipped cream and extra lime zest.
slices of the best key lime pie recipe on white plates with forks and whole pie on the side

Make-Ahead Dessert For A Party

As mentioned, this is a great dessert for a party because you can make everything ahead of time.

It will keep in the fridge for about 4 days without the whipped cream. If you stabilize the whipped cream (instructions in detailed post), you can do the entire dessert the day before.

This is a gorgeous and refreshing summer dessert. One bite and your friends will be asking for the recipe.

More Summer Pie Recipes //

Originally published in July 2010, updated August 2020 with updated images and updated recipe card.

If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it goes! Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, too!

easy key lime pie recipe topped with whipped cream and sliced with fresh limes on the side

Key Lime Pie

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes

This Key Lime Pie features a graham cracker crust filled with key lime curd (without condensed milk) and topped with freshly whipped cream.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup key lime juice
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon gelatin, softened
  • 1 lime, zested
  • whipped cream
  • 9-inch graham cracker crust (homemade or store-bought)

Instructions

  1. In the top of a double boiler (I don’t have one, so I use a saucepan filled halfway with water and a large metal bowl on top), combine the sugar, eggs and lime juice.
  2. Whisk constantly over medium heat. When the mixture starts to thicken, add one piece of butter at a time. Whisk constantly until the butter has melted. Add one piece at a time until you have added all of the butter. The lime curd will be thick.
  3. Add the softened gelatin (I sprinkle the teaspoon of gelatin over 2 Tablespoons water until it has dissolved) to the lime mixture.
  4. Strain your lime mixture to guarantee that there are no egg pieces in your lime curd.
  5. Add the lime zest.
  6. Pour the lime curd into the cooled crust. Let chill for at least 3 hours before serving to let the filling set up. Garnish with whipped cream and extra lime zest.

Notes

Homemade Graham Cracker Crust: Combine 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup sugar and 6 Tablespoons melted butter. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan and pat into one even layer (the bottom of a measuring cup or glass helps here). Bake the crust in a 375-degree oven for about 9 minutes.

How to Make Key Lime Pie with Condensed Milk:

  1. Omit the lime curd ingredients - eggs, sugar, butter and gelatin.
  2. Use 2 (14-oz) cans sweetened condensed milk and 1/2 cup sour cream mixed with the ¾ cup key lime juice and 1 teaspoon lime zest.
  3. Pour it into the prepared graham cracker crust and bake in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Cool for 3 hours in the fridge. Finish with whipped cream and extra lime zest.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 256Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 145mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 1gSugar: 30gProtein: 5g

All information and tools presented and written within this site are intended for informational purposes only.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Oh hey there!

Well, hello there! I’m Bree Hester, the Boston-based blogger and food photographer here at Baked Bree. Here you can get lots of weeknight meal inspiration, eat more plant-based meals, and still indulge in a decadent sweet treat. Baked Bree is a place where you will find great recipes and inspiration for your next family adventure.

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This Post Has 66 Comments

  1. Nancy Grundel

    WOW!!! Key Lime pie is one of my all time favorite desserts! I have to try your recipe for sure!! Thanks, Nancy

    1. bakedbree

      I hope that you like it Nancy!

  2. Azurede

    Love your recipe and wonderful instructions with beautiful photos. Thank you!

    1. bakedbree

      You are most welcome!

  3. Memoria

    I have NEVER hosted a party because I’m too much of an introvert. However, whenever comes the time that I feel up to hosting a small party, I will keep your tips in mind. I’m looking forward to this series.

    The pie looks absolutely perfect. I love how high the crust is and the lovely look of the zest and whipped cream. You’re amazing, Bree!

    1. bakedbree

      You are too sweet to me. You have never had party? With all of the amazingness that comes out of your kitchen? Have one party and I bet that you will feel differently about it. Where do you live?

  4. Sarah

    This pie looks absolutely delicious, and I love your photos!

    1. bakedbree

      thank you!

  5. Magic of Spice

    A perfect pie! Love your tips too…but this pie:) Also love your step by step photos…

    1. bakedbree

      thank you.

  6. Tessa

    Loved the video! I’m excited to see what’s next for the rest of the week. I’m only 19 and have a tiny apartment complete with 2 dining chairs so hosting a dinner party isn’t in my near future but I still love the thought of entertaining 🙂

    The pie looks so creamy and refreshing!

    1. bakedbree

      I used to have parties when I was in college all the time. They were some of the most fun parties. Eating on the floor with paper plates and cheap beer. You can totally pull it off.

  7. Nam (The Culinary Chronicles)

    I just love LIME and this Key Lime Pie looks absolutely DELISH!

    1. bakedbree

      It is one of my favorites. Hope that you like it just as much.

  8. Amanda

    Hi Bree. Nice to meet you! I found you from Tara’s blog and LOVE your pictures!! She did some for us 2 years ago and I still love them. Your cooking blog is great and I am so excited to hear all about this yummy Greek feast!

    1. bakedbree

      Isn’t Tara wonderful? I love my pictures so much. They will always remind me of that day and the trip that we took.

  9. Betty

    This pie looks so delicious! Your photos are beautiful- If only I could reach into this computer screen and pull out one of those slices! Key lime pie is one of my favorite summer desserts- thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. bakedbree

      Thank you! I love Key Lime Pie too… this is a good one.

  10. patty

    hi there – i tried to make the key lime pie…i did something wrong as it didn’t set right…it didn’t really harden…i did the 1 teaspoon of gelatin to 2 tablespoons of water…any ideas?

    1. bakedbree

      It should be soft set, if you add too much gelatin, it will look and act like jello. I know because I have done this before. You want just enough gelatin to hold it together. Maybe add a touch more gelatin.

  11. Kaitlin

    I made this for some friends today and it went over SO well! Wonderful recipe – thank you for sharing!

    1. bakedbree

      you are very welcome. Glad that you liked it.

  12. MsNJohnson

    The pie looks delicious!! The recipe I generally use does not require eggs but I will have to give this one a try. I love how you display each step in the cooking process. Oh how I love the simplicities of life…

    1. bakedbree

      Glad that you like it, I hope that you will continue to read.

  13. CJ Morrison

    I love Key Lime pie but hate condensed milk. i have make them without condensed milk and try to get real key limes. i like your the way your recipe reads and i am going to try it this weekend. thanks so much.. it is one of my favorite pies.

    1. bakedbree

      me too! I just use plain limes. I cannot always get key limes when I need them.

  14. CJ Morrison

    i am going to use stabilized whipping cream

    1. bakedbree

      It is a good idea, then you pie will look pretty longer.

  15. Julie

    Hi Bree – You mentioned this desert was top 5 of your husband’s. I was just wondering what the other 4 might be. Looking forward to trying your yummy key lime recipe. Cheers, Julie.

    1. bakedbree

      He is not a big dessert person, but he does like a few things. Peanut Butter Pie is his all-time favorite. He loves a chocolate milk shake, a good chewy brownie, and a chocolate chip cookie. He is pretty boring.

  16. Julie

    PS: My hubby’s favorite dessert is burnt (yes, as in blackened) chocolate chip cookies. Go figure.

    1. bakedbree

      Wow! That is random.

  17. Anna Picardi

    Hi I was looking for an alternative to making a Key Lime Pie without sweetened condensed milk and found your recipe. I have made it 3 times. The first time it was perfect delicous and refreshing. I live in Florida and used fresh Key Limes. The next two times I adjusted the amount of Gelatin which was fun, using more Gelatin makes a firmer filling so you can cut it into squares and here in Florida where everything melts in minutes it was perfect for a picnic. My perfect mix is one and a half tsp of Gelatin to two tsp of water. My chilren tease me that I am a bad baker so being able to cook this on the stovetop kept me from being teased haha. A devine recipe, fun refreshing and easy to make!! Thank you so much Anna

    1. bakedbree

      I am glad that you like it so much, and am jealous of the fresh key limes.

  18. Emi Reiner

    Thanks for this recipe. I love your photos. I was going to make this pie for company tonight, but forgot the condensed milk, so I am happy to have found this. I only have bottled key lime juice, hope that’s ok. Emi

    1. bakedbree

      You are welcome Emi! I love this pie, it is so fresh tasting.

  19. jess

    Hello! I was just wondering why the gelatin is necessary. I’d love to make this recipe since pretty much everything else has condensed milk in it! I just don’t have gelatin on hand so I was wondering if it could go without, or if it is a necessary! Thank You!

    1. bakedbree

      It probably will not set without the gelatin. It is essentially a lime curd pie, and the gelatin is what holds it all together.

  20. Melissa

    I, too, am very excited to have a recipe without the canned milk. Do you also have a replacement for gelatin? I don’t seem to have any…

    1. bakedbree

      No, you need the gelatin to make it hold.

      1. christina

        Can you use Lime Jello in place of the Gelatin.

        1. bakedbree

          I don’t think so. I mean, you could, but I think that it would really take away from this recipe.

  21. Amanda

    This was truly wonderful! I am working on building my skills in the kitchen and this made me feel like a “boss” it was so good 😉

    1. bakedbree

      I am so glad, I love this recipe too. It is my husband’s favorite too.

  22. Emma

    Thank you for this post! I was going to make key lime pie but forgot about evaporated milk! thanks for the recipe and the great step by step pictures to go with it.

    1. bakedbree

      You are welcome!

  23. Rob Stathem

    Wow, such great recipes here! I may just have to try them all. I’m a major foodie and food photographer as well and it’s fun—fun to cook and try new things and then photograph those creations!

    Thank you, Bree, for this delicious looking recipe! Key Lime Pie is the perfect treat on a hot day! I will bookmark this and try this next summer, or, knowing me I’ll cook it now and eat the whole thing!! LOL!

    1. bakedbree

      Thank you Rob, this pie is amazing!

  24. Rachel

    I just made this pie! It’s chilling right now! 3 more hours till I can eat it. Can’t wait!

    1. bakedbree

      Jealous!!

  25. Marko

    What size pan did you use, cause I really wanna make this!!!

    1. bakedbree

      I used a pie plate. 8-9 inches? It doesn’t make much of a difference in this recipe.

  26. Nancy

    Can you substitute cornstarch for gelatin? Kosher reasons prevent me from using gelatin

    1. bakedbree

      I’ve never made it that way. It is essentially a citrus curd, so I would look for a similar recipe using cornstarch and change the flavors.

    2. Andrew

      I can’t do it with regular limes. It doesn’t taste anything like a key lime pie. Two totally different flavor profiles otherwise the recipe is great. Like the use of gelatin

      1. Bree Hester

        Then don’t do it. I can’t always get key limes.

  27. Melissa

    I am a real good blogger and was having quite a time finding a good recipe for key lime pie. Thank you for posting this!! I bet I have made this pie a dozen times, and I get raves every time 🙂

    1. bakedbree

      It’s the best one I’ve ever had.

  28. Pingback: The Best Peanut Butter Pie Recipe Ever | Baked Bree

  29. Edna

    What kind of gelatin? Will lime flavored jello work or does it need to be unflavored? I want to do the recipe with cornstarch instead of sweetened condensed milk for calorie count.

    1. Bree Hester

      Powdered, unflavored gelatin. I do think that amount of butter will equal the sweetened condensed milk calorie-wise though.

  30. Amanda

    Hello, I only just discovered your site the other day while searching yet again for “best banana bread recipe” (I never seem to eat all of my bananas before they get overripe!)—I tried yours and it was exactly what I wanted; so many claim to be the best but end up super dry!

    So then I wanted to make something special for my boyfriend’s and my anniversary, and he loves Key Lime Pie—I saw that you had a recipe for it and figured that since your banana bread recipe was such a winner, this would probably be decent as well.

    I had only ever made key lime pie with condensed milk before, so this was a new approach for me—I had to actually throw my first filling attempt out because I had the burner up too high and the egg was congealing before I added the other ingredients. But my second attempt was PERFECT. Wow. He emphatically swears that it’s the best key lime pie he’s ever had in his life, exactly what he’s been looking for; we went to Key West last fall and tried it a couple of times there (and also in other places in Florida) and he was disappointed! This one tastes even better the next day after setting for longer. He’s obsessed.

    I am now a devotee of your site and can’t wait to try some of the other recipes—thank you for your beautiful photos and excellent taste/discernment in recipes!

    1. Bree Hester

      Isn’t this the best? I am so glad that you both love it as much as I do. My grandmother introduced me to this recipe and I will never make another one!

  31. susan

    Do I use the whole egg or just the yolks for the curd

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