This Key Lime Pie is deliciously tart, airy, light, and refreshing! An easy, updated version of a classic, this is the best key lime pie recipe ever! Such an elegant dessert that is always a favorite!

Closeup of pie in white pie plate with dollops of whipped cream with thin lime slices standing on end in the whipped cream.  // addapinch.com

Key Lime Pie is one of my husband’s favorite pies. For years, I professed that I didn’t particularly care for it. I always thought they were a bit too dense and either too tart or not tart enough. I’m picky, but I thought there had to be a fine balance and wanted an updated version of the classic.

So, I experimented until I created absolutely the best key lime pie recipe! I think you are going to love it too!

Side view of pie on marble counter with lime slices standing in clouds of whipped cream. ©addapinch.com

How to Make Key Lime Pie

After experimenting with various changes in the method of making this classic pie, along with subtle changes in the ingredients, I finally achieved a lighter, fluffier pie. It’s pure perfection, in my opinion, as well as those to whom I’ve served it. It’s now my go-to key lime pie recipe.

Ingredients

Here’s how I create this absolutely delicious and favorite Key Lime Pie:

Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full listing of ingredients, instructions, notes, and estimated nutritional information.

  • Graham Cracker Crust – My homemade crust is delicious and simple to make. Do not pre-bake the crust for this pie but chill in the refrigerator according to the crust recipe instructions prior to making this pie. If you are short on time, you can use one from the store.
  • eggs – Separate the whites from the yolks, saving both. The egg yolks give the key lime pie such richness; the egg whites help to give the pie a lift. It alters the texture from a dense, thick custard to a silky, cloud-like confection.
  • sweetened condensed milk – If not using this homemade recipe, then you can use some from the store.
  • fresh key lime juice and fresh lime juice and lime zest – This recipe uses a combination of lime juices – key lime and lime. The combination of key limes and other limes gives the pie a delicious sweet, tart flavor. If you can not find key limes, you can use Persian limes and zest. If you must, you can use pure key lime juice in the bottle. The zest is optional, but the lime zest amps up the lime flavor! And using fresh juices results in the best flavor. To juice the fresh limes, you’ll need 12-16 key limes and 2-3 regular limes.
  • lemon juice
  • sugar – Use granulated sugar
  • optionallime slices for garnish
  • whipped cream – Along with adorning the key lime pie with fresh lime slices, this pie would not be complete without topping it with my easy, delicious homemade Whipped Cream. It is the crowning glory of this airy, light, and zesty dessert that you really don’t want to miss.

Lesson on Limes

Zest your limes before you juice them. (It’s not easy to zest a lime that you’ve already cut and juiced.) The zest adds a deeper lime flavor to the pie. It’s optional, but I hope you add it because it makes the pie so…zesty!

Look for the ripe, plump limes. For key limes, dark green ones are not ripe. You can leave them on the counter for a few days or place the key limes next to other fruit for a couple of days to allow them to get ripe faster (within a day or two). They begin to yellow as they ripen.

Roll the limes on a hard surface before juicing. This will “soften” the limes and help them to release the juices easier.

Key Lime Pie with dollops of whipped cream and lime slices | ©addapinch.com

Step-by-Step Instructions

Make the crust.

This recipe calls for my graham cracker crust. It will need to chill in the refrigerator according to the recipe instructions prior to filling.

Combine pie ingredients.

Whisk the egg yolk, sweetened condensed milk, lime juices, lime zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl until well-combined.

Beat egg whites.

Use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites until they begin to foam. Gradually add in granulated sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy and soft peaks form.

Spoon into the pie crust.

Gently fold the beaten egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture and carefully spoon it into the prepared graham cracker crust.

Bake, then chill.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned, and the pie filling just sets throughout. Remove from the oven and chill on a wire rack. Lightly cover and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 8 hours.

Garnish and serve.

Garnish the chilled key lime pie with whipped cream and thin lime slices if you are using them. Slice and serve. Refrigerate the remaining pie after serving for up to 3 days.

Closeup of pie with limes and whipped cream on marble countertop ©addapinch.com

This key lime pie is perfect anytime, but I especially love to serve it in the warmer months of the year. It’s one of the most refreshing desserts and always a hit. I really do believe it’s the best and hope you think so too!

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I can’t find key limes?

You can use Persian limes instead.

Does key lime pie need to be refrigerated?

Yes. After serving, refrigerate within 2 hours. Key Lime Pie should last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

More Favorite Pies

I have many pie recipes and some to enjoy during any season or holiday. But here are a few more I love to serve during spring and summer, especially!

Coconut Cream Pie – a coconut lover’s dream!

Strawberry Pie – perfect for fresh strawberries!

Instant Pot Oreo Cheesecake – cool, creamy, and easy to make!

Here’s my update to the classic Key Lime Pie Recipe. Give it a try sometime soon. I really think you’ll like it!

Key Lime Pie Recipe

5 from 11 votes
This updated key lime pie recipe comes together quickly and chills to a perfect light and airy consistency for an elegant key lime pie you’ll love.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients 

  • 1 Graham Cracker Crust
  • 3 large (150 g) eggs, separated
  • 1 1/4 cups (386 g) sweetened condensed milk , or 1 (14-ounce) can, store-bought
  • 1/2 cup (121 g) key lime juice
  • 1/4 cup (60.5 g) lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) lemon juice
  • (4 g) zest of 1 key lime, optional, about 2 teaspoons
  • 2 tablespoons (24 g) granulated sugar
  • lime slices, optional
  • whipped cream

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 325º F.
  • Whisk egg yolk, sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, lime zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl until well-combined.
  • Beat egg whites with an electric mixture until they begin to foam. Gradually add in granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy and soft peaks have formed. Gently fold into egg yolk mixture and carefully spoon into the prepared graham cracker crust.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned and set throughout. Remove from the oven and chill on a wire rack. Lightly cover and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 8 hours.
  • For serving, remove from springform pan, if using, and top with whipped cream and lime slices. Slice and serve.

Notes

If key limes are not available, regular Persian limes may be used for juice and zest.

Storage Instructions

After serving, refrigerate any remaining key lime pie within 2 hours. It should last covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

Nutrition

Calories: 174kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 79mg | Sodium: 95mg | Potassium: 47mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 240IU | Vitamin C: 5.3mg | Calcium: 189mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Enjoy!
Robyn xo

Two photos of key lime pies with whipped cream and limes- with text // addapinch.com

From the Add a Pinch recipe archives. Originally published 2011.

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About Robyn

Robyn Stone is a cookbook author, wife, mom, and passionate home cook. Her tested and trusted recipes give readers the confidence to cook recipes the whole family will love. Robyn has been featured on Food Network, People, Southern Living, and more.

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Recipe Review




69 Comments

  1. Hi Robyn! I hope I don’t sound stupid, but is there a difference between key lime juice and regular lime juice? I don’t believe I have ever seen key lime juice in the grocery store( though I never looked for it before). Thanks.

    1. Hi Terri,
      It may be hard to find key limes year round in the grocery store. If you can’t find the key limes in your grocery store, you can use regular limes you find there for this pie. Enjoy!

    2. Hi Terri, If I may offer an answer, there is a huge difference between Key limes (now from Mexico, since a hurricane wiped out the Key lime groves in the Florida Keys), and Persian (regular) limes. Here in Washington state, grocery stores and Walmarts both carry bagged Key limes, which are usually green (unripe and a pain to squeeze, but better than bottled). I tried making a Key lime and a Persian lime pie at the same time, and everyone who tried it confirmed that the Persian lime pie was underwhelming. Maybe fine if you don’t have a Key lime pie to compare it to, but the Key lime pie has so much more punch.
      I’m not sure why you’d need to add lemon juice to a Key lime pie, as the recipe here suggests, but if you’re making a Persian lime pie, the lemon juice might add some extra kick. But please don’t call it a Key lime pie unless there’s Key lime juice in it. That’s like calling something a rhubarb pie, even though you used strawberries instead.
      Lastly, if you can’t find fresh Key limes, and want to try bottled, Nellie and Joe’s sells “100% Key Lime Juice” on their website, but their top seller is something called “Key West Lime Juice.” I don’t know if or how much actual Key lime juice is in that second one. “Key West Lime Juice” sounds to me like Persian lime juice with other ingredients, bottled in Key West, and labelled to confuse people into thinking it’s Key lime juice. But that’s my own speculation. So far, I haven’t been able to get them to confirm the actual ingredients.
      Try to find Key limes for your pie! They’re so good!

  2. Hi there,

    Following your recipes for a long time and whenever I get time I make one of them. All my family member love that. On this weekend I am going to try this recipe.

    Thanks

  3. 5 stars
    The key lime pie was extraordinary! I followed your directions to a T and so glad I did. The crust was simple and so much better than a bought one. The pie itself so much lighter and just delicious. My only problem is that I should have made two so I could keep one just for myself!!

    1. Thanks so much, Charlene! So glad you enjoyed the pie. Some days just seem like a two pie day, don’t they! xo

  4. I made this for a retirement party and everyone who got a piece actually loved it.  One person couldn’t wait for dessert and took one eighth of the pie when it was actually time to serve it.  The person who was retiring claimed it was the best key lime pie she had ever had!  Thank you for this great recipe.

    1. Colleen,
      I’m so happy everyone liked the key lime pie. Hope your friend enjoys retirement! Thanks! xo

  5. H Robyn,
    I have never really cooked before so I don’t know my way around the kitchen. I made everything exactly to your instructions. But I don’t own a spring for pie dish. I used a glass one and set the temp to 325 however I almost had to double the time for it to be firm all across and the top was a teeny tiny bit golden. Looked like your picture. Also I made the graham cracker crust to your recipe and did not pre-cook. Should I have? It’s cooling now and will go in the fridge over night. I can’t wait to taste it! The limes were the best from my friends trees. I’ve been using your limeade recipe for a few weeks now. Everyone loves the limeade! So hopefully the pie will be just as good!

    1. Evablue,
      It is fine if you don’t use a springform pan. I don’t pre-bake my graham cracker crust for this pie so you did the right thing. Hope you love this pie. Glad you like the limeade recipe. Let me know how you like the pie.!

  6. 5 stars
    We loved this pie! The revisions you made are terrific. This will now be my go-to key lime pie recipe. Thank you.

  7. Hi Robyn,

    I love your recipes! This morning I tried to whip up this key lime pie and I struggled with folding in the egg whites. I’m certain that this comes down to my lack of experience. My question for you is: Is it possible to over beat the egg whites? They seemed too stiff and when I tried to fold them into the egg yolk mixture, it broke up into a curdled-looking mixture and didn’t seem to blend in well. Before folding in the egg whites, they were firm but not light and airy, they were rather dense looking.

    Thanks for your delicious recipes! I look forward to trying this one again!

    1. Hi Soulee,
      I’m so happy that you enjoy the recipes! I love hearing that!
      I’m sorry, but it does sound possible that your whites might have been over beaten – especially since you say they were firm and dense looking.
      I hope you enjoy this pie if you decide to give it another try.
      Thanks so much! xo

  8. I have the question others asked. Although first, what did you make the pie in, pie pan or springform?? And if springform, what size? Looks delicious; want to try it and would rather make in the springform I think…

    1. Hi Charlotte,
      I used a pie plate for mine. You can use a springform pan, if you prefer. I hope that helps! xo