Florida - Key Lime Pie

Florida - Key Lime Pie 

Here she is - one of the desserts that inspired me to start Sweet State of Mine - it's quintessentially Florida - Key Lime Pie!  

The exact history of this tart treat isn't known, but it's thought to have originated in the late 19th Century in the Florida Keys where tiny key limes were abundant.  The short ingredient list and refreshing qualities of this pie must be the reason it has grown in popularity not only in Florida, but throughout the US.  

Today, you would be hard pressed to find a restaurant in Florida that doesn't have Key Lime Pie (in some way, shape or form) on their menu.  You can find Key Lime Cheesecake, chocolate dipped Key Lime Pie, Key Lime Cooler cookies... the list goes on and on!  I'm sure all of those are yummy, but for this post we are keeping it authentic and traditional! 

Before we go further, I just have to say, Key Lime Pie is not green! If you are looking to make a green dessert (which is great, I love green things too), check out my post for California - Avocado Pie.  Just please resist the temptation to put "just a drop" of green food coloring into this recipe!  

A Lesson on Key Limes

left - Persian Lime; right - Key Lime

Key Limes and your run of the mill, grocery store lime (Persian Lime), are not interchangeable.  Key Limes are a different variety of lime, not just a young, small regular lime.  The flavor of a Key Lime is much tarter and more like a lemon than a lime.  It's really important to use Key Lime juice if you want to make an authentic Key Lime Pie. 

Plus, Key Limes are way cuter! 

I found a bag of Key Limes at The Fresh Market but if you can't find them at your store, you can use bottled juice like Nellie & Joe's Famous Key Lime Juice - but fresh is best.  


for the crust

16 graham crackers (whole sheet), crushed
1 stick butter, melted
3 Tablespoons sugar

  • mix ingredients together and press into a 9" pie plate or tart pan
  • bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 - 12 minutes, until lightly browned
  • place on rack to cool 

for the filling

4 extra large egg yolks
14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh key lime juice 
* It took about 20 key limes for me to get 1/2 cup
2 teaspoons key lime zest

  • Beat egg yolks with mixer until they are thick and turn a light shade of yellow, don't over mix
  • Turn the mixer off and add the sweetened condensed milk
  • Turn speed to low and pour in half of the lime juice
  • Once the juice is incorporated, add the other half of the juice and the zest and mix until incorporated
  • Pour into pie or tart shell and bake at 350 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes until set but center still jiggles
  • Cool and serve topped with whipped cream 

To bake, or not to bake?
There are many no-bake Key Lime Pie recipes that depend solely on a chemical reaction called souring to cook the egg yolks removing any potentially harmful bacteria.  If I had my own chickens or were able to buy them direct from a local farmer, I would feel comfortable not baking my Key Lime Pie.  Unfortunately, this city girl still buys eggs from the store, so I chose to bake my pie to remove any uncertainty about bacteria and to ensure the filling set properly.  

You just can't go wrong with Key Lime Pie - especially during the Summer months!  This recipe is a classic and always delicious!  

Hope you enjoy this sunny dessert from the Sunshine State!



  1. Mmmmm,we love key lime pie! San and I fought over the last bite. It was very refreshing and the zest made it so flavorful - yumm!!

  2. Beautiful! Can't wait to try the recipe. Can you tell me about the pie pan you used to make that pretty crust?

    1. Thank you Debz! I used a 9 inch fluted tart pan (with a removable bottom). Hope you enjoy making and eating this recipe!