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5-Ingredient Key Lime Pie (Make-Ahead)

This Key Lime Pie will be loved by your friends and family, without fail. It’s smooth, creamy, and way easier than it looks. You only need 5 ingredients and it can be made entirely in advance.

best key lime pie recipe
Smooth, creamy key lime pie recipe is an ideal make-ahead dessert.

Video: Watch Us Make This Recipe

Why This Recipe Stands Out

Whether you already love key lime pie or you’re new to this easiest of dessert recipes, put this party recipe on your must-share-with-friends list. Ask a few friends over for a pie night, because this key lime pie is too good to skip.

  • You only need 5 ingredients to make homemade key lime pie. It’s part of our 10 Ingredients or Less Baking collection.
  • If you can’t find actual key limes, no worries. Regular limes will work fine.
  • Key lime pie is not sour-lime tasting; rather, it’s reminiscent of creamy smooth cheesecake with refreshing lime essence.
  • No special equipment is needed; just a hand whisk will do.
  • This easy key lime pie can be made entirely in advance, covered, and chilled until pie night arrives. Your future self will thank you.
best key lime pie with graham cracker crust
This key lime pie tastes like a creamy cheesecake infused with lime; it’s not overly sour at all.

Key Ingredients

  • Use fresh graham cracker crumbs; if the crumbs are stale, it will affect the flavor and not in a delicious way. If you’re short on time, a store-bought graham cracker crust can work, but homemade is always going to taste better.
  • Use only freshly squeezed lime juice, as there are only 3 filling ingredients and the limes are key. Lime zest adds to the citrus flavor and is a beautiful garnish.
  • Try our super easy homemade whipped cream, which is decidedly better than store bought whipped cream.

Substitutions and Variations

  • If you’re crunched for time, you can use a store-bought graham cracker crust, though any homemade crust will always taste better.
  • You can also use a shortbread crust like the one we use in our lemon bars recipe.
  • If you cannot find key limes, it’s perfectly fine to use regular limes.
  • You can try using half lemon/half lime for a lemon-lime pie.
  • Try toasted coconut flakes as a garnish on top, if you love coconut.
  • Add a bit of lemon or lime extract to your whipped cream, for an extra citrus boost.

Key Steps

Step 1: Thoroughly combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter until it can hold together. Press evenly and firmly into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Using a flat-bottom cup can help press firmly.

Step 2: Combine sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and egg yolks in a bowl and hand-whisk until mixture is fully incorporated.

Step 3: Gently pour filling into baked crust, using rubber spatula to even out the filling.

Step 4: Bake 20-23 minutes or until center is set. Cool pie completely on wire rack before chilling.

Step 5: Pour cold heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar into cold bowl, and whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.

Step 6: Transfer whipped cream into a piping bag or frosting tool. Pipe whipped cream along edges and center of pie. Keep pie covered and chilled.

For complete list of ingredients and instructions, see recipe card below.

Lime Pie with Icing All Around
Top your key lime pie with stabilized whipped cream, which holds its shape and won’t become runny.

Homemade Whipped Cream

If you want to elevate your key lime pie recipe, just whip together some heavy whipping cream and sugar for the most fluffy-good homemade whipped cream. My favorite way to ensure whipped cream withstands sitting out is to stabilize the whipped cream

Definitely make the stabilized whipped cream if your pie will be hanging out at room temp for awhile. If you’re keeping the pie chilled and don’t plan to have it sitting out long, you can opt for regular whipped cream.

Prep-Ahead Tips

  • Graham crackers can be crushed up to several days in advance and kept in an airtight Ziplock bag.
  • Squeeze fresh lime juice and zest the limes 1-2 days in advance. Keep them in separate airtight containers in the fridge.
  • Stabilized whipped cream can be made 1-2 days in advance and kept in an airtight container, chilled, until ready to pipe.

More Pie to Eat

  • Fresh Peach Pie with Flaky Butter Crust – if you can get your hands on fresh peaches, this pie is a must-try. Readers tell us it’s the best peach pie they’ve had.
  • Best Banana Cream Pie Recipe – my husband’s grandfather used to make this banana pie, and it’s still the family favorite.
  • Fresh Strawberry Pie Recipe – grab some fresh strawberries and make this super easy pie; you’ll be asked for this one on repeat.
  • Dutch Apple Pie – make this Dutch apple pie with a crispy crumble topping, which your family will simply devour.
  • The Best Chocolate Pie – don’t let this chocolate pie escape with tasting it. It’s for every chocolate lover you know.

Commonly Asked Questions

What are key limes?

Key limes (Mexican or West Indian limes) are smaller, contain more seeds, and can be yellower than typical limes. Key limes also have a higher acidity level and more of a fruity-tart flavor. If you see these little guys at the store, definitely pick some up and make this pie.

Can I use regular limes in place of key limes?

Great question. Key limes tend to be seasonally available, and can be tricky to land upon. Don’t sweat it – if you can’t find key limes, use fresh regular limes. I’ve used regular limes for key lime pie when I’ve needed to use up the limes in my fridge, or when I wanted the brighter green zest.

Can I use bottled lime juice?

Here’s where we have to draw the line a little bit. No matter what, fresh limes are way better than anything from a bottle. Bottled juice won’t give you nearly the same quality of flavor.

Can I freeze key lime pie?

Yes, you can freeze this pie, as it’s a custard-based pie. Wrap it airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator before serving.

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

key lime pie with whipped cream and lime slices

The Best Key Lime Pie Recipe

5 from 35 ratings
Share the best Key Lime Pie with your favorite people. This Key Lime Pie is smooth, creamy, and jaw-dropping delicious. Bonus: You only need 5 ingredients.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Author: Amy Dong

Ingredients  

For Crust

For Filling

  • 20 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • cup freshly squeezed lime juice, plus zest of 4 small limes (or 2 large limes)
  • 4 large egg yolks

Optional Whipped Cream

Instructions

  • Make the Crust: Preheat oven to 350F, with rack on lower-middle position. Thoroughly combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter until it can hold together. Press evenly and firmly into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake 6 minutes, remove from oven (keep oven on) and set aside to cool a bit while you make the filling.
  • Make the Filling: Combine sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and egg yolks in a bowl and hand-whisk until mixture is fully incorporated. Gently pour filling into baked crust, using rubber spatula to even out the filling.
  • Bake 22-23 minutes or until center feels set when lightly touched. Pie will jiggle when lightly shaken, but should have consistency of a set custard. Cool pie completely on wire rack before chilling.
  • Make Whipped Cream: Place the beaters of a hand-mixer and a steel bowl in freezer for a few minutes, to get them really cold.
    Pour cold heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar into cold bowl, and whip until stiff peaks form (some recipes call for soft peaks, but I've found that stiff peaks work best for retaining shape) – don't worry if it seems a little over-whipped. Transfer whipped cream into a piping bag or frosting tool. Pipe whipped cream along edges and center of pie.
    If desired, garnish with lime zest and lime slices.
  • Cover pie (a second pie pan, inverted over the top works great, or use a pie carrier with lid) and chill until ready to serve.

Notes

  • Be sure to use only freshly squeezed lime juice (not bottled juice). Use key limes if they’re available. If not, regular limes will work. 
  • It takes about 13 whole graham cracker sheets to make 1 2/3 cups fine crumbs. I crush graham cracker crumbs by placing whole crackers into a large Ziploc bag, seal it, and roll it out with rolling pin. You can also use a food processor, but be careful not to over-process.
  • To keep your finished key lime pie beautiful, invert a second pie pan over the top of the pie and place it in the fridge. Otherwise, a pie pan with secure lid is best. 
  • If your pie will be sitting out at room temp for a couple of hours during a party or event, I recommend using this stabilized whipped cream recipe to ensure that the whipped cream keeps its shape. That said, this pie is best chilled.
  • Use leftover sweetened condensed milk in Thai Iced Coffee (3-Ingredients).
*If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give a rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ We love hearing from you! 

Nutrition (per serving)

Serving: 1g | Calories: 480kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 179mg | Sodium: 290mg | Potassium: 365mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 46g | Vitamin A: 1036IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 261mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegetarian
Method: Bake

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