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Key Lime Pie

Hi! I need to make a key lime pie this weekend to bring over to a dinner party. Can anybody provide a really great favorite recipe? Thanks in advance!

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  1. Which camp are you in? Pastry crust or graham cracker crust? Meringue topping, whipped cream, or no topping? Wars have been fought over lesser issues.

    Seriously, though, I feel that the easiest way is to follow the recipe on the Nellie & Joe's bottle. Most recipes are minor variations on the egg yolk, lime juice, and condensed milk theme. If you can find fresh key limes and have the patience to juice those little buggers, more power to you. I won't look down my nose at the bottled juice.

    Btw, I prefer graham crust and a meringue (for which I use a blowtorch to color it evenly.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rockycat

      haha i'm definitely in the graham cracker crust and in terms of topping, i was thinking no topping and whipped cream on the side maybe?

      1. re: rockycat

        The recipe on the bottle is how jfood goes with the following modifications:

        - He makes a double batch. it fill the crust to the top which jfood likes
        - He uses 5 egg yolks and one whole egg. The white from one egg (it was a mistake at one point) adds a really nice lightness to the filling
        - He uses the graham cracker version

        And he likes whipped cream over meringue.

      2. Here's the recipe I use. It doesn't use the pre-sweetened key lime juice and it calls for separating the eggs and folding in stiff egg whites. I find it lighter but delicious.

        3 eggs, separated
        1 14-ounce can condensed milk
        1 tablespoon grated lime zest
        1/2 cup lime juice
        Dash of salt
        1 9-inch homemade graham cracker crust

        Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

        In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks well. Add condensed milk, lime zest, lime juice and salt. Mix well.

        In another bowl, beat whites into stiff peaks. Fold into lime mixture.

        Pour into pie shell and bake just to set, about 10 to 15 minutes.

        Serve chilled with whipped cream on the side.

        1. I'm so glad this topic came up! I've promised a co-worker that I'd make him a key lime pie for his birthday next month, but as I am not (yet) a key lime connoisseur, I wasn't quite sure where to start.
          Rockycat, do you have this 'Nellie and Joe's' recipe?

          2 Replies
          1. re: froddard

            That's just the brand of bottled key lime juice that I find most easily available. It's NOT presweetend. You might be thinking of Rose's Lime Juice and, having once worked for that company, I can tell you don't use it in your kitchen at all.

            There are a bunch of recipes on thier website.

            Oddly enough, I couldn't find the one from the bottle on their site. This is the recipe, though.

            1 9" Graham Cracker pie crust
            1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
            3 egg yolks
            1/2 cup Nellie & Joe's Key Lime Juice

            Combine condensed milk, egg yolks and lime juice. Blend until smooth. Pour into pie crust and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before refrigerating. Just before serving, top with fresh whipped cream and garnish with lime slices.

            I really hate wasting the egg white, though, so I make a meringue out of them to top the pie.

            I have to admit, the key lime pie at Joes' Stone Crab is one of the best I've ever had. It looks like the only real difference, though, is the amount of lime juice used in the filling. Can't argue with that.

            1. re: rockycat

              Just a ditto for the recipe on the N&J bottle. I've always made this one, and it's great. I don't make a topping, however, I just use the whites in an omelet for b'fast the next morning.

              I make the crust in the food processor with graham crackers and butter.

          2. Try to get Mexican limes if you can from a Latino market. They're smaller, an uneven colored, but the same as Key limes I understand.

            The Bearr's Seedless limes in the chain supermarkets (big kelly-green ones) don't have the same unique flavor.

            1. Just, whatever you do, don't egg whites IN the pie if you want it to be authentic. They don't even belong on top of the pie either -- but some people insist.

              Here's the recipe for one of the most raved about Key Lime Pies:


              1. IMO, the recipe in Barenbaum's Pie and Pastry Bible is perfect (you can option the meringue). Though I prefer a tart crust over graham cracker...

                10 Replies
                1. re: Procrastibaker

                  the pastry crust is traditional and authentic -- from native floridian.

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Floridians make it either way and have for years.. even the 1960's or 70's (it has no copyright) "Flavor it Florida" little cookbook from the Miami News (they are long gone) I have instructs you to use either a graham cracker or pastry crust.

                    1. re: karmalaw

                      ok, let me amend: pastry crust is original key lime pie crust. of course, i know this from my family history. you may be happier relying on the sources cited here. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/ind...
                      we still make it with a pastry crust. imo, better texture, focus is on filling, and not that sweet. no meringue, either. that's for lemon pies!

                      1. re: alkapal

                        In South Florida we made it with graham cracker crust and topped with meringue. That's how it was taught in Jr. High home economics (in the 1960's and earlier).

                        There's no way whipped cream would have been traditional. I think the recipe on the condensed milk can was what most people used and it probably had the graham crust. I don't remember ever having it with a regular crust, even in the Keys.

                        However if you're making it ahead I wouldn't use the meringue topping.

                        1. re: mlgb

                          not to beat a dead horse, but i don't think at the turn of the last century graham cracker crusts were the thing.....

                          1. re: alkapal

                            I think as soon as graham cracker became commonly available, they quickly overtook pastry crust as the preferred recipe. Probably been that way for the last 50 years.

                            1. re: mlgb

                              maybe so, but the pies have been around longer than 50 years, and i did specify "original." nothing against graham cracker crusts -- i was just trying to be informative about food history.

                              1. re: alkapal

                                It was also a practice to make a no-bake version, so graham cracker crusts were part of that recipe.

                                Pastry may have been "original" but graham cracker is certainly authentic.

                                Horse is now dead.

                            2. re: alkapal

                              The Graham Cracker itself was first created in 1822:


                              I'm not sure it took 100 years for someone to create a crust out of it...

                              1. re: karmalaw

                                If you've ever tried to make regular pie crust in 90 degree heat and humidity, you'd understand why graham cracker crusts were popular.

                                Of course there was always Crisco.

                                Home a/c was not at all common. We didn't even have a car with an a/c when I was growing up.

                                BTW, susan's recipe is pretty much right on. You can play around slightly with the amount of lime juice, eggs, and zest (although 4 tsp sounds like a lot of work if you're using key limes). Wonder if there's a recipe on the current Borden's can.

                  2. My fave is from Cooks Illustrated: The gist of it is a graham cracker crust (any recipe is fine). Then mix together 4 tsp. lime zest, 1/2 cup lime juice (fresh, even if not from key limes), 4 yolks and 1 can sweetened condensed milk. This goes into the cooked crust and bakes 15 mins. at 325 until just set. I find, like you, that a little cream garnish does the trick!


                    3 Replies
                      1. re: mlgb

                        i think you meant to post this over on the blender thread.

                    1. thanks for all the responses! ended up making a graham crust and then what seems to be the basic recipe (1 can sweetened condensed milk, 4 yolks, 1/2 key lime juice), bake for 12 mins) for the filing as well as some fresh whipped cream. used the left over egg whites for a cheese and pesto omlette this morning!

                      1. Weighing in late as usual but my favorite recipe is from Bon Appetit (not on epicurious.com). It's not at all traditional, uses granola in the crust and has a cold cream cheese layer on top but it's the best.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: chowser

                          wow that looks amazing! i'll definitely print that out and keep it for next time!

                        2. I just had a great Key Lime Pie at Bahama Breeze a few weeks ago... it had a meringue topping (a first for me... always had whipped cream before) and a brown sugar crust... I thought it was wonderful.. and definitely put me in the meringue over whipped cream camp for good.

                          1. Not to be a jerk, but the Persian limes will make a nice Key Lime Pie if you don't want to juice all those tiny little buggers. Some, if not all, of the bottled Key lime juices have a preservative in them that is quite noticeable.

                            I have a preference for pastry with this pie. Even with cheesecake I find myself scraping off that sandy, bitter, awful-tasting, grainy graham cracker stuff. As far as the topping, a nude pie is the way to go for me. Foam, whether egg-based or dairy-based is a good way to ruin it. But of course all of this is a matter of preference. I am an ass about eating, if you didn't notice. ;-)

                            I grew up in Louisiana and lived in Mississippi, and you wouldn't believe the amount of "food-coloring pie" I saw. The stuff was GREEN!!! Gelatin, green food coloring, and god-knows-what was added to these wretched concoctions. You Florida cats would have died!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mldubose

                              My mother, who was otherwise an outstanding baker, made a neon green Key Lime Pie whose main ingredient was some commercial pudding mix. And this from a woman who made strudel leaves from scratch. The first time I made my own Key Lime pie I was amazed to see the yellow color. Lime juice? Yellow? What the...? We lived in VA then. Maybe it's a Southern thing.

                            2. Over spring vacation my husband and I had the best key lime pie I've ever tasted at Uncle Bubba's Oyster and Seafood Restaurant just outside of Savannah, GA. One of the things that made this pie distinctive was the crust which was your basic graham cracker crust, but with almonds added. I bought the cookbook just for the pie recipe. Let me know if you'd like it (and the pie was topped with whipped cream, not meringue).

                              1. I saw some key limes at the store and bought them on a whim, with the intent to make a key lime pie. When I got home, I found this thread and did some research. But I have one kind of random question: how do you juice those key limes? They are way too small to be juiced on my normal juicer... spoon? screwdriver?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: oryza

                                  If you don't want to dash out and buy a Mexican lime juicer try a fork or corn-on-the-cob holder. Room temp limes and kneading them on the counter top first helps too.

                                  1. re: petradish

                                    yep, roll, roll, roll hard with the fleshy part of the lower thumb (don't know the term).. really squish them!