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Should I add food coloring to my key lime pie?

I use a Cook's illustrated recipe for key lime pie (actually calls for regular limes instead) and it tastes good but barely has a tinge of green. Is this typical? Basically, whisk lime zest w/ egg yolks before adding condensed milk and lime juice. I've never used food coloring before, but would food coloring make it look better or worse?

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  1. Key lime pies usually have food coloring added to them to make them green. If the color is important to you, food coloring will get you there. I would check the color ratio (blue to yellow) for making green and add it 1-2 drops at a time. Food coloring can go a long way.

    I'm not such a fan of food coloring, so I'd probably just serve the key lime pie as it is.

    1. I expect good key lime pie to be a pale yellow color...the only green ingredient is the zest, which shouldn't be enough to turn the whole thing green.

      4 Replies
      1. re: bex109

        I swear that I didn't eat a decent key lime pie for most of my life. The first good one was served to me in Florida, and was pale yellow. Just look at key limes in the supermarket versus regular limes -- they will help you connect the dots. There is a big difference in the flavor, and a regular lime just doesn't cut it. So, IMO, if you are making a substitution that is so basic to a key lime pie recipe, i.e, regular limes for key limes, the color isn't going to make any difference. The whole pie going to be an imitation at best. It may taste great, but it will be a lime pie, not a key lime pie.

        1. re: RGC1982

          Yeah, I always wondered why CI didn't just call it a Lime pie. IIRC, they did a taste test & they preferred reg limes, but partially because they're easier to zest and juice. Next time though, am gonna try real key limes as I found them for cheap at a local store.

          1. re: pharmnerd

            Isn't CI in Vermont or somewhere far, far, far away from Key Lime Land?

            1. re: MakingSense

              Key limes are often available in Chicago, also bottled key lime juice. If where you live has a Hispanic population, check Latino produce market.

      2. If you want "authentic" do NOT add the food coloring, in my opinion. Moved to SW Florida in 1988; any worthy Key Lime Pie does NOT have coloring added and is pale yellow as others have said, just my 2 cents.

        1. I agree with the posts to leave it alone. Really green Key Lime Pie is off-putting, IMHO. I prefer a lighter shade of naturalness. Good for you for making it! I love Key Lime Pie but I'm too lazy to make it from scratch.

          5 Replies
          1. re: diablo

            Really? Key lime pie is about the easiest dessert to make--my kids do it all the time. Well, if you don't squeeze your own key limes in which case that takes more time/ I agree--no food coloring.

            1. re: chowser

              "Key lime pie is about the easiest dessert to make"

              Yet another testament to my laziness, chowser ;)

              1. re: diablo

                You can do it! Was the first pie I ever made, mainly cuz the recipe was so simple and cheap. If wanna save a few steps, can even buy a store-bought graham cracker crust which isn't half-bad. But, homemade crust (just graham crackers, sugar, butter) is awesome, as you can increase/decrease the amount as you please.

                1. re: pharmnerd

                  I agree that KLP is one of the easiest pies ever to make...also Pecan Pie, to me, is a snap; pumpkin too. My biggest pie challenge is Lemon Meringue; comes out like lemonade pie, curd is always too runny.

                  1. re: Val

                    I had a hard time w/ Pumpkin for some reason, mainly w/ the crust. Willing to try again though.

          2. Good grief, no. It'll make it look worse, too.