This is the perfect key lime pie! Tart and sweet, smooth and creamy, it brings me back to Key West every time.
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Summer is ending.
All the back to school stuff is in full effect here, which is funny because I swear summer just started for these kids! Greyson is still too young to go to school, he’s turning four in October, but I know that soon I’ll be shopping these sales and getting him supplies and packing him a lunch box full of goodies like french dip sandwiches and baking goodies for his classes and bake sales…
So instead of thinking about it, I buried myself into baking and whipped up something that reminded me of summer vacations to kick me back into some summertime goodness: good ole key lime pie. If you’ve been following Sweet Tea & Thyme for a bit, y’all know that I lived in Miami as a teen and now live here once again, and key lime pie is as common here as pastelitos de guayaba (guava pastries. Insanely good!)
In fact, it’s Florida’s state pie, officially!
But the best key lime pies I’ve had was from this little store which, if I recall correctly, was also this family’s house in Key West. My parents and I took the drive down, all the way down, to the bottom of the Keys and would rent this little townhouse-like suite at the Duval House, right next to a drag queen cabaret and across the street from a french cafe and down the street from the beach.
And in a white house, right on the beach, this family would have people coming in and out of their kitchen, people including us, buying pies and other goodies. And my mother would stack up on these key lime pies to bring to Miami and stick in the deep freezer to save til the next vacation.
This recipe tastes exactly like those pies.
Shockingly enough, you don’t have to use key lime juice in key lime pie. I mean, it IS key lime pie but most people across the country cannot find key limes or even the bottled juice. Regular lime juice is fine, bottled is okay but fresh is preferred. It takes about 5 limes or so to get the pie to a punchy tartness.
And authentically, you could whip up a meringue buuuut I just think homemade whipped cream is better. Everyone likes whipped cream, and the homemade stuff on your pie says, “I put in a ton of effort and I totally did a ton of work.” Even though it barely took any effort at all.
Just look at this pie! You can’t tell me it doesn’t look like I hand dolloped some fresh whipped cream by hand on it.
That’s because I did. I wanted a rustic, homemade look. But a piping bag with a nice star tip will totally give you that pro look if you’re looking for it.
You would think a pie like this would be temperamental, hard to make, full of crazy ingredients even, but no it’s extremely easy! From the graham cracker crust to the whipped cream topping, it’s put together and set to chill in the freezer in about an hour with the easiest ingredients! If you want it to be even quicker you can use store-bought crust and just whip up the filling and bake for 15 minutes and set to chill out. I mean, could it be any easier?
The thing that takes key lime pie above other citrus pies like lemon meringue (though I LOVE lemon meringue, too!) is the fact that it has condensed milk. We use condensed milk in so many things around here from homemade coffee creamer, Thai iced tea, and dulce de leche, Brian will even eat it outright because it’s literally like a can of gold. It brings all the sweetness needed in your key lime pie without overpowering the tart goodness of the limes juice or making the pie sickly sweet.
I say make some pie anytime you are feeling blue, I know I made this plenty of times even in the winter to bring some brightness into my kitchen.
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Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 1/2 cups graham crackers, finely ground
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 2/3 cup key lime or regular lime juice
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
Whipped Cream Topping
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- With a spatula in a medium mixing bowl, mix together the butter, sugar, and finely ground graham crackers. Mix well until the mixture is the texture of coarse sand and sticks together when pressed. Press crumbs evenly into the bottom of a 9-inch pie dish and up the sides. Use a ramekin or heavy measuring cup to press the crumbs into an even crust. Bake crust for ten to thirteen minutes, then take out and let cool. Leave oven on.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks until pale in color; add condensed milk and salt, then whisk together well. Add lime juice and whisk again until well-incorporated.
- Pour over crust in pie dish and bake for 15 minutes, do not let brown. Let pie cool for 30 minutes at room temperature, then let chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
Make whipped cream:
- In a large mixing bowl and with an electric mixer, whip cream until it just begins to look like it's no longer completely liquid, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and continue beating the cream for another minute. Once cream is at soft peaks, add vanilla extract, then whip until the cream is stiff and completely whipped up.
- Once set after at least 3 hours, pull pie out of fridge and dollop whipped cream around the edges of the pie (and wherever else on the pie you want it). Serve.
- This key lime pie lasts for a week in the fridge.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 329
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Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.