Key Lime Pie

There is something so perfect about this Key Lime Pie with Whipped Cream and Lime Zest; especially if you are a lime lover like I am. This pie makes the perfect addition to your Summer Barbecue plans; easy, fresh, and so delicious!

Key Lime Pie with Whipped Cream and Lime Zest in a Table Setting

I think the first question asked of me when I mentioned I was going to make this Key LIme Pie was, “What exactly are Key limes and how are they different from ‘regular’ or Persian limes?” I was going to take a photo and show you but ahem, I misplaced the limes I had planned to use for the photo.

I found them this weekend in the laundry room; oh snap…yes I did go to change out the laundry on the way to my studio and put them on a shelf and  forgot them so, well, the rest is history. Hard as a rock and no longer photogenic so I’ve borrowed am image from someone else!

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Persian Limes vs Key Limes
Photo by Vicki Wasik for Serious Eats

First and foremost, the original Key lime trees were decimated by a hurricane in the Florida Keys in 1926 and as the islands recovered, people resorted to planting the sturdier Persian limes most of us know.

Some people might be lucky enough to have a real Key lime tree in their backyard but for the most part, if you want to make a Key LIme Pie the limes now labeled as Key limes that you find at the local grocery have come from either California or Mexico and are often rock hard.

Not surprising, because they are so small, I’ve found that when I do decide to use them that I had better be ready to juice them that day; they dry out very quickly. And juicing is slow and tedious.

I use an electric juicer and that little baby lime just barely fits around the part that is supposed to burrow into the flesh of the fruit. It took about thirty of those little buggars to get the amount of juice I needed!

To be honest? Don’t be like Barb; I wanted to do it and now that I have I’m going to recommend you use the standard grocery store variety Persian limes to make this Key LIme Pie. I don’t think the difference supports the need to find them and spend so much time juicing them; if there is any difference at all.

Also don’t expect the green you might have seen in prepared pies. Lime juice is not green without food coloring; I kept this Key Lime Pie au natural and then garnished it with a bit of green. Much better!

Supposedly Key limes are a bit sweeter than Persian limes and you might be tempted to balance that change with more sugar. I find the difference so minimal and I personally love the tartness so do a quick taste test of the filling before deciding if more sugar is necessary.

I subbed out a bit of the lime juice for lemon juice though; that mixture works beautifully for my favorite Fresh Margarita so I went the same direction and this pie was absolutely fabulous.

Key Lime Pie with Whipped Cream and Lime Zest Slice Served on a Plate

There are some Key lime pie afficionados in Florida who insist that meringue is the only topping for a Key lime pie but considering the history of the pie, I have a difficult time believing that someone hand whipped a meringue in the middle of a humid summer and had much success.

Besides, I prefer the balance of cool whipped cream with a hint of zest for garnish.

My neighbor Casey wasn’t feeling well the other day; he has a history of  killer migraines and he was recuperating from one. I had called his house in search of a lime; I thought I had saved one for garnish but apparently not and while Amy said there were no limes in the house, she did mention that Casey just loved Key Lime Pie.

I’m hoping the pieces I sent over when it was completed were what he needed to feel better. I had wrenched my back the day before and I know I was going to use that excuse for devouring two slices myself!

This Key Lime Pie with Whipped Cream and Lime Zest is the perfect Summer Barbecue Dessert; watch it disappear!

PIN IT! ‘Key Lime Pie with Whipped Cream and Lime Zest’

Key Lime Pie with Whipped Cream Garnished with Lime Zest
Slice of Key Lime Pie with Whipped Cream Garnished with Lime Zest

Key Lime Pie with Whipped Cream and Lime Zest

Key Lime Pie is made in a graham cracker crust and garnished with whipped cream and lime zest; the perfect summer pie!
4.82 from 50 or more votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Wait Time 1 minute
Total Time 41 minutes
Course Pastry and Pie
Cuisine American
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 466 kcal


For the crust

  • 11 rectangular graham crackers
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter melted

For the Filling

  • 14 ounces can sweetened condensed milk One can
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoons key lime zest
  • ½ cup fresh key lime juice or regular lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice fresh

For the topping

  • 1 cup heavy cream chilled
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar


  • Lime zest


Make the Crust

  • Place rack in the center of oven and preheat to 350°F.
  • Pulse graham crackers, sugar, and salt in a food processor until fine crumbs form. With the motor running, drizzle in melted butter and process until well-combined. Transfer mixture to pie pan and press into bottom and up sides with a flat-bottomed measuring cup.
  • Bake crust until golden brown and set, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

Make the Filling

  • Whisk condensed milk and yolks together in a large bowl. Add lime and lemon juices and whisk until well-combined (mixture will thicken slightly).
  • Pour filling into crust and bake until center is just set, about 15 minutes. Transfer pie to a wire rack and let cool completely (filling will set as it cools), about 1 hour. Transfer to refrigerator and chill until cold, at least 1 hour.

Make the Whipped Cream

  • When ready to serve, whip cream with a whisk or electric mixer to very soft peaks. Sprinkle powdered sugar over cream and continue whipping until it holds stiff peaks.
  • Dollop or pipe whipped cream around edges and garnish with lime zest.


Pie (without whipped cream topping) can be made, loosely covered, and chilled for up to 2 days.


Nutrition Facts
Key Lime Pie with Whipped Cream and Lime Zest
Serving Size
1 Serving
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword dessert, fruit, key lime, pie
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Progressive Eats

Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. Each recipe in our menu this month features foods for a Summer Barbecue. This month it’s my turn to host Progressive Eats and I decided to make it all about foods for a Summer Barbecue; in this list there is bound to be something for everyone. Several somethings as a matter of fact!

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it’s a virtual party. A theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the delicious summer dishes!

A Summer Barbecue!

Cocktails & Other Beverages



Main Courses


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  1. I adore key lime pie Barb. But I have to admit that after the first time I used key limes (and had that same frustrating experience that you did, trying to juice them), I resorted to “regular” limes with a bit of lemon juice on occasion and I’ve never looked back. No matter which limes you use, this recipe – just about the same as the one I’ve been making for years – is fabulous. I’m all for sitting on your deck, nibbling pie and drinking whatever you set in front of me:)

    1. They have a romantic notion don’t they that isn’t realized in practicality. We could have Key lime pie and margaritas, both great examples of combining their pucker power!

  2. This looks amazing, Barb! Key lime pie is one of my favorites and it’s so perfect for summer! I’m not much of a baker but this looks easy enough even for me to make!

  3. Oh my goodness this pie is gorgeous! So sorry about your missing limes, and I hope your neighbor enjoyed his slice! Thanks for all of the info regarding key limes!

    1. It was just one of those things…when I walked into the laundry room several days later, there was that poor dried out little lime! I didn’t know until after I made it that it was one of Casey’s favorites and trust me he got half a pie. He works as a game warden and is trim as can be; I’m always trying to fatten him up and save me from having the same thing happen. 🙂

  4. Oh, I adore key lime pie! And I agree that whipped cream is the best choice for it. When we go to Orange Beach, AL every February my Dad always has to pick up some key lime pie. I don’t know why I’ve never just made it for him. Going to try your recipe!

    1. I hope you do; amazingly easy and so good it’s a good thing I have what I call ‘eaters’ that live near me. Else I would have eaten the whole thing. 🙂

  5. My favorite pie! When we lived in Florida we tried to grow a Key lime tree, but just couldn’t — too cold in Tampa, where we lived. So we usually used Persian limes, too. If you really want to use Key limes, just use the bottled juice — MUCH easier. And we usually saw whipped cream toppings on pies there, too — although definitely saw some meringue ones. Anyway, this looks terrific. Thanks!

    1. It was just one of those things I wanted to do and well, learned it was not all it was cracked up to be. Lesson learned. I’ll use the Persian limes for sure; I think it’s the touch of lemon that really made it a standout; something about blending the two seems to be my preference for desserts and drinks. 🙂

    1. I love that something so easy to make with everyday ingredients can be so delicious. I also love I have people to give some too; else I fear I would have had slices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! I just need your delish burger Jane! 🙂

    1. I hadn’t made one in a long time and now wondering why because they’re are so simple and everyone loves them…I’m sure your guests will too!

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