This easy key lime pie recipe only calls for 3 ingredients for the filling and 2 ingredients for the crust! So simple and the filling requires no baking!
Mr. BB and I just got back from a week long trip along the East Coast. Our last stop during the trip was in Florida to visit his parents. I knew I had to have at least one piece of Key Lime Pie while I was there. It is one of my all time favorite desserts, but one of those that I often forget about. It just isn’t something you often see on the menu in other parts of the country.
So when it was on the dessert menu at our first meal out, I had to order it. I have eaten quite a few key lime pies, but this was by far the best I have ever tasted. The texture was insanely creamy. There was a perfect amount of crust (i love a little bit of a thicker crust) and the limey tartness was spot on. I totally could have downed a second piece. But I controlled myself 🙂
The description on the menu stated that the filling only used 3 ingredients: sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice, and pasteurized egg yolks. I was stunned. How could only these three things make something so incredible?! So I set out to recreate it. After reading a lot of recipes I landed on one that I felt might be the closest.
A lot of recipes called for much more than these 3 ingredients. And quite a few of them called for these 3 ingredients but they were baked. I am pretty certain that this pie I tried was not baked because they made a point of saying that the egg yolks were pasteurized. That makes me think that they were for sure raw.
I also read through a lot of history of key lime pie. Most people think that it originated in the Key’s around 1856 when fresh milk was not available and canned milk was the new thing.
There are a few things that key lime purists agree about. The filling must be made with sweetened condensed milk. The pie must also be pale yellow in color. A green key lime pie, is not authentic and probably has food coloring in it. And obviously, the juice must be specifically from key limes.
The original pie probably didn’t have a crust, but that is the main argument about classic key lime pie today. Graham cracker or short crust? I prefer graham cracker with this kind of pie. It just feels right to me.
There is also a debate about meringue vs whipped cream vs nothing on top. The one I had didn’t have a topping and it was awesome as is. But I prefer just a tiny bit of real whipped cream to balance the tartness.
Ok, ok, ok, let’s talk about the raw egg thing. I know no matter what I say there will be people who comment and tell me that they will never eat raw eggs.
I get those comments all the time on my french silk pie post, even with my disclaimer. Like I’m trying to shove french silk pie in your mouth or something-Actually, can you just go ahead and shove your serving in my mouth if you don’t want it?!
But I will go ahead and give the speech anyway. Eggs have a very minimal risk of getting you sick, but that risk is at it’s highest when raw. So if you are pregnant or have a weak immune system, you should be cautious about raw eggs. You can buy pasteurized eggs in the shell if you want to reduce this risk! Pasteurized eggs have basically been heated to the point where bacteria is killed but it keeps the egg raw.
The other point that can help put your mind at ease here is that this recipe calls for a large amount of lime juice which is extremely acidic. The acidity will kill most bacteria but it also serves to thicken the filling. This happens through a process called denaturation. The acidity works on the proteins in the egg yolks and the milk the way heat would causing the filling to thicken.
I love how easy it is to throw together and just pop in the fridge. No baking of the filling is required. That said, if you want to be really sure that it is all thickened and bacteria killed you can bake it. Some say this will alter the flavor of the filling slightly and of course this makes the whole process longer, but by all means, if that is the only way I can get you to make this pie then I approve!
I admit, this pie wasn’t quite as good as the one I had in Florida, but it is pretty darn close! I think it mostly has to do with the fact that I couldn’t find fresh key limes so I used bottled key lime juice. Fresh is always better. So if you can find fresh key limes absolutely go through the trouble of juicing them! If not, the bottled stuff (just be sure it is 100% key lime juice) works well too!
6 hr, 30 Prep Time
6 hr, 30 Total Time
- Heat oven to 375°. Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a bowl, then press into a 9" pie plate. Firmly press the crumbs evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.
- Bake crust for about 9 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow to cool on a wire rack before filling.
- Combine the key lime juice, egg yolks, and condensed milk in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer) and beat on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes until thickened slightly.
- Pour filling into the cooled crust and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
- Pie will hold under refrigeration for up to 4 days.
- Garnish with whipped cream, lime zest, and lime slices if desired.
Recipe adapted from Saveur Magazine
*If you would like to bake this pie, reduce the oven temp to 350F and bake for 15 mins or until small bubbles form on top. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before refrigerating for at least 6 hours.
Products I used for this recipe…
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