TRADITIONAL Key Lime Pie recipe

A 5th generation Florida native teaches you how to make the ultimate Florida dessert -Traditional Key Lime Pie- with an extra posh twist of fresh ginger and a gingersnap coconut crust.

a lime pie with whipped cream and daffodils

This is it.

As a 5th generation Florida native, I have made key lime pie more times than I can remember. Well over 100 pies. More? Probably.

It is my all time favorite dessert. The ultimate. The best. The Classic Key Lime Pie- Throw out all other recipes.

I’ve made this pie so sour it’ll turn your face inside out, but the crust so sweet and simple, you’ll want to make this pie over and over and over again.

ingredients for pie crust

Ingredients in Traditional Key Lime Pie:

fresh ingredients:

  • key limes & Persian limes ( for garnish)
  • large fresh eggs
  • ginger
  • heavy whipping cream
  • unsalted butter

pantry ingredients:

  • graham crackers
  • gingersnap cookies
  • sweetened flaked coconut
  • sweetened condensed milk
  • sugar, kosher salt
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • vanilla paste or extract
a cutting board filling with key limes sliced in half

How to Make a Traditional Key Lime Pie:

The crust:

I took a page from the Tampa Junior League cookbook, Tampa Treasures, and added gingersnaps to the graham cracker crust. Then I added in sweetened coconut to give the crust a bite “chew”. Toss it all in a food processor with melted butter and a dash of salt for a fine crumb, press it into a pie plate and bake for a couple of minutes. Easy. You want the coconut to be finely chopped into the crust.

Don’t have a food processor. Chopped the heck out of the coconut and place everything in a heavy plastic zip top bag or plastic liner form a cereal box (go green!). Pound it with a rolling pin until you have fine crumbs.

A perfectly baked crust with gingersnaps, coconut and graham crackers

The filling:

The biggest headache to this recipe is juicing the tiny Key Limes, which by the way are imported from Mexico. If you have an electric juicer, and you should, it takes maybe 8 minutes to juice a bag of limes. My Oster juicer is 34 years old- wedding present- and still works like a charm. Add to the juice, fresh grated ginger, a can of sweetened condensed milk and four egg yolks. mix well to incorporate all the ingredients.

Pour the lime filling into the cooled pie shell and bake for 5-10 minutes- or until the pie is just set. This is really to ensure the egg yolks do not give you food poising, but honestly, the lime juice cooks them- similar to a ceviche.

Pro tip:

Cool the pie on a wire rack for 15 minutes and then chill for at least 4 hours. The longer you chill the pie, the more intense the citrus flavors develop. Pipe on luscious whipped cream just before serving and call everyone to the table. The “oooh’s and ahhh’s” you will receive will life your spirits for days. Then go out and run a couple of miles to burn off the calorie count.

a bowl with egg yolks

Equipment needed for Classic Key Lime Pie:

  • Juicer- I’ve had this model for 34 years. It’s not fancy, but it does the trick
  • Food Processor- buy my favorite HERE
  • Stand mixer
  • Mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons
  • 9″ pie plate- buy my favorite HERE
  • Pie server
  • Microplane for grating limes and ginger
  • Optional piping tips for decorating the pie: Ateco 849 and Wilton 1M. Purchase HERE.

a Key Lime Pie on a rack
The pie is just set and will cool completely before serving at least 4 hours

Common questions about Key Lime Pie:

Can I use regular limes for Key Lime Pie?

Yes, but Key Limes, mostly grown in Mexico now, are slightly more floral and sour tasting than the standard grocery store Persian limes. Seek out the key limes if you can- ask your produce manager when they are in stock. Juice and freeze the juice for making more pies when the limes are out of season. Make certainty limes you buy are heavy and loaded with lots of juice.

If I don’t like coconut, can I omit it from the crust?

Yes- it adds a wonderful scent and flavor, but omit it if you don’t love coconut. The food processor grinds it up very fine, so you hardly notice it.

Can I use whole eggs- I hate to waste the whites?

You only want egg yolks to set up the filling. Save you egg yolks for a meringue topping or make a pavlova out of them for a later dessert. Egg whites are also fantastic in whiskey sours as a foamy luscious topping.

How to I store leftovers?

This pie will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Can I use lemons?

Well, it’ll be more like my Atlantic Beach Pie and not really a key lime pie. But- yes, lemon juice would make a very nice pie.

Can I use Cool Whip for the topping?

Please for the love of all that is holy do not put Cool Whip or that stuff in the can on this beautiful pie.

A Key Lime Pie with whipped cream piped on the edges
two piping tips provide this stunning pie a finished look worthy of a bakery case

Other Citrus treats to try:

a lime pie with whipped cream and daffodils

Authentic Key Lime Pie Recipe

This classic recipe (made by a 3rd generation native Floridian) for Key Lime Pie has an updated crust made with graham crackers, gingersnaps and coconut for a posh heavenly dessert that will impress your guests and family.
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Course: Florida Kitchen, Sweet Tooth
Cuisine: American
Keyword: key lime pie
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 396kcal

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1 cup Sweetened Flaked Coconut
  • 6 Sheets Graham Crackers
  • 12 Gingersnap Cookies
  • 6 TBSP Unsalted Butter, melted
  • ½ tsp Kosher Salt

For the Filing

  • ½ cup Fresh Key Lime Juice
  • 2 TBSP Fresh Key Lime Juice
  • 14 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 4 Large Egg Yolks
  • 1 tsp Fresh Ginger , grated- heaping tsp

For the Topping

  • ½ cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 TBSP Confectioner’s Sugar
  • ¼ tsp Vanilla paste
  • 2 tsp grated lime peel or zest

Instructions

  • Pre heat oven to 350 degrees, F
  • In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the coconut, graham crackers and gingersnaps until they resemble coarse sand. Pour in the melted butter and salt. Pulse again until the mixture resembles wet sand. Using the back of a measuring cup, press the crumb mixture into a 9″ pie plate and up the sides until the crust is smooth and evenly distributed. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, condensed milk, ginger and lime juice until thick and smooth. Pour into the cooled pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Once cooled, cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Once the pie is cooled, prepare the whipped cream topping. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla paste on medium low for 1 minute. Increase the speed to high. Whip until thick. With a scraper, spoon the whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with an Ateco 849 tip and another bag with a Wilton 1M tip. Pipe decorative florets onto the chilled pie. Garnish with sliced lime or lime zest. Serve chilled.
    A Key Lime Pie with whipped cream piped on the edges

Notes

  • Tips:
  • If you do not have a piping bag or tips, simply spoon the whipped cream into a zip top bag, cut the bottom corner off and pipe the cream onto the pie.
  • Do not overbake the crust. Cover the crust with foil while the pie is baking if It’s looking too dark.
  • Persian limes re commonly sold at grocery stores. Key Limes are often sold during the winter and early spring. Persian limes are fine to use, but Key Limes offer a more floral and fragrant taste. they are more sour.
  • Store the pie in the fridge up to 4 days. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  • If you do not have vanilla paste, substitute vanilla extract.
  • If you do not have fresh ginger, do not substitute with powdered ginger. It will muddle the flavor.
  • Nutrition

    Calories: 396kcal

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    2 Comments

    1. Kelly Davis says:

      6 sheets of graham crackers for the ginger graham crust? How many crackers is that or at best, how many cups of crumbs?

      1. 6 sheets of crackers and the gingersnaps makes about 1 1/2 cups of crumbs. I typically get about 1 cup of graham crackers to 1/2 cup of gingersnaps. Hope you enjoy this recipe. Let it set up the full four hours or even better- overnight.