Key Lime Pie (with Regular Limes) | Big Kitchen Dreams (2024)

Key lime pie is a timeless dessert for those warm spring and summer months — so light and refreshing, with the perfect balance of sweet and tart. This “key lime” pie is made with regular limes (from your local grocery store), but tastes just as tangy and delicious as the original, and is even easier to make!

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Key Lime Pie (with Regular Limes) | Big Kitchen Dreams (1)

Key lime pie is a fairly simple dessert to make; you only need a few ingredients and no special cooking equipment. However, I will say that my citrus juicer and zester are two of my favorite kitchen tools that have made my life so much easier.

USING “REGULAR” LIMES INSTEAD OF KEY LIMES

Ordinary limes — those you can find in your local grocery store — are actually Persian limes, a cross between a key lime and a lemon.

Though I always try to stick to the traditional when developing recipes, key limes are virtually impossible to find where I live (as I’m sure is the case with those of us who don’t live in Florida). It is also more work to use key limes, as they are often much smaller than regular limes and require a lot of extra zesting and juicing to get the desired quantities.

So, while this recipe is not technically for a “key lime” pie, it is as close to the traditional as you can get — and still incredibly delicious.

HOW TO KNOW WHEN KEY LIME PIE IS DONE

The only thing I wanted to note for this recipe was how to tell when a custard is done baking. This is an important skill to learn, as underbaked custard will be loose and runny, while overbaked custard tends to get eggy.

The secret to a perfectly baked custard is really all about developing an “eye” for what it should look like. You can tell by performing what is called the “jiggle test” — a highly technical term. When gently shaken, the custard should be set around the edges but have a slight jiggle in the center. Remember, custard continues to cook and set even after you remove it from the oven!

USING CREAM CHEESE-STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM

When making desserts with a whipped cream topping, I like to add something to stabilize the cream. In this recipe, I use cream cheese, which not only helps stabilize the whipped cream and prevent it from deflating, but also adds a little bit of that tangy flavor reminiscent of a cheesecake! Just be sure to follow the recipe closely so you don’t end up with lumpy whipped cream!

Key Lime Pie (with Regular Limes) | Big Kitchen Dreams (2)

PREPARING THE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST

Preheat the oven to 350℉.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt.

Pour in the melted butter and, using a fork, mix until the mixture has the texture of a wet sand, with no remaining dry spots.

Using your fingers and the underside of a measuring cup, press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9” pie plate.

Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the crust and set it aside on a wire rack to cool while preparing the filling.

Key Lime Pie (with Regular Limes) | Big Kitchen Dreams (3)
Key Lime Pie (with Regular Limes) | Big Kitchen Dreams (4)

PREPARING THE FILLING

Reduce the oven temperature to 300℉.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and lime zest.

While continuing to whisk, slowly pour in the lime juice until well combined.

Key Lime Pie (with Regular Limes) | Big Kitchen Dreams (5)

Pour the filling into the baked graham cracker crust (it is okay if it is still warm) and level it off with a rubber spatula if necessary.

Key Lime Pie (with Regular Limes) | Big Kitchen Dreams (6)

Bake the pie in the center of the oven for about 25 minutes.

Pro tip: The best way to know when key lime pie is finished baking is to perform the “jiggle test”. Gently shake the pie dish. The outer edges should be set while the middle should jiggle slightly. Remember, it will continue to cook and set when removed from the oven.

Remove the pie from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, place the pie into the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.

Key Lime Pie (with Regular Limes) | Big Kitchen Dreams (7)

PREPARING THE STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM

Using an electric hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until it is completely smooth.

Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until it is silky smooth and has the texture similar to a cream cheese frosting.

Key Lime Pie (with Regular Limes) | Big Kitchen Dreams (8)

With your mixer on a medium-low speed, slowly pour in the heavy whipping cream, about one Tablespoon at a time, to avoid creating any lumps in your whipped cream.

Key Lime Pie (with Regular Limes) | Big Kitchen Dreams (9)

Once the whipping cream is fully incorporated, turn your mixer to a high speed and continue to mix until the whipped cream is at your desired consistency.

Top the pie with the whipped cream and serve chilled.

Key Lime Pie (with Regular Limes) | Big Kitchen Dreams (10)
Key Lime Pie (with Regular Limes) | Big Kitchen Dreams (11)

Key Lime Pie (with Regular Limes)

Key lime pie is a timeless dessert for those warm spring and summer months — so light and refreshing, with the perfect balance of sweet and tart. This “key lime” pie is made with regular limes (from your local grocery store), but tastes just as tangy and delicious as the original, and is even easier to make!

5 from 4 votes

Key Lime Pie (with Regular Limes) | Big Kitchen Dreams (12)

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 20 minutes mins

Cook Time 25 minutes mins

Total Time 45 minutes mins

Servings 1 9″ pie

Category Sweet

Ingredients

For the Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
  • 6 Tbsp (3 ¼ stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling

  • 1 can (14oz; 300mL) sweetened condensed milk
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp lime zest
  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

For the Stabilized Whipped Cream

  • ¼ cup full-fat cream cheese, chilled
  • 2 Tbsp powdered (icing) sugar
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled

Instructions

Preparing the Graham Cracker Crust

  • Preheat oven to 350℉.

  • In a medium-sized bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt.

    1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs

    2 Tbsp granulated sugar

    ¼ tsp kosher salt

  • Pour in melted butter. Using a fork, mix until the mixture has the texture of wet sand, with no remaining dry spots.

    6 Tbsp (3 ¼ stick) unsalted butter, melted

  • Pour the mixture into a 9" pie plate. Using your fingers and the underside of a measuring cup, press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pie plate.

  • Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the crust and set it aside on a wire rack to cool while preparing the filling.

Preparing the Filling

  • Reduce oven temperature to 300℉.

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and lime zest.

    1 can (14oz; 300mL) sweetened condensed milk

    5 large egg yolks

    1 Tbsp lime zest

  • While continuing to whisk, slowly pour in lime juice until well combined.

    ¾ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

  • Pour the filling into the baked graham cracker crust (it is okay if still warm) and level it off with a rubber spatula, as necessary.

  • Bake in the center of the oven until the middle of the pie "jiggles" slightly when gently shaken (about 25 minutes). (The pie will continue to cook and set after being removed from the oven.)

  • Remove the pie from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, place the pie into the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours (see Note).

Preparing the Stabilized Whipped Cream

  • Using an electric hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until it is completely smooth.

    ¼ cup full-fat cream cheese, chilled

  • Add in powdered sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until it is silky smooth and has the texture of a cream cheese frosting.

    2 Tbsp powdered (icing) sugar

    ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

  • With the mixer on medium-low speed, slowly pour in the heavy whipping cream, about one Tablespoon at a time, to avoid creating lumps.

    1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled

  • Once the whipping cream is fully incorporated, increase the mixer to high speed and continue to beat until the whipped cream is at your desired consistency.

  • Top the pie with the whipped cream, as desired, and serve chilled.

Notes

  1. Chilling Key Lime Pie: Key lime pie is one of those desserts that somehow gets better the longer it sits. Though you only need to chill for a few hours, I prefer to chill mine overnight.

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