Key Lime Pie Recipe

With its outstanding macadamia nut crust, creamy thick lime filling, and sweet whipped cream on top, this is truly the best key lime pie I’ve ever had. And after 1 bite, I guarantee you will agree. Only 3 ingredients required for the filling!

overhead image of key lime pie

Key lime pie will forever be one of my favorite desserts. This controversial Southern specialty has been winning over my tastebuds for years. Between the buttery and crunchy crust, tangy custard filling, and the essential creamy topping- no dessert can rival key lime pie!

But can we make a good thing even better? Yes.

What Makes This the Best Key Lime Pie?

  • Extra thick and nutty crust
  • 3 ingredient filling
  • Easy to make
  • Totally refreshing
  • Mega key lime flavor
  • Topped with homemade whipped cream
  • Sweet, salty, citrus-y, buttery, creamy, and tangy all in one

slices of key lime pie on silver plates with forks

How to Make Key Lime Pie

Key lime pie has a few simple steps. Most of the “work” is hands-off while the key lime pie sets up in the refrigerator. I love making it in the summer when all I want to do is spend time outside!

  1. Make the Crust: Use a food processor to combine the macadamia nuts and graham cracker crumbs. Combine with melted butter and sugar, then press tightly into a pie dish.
  2. Pre-Bake the Crust: Pre-bake the crust for about 8 minutes before pouring in the key lime filling. Pre-baking solidifies the crust and allows for easy slicing once the pie is ready to serve.
  3. Make the Filling: Whisk together the 3 filling ingredients– it will be thick! Pour into warm crust.
  4. Bake the Pie: Key lime pie bakes for only 15-20 minutes. Once completely cool, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour prior to serving.
  5. Garnish and Serve! She’s extra delicious with fresh whipped cream. By the way, if you’re looking for an alternative way to serve key lime pie, try my individual upside down key lime pies. Basically the same filling as this pie.

key lime juice in a glass measuring cup

Graham Cracker Macadamia Nut Crust

Key lime pie is traditionally made with graham cracker crust. It’s the most wonderful crunchy, sweet, and buttery bed for the fresh key lime filling. But hey, how about getting a little nutty? You won’t believe the difference macadamia nuts make. I use about 1/2 cup of macadamia nuts in place of some of the graham cracker crumbs and the result is pure bliss. Macadamia nuts are a gem and, as it turns out, often overlooked in the baking world. Why though? They’re so good.

You only need 4 ingredients for this awesomely thick crust.

  1. Macadamia Nuts (I recommend salted)
  2. Graham Crackers
  3. Melted Butter
  4. Sugar

Pulse the macadamia nuts with graham crackers, then mix with melted butter and sugar. Because key limes are a little sweeter than regular limes, you will love the sweet/tangy key lime filling with the salty graham cracker macadamia nut crust.

2 images of graham cracker crust crumbs in a food processor and pressing the crust into a glass pie dish with a measuring cup

3 Ingredient Key Lime Pie Filling

Yes, my key lime pie filling is only 3 ingredients. (!!) If you’ve tried my key lime pie bars or mini key lime pies, you’ll notice that today’s filling is a little different. I typically add a little cream cheese to the filling to ensure stability and structure, but decided to skip it today. We’re keeping it traditional with this classic key lime pie, which means we’re using egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and key lime juice.

  • My tip: Do yourself a favor and buy a bottle of key lime juice from the store. There’s a brand of bottled key lime juice that I love called Nellie & Joe’s in most major grocery stores next to the bottled lemon juice. Just make sure you’re using key lime juice, not regular lime juice. Otherwise you will spend 100 years juicing 500 tiny key limes yourself. You need an entire cup of key lime juice and yes, it will take you 100 years to squeeze them all!

key lime pie filling ingredients in a glass bowl with a whisk

How to Tell Key Lime Pie is Done

One of the most common and easily remedied key lime pie problems is over-baked pie. It’s tricky to know when the pie is done, but here’s my secret: bake the key lime pie until the filling is only slightly jiggly in the center (about 15-20 minutes). It should be firm to the touch, but not completely liquid or totally solid. The pie will continue to solidify as it cools.

Cool the pie completely on a wire rack, then cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving. I recommend garnishing your key lime pie prior to serving.

pouring key lime pie filling into graham cracker crust

key lime pie with a pie server and a slice removed

How to Decorate Key Lime Pie

Let the key lime flavor stand out and keep garnishes simple.

  • Homemade whipped cream
  • Since you’ll have leftover egg whites, make a meringue topping– you’ll have time to kill while the pie chills anyway 🙂
  • Sliced limes cut into quarters
  • Lime zest
  • Whole macadamia nuts
  • Graham cracker crumbs

I’ve sampled LOTS of key lime pie and I can confidently say this the best key lime pie I’ve ever tasted.

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key lime pie with a pie server and a slice removed

Key Lime Pie with Macadamia Nut Crust

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 35 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings
  • Category: Pie
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


This tangy sweet key lime pie is deliciously simple with an extra thick and nutty crust. Only 3 ingredients needed for the filling!


Graham Cracker Macadamia Crust

  • 9 (135g) full-sheet graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup (62g) salted macadamia nuts (I used roasted)
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons (72g) unsalted butter, melted

Filling + Topping

  • 28 ounces (two 14 ounce cans) full-fat sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup (240ml) key lime juice
  • 4 large egg yolks*
  • garnish: lime zest, lime slices, macadamia nuts, whipped cream, or meringue topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. Make the crust: Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers and macadamia nuts together into crumbs. A few larger pieces of nuts is OK! Pour into a medium bowl and stir in sugar and melted butter until combined. Press tightly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie dish. Pre-bake crust for 8 minutes. Leave oven on.
  3. Make the filling: Whisk the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and egg yolks together– or use an electric mixer. Pour into warm crust.
  4. Bake the pie for 15-20 minutes or until only *slightly* jiggly in the center. You want it mostly set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool, cover and chill for at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days) before serving.
  5. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can prepare and pre-bake the crust up to 2-3 days in advance. Cover and store at room temperature. Likewise, you can mix up the filling up to 2-3 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate, then assemble and bake. Baked and cooled pie freezes well up to 3 months– thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Food Processor | Colorful WhiskZester | Citrus JuicerGlass Scalloped Pie Plate
  3. Leftover Egg Whites: Here are all my recipes using just egg whites or you can make a meringue topping for the pie.

More Refreshing Dessert Ideas

When the temperatures rise, the last thing you want to do is spend time in a hot kitchen. You’ll appreciate these simple, delicious, and totally refreshing desserts:

slice of key lime pie on a silver plate with a fork


  1. Hi! Love your recipes Sally, I have made this one and everyone loved it so so much! It turned out perfectly.

    Now for my little quarantine birthday I wanted to make muffin versions of this, can I half the recipe? Will only 2 yolks work out well? I don’t want to have a lot of leftover, so I’m thinking I can half and make it in my 12 muffins pan.

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Luiza, I’m so happy you enjoyed this pie! For mini versions, I recommend our recipe for mini key lime pies– they’re baked in muffin pans and the recipe yields 16 mini pies.

  2. Hi Sally! This may be a silly question, but it’s my first time attempting to make any type of pie. Do I need to use pie weights when pre-caking the crust?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sankavi, great question! No need to use pie weights when pre-baking this graham cracker crust. Typically, we use pie weights when pre-baking classic pie crusts (like all butter pie crust) but not graham cracker crusts. I hope you enjoy this pie!!

  3. I’ve made this several times and it always turns out superb! Love have such a great recipe that is also so easy to make!

  4. Can I use any other kind of nut for this if I don’t have macadamias around? Pecans or walnuts? Thanks and LOVE LOVE LOVE your recipes!!!

    1. Hi Tessa, thank you so much! You can replace the macadamia nut with any other nut including pecans or walnuts. Or you can use this graham cracker crust recipe.

  5. Hi Sally, Just tried the recipe out before my partner’s birthday. My filling once baked is not completely smooth. It has a few bubbles and is a bit uneven. What should i do next time? When I put it in the oven it was smooth. Thanks so much!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lynn, Some bubbles are completely normal. It’s the air from the eggs rising to the surface. Some batches have it, some don’t. Regardless, the pie filling should taste the same and if you add a garnish (some ideas are lime zest, lime slices, macadamia nuts, whipped cream, or even a dusting of confectioners’ sugar) it covers it right up!

      1. Thanks for the reply! Will plan for covering up for the real thing. haha

  6. Hi Sally! I am looking forward to making this next weekend. However, I was only able to get raw macadamia nuts. Is there anything I should do/add as they are meant to be roasted and salted? Or should I just add as they are?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jess, You can use them raw, but if you wish to toast them you can do so on a baking sheet in your oven just until lightly browned and cool before using.

  7. Can I use the already prepared Graham cracker pie shell

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Sure can!

  8. Hi Sally,
    I usually love your recipes and you are my go-to blog for my baking adventures, however this recipe was a tragic flop for me. I followed the recipe exactly, but it didn’t taste good for some reason. The key lime flavor and condensed milk combination wasn’t my favorite. I still love you Sally and will continue to try more of your recipes in the future !

  9. Hi Sally, I am planning to make this recipe for my cousin’s birthday next week and just had a quick question: How deep is the pie dish you are using? I have 9-inch pie dish that is about 2 -2.5 inches deep. Will the crust recipe that you provided be able to cover the bottom and the sides of my pie dish? If not, what should I do? Should I only partially cover the sides of the dish with the crust? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sankavi, I usually use a pie dish that’s about 2 inches deep, so this recipe will work in your pie dish.

  10. I’m assuming I would be using a 9” pie plate? I use the store bought crust. They come in two sizes so this recipe would need the larger size, right? Thank you for this easy and great recipe. I made it awhile back. I just forget which plate size.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, a 9 inch pie dish!

  11. One of my favorite recipes! Question – how long can this be stored in the fridge? Making it for someone to eat Thursday. I assume if I bake tomorrow (Tuesday) it will be fine.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Allison! This pie can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, so that will be fine. Hope it’s a hit!

  12. Helen Marston says:

    Hi Sally, I am planning to make key lime pie for my husband’s birthday( He is a Christmas baby). But I couldn’t find any key lime nor key lime juice in my small town. Can I substitute with lime juice? Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Helen! Yes, regular lime juice works. Same amount. Hope he has a great birthday!

  13. This may be a silly question but are you measuring 1/2 cup of the macadamia nuts AFTER it is put in the food processor or before? The measurements will be very different depending on which way you do it. Thank you!

    1. Hi Jenn, measure the macadamia nuts before you put them in the food processor. There’s not many; the bulk of the crust is graham cracker.

  14. The secret for the crust to hold together is to give up your New Year’s resolution about eating healthy! I doubled the recipe for a 9×13 and, for the 4 C of gingersnaps, I used 1 stick of salted, melted butter. It worked like a charm.
    I made 6 dozen gingersnaps and for some inexplicable reason (not overtaking) they came out hard. This crust was the perfect use for at least SOME of them.
    The filling was tart, but smooth, creamy and delicious. (I did use low fat cream cheese with no problems.) It never browned, even after 29 min of baking, which made them “set” but with the tiniest bit of the IDEA of a jiggle to the filling. After a few hours and a chill, they cut beautifully. For a clean cut, blast your knife under your Insta-hot water dispenser.
    These were lovely and I’ll happily make them again. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  15. This key lime pie recipe is amazing!!! I love that it is simple but tastes great! I have made it for many birthdays and everyone loves it!! Thank you for the great recipe, Sally!

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