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 Florida 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

Video Tutorial

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, so it’s perfect in the summertime when you’d rather be outside. (A lot of readers make this easy pie for Memorial Day weekend, Father’s Day, 4th of July, summer birthday parties, and Labor Day gatherings.)

  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.

Print
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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

Description

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


Ingredients

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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  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

177 Comments

  1. I wish I had of read the comments before I placed this in the oven. The pie took 70 minutes to bake. I’m still not sure it is cooked properly as I needed to go to work. I feel the recipe would work better if the filling was cooked on the stove top and then added to the base and placed in the fridge. I also feel it needs more than four egg yolks. I feel very disappointed with this recipe, it had so much potential.

  2. If I don’t have macadamia nuts, can I use salted peanuts instead?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Von, you can certainly use peanuts in place of the macadamia nuts here. Or, you might also be interested in our all graham cracker crust instead. Enjoy!

  3. Hi Sally. I have an 11 inch pie dish. Could I double the recipe and adjust baking time do you think? Thanks!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Natasha! Doubling the recipe would overfill your pan – 1.5x should be just about the right amount. Let us know how it goes!

  4. I made this for my MIL last year, and after year one it has already become a tradition. It’s so delicious! I’ve never made a key like before, so I had no idea what I was doing, but this recipe was easy to follow!

  5. I’ve made this recipe atleast 5 times already. And I’ve sold two of my big key lime pies to a co worker. Everyone has loved it. I enjoy making it. Especially since its so easy and delicious. I also add more nuts on the crust. Lol!

  6. Sally,
    I love all your recipes but this one was a huge early Father’s Day hit! Unfortunately key lime is very difficult to find in Ontario but a lime/orange substitute turned out very close to perfect! Thank you so much!

  7. I love your recipes, Sally! How should I adjust, if at all, for a 10″ pie plate?

    1. Hi Amy, thank you! A 10-inch pie dish is too large. The pie will be very thin. Stick with 9-inch.

  8. Stephanie Kaiser says:

    I am wanting to use this recipe to sub the lime juice for equal parts pineapple and orange juice – do you think that would work? I’m not sure about the acids and everything setting up properly.

    1. Hi Stephanie, I fear the pie won’t set up AND it will taste overly sweet since both pineapple and orange juices are much sweeter than lime. I don’t recommend those swaps for this recipe.

  9. Outstanding recipe. Rave reviews from the family tonight. (We all loved the crust especially).
    *Side note* I always choose your recipes when I want to make something special (and delicious) for my family. Thank you for the GREAT recipes, keep it going!!!

  10. This is delicious!! I made it for the first time and my partner thinks I bought it.. he described it as a party in your mouth. I used ginger snap biscuit base and normal limes as keylimes are not readily available and it was sublime!! Will definitely be a staple from now on. Thank you for this amazing recipe.

    1. Sara ruffer says:

      Quick question, in using regular limes did you add any sugar? Sally mentioned that key limes are sweeter than regular limes. Thx!

      1. Hi Sara, I did not add sugar in the base or the filling. Thanks

  11. I made this for my mom’s birthday. The macadamia nuts in the crust are what puts it over the top! I did increase yolks to six based on previous comments. It was baked perfectly in just under 20 minutes.

  12. I made this recipe this week at my husband’s request …his birthday pie. I couldn’t find key limes or even key lime juice where I live (Saskatchewan, Canada) so I used regular limes. I had never tasted key lime pie before let alone made one. It turned out amazingly delicious. So creamy and citrusy. My husband loved it! I love your recipes, Sally. You are my go to when I need a new recipe and many of yours are now part of my own collection. Thank you!

  13. I’ve made this recipe several times before and I just made again today after a few years. So easy and delicious but I forgot that I prefer adding some lime zest to give it even more zing (I like tart!) Also I always make this in a 10” pie plate because for some reason I have 3 of them and no standard size and it works fine, just not as deep dish as intended.

  14. I made this and it was super simple and tasty. Do you have any suggestions on how to make it a little more tart?

  15. Hi Sally,

    Can I replace the macadamia nuts with walnuts? Or any other kind of nut, for that matter?

    Thanks for your fantastic recipes!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jackie, You can replace the macadamia nut with any other nut including walnuts. Or you can use this graham cracker crust recipe.

  16. Hey Sally! I have to say your recipes are THE BEST 🙂 You have become my sister’s and my go-to source for baking ideas. I just made your huge choc chip cookies for my nephew’s birthday (yup at 22, he’s still a choc chip addict LOL). And I obtained some Key Lime juice (not easy in ON) and want to cool the summer heat with a pie!

    My question is… I like the idea of the Mini Key Lime Pies, but wanted to check on the difference of:
    PIE – 2 cans of Cond Milk vs. MINIs – 1 can, plus 4 oz cream cheese
    and PIE has a full cup of juice vs. MINIs – just a 1/2 cup

    It would seem to me that the PIE would be zestier/tarter with the full cup of juice?
    (However, I really like the idea of the cream cheese making the MINI’s partly cheezecakey… so the only thing I can think is that the MINIs pack a little less flavour punch?

    Thanks so much for any advice! I’m off to shop for ingredients…
    K

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kim, thank you so much for your kind note and for making and trusting many of our recipes! In regards to the key lime pie, you can use this recipe for mini key lime pies — the same way you use it for these mini key lime pies. This filling will work just as well as that one! Both have the same great flavor, the mini key lime pies just have a slight tang and texture of cheesecake with the addition of the cream cheese. Hope this helps and that you enjoy the key lime pie!

  17. This is my new favorite key lime pie recipe! I added 2 tsp of key lime zest to the filling mixture other than that I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out amazing!

  18. Hi! How do I make the pie look smooth after pouring it on top of the crust, or how do I get rid of the bubbles on top? Thank you!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Juls, 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!

  19. Greetings from Australia!
    This pie came out text book perfect. Adding the macadamias to the crust was a stroke of genius. I had to use digestive biscuits, so added a dash of coarse pink salt and a little more butter – ridiculously more-ish.
    So delicious, thanks for another fantastic recipe.

  20. I have double strength key lime juice from a shop in Key West. Will it be too tart and if so, how would you suggest I adjust the recipe?
    Thank you

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Pam! That sounds delicious! We haven’t had the pleasure of testing this pie with that double strength key lime juice, so can’t say for certain. Perhaps you could dilute it before using? Are there instructions on the bottle? Let us know what you try!

      1. I made it using the full cup and it was too tart. Hubby looked further on the bottle and it says to use 1/2 of what the recipe calls for. Oops!
        Will try it again soon. The macadamia crust was awesome

  21. What happened? I have relied on this website for so many success bakes and was completely disappointed when this ‘pie’ turned into a curdled inedible mess. My husband was craving key lime pie and I thought who better to turn to than Sally! Well, look for another recipe guys. This isn’t it if you’re looking for key lime pie. The recipe says bake for only 15-20 minutes at 177 degrees Celsius or until the pie is only ‘slightly jiggly’ in the centre. Well, at 20 minutes the pie was still liquid – ‘slightly jiggly’ took me over 40 minutes. I had to ask my husband to check as it took so long I had to leave the house to pick up my child from daycare! We cooled the pie and placed it in the fridge for one hour before serving. When we tasted it, we both recoiled – it was not edible and went straight into the trashcan. Please revisit this recipe and edit it, as after reading all the comments, it seems I am not the only one with this problem…

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Charlotte, thank you for giving this key lime pie a try! Did you make any ingredient substitutions? Make sure you are using sweetened condensed milk, not evaporated milk.

      1. Hi Trina,

        Yes I followed the recipe to the letter and only subbed digestive biscuits over graham crackers and regular lime juice as I am based in the UK. I really would like this recipe to work. Please look into this recipe again, there are other readers who faced problems with the cooking time.

  22. I cannot believe people could be so rude when someone is giving you SOMETHING FOR FREE. and on top of it, to insult the recipe when you substitute DIGESTIVE CRACKERS for graham crackers and use lime juice instead of key lime juice. Unbelievable. This is the best key lime recipe I’ve made (and the only!), huge hit with my coworker who requested it. I usually stick to cakes but ventured to Sally per usual for this pie and was not disappointed, PER USUAL. THANK YOU SALLY <3

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