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

180 Comments

  1. Cari Toby Cohen says:

    First time making key lime pie.  So easy and delicious !   Great dessert for hot summer nights.  So refreshing.  I used shortbread crust since we have nut allergy.   Everything I have made from your website is the best!  Thanks Sally !!

  2. Made mine with lemons (because that is what husband was craving sadly. Otherwise followed recipe exactly) and OMG it was delicious!!! Love the crunchy/salty crust with the silky/sweet pie filling. This is definitely one of my favorite pie recipes ever!! Will have to make it with key lime sometime this summer. Thanks Sally for the wonderful recipe! Found your website for the first time last year and is now my go to anytime I bake.

  3. For anyone looking to make this dairy free, I successfully made it for the 4th of July using “Let’s Do… Organic” brand sweetened condensed coconut milk from Whole Foods with a 1:1 ratio. I also replaced the butter in the crust with coconut oil. It took a little longer to cook (a our 40-45 minutes) and looked a bit liquidy when I put it in the refrigerator but it firmed up perfectly and everyone loved it! 

    1. Thank you so much for reporting back about your dairy free version. I know some readers will find this so helpful.

  4. I have a question about this recipe. I have been researching Key Lime Pie recipes before I settle on which one to make. I love your recipes and your site is always my first go to source! However the proportions seem off… Most recipes call for 1 can of sweetened condensed milk for the same amount of lime juice and eggs. Does that make this pie overly or more sweet instead of tart? Can anyone describe the flavor that this pie yields? By adding the extra can it seems you would end up with a muted like flavor and way more filling too.

    1. Most recipes call for half the amount of lime juice– or 3/4 cup. It’s a sweet lime pie, for sure, with a noticeable tangy bite.

  5. I’ve been meaning to make this for so long since key lime pie is my husbands favourite but never got around to it until yesterday! Macadamia nuts are crazy expensive here in Canada (like $25 for 2 cups!) but I already had almonds on hand so I toasted and salted them and used those in place. Also, I was worried it would be gross and not lime-y because I didn’t have key limes, only regular and I only had 3/4 of a cup after juicing all of my limes. But I followed through anyways and it turned out amazing! One day I will spend the money on macadamia nuts and find key limes but until then, this way is also delicious! Thanks for this keeper Sally!

  6. LOVE this crust… opens up a whole new world for graham cracker pie crusts… will experiment with using with other pies and using other nuts. Thanks!

  7. Sally, I followed the recipe. My crust never quite came together, as in it’s crumbly. I don’t think I pulsed the Graham’s enough. Would this explain my issue? Also, it took three times as long as in the recipe to set. I was making your lemon loaf simultaneously… and that meant opening the oven a few times. Would this be the reason? I am a novice baker, but always love your recipes!!

    1. Hi Theresa, if the crust was in too big of pieces it could have hindered it’s ability to come together. And yes, opening the oven often would make it take longer to bake! I hope it tasted great when it was all finished though!

  8. Connie Attanasio says:

    I looked all over for key limes and tge key lime juice you mentioned but couldn’t find amy. Regardless this pie came out amazing! I didn’t have macadamia nuts so I used your graham cracker crust recipe, and I topped it with your meringue. Seriously delicious! And not too tart, according to my son!

  9. Hi, I’m excited to try this recipe, to make for my husband’s birthday. Do you know how I could measure graham cracker crumbs to equal the full sheets you used?

    Thank you, Karen
    PS-I’ll write again after my husband tastes the pie. 🙂

    1. Hi Karen! 9 graham crackers = (*about*) 1 and 1/4 cups of graham cracker crumbs. Enjoy!

  10. EXCEPTIONAL! SUPERB! My mom said it was better than ANY restaurant ever!

  11. Made this for my husband’s shift at the fire department and they loved it! No leftovers.
    I’m always nervous baking for people outside our family but your easy to follow recipes give me a tad more confidence.

  12. Debbie Pfaff says:

    Sally, I’m allergic to macadamia nuts; what would you suggest as a substitute? Thank you!

    1. Hi Debbie! Any other nut would be great like cashews, almonds, or pecans. Or you can use my plain graham cracker crust recipe.

  13. Best key lime pie ever! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  14. Delicious! Everyone in family loved it. My question is why isn’t the filling green? In restaurants it has a green tint. Do u think they add a dash of green food coloring? Thank you and love all your ideas and recipes!!

    1. Hi Sandy! So glad you like the key lime pie! Key lime pie is usually more yellow than it is green. Feel free to add food dye if you’d like.

  15. C. Hutchison says:

    Delicious – fabulous dessert and super easy. The end result looks so professional. Thank you Sally for your tips and hints. The pie was a hit at the barbecue – don’t count on leftovers LOL!

  16. Oh Sally. This is the first key lime pie I’ve ever made and the BEST I’ve ever tasted. It’s my husband’s favorite dessert and I surprised him with this on father’s day, he absolutely loved it. And it was so easy! Absolutely divine. Hope Kevin had a wonderful father’s day!

  17. Can you make this pie with fresh lime juice?

    1. Sure can!

  18. Hi Sally! I was looking at the Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime Juice and there is Original and 100% juice. Which one do you recommend? Thank you!

    1. Hi Diane! I’ve actually used them both– great results with either.

  19. I just had to let you know that I made this pie today and juiced the fresh limes I had on hand. Wow! This pie is delicious and so easy & fast to make. I’ve made this crust before with almonds but the macadamia nuts take this pie crust to another level.
    Thank You

  20. Thank you for the recipe. One other question, can you make this pie without meringue? My boyfriend was asking for a key lime pie without meringue.

    1. Definitely! You can skip a meringue or whipped cream topping.

  21. Sally, thank you for this fabulous recipe. I love key lime pie and your easy recipe convinced me I had to make it this past weekend. The whole pie was a breeze to make, but I have to say, the crust is outstanding! The combination of macadamia nuts with the graham crackers is addictive! My dinner guests loved the pie and I scarfed up all the leftovers this week. Yum!!!

  22. I’m assuming I can make this same recipe in an 8×8 (or 9×13?) inch baking dish and cut into squares, right?

    1. Hi Susie! A 9×9 inch baking pan would be best.

  23. This sounds delicious but I was wondering if instead of graham crackers you could us Sandies which is a shortbread crust. Let me know what you think. Love your site and all the yummies

    1. Hi Sally! You can use Sandies instead of the graham crackers for this crust.

  24. Super easy to follow. Made for a friend who is big fan of key lime pie. Said it was the best he’s ever had. Unfortunately I had to squeeze about 50 tiny key limes for a cup of juice since the store here doesn’t sell anything but lime juice from concentrate but it was worth it! Thank you!

  25. Delicious and easy!

    Only thing I would probably change is doubling up on the crust.

  26. Hi Sally

    As I am living in Ireland we don’t have Graham Crackers so instead I will be using Digestive Biscuits

    As I have never tasted Graham Crackers I don’t know how sweet they are. Are they sugar free?

    Should I still add all that sugar along with the Digestive Biscuits (they are slightly sweet)?

    Thanks a mill

    1. Hi Sarah, You can certainly use digestive biscuits! I have been told they are actually LESS sweet than graham crackers! I would suggest that you mix up the crust and give it a taste to see if you need to add more sugar 🙂

  27. My grandson loves key lime yogurt and asked me to make him a Key Lime Pie. You had just sent an e-mail in July with your recipe so I made it for him. He loved it! He had two pieces and took one home with him! Thank You Sally!

  28. Hello! First, let me just say that i rarely change a Sally recipe, and they never let me down! So i hate to even ask, but I’m about to bake a key lime pie for Thanksgiving, and I’m wondering if it’s a good idea to substitute pistachios instead of macadamia nuts? I could get some macadamia nuts, I just have a bag of pistachios on hand already, but I’m not sure if the flavors will pair well?? Thanks!

    1. Yes! Key lime and pistachio would be excellent together– you can definitely replace the macadamias in the crust with pistachios!

  29. I think I made this recipe before but Wanna use this recipe to make mini pies. I saw you have another recipe for that but it has cream cheese. I can I do the mini without cream cheese

    1. Yes, you can use this recipe to make mini pies. Enjoy!

  30. Sally, We did a test run, loved it, made it for Thanksgiving and now its on the regular request list for the holidays! Everyone loved it and thought it had just the right balance of sweet-tart. However we did make a different crust (we happened to have a large box of Biscoff biscuits and wanted to use them up while they are fresh). We simply crushed a sleeve in a food processor, blended in 5 tablespoons of melted butter pressed into a pie pan, and baked for 10 mins (covering the edge). It complemented your filling wonderfully. Thanks!

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