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!

Deliciously simple homemade key lime pie! Macadamia nut crust and only 3 ingredients needed for the filling! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

Deliciously simple homemade key lime pie! Macadamia nut crust and only 3 ingredients needed for the filling! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

How to make EASY key lime pie on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Macadamia nut crust for key lime pie on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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!

How to make EASY key lime pie on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

How to make EASY key lime pie on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

Deliciously simple homemade key lime pie! Macadamia nut crust and only 3 ingredients needed for the filling! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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:

Deliciously simple homemade key lime pie! Macadamia nut crust and only 3 ingredients needed for the filling! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

Print

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

  • 2 (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.
This is the BEST key lime pie recipe with a toasty macadamia nut crust and easy 3 ingredient filling! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

164 Comments

  1. Will this be gross if…
    Will this work if…
    one of the two cans of sweetened condensed milk is low-fat? I accidentally grabbed one that was low-fat…grrrr

    Oh! and how will this hold up at room temperature? I want to make this for a bake sale at work!

  2. Finally! As a huge fan of your blog and your recipes, Sally, (and not liking how my jeans looks on me anymore) I think the only thing missing among all that amazing recipes is the key lime pie recipe.

    THANKS!

    1. Can we talk about how amazing/hilarious your username is though? Thank you for making my morning 😉 HAHAHA

  3. Hi Sally! Maybe someone has already asked you about this but, is it possible to not use the oven and make the base hard just by using the freezer? Here in Spain we are all about to melt! 🙂

    Thanks a lot!
    Jess

  4. Hi Sally!! I couldn’t get a hold of key limes and have just regular limes but would still like to make this pie! Should I just add additional sugar to offset the tartness? Any suggestions would be great. Thanks!! 

    1. nope, just make the pie as is. 🙂 the extra sweetness in key limes is subtle, so no need to add extra sugar.

  5. Hi Sally, I’ve made so many of your recipes and they are always yummy.  I’m in Australia and we don’t have Graham crackers. I’ve been googling and have seen you can get them Honey or cinnamon flavoured, is this right?  If so what would you recommend for this recipe? My husband goes to the States often for work, so I’m going to get him to bring my some back. (Along with my key lime juice) we also can’t get here.. x
    Many thanks Leanne 

  6. Hi Sally! I”m in LOVE with your original key lime pie recipe (with only one can of condensed milk and 4oz of cream cheese). Is this version just less ‘firm’? Or does it become a lot sweeter with the additional can? I want to try out the new crust but am trying to decide which version of the filling I’d like to use.

      1. I did try it and IT WAS SO GOOD! The crust came out a bit moist though… is that normal? I pre-baked it (even an extra 2 minutes).

  7. 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 !!

  8. Hi,
    I can’t find any lime in my country.. can I maybe use lemons instead?? 
    This looks amazing! can’t wait to bake it! 

  9. Hiii! Looveed this recipe!! But definately a must using the stand mixer. The first time I did it just with a whisk was a total mess it wouldn’t set at all! Totally diferent the second time using the mixer, the texture was perfect. Thankyou Sally for sharing this recipe❤️

    1. That’s crazy that the method of mixing prevented it from setting! I’ve never had an issue with a whisk, but I’ll have to try a mixer next time.

      1. Sorry I really thought that could have been the reason, maybe I didn’t mix it enough with the whisk. Hope you can help me figure out what im doing wrong with the chocolate chip bonus recipe. Thanku

  10. 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.

    1. I’m SO GLAD you tried this with lemons! Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment too. I appreciate it!

  11. 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.

  12. Sally, Thank you for posting this recipie. My mother made the best key lime pies but at 97 she won’t even walk in the kitchen. I made one with cream cheese but can’t wait to taste this one. It sounds so good. I live in Florida and I have a key lime tree. This year I have had 1 lime! I bought Joe and nellys

  13. Hi Sally, thank you for this recipe, I’m so excited to make this pie. However I’m a little confused with the amount of condensed milk i should use. It seems that in my country, 1 can of condensed milk is 14 ounces, so do i stick with using just 1 can, or 2? Sorry for this really noob question! 

      1. Oh dear, have already made the pie and i completely misread how much condensed milk. I used just over 1 can because I thought your recipe stated 14 ounces (not 14 ounces per can)… let’s hope it still tastes ok tonight!

  14. 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.

  15. First I’m thankful to Kirsten & Viviana. I came here to see if Key Lime filling would adapt to lemon juice to make a lemon Meringue Pie. Viviana answered that. Then I was wondering about a nondairy solution for the filling, Kirsten game me part of that answer. But the nearest Whole Foods is 20 miles away & Trader Joe’s hasn’t a store nearby. The Key Lime juice is my prefererence too. My Hubs can ride his MTB over to the market & get it. I’m just asking if I could use 1-2 cans of Full Fat coconut milk, in the filling, would it set up or should I try adding some Coconut Cream to egg it along. I was considering the homemade Coconut Whip for topping. What are your thoughts? This is the classic base recipe & you have used it. I’m trying to find ways to have a few favorite desserts. Hope that Aussie lady noted the shortbread crust option, I can just imagine her hubby having to declare several boxes of graham crackers at Customs. But Amazon carries them. Thank you, I enjoy your blog. MA

  16. Hello Sally,
    Which key lime fillingdo you prefer? The one in your book or this one? I plan on doing the original crust and making it for my mother in laws birthday!

    Thank you,
    Jacquelyn

    1. Hi Jacquelyn! Am I allowed to say both? 🙂 My cookbook’s key lime pie recipe is a little creamier. This one is a bit more tart.

  17. Hi Sally. The pie is currently in the oven and I followed the recipe to the letter. It’s been baking for more than 30 minutes already but it’s till soupy in consistency.

  18. I bought Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice…..is that the correct one or does it need to say Key Lime Juice?

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. I used your custard yesterday with a sweetened sour cream topping. I made them with my sous-vide in 4 oz jars and the consistency was PERFECT! If anyone want to do it this way, just assemble with or without the crust (I just like custards, not crusts lol). Fill to the beginning of the jar’s neck (save space for the topping of choice after cooking), finger tighten the lids. Set sous-vide to 81˚C and cook 90 min. Cool, add topping, store.

  24. 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. 🙂

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