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
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
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. Hi, I live in Australia and can’t seem to find key lime juice anywhere. Would regular lime juice be a suitable substitute? I’ve never tried key lime before so not sure what difference there is in taste…
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Hannah, While they do taste slightly different you can substitute regular limes in most recipes. Or look for bottled key lime juice, the brand I love is called Nellie and Joe’s, perhaps you can purchase it online if it’s not in the stores?

  2. This IS the best Key Lime Pie I’ve ever tried! We do non-typical birthday cakes in our family and key lime pie was my sister’s request. I knew I could put this grand occasion in the capable hands of Sally’s Key Lime Pie recipe. My sister who does not like layer cakes or most sweets actually ate the whole piece and said she loved it! Everyone else went back for seconds and sadly, no leftovers! I piped whipped cream (use the hyperlink in recipe) and cut lime slices to add some flair. It was a showstopper! Do not hesitate to try this recipe. It’s the best!

  3. Suzanne Rogers says:

    Hi Sally!

    Well, you made me a dessert hero once again! My nephew asked me to make him a Key Lime Pie, and my heart broke a little bit because the thought of juicing a bunch of baby Key Limes made me want to cry. Then I came across your recipe! I’d never heard of Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime juice, and that made the recipe SO EASY! Again, everyone, especially my nephew, loved it. I sent my mom home with a piece of leftover pie, and she told me that she ate it at 2:00 AM! If that isn’t an endorsement! Thanks, again! 🙂

  4. I made this Key Lime Pie with a plain graham wafer crust. It was as good as any pie I ate while recently in Key West. My family thought it was the best Key Lime Pie they had eaten. Thank you Sally for another wonderful recipe.

  5. This crust is absolutely amazing. So delicious with the bites of macadamia nuts. I couldn’t find key lime juice so I used regular and I could tell the difference from the last time I had it, so I will be sure to keep my eyes peeled for key lime juice for next time. Thanks for this recipe, it’s been delicious both times!! What a keeper.

  6. Holy yummmmmm! Needed some comfort food during self & this did NOT disappoint. Subbed pecans cause that’s what I had. For sure the best key lime pie I’ve ever had!

  7. Sally Wallace says:

    Hi Sally & Staff,
    I want to make this pie using a ready to fill graham cracker crust. Does the temperature & baking time change? Btw I love all your recipes, bought 2 of your books. Please publish more like Sally’s cake addiction would be great. Thanks for all your great recipes.

    1. Hi Sally! No changes necessary! Baking time and temperature are the same, including pre-baking the crust.

  8. Is it possible to make this with the juice of regular limes? I can’t find key limes at any stores right now!

    1. Absolutely! Same amount of juice.

  9. OMGosh Sally this Key Lime Pie recipe took me back to my childhood days with my grandfather who lived in Key West!!! It is exactly the same flavoring and lightness with an added touch of the macadamias to the crust. Just pure caloric heaven!!!

    It is sooo yummy I had a piece for breakfast-HA!

    Thank you for sharing

  10. Anna Burgess says:

    I made this pie for the first time with a girlfriend during Covid quarantine via video chat! We each gathered our ingredients in our own kitchens and had a blast baking this “together”. The flavor was spectacular! Thank you so much for offering this easy to follow recipe. Neither of us had experience making key lime pie but we were both impressed with ourselves after wards! I will definitely be making this again and again!

  11. PLEASE READ For those wondering:
    1. YES you can use regular limes (I used 6 =1 cup).
    2. YES you can use different nuts or without all together and just use Graham crackers or other biscuits.
    3. Sweetened condensed milk: 2 CANS!!! This should = 28oz. I misunderstood and used 1 can that was 14oz grrr.
    4. If using low fat sweetened condensed milk, the consistency will be off and not as creamy. Listen to Sally’s instructions, she knows best 🙂
    4. YES you can freeze baked pie, thaw overnight.

    Have I missed anything LOL. Hope everyone enjoys this, it’s an amazing recipe and Sally’s baking is always one you can trust

  12. Hi Sally, how far in advance can you make the meringue topping? If I make this pie with meringue topping and plan to serve the next day will it keep? Should be refrigerated? Making for a friend who will be traveling.

    1. Hi Candice, meringue topping is best fresh, but 1 day in advance would be OK. Keep it refrigerated.

  13. Tried this today. Simple to prepare and absolutely delicious!

  14. What type of nut would be the second best choice if you can’t get macadamia nuts?

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

  15. Jennifer Robertson says:

    Hi! Is it possible to use this exact recipe and make bars in a 9×12 instead of a pie? Trying to make them easier to pick up at a BBQ. Thanks!

    1. Hi Jennifer, I haven’t tried converting this recipe to that exact pan size before but you can use my Cake Pan Sizes and Conversions page to help if desired. I fear the bars won’t really “set” as nicely, making cutting into neat squares difficult. You can also try using my key lime pie bars and doubling for a larger pan.

  16. This was by far one of the most phenomenal pies I’ve made/tried. We buy pies every year in Florida at the donut hole, but it looks like we won’t make it this year and I really wanted one. So I decided to make it for Memorial Day. I made the graham cracker crust (not the macadamia) and it was SO GOOD. It was also super easy and I’ll use it as a staple in the future. The pie itself was excellent, especially for having only 3 ingredients. I didn’t anticipate for it to be so good. I used 9 Persian limes (not key lime. They were persian because They were the only ones I could find) and they worked great. Very tart, but I like it tart. The whipped cream was extremely rich, and for that reason I wouldn’t make it again. But overall I would definitely make the pie and crust again!

  17. Made this recipe for the second time yesterday. This pie is so creamy, the perfect combo of sweet/tart, and delicious! It’s unbelievable how easy this is. I had tried one other key lime pie recipe and wasn’t very satisfied. It had egg whites folded in before baking and I didn’t like the mousse like texture. That’s just not the texture I like for key lime pie. I don’t know what I was thinking. I always go to Sally first for recipes, except this time. Lesson learned, Sally! I’ll never stray again.(-; I used Nellie & Joe’s 100% Key Lime Juice this time and juiced 40 key limes the first time. One tip for those juicing actual key limes: Put on some nitrile gloves. It takes a while to juice all those limes and it can really irritate the skin on your fingers. I realized this after about fifteen key limes. Honestly, the bottled juice tasted just as good, and is what I’ll use from now on. The only change I made was to use some pecans I roasted instead of macadamia nuts. Since the pecans were unsalted, I also decided to use salted butter. It was perfection. This recipe is now my go-to for key lime pie. Thanks, Sally.

  18. Hi Sally! This recipe is amazing and the pie came out so delicious. The only problem I had was that when I cut into the pie the center was still soft, so when I removed the slice that I had cut. The point of the slice had stayed stuck to the middle of the pie, resulting in the slice not looking entirely perfect. The pie tasted phenomenal regardless, but I would love to know as to why the center is still soft and what I can do to prevent this from happening again? Especially because I baked it accordingly, allowed it to cool at room temperature, and it chilled in the fridge overnight. I would really love some advice.

    1. Hi Lilly, I’m so glad you enjoyed this pie! It sounds like it simply could have been baked for another minute or tow. An easy fix for next time! Just bake until only *slightly* jiggly in the center, uou want it mostly set.

      1. Thank you so much!

  19. Made this recipe exactly per instructions and turned out phenomenal. This one is a keeper. Thank you for the recipe!

  20. Hi there, looks delish! Do you have a suggested baking temp/time if I made this into “mini pies” with a muffin tin? With COVID-19 I figure folks prefer the individual servings.

  21. Sally, you did it once again and I’m learning that I need to check your website first if I’m looking to try out a new recipe.

    My hubby LOVES key lime pie and I make it every Father’s Day (since he asks that I only make it once a year to keep it special). After 20 years of marriage, one would think I’d have found “the one” recipe that stops me from looking ever again. Unfortunately, my taste buds have never had that “aha” moments.

    Well…your key lime pie recipe has stopped me dead in my tracks and I’m never looking again.

    After one bite on Father’s Day yesterday, my husband looked at me wide eyed and said, “WHAT kind of key lime pie is THIS?” Without waiting for me to answer, he declared it to be the best he’s ever had and told me I need to start a key-lime pie business (which I have no intention of doing…lol) making your pie. My 80 year-old dad, who can’t stand key lime pie, immediately requested his own spoonful. Upon tasting his sample, he let out an “OH MY GOSH!” and asked for a big slice which he quickly devoured and then asked for seconds. You can imagine my excitement!!

    Other than using salted butter (I didn’t have any unsalted on hand), I followed this recipe to the “T” including ordering the lime juice off Amazon. Indeed the macadamia nuts put this OVER THE TOP. But, having made countless key lime pies, I can attest that the entire recipe is a winner and if one doesn’t want to use macadamia nuts, they will still have a winning pie on hand.

    I thank you, my husband thanks you, my dad thanks you and when Covid is over, my future guests will thank you, I’m sure.

  22. Hi Dianna, You can definitely just use a graham cracker crust. Enjoy!

  23. All the steps went well until we tasted the pie. It had a bitter and funky after taste. I used fresh key lime from the grocery store. They were green in color. What did I do wrong Sally? Thanks.

    1. Hi Sarah, If you are juicing your own limes it’s possible they weren’t fully ripe. The tiny key limes start off green and then ripen to more of a yellow color. Also be sure that you aren’t getting any of the white pith of the lime in your juice. The pith is very bitter.

  24. Love this pie! Made it for Mother’s Day since this is my Mom’s favorite; and it was so delicious! I especially like how the filling is so simple to put together. I made it again a few weeks ago, and I substituted cashews for the macadamia nuts. Very tasty results!

  25. I have Graham cracker crumbs on hand. What measurement is equal to 9 full sheets??

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

  26. Jill Lowenstein says:

    Thee pie was a hit at our 4th of July dinner. Best key lime pie ever. Thank you so much for your recipe. I’ll be making this again!

  27. I made this tonight and it was delicious. The flavor and texture was spot on! I could not find macadamia nuts so I used your recipe for regular graham cracker crust. It did stick to my pie pan in a few spots though which was a little disappointing for presentation reasons. Is there something I could do to make sure that doesn’t happen next time? Could I spray the pie pan with Pam first?

  28. Hi Sally. I want to make your pie but had a question. In the photo, it looks like you might be using a deeper dish 9-inch pie plate. Is that the case? I think I will replace the graham cracker crumbs with ginger snap crumbs so would I still use the 135g crumbs? (I use the Trader Joe’s Ginger Snaps). Please let me know! Thanks so much.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Laura, You can swap the graham crackers for an equal amount of ginger snaps. Or if you wish to make a full ginger snap crust (without the macadamia nuts) you can follow the recipe for the crust of this Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake.
      The 9 inch pie plate is linked in the recipe notes. It’s about 1.75 inches deep.

  29. My husband made this with a premade Graham cracker crust. It was delicious. The texture was creamy and dense. It was the perfect balance of tart and sweet. We will definitely make it again when someone else is here to help us eat it!

  30. The best key lime pie recipe! I made four of these for my sisters wedding shower and received several compliments!

1 2 3 4

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Sally's signature

Recipes You’ll Love

Archives

Categories

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe. Review Sally's Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions.

View More

Every December we publish 10 new cookie recipes in a row! The 2021 Sally’s Cookie Palooza begins 11/29. Sign up via email and we’ll send you my most popular recipes and all the new cookie recipes once the palooza begins!

View More

Pie Week is all about baking the BEST pies! Sign up via email and we'll send you my most popular recipes and all the new pie recipes once Pie Week begins!

View More

My Cookbooks

Sally's Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally

×