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. 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!

    2. Usually have no problem with the recipes from this site but this one was a flop. Followed the recipe exactly and after about an hour in the oven it is browning but has not set at all and is still just as jiggly as when I first put it in.

  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. 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 !
    -Kristina

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. Hi Sally, I was wondering if I could use the crust in a tart? Would it fall apart? Thanks! My family and I absolutely love your recipes by the way! 🙂

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Zana, Yes it should work well as a tart crust. Enjoy!

  13. Can you use condensed coconut milk for a non diary option?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Chase! We haven’t tested it, but other readers have reported success using condensed coconut milk. Let us know if you give it a try!

  14. How much would I need to change if I use an 8-inch pie pan?

  15. Hi Sally,

    Just a few questions- I couldn’t get key-limes could I use regular? Also the condensed milk is in ounces- approximately how many cups would that be? Last are pecans ok to use instead of macadamia?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Chloe, Yes, regular lime juice works. Same amount. The 28 oz. (or 2, 14 oz. cans) of sweetened condensed milk is about 3.5 cups. And you can absolutely use pecans or any other nut in place of the macadamia nuts. Hope you enjoy this recipe!

      1. Thank you!! Sorry one more question!! I’m not sure my graham crackers are considered full sheet- after food processing how many cups are needed for the crust?

  16. For some reason I had to add a lot more graham crumbs – I tried to convert measurement since crumbs not cookies and was 2/3 a cup. Mixture was way too wet for crust. Also could be my oven but it’s been 20 mins on convection bake at 350 and it’s nowhere near done… any advice on timing ? How to know when to take it out. I have made key Lime pies A few time’s wondering if this recipe has a thicker filling. Thanks !

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Vanessa, Thank you for trying this recipe. We use conventional oven settings. If you have to use convection settings the general rule of thumb is to lower your oven temperature by 25 degrees F and your bake times will be different. You can tell when this pie is finished baking when it’s only *slightly* jiggly in the center. You want it mostly set. I hope this helps!

  17. Jane Gionfriddo says:

    Hi, Sally,
    Love your recipes!! I would like to try this key lime pie recipe but I have one question. I’m extremely careful about baking with eggs and ensuring that the eggs reach 165 to avoid any possibility of salmonella. If you bake the pie for only 15-20 minutes, does the custard get up that high?
    Thanks!
    Jane

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jane! Yes, the pie will cook through in the stated baking time. You can always check with a thermometer for peace of mind as well!

  18. This recipe is perfection!!! Not only is it soooo easy to make but it tastes so delicious. I’m still eating the leftovers 5 days later and it tastes just as good!

  19. Alyssa Wadlington says:

    hi sally! could I use a springform pan for the recipe?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, that should be fine, Alyssa. Enjoy!

  20. Matt Buchanan says:

    Delicious!!!
    I have just started baking within the past year and this was my first pie. Super easy and everyone loved it. Sally your my go to for my new baking hobby. I say your my mentor

  21. Hi Sally!
    For some reason my mixture has slightly curled. I mixed the condensed milk, egg yolks and lime juice all at the same time. Should I have mixed the condensed milk and egg yolks first before adding the lime juice?
    Thanks in advance for your help!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lisette, were your egg yolks or lime juice particularly cold? Curdling usually happens when there are varying temperatures among the ingredients being mixed — but if you keep vigorously whisking, they should come together!

  22. Sally could you sub the key lime juice for grapefruit juice? If not, the next you get bored can you test and publish a grapefruit custard pie recipe? Lol/smiles. I’ve recently heard of this and it sounds potentially phenomenal but I don’t trust anyones recipes except yours.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tianna! We haven’t tested it, but you could use our recipe for Creamy Lemon Pie with grapefruit instead – let us know how it turns out!

  23. Absolutely amazing pie!!! I always trust your recipes to be accurate and delicious!

  24. I just made this yesterday and it was a true flop! The filling did not set and it was soup!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Caroline, 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. Otherwise, your pie may have simply needed to bake for longer, an easy fix for next time! Just bake until only *slightly* jiggly in the center, you want it mostly set.

      1. Same thing happening to me right now. So disappointed.

      2. Lori Fisher says:

        I doubled the egg yolks to 8 and it came out perfect!

    2. “Stellar” was the description my sis gave me. “Perfect crust”. I made it for her birthday and she loved it as much your creamy lemon pie! Your recipes are fantastic! I made the yellow cake for my birthday—it’s the best—probably due to the folded egg whites.
      I used 20 key limes—they’re very small. I used my orange juice juicer—wasn’t so hard. Didn’t take that long. Yum! (Got the key limes at Publix in Florida).

    3. Just made this and mine is soup as well. It was no where near set at 20 minutes so I kept cooking it. But somehow it because more liquid as it cooked longer. I’m at close to 50 minutes and it’s about to boil over so I just pulled it out

      1. By any chance did either of you who had the soupy pie used fat free sweetened condensed milk? I’ve messed up other recipes in the past using fat free instead of full fat sweetened condensed. Just a thought!

  25. I followed the recipe to the letter. I did leave it in the oven for extra time, but did not make a difference for the filling. The crust however, was rock hard. The oven temperature was 325′, which seems low. Is that correct? Also is it possible that there was too much lime juice in the filling?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Caroline, the oven temperature listed for this recipe is 350°F, not 325°F. Correcting this should help for next time – no need to add extra bake time. Thanks so much for giving this key lime pie a try!

  26. This is SO easy and tastes great however I every time I make it it seems better as I add another egg yolk… I’m up past 8 yolks and it is SO creamy and delightful I’m gonna keep going until it stops getting so delicious. I have all these yolks as that darn Angel Food cake recipe of yours is in CONSTANT demand!!

  27. Hi, Sally! I have made this once before and agree that it is the. best. recipe. ever.
    Can I use this same recipe for mini key lime pies? What would be the baking time changes? Thanks, a fellow baking enthusiast

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mary, yes, 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!

  28. Diane Mowery says:

    Here we go again. THANK YOU SALLY. This Key Lime Pie is so, so easy. I just took it out of the oven but tried the pie filling before I put it in the crust, delicious. Keep up the great recipes. Could not wait for the Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime Juice but found Lakewood Organic Pure Lime, not from concentrate, fresh pressed, from Florida. This may not be Key Lime (will use N & J next time) but it tastes great. Thank you again.

  29. Thanks for this recipe. I made it exactly as directed. However, it took almost 45 minutes at 350 degrees to get the pie slightly jiggly in the middle. I think the 15-20 baking guideline is too short for some ovens. Thankfully the crust stood up to that extra baking just fine.

  30. So, I want to try this, but I hate crust. I hate making it, I hate eating it. I’m going to try just skipping it and see what happens.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Abi, you might like our upside down key lime pies instead — and you can skip the topping!

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