This authentic traditional homemade Key Lime Pie made with a gingersnap crust will deliver the perfect sweet and tart mouthwatering dessert topped with fresh whipped cream.
Scroll down to see complete step-by-step ingredient and process photos that walk you through every step of the recipe. I've also included helpful cooking tips and substitutions. The full detailed printable recipe for Key Lime Pie is at the bottom of the post.
Why you will love this recipe:
- Perfect balance between sweet and tart: True key lime juice is incredibly aromatic and packs a stronger flavor than traditional lime juice. That, balanced with the sugar of the other ingredients, offers the perfect combination where each bite will make you salivate and pucker all at the same time!
- Simple ingredients: All you need to make the pie filling are key limes, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks. I use both the juice and the zest from the limes to get the most key lime flavor possible.
- Easy to make: As far as pies go, key lime pie is not only simple to make, but it doesn't take much time (as long as you don't take the time needed to juice the limes or chill the pie after baking). It's quite impressive, too!
Exact quantities are listed in the recipe card below, but here is a summary.
- Crust: Gingersnap cookies and butter
- Filling: Egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, key lime zest and juice
- Topping: Heavy whipping cream sweetened with powdered sugar
How to make Key Lime Pie:
Detailed step by step instructions are listed in the recipe card below, but here is a summary.
Step 1: Prepare the crust
- Combine: Pulse cookies in food processor to create crumbs and mix with melted butter. Press mixture into a deep pie dish.
- Parbake: Bake crust for about 10 minutes in a preheated oven and then allow it to cool while you prepare the filling.
Step 2: Make the filling
- Mix: The egg yolks are beaten with the zest until they are pale, light, and fluffy. The sweetened condensed milk is whisked in, then the juice.
- Fill: Once the filling is made, it's simply poured into the prepared crust and baked for only about 10 minutes. Easy!
Step 3: Whip topping
Beat heavy cream and confectioner's sugar until stiff peaks form. Don't top the pie with the whipped cream until you are ready to serve.
Cooking tips for best results:
- Time to set: Key lime pie is definitely easier to slice after it has had time to properly set in the refrigerator. Plan on making the pie the day before you want to serve it so that it can chill overnight.
- Lime juice amount: I used a full ⅔ cup of the lime juice because I love the tart flavor, but keep in mind that the more juice you use, the longer it will take to set.
- Whipped cream: I like to sweeten my whipped cream with confectioner's sugar. The amount you add completely depends on how sweet you like it. Added zest to the whipped cream only enhances the flavor. Hold off on topping the key lime pie with the whipped cream until you are ready to serve.
- Storage: If entire pie won't be consumed, add whipped cream to individual servings so that pie can be stored without whipped cream on top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and store key lime pie in refrigerator. Best if eaten within 3-5 days.
If you want to make the best traditional key lime pie, follow the recipe as-is. Preferences vary, however, and fresh key limes can be hard to find, so the following substitutions can be made.
- Key limes: A key lime is smaller than a traditional lime, it has higher acidity, a stronger aroma, and a more sweet and bitter flavor. Because they are smaller, it takes quite a few limes to get the amount of juice needed for the recipe, but it is worth it. If key limes aren't available, you can use bottled key lime juice or fresh juice from regular limes. The zest from regular limes can be used in place of key lime zest.
- Gingersnaps: You can make key lime pie with a standard graham cracker crust, but the flavor of gingersnaps is amazing when combined with the mouth puckering zing of citrus. For the substitution, use the same quantity of graham cracker crumbs, but add an additional tablespoon of sugar.
Other great citrus recipes:
The flavor fresh lime is undeniable. If you love the taste of lime, be sure to try these favorites: Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing, Coconut Lime Daiquiri, Virgin Mango Lime Margarita, and Lime Water with Mint.
If you’ve made this or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out. I love hearing from my readers!
Key Lime Pie
- 9 ounces ginger snaps (processed into fine crumbs, I used Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Cookie Thins)
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 large egg yolks
- 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 2 teaspoons key lime zest (can use regular lime zest)
- ½ cup key lime juice (use ⅔ cup if you prefer it to be more tart, may take approximately 16 key limes to get this much juice, can substitute with bottled key lime juice)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar (more if you like it sweeter)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Make crust: Combine ginger snap crumbs and melted butter in medium-sized bowl and mix well until crumbs are evenly coated. Press crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a standard 9-inch pie dish. Crust will be slightly thicker than a quarter-inch. Bake crust in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Set on cooling rack while you prepare filling. Allow oven to remain at preheated temperature.
- Prepare filling: Beat zest and egg yolks in stand mixer with whisk attachment on medium high speed until pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat until thickened again, about 3 minutes more. Whisk key lime juice into mixture until combined.
- Bake pie: Pour prepared filling into parbaked gingersnap crust and bake pie for another 10 minutes, until set but not browned. Let pie cool completely before adding whipped topping. Ideally, key lime pie should be chilled overnight before serving so that it can fully set and can be easily sliced.
- Make topping: To make the topping, beat heavy cream with sugar in stand mixer using whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Take care not to over or under beat. Spread over top of chilled pie. If entire pie won't be eaten, don't add whipped cream until pie has been sliced and served so that the remaining pie can be stored easily in the refrigerator.
This recipe was originally published in January 2016 and has been updated with helpful information, ingredient and process photos, as well as recipe tips. Don't worry - the recipe hasn't changed!