Key Lime Pie says ‘goodbye summer’

Key Lime Pie says ‘goodbye summer’

Key lime pie on white surface
This one pie can feed …
A close up of a slice pie with a lime next to it
… 37 hungry people. It is that rich.

If you are planning to serve dessert to a mere 27 people this holiday weekend, you may have some leftover pie. Not a big problem, but still. Fair warning.

As a kid, I had the perfect slice of key lime pie while in the Florida keys. I’ve been chasing that moment ever since. That first creamy-crunchy sweet-n-sour bite. I’m comin’ to get you, sucka.

Key limes are brighter and more tart than conventional limes. They are mighty fine. But if you can’t find key limes, stop yer cryin’. Chin up! Just use equal parts juice from lemons and conventional limes. And call it Key Lime Pie. Or call it pie. Just be sure to call it. Or it won’t know to come, and then you’ve got a problem.

Have you ever juiced a key lime? Key limes are small, for limes. And they have pits, the little devils. Take it from me, and don’t try using a citrus reamer. You’ll look ridiculous. Just slice the little guys in half, and squeeze ’em as hard as you can with your fingers over a bowl. Then strain out the pits and any pulp.

Oh, and you’re going to need some GF ‘Nilla Wafers. Or some other crunchy GF cookie. There is a recipe for GF Graham Crackers in my cookbook. You could use that to great success. But to be honest, I prefer key lime pie with a ‘nilla cookie crust. It kills with the ‘nilla cookie crust.

Here’s how it goes down. You mix up the crumbs with some melted butter and a bit of sugar, and press them into a greased pie plate. I like to use a plastic bag over my hand to do the pressing of the crust. Safety first.
A knife and pie curs with a lime next to it
Blind bake the crust, and allow it to cool. Then make the simple filling, mixing lime juice with sweetened condensed milk and a few egg yolks, pour it into the cooled crust, bake, and voilà.

With each bite, we tell Summer bye-bye. I love your pies. I enjoy your fruits and veg. But it’s time for you to go. I’m ready for warm apples and hot toddies. Except I’ve never had a hot toddy. But the point is — the point is that I’m ready for anything.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 9-inch pie


1 1/2 cups finely ground crunchy cookie crumbs (gluten free, if necessary)

1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar

6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 cup (8 fluid ounces) key lime juice (juice of about 2 pounds key limes)*

4 egg yolks (100 g), lightly beaten

2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk

*If you don’t have key limes, substitute 1/2 cup freshly squeezed conventional lime juice + 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice.


  • Grease well a 9-inch pie plate and set it aside. Preheat your oven to 375°F.

  • In a medium-sized bowl, place the ‘nilla wafer crumbs, sugar, butter and 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, and mix until the crumbs are moist and begin to hold together. Scrape the crust into the prepared pie plate and, with a plastic sandwich bag over your hand to prevent the crust from sticking to your hand, press the crust firmly and evenly over the bottom of the pie plate, and halfway up the sides. Place a piece of parchment paper over the top of the crust, and scatter pie weights (dried beans or raw rice will do just fine) over the surface atop the parchment paper. Place the pie crust into the center of the preheated oven and bake for 7 minutes.

  • Remove the crust from the oven and allow to cool. Once the crust is nearly cooled, carefully lift the parchment paper with the weights off of the crust. Place the crust in the refrigerator or freezer to cool to at least room temperature. While the crust is cooling, make the filling. In a large bowl, place the lime juice, egg yolks, condensed milk and 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, and whisk until smooth. Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Tap the pie plate flat on the counter a few times to break any air bubbles that have formed.

  • Place the pie in the center of 375°F oven, and bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the filling is set and the edges have begun to caramelize. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and place in the refrigerator and cool at least 2 hours or up to overnight before slicing and serving. Serve chilled, with a lime wedge, and a dollop of whipped cream.


Comments are closed.

  • September 5, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    My wheat-free uncle thanks you. You may not hear it directly from him, but I know that once I make this pie, he will quietly kvell. Imagine living in the Keys and having to eschew Key Lime Pie, not out of choice, but of necessity. I’d cry, wouldn’t you? He’s not the crying sort, so I’ll have to get maudlin for him. Except that now I don’t.


    • Nicole
      September 5, 2011 at 9:37 PM

      Hi, Farida,
      Then your wheat-free uncle is so very welcome. I don’t want to imagine living in the keys and having to give key lime pie the Heisman! I don’t want to! I don’t want to imagine anyone’s world without key lime pie, much less his. So glad he won’t have to stay pie-less. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Heather Tunison via Facebook
    September 5, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    There was only one other GF friend there at the party, but the non-GF people loved the pie! I actually was asked for the recipe more than once. I could not find the key limes so I did a half lime and half lemon juice. So yummy! I was kinda hoping for leftovers…but sadly there were not any.

  • September 5, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    That’s awesome, Heather! Thanks so much for the update. I love hearing how things turned out. I made another one this weekend, and served it to [non-GF] friends, and it was a big hit. Love when that happens. :)

  • Heather Tunison via Facebook
    September 5, 2011 at 4:32 PM

    I made the pie for a BBQ yesterday and it was an absolute hit! The pie dish was empty and practically licked clean. Thanks for sharing! It tasted amazing! :)

  • Janet Slater via Facebook
    September 5, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    oh, yum!

  • September 3, 2011 at 5:42 PM

    Looks fabulous! I love key limes.

    • Nicole
      September 4, 2011 at 9:58 PM

      Hi, Laura,
      If you decide to make it, let me know how it turns out!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Peggy Ford via Facebook
    September 2, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    Yumm! Thanks, Nicole! Have a great weekend!

  • Dana Baker Coughlin via Facebook
    September 2, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    Could you make this with lemon instead?? I do not like lime anything.

    • Nicole
      September 2, 2011 at 9:56 PM

      Hi, Dana,
      Yes! You can definitely make this with lemon juice instead of lime. Just substitute 1 for 1. Enjoy!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Heather
    September 2, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    Making this yummy recipe tomorrow! Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to taste it!

  • Heather Tunison via Facebook
    September 2, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    So excited to make this tomorrow! Thanks again for sharing! :)

  • Linda
    September 2, 2011 at 9:21 AM

    Nikki–You’ve outdone yourself with this key lime pie! Just need to pick up the limes, sweetened condensed milk, and I’m on it! Thanks and have a wonderful Labor Day weekend–do fun stuff!

    • Nicole
      September 2, 2011 at 10:29 AM

      Hi, Linda,
      It’s serious. This pie — it’s serious stuff. So glad you’re going to give it a try. Report back!
      We’re going to a friend’s house in the Hamptons this weekend. Should be fun. And freeloading is free! Have a great weekend, Linda.
      xoxo Nikki

      • Robin Rose
        September 3, 2011 at 8:32 PM

        I love key lime pie!!! When I was a child, growing up on a barrier island in SW Florida, my sister and I were saddled with the chore of juicing the key limes that grew in our back yard. Where were the child labor laws back then, lol!!! It was a bear of a chore, but soooo worth it! BTW, it helps if you roll the little buggers (limes, not children!) firmly on the counter before juicing. Your recipe is very similar to my grandmothers, except she topped her pie with meringue made from the egg whites. I’ve been making key lime pie, sans crust, for years now, but I really think I need to try this nilla wafer recipe out. Thanks so much Nicole, and have a great weekend!

        • Nicole
          September 4, 2011 at 10:05 PM

          Hi, Robin,
          That does sound like somewhat cruel and unusual to make kids juice all those tiny little limes. Then again, tiny little fingers could be perfect for tiny little limes. :) And, as you say, the reward was great. I really hope you make key lime pie with crust. You deserve to reclaim that memory. I tried another version this weekend with a chocolate wafer cookie crust and brought it to a friend’s house for dinner. Everyone really seemed to love it, but I prefer it with the nilla wafer crust. The nilla wafers don’t compete with the pie filling at all. Perfect.
          I hope you try it, and I hope you will write again and let me know how it turned out!
          xoxo Nicole

        • Stasia Todd
          September 5, 2011 at 11:37 AM

          Like Robin Rose, I lived[still live] in Miami as a child. We had a Key Lime tree in our backyard; Limeade was the only drink I remember as a child in the late 40s- early 50s – no soda pop. But I don’t remember it being a problem to cut and squeeze. My mom made KLPie with a gramham cracker crust, as I did when I got married and moved into a house with a Key Lime tree in the back yard – along with a grapefruit and a Valencia orange and a Mango. The Mango was the first thing we righted after Hurricane Andrew. The citrus trees went with the citrus disease scare a few years back.
          Will have to try this recipe; for us in Miami, Key Lime Pie is definitely a year around delight.
          Thanks for the lovely site.

        • Nicole
          September 5, 2011 at 1:01 PM

          Hi, Stasia,
          I’m so jealous of your key lime tree. I would settle for any fruit-bearing tree in my backyard! Although key lime pie is made traditionally with graham cracker crust, I made it with ‘nilla cookie crust for a few reasons: my recipe for graham crackers is only in my cookbook, but my recipe for ‘nilla wafers is a blog recipe. So using ‘nillas means that I don’t have to leave readers high and dry without all the tools needed to make a recipe right here on the blog. In fact, I have a great recipe for little s’mores sandwiches, and I really need the graham crackers for those, and I’m considering asking the publisher for permission to post the graham cracker recipe. So there’s that, and then — I have had key lime pie with graham cracker crust, and I actually prefer the ‘nilla wafer crust, believe it or not. It seems like just the right complement. Go figure!
          So sad that citrus disease took your citrus trees. I hope you enjoy the pie!
          xoxo Nicole

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