The official pie of Florida, Key Lime Pie has been a quintessential dessert for generations. Created over a century ago, this beloved pie has since become popular all over the world. This Key Lime Pie recipe is easy to make, incorporates a double dose of lime flavor and the freshness of sour cream for a truly memorable dessert eating experience!
I LOVE key lime pie. That’s right, “Love” with a capital “L”. It may in fact be my most favorite pie. Which is no surprise considering this is one of the very first recipes I published on my blog back in 2013 (wow, has it been that long??). And I have to tell you, I’ve tried many recipes including more complicated and time-consuming ones, but not one has been better than this one. For all its simplicity, it is beyond delicious!
What is Key Lime Pie?
Key lime pie is a popular dessert that originated in the Florida Keys, a chain of islands at the southern tip of Florida in the United States. It is believed that it was created by the region’s early settlers sometime between the late 19th and early 20th century. It features the famous key limes that are native to the region. Small, tart, and wonderfully fragrant, they are stars of the show. Key lime pie is traditionally made with simply the juice of key limes and sweetened condensed milk in a graham cracker crust pie shell. Key Lime Pie is a quintessential Florida dessert and has since become world renowned.
This easy key lime pie recipe is made with an entire 3/4 cup of freshly squeezed key lime juice along with a whole tablespoon of fresh lime zest for a double dose of delicious key lime goodness. We’re also adding sour cream which provides a wonderful freshness to contrast the sweet-tartness of the lime juice. Sweetened condensed milk forms the creamy base of the filling.
Interesting factual tidbit of the day: Did you know that condensed milk has been around since at least the 13th century? Condensed milk is milk that has had the water removed, enabling it to have a very long shelf life. This method of preparing milk enabled children and adults throughout the centuries before refrigeration was invented to enjoy regular access to milk. World War I revived the market for condensed milk and it has been part of regular food production since.
What Are Key Limes?
Key limes (Citrus aurantiifolia), also known as Mexican limes or West Indian limes, are native to Southeast Asia where they have been cultivated for centuries and have a long history of culinary and medicinal applications. They were later introduced to the Americas by Spanish in the 16th century, including Florida where they are known as Key limes.
Key limes have a higher acidity level, are more fragrant, and have a stronger flavor than standard Persian limes found in grocery stores.
Florida is very proud of their key limes. In 1965, Florida State Representative Bernie Papy, Jr. called for a $100 fine against anyone advertising Key Lime Pie that was made with regular limes. The bill never passed, but Key Lime Pie has since been designated the official pie of the State of Florida.
Can I Use Regular Limes For Key Lime Pie?
Yes. Key limes are more acidic and have a stronger flavor than the common Persian limes found in grocery stores, but if you can’t access them you can absolutely substitute regular limes. Just don’t tell former Florida State Representative Bernie Papy Jr. (see above)!
Note: Once you’ve combined the ingredients you’ll note how liquid-y the filling is and you’ll wonder if you perhaps did something wrong or the recipe left something out. Don’t worry, it means you did things RIGHT! The liquidy filling will miraculously firm up through the baking process – an interesting chemical reaction that occurs between the lime juice and the sweetened condensed milk when heated.
Key Lime Pie Recipe
This homemade key lime pie is super easy to make.
First start with the graham cracker crust:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Press mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and bake for 7 minutes. Let the crust cool completely before adding the pie filling.
Next make the pie filling:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large non-metal bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice and zest, and the sour cream. Stir until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust and bake for about 10 minutes. Make sure to not brown it.
- Let the pie cool completely, then transfer it to the fridge to chill for at least a couple of hours before serving.
For more fruity desserts be sure to try our:
- Peach Crisp
- Rhubarb Crisp
- Cherry Clafoutis
- Pineapple Cake
- French Almond Plum Cake
- German Apple Cake
- German Plum Cake
- Rhubarb Streusel Cake
- Lemon Zucchini Bread
- Lemon Meringue Pie
- Orange Buttermilk Cake
Key Lime Pie
- For the Pie Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter
- For the Pie Filling:
- 28 ounces (two 14oz cans) sweetened condensed milk
- 3/4 cup fresh key lime juice (can substitute regular limes if necessary)
- 1 tablespoon key lime zest (can substitute regular lime zest if necessary)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
- To make the crust, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Press mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and bake for 7 minutes. Let the crust cool completely before adding the pie filling.
- To make the pie filling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.In a large non-metal bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice and zest, and the sour cream. Stir until thoroughly combined. Note: Be sure to scoop out every last bit of the condensed milk.Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust and bake for about 10 minutes. Make sure to not brown it.Let the pie cool completely, then transfer it to the fridge to chill for at least a couple of hours before serving.Decorate and/or serve the pie with whipped cream.
Originally published on The Daring Gourmet May 13, 2013