Meringue Topped Key Lime Pie

This recipe was kindly given to me by a chef at one of my favorite beachfront restaurants many years ago. It is an authentic key lime custard topped with meringue. You’ll never go back to a fake green key lime pie!

slice of pie on white plate

Key Lime Pie with Meringue Topping

A key lime pie made from scratch using real key lime juice, a graham cracker crust, and a fluffy meringue topping.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
chilling time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 1 hour 15 minutes
Serving Size 8 slices


Graham Cracker Crust

  • 10 graham crackers
  • 6 tablespoons butter salted (or add pinch of salt)
  • cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Lime Filling

  • ½ cup key lime juice fresh or bottled (such as Nellie and Joe's)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3 egg yolks reserve whites for the meringue
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest optional

Meringue Topping

  • 4 egg whites
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch


Make the Graham Cracker Crust

  • Preheat oven to 375 with the rack in the center.
  • Crush the graham crackers into crumbs using a food processor.  Melt the butter and add it to the graham cracker crumbs along with the sugar and cinnamon.  Press crumbly mixture into 9-inch pie plate.  Bake for 7 minutes.  Do not overbake, or the crust will be too hard to slice.  Cool at room temperature before filling
    food processor with graham cracker crust.

Make the Key Lime Filling

  • Combine the sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice, egg yolks, sour cream, and lime zest.  Make sure to blend well using a whisk until there are no bits of egg yolk visible. Chill the filling in the fridge.
    bowl of key lime filling.
  • Place egg whites into a separate bowl, and cover and chill at least 2 hours

Assemble and Bake

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Make meringue. Make the meringue by whipping the chilled egg whites, sugar, and pinch of cornstarch until stiff peaks are formed.  Pipe or spread the meringue on the pie.
    meringue in bowl.
  • Assemble and bake. Pour the chilled filling into the cooled crust.  Pipe or spread the meringue on the pie. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until meringue is browned.
    grid of process of assembling pie.
  • Chill. Cool at room temperature for 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 12 hours.  


You can’t rush this pie.  The chilling stage is absolutely essential for the pie to set.  
Not a fan of meringue?  Just leave it off.   Bake the pie after pouring in the custard for 8 minutes, just to set it.  The chilling stage is still needed.
Meringue weeping?  It happens to the best of us.  The cornstarch will prevent this, but over time the humidity of the fridge can cause your meringue to run a bit.  It’s bestth next day and will usually weep on day 2. 

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe

  • It’s just so delicious. Not too sweet, cool and creamy, and topped with beautiful fluffy meringue. My favorite dessert ever.
  • It’s budget-friendly. Since you’re using bottled juice, you can make this for just a few dollars.
  • It’s surprisingly easy. If you follow the instructions and be patient, you’ll be successful.

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.

ingredients on counter

You’ll need the following for this summer dessert recipe:

  • graham crackers
  • butter 
  • granulated sugar
  • cinnamon
  • key lime juice (look for Nellie and Joe’s brand!)
  • sweetened condensed milk
  • sour cream
  • eggs (separate into yolks and whites)
  • lime zest
  • cornstarch
  • 8 or 9-inch pie pan
  • food processor
  • stand mixer or hand mixer with a whisk attachment


Step One: Make the Graham Cracker Crust

food processor with ingredients and finished pie crust

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a food processor to crush the graham crackers into crumbs. Melt the butter, and then add it to the graham cracker crumbs, as well as the sugar and cinnamon. Press this mixture into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake it for 7 minutes.

Step Two: make the filling

Combine the sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice, egg yolks, sour cream, and lime zest. Use a whisk to mix everything together well until there are no bits of egg yolk visible.

Step three: make the meringue

mixing bowl filled with shiny white meringue

To make the meringue, whip together the egg whites, sugar, and cornstarch until stiff peaks form.

Step Four: assemble and bake

Pour the lime filling into the graham cracker crust.

Pipe or spread the meringue over the pie.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, until the meringue is lightly browned. Cool at room temperature for 2 hours on a wire rack, then chill in the fridge for 12 hours at least.

🥫 Storage instructions

If you have any leftover key lime pie, be sure to store it in the fridge in an airtight container. It will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.

It actually freezes okay, although the meringue might look weird. But it will still be tasty.

🔍 FAQs

Can I use regular lime juice?

No. It’s a hard no.

Can I use a store-bought pie crust?

Ugh, I suppose. But this one is very good.

I like a softer meringue, what should I do?

Just beat until soft peaks form instead of stiff. No problem.

What if I want the meringue super browned and dramatic looking?

Use a kitchen torch. But you still have to bake it first to set the filling and cook the eggs.

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

  • Don’t go off script and try to use regular limes. The result will be all wrong!
  • If the meringue feels like a pain, you can just skip it and use a whipped cream topping. But it’s not hard and you have the leftover egg white anyway, so just go for it.
  • The color of the pie might not be what you’re used to. You can add a little green food coloring the filling if it’s really bugging you. But it is better to not and instead teach people that key lime pie should not be green. You’re a hero now.
  • Please note that this pie has to set for 12 hours in the fridge. This step is absolutely 100% critical. If you need a dessert for today, pick a different recipe!

📘 Related Recipes

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  1. Yum, someone just brought key lime cheesecake to our study last night, it was pretty good, but I love the real deal! Will have to try this!