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 pi!
Classic Key Lime Pie with Meringue Topping
Graham Cracker Crust
- 10 graham crackers
- 6 tablespoons butter salted (or add pinch of salt)
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup key lime juice fresh or bottled (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
- 4 egg whites
- 1/2 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
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. Pour the lime filling into the graham cracker crust. Crustl with the lime filling for at least 2 hours
- Place egg whites into a separate bowl, and cover and chill at least 2 hours
Assemble and Bake
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Make the meringue by whipping the egg whites, sugar, and pinch of cornstarch until stiff peaks are formed Pipe or spread the meringue on the pie.
- Bake for 15-17 minutes, until meringue is browned. Cool at room temperature for 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
For being such a simple dessert, there are many different ways to make key lime pie. The essentials are just sweetened condensed milk and lime juice. This recipe relies on bottled key lime juice, which is available year round and requires no tedious squeezing. It is topped with a simple and optional meringue.
There are two important thing to remember when making key lime pie: key lime juice, and time.
You can’t use regular limes. You just can’t do it. If you can find key limes at the grocery store, you can certainly use them. But they are expensive, small, and super tedious to juice.
Bottled key lime juice is readily available in the cocktail section of the grocery store, less than four dollars per bottle, and there is absolutely no difference in taste from juicing fresh. It makes this dessert very inexpensive to make, which is very satisfying when you consider that a purchased pie w be between fifteen to twenty dollars.
Using key lime juice means that your filling will be more yellow than green. That’s okay! It just means you’ve made key lime pie the right way. If it bothers you, you can add a tad of green food coloring, but it is better to not and instead teach people that key lime pie should not be green.
The second important element is time. You will make a graham cracker crust, the lime filling, and the meringue topping. None of the steps are particularly time-consuming, but everything needs a lot of time to chill, just like a mixed berry pie. Once the components are chilled, they are assembled and baked, and then the pie must be chilled for another 12 hours. So it’s best to make this the day before you need it.
But this pie is easy, inexpensive, and delicious. I hope you love it!