You know that sweatshirt that you just loooove?
The one you found on clearance at Target and were seduced by its soft, cotton charm. The one you have had for about a decade and have worn more than anything else in your closet but still cannot muster up the courage to throw away, because, with a messy bun and some sparkly earrings it's still one of your favorite stylings.
This pie is that sweatshirt.
Wait! The metaphor works, give me a chance.
There is nothing special about this pie, but then again, there is everything special about this pie.
This is the pie I'll bring you if you just had a tiny human leave your body. You worked hard, eat some pie.
This is the pie I'll make on a Monday night and eat for lunch on Tuesday afternoon.
This is the pie I can whip up with no rolling or cold butter coercing required.
This is my favorite key lime pie and it's about to become yours.
I have loved this pie recipe ever since I first dipped my toes into the warm, sugary ocean of baking.
It's flavors are familiar and bold, and it's construction is simple.
So simple, in fact, that I felt silly sharing it here. For four and a half years I have resisted, but I recently realized that this pie is one of my favorite things to bake and there was absolutely no excuse for not letting it have its fair share of time in the spotlight.
Besides, isn't simple what everyone wants anyways?
Now, as we have already established, this pie requires minimal effort, so I fully expect you to show an ounce or two of courage and make your own graham cracker crust. None of that store bought stuff, okay?
I promise you can do it.
(If you'd like a gluten-free alternative, it happens to be equally amazing with this simple coconut macaroon crust. Just omit the chocolate coating.)
While the crust blind bakes, the super simple, lime filling comes together.
Egg yolks, sugar, lime juice, and sweetened condensed milk, that's all.
Can I tell you a secret? Most of the time, I do not actually use key limes... While I can sometimes find them in my area of the country, they are often dry and lacking in flavor, so I usually just opt for standard limes. An even bigger secret? Most of the time, I just buy the juice. Already squeezed. Don't hate me. While I would never do such a thing with lemon juice, after thorough testing with fresh key limes, key lime juice, limes, and lime juice, I have found that it really just does not matter in this recipe. The fresh, acidic flavors are preserved, and much effort eliminated. Just make sure you always buy 100% lime juice from a brand you trust, none of that concentrate stuff.
The filling will look really thin, probably too thin, but that is just perfect. After a quick bake and some quality time in the refrigerator, it will be smooth and sliceable.
I hate throwing away leftover egg whites, so I love that this pie uses both parts! While our egg yolk-based filling bakes, the whites are whipped into a sweet, billowy meringue.
The meringue is baked just long enough to brown and then this pie has to sit in the refrigerator for a tortuously long amount of time. Four to six hours is an eternity when you have pie on the brain.
Simplicity at its finest right there. You gotta love the classics.
My Favorite Key Lime Pie
recipe adapted from Baking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America / serves 8
for the crust
- 10 whole graham crackers
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place crackers in the work bowl of your food processor and pulse until you have only fine crumbs.
Add in butter and sugar and pulse several times - until the mixture begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Press the graham cracker mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie pan and bake for 8 minutes. Allow the crust to cool while you prepare the filling.
for the filling
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup fresh key lime or lime juice
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Combine egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat with a whisk until the yolks have just begun to lighten in color, then add lime juice and sweetened condensed milk. Whisk until smooth.
Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust and bake for 15 minutes, until the filling has just set. Prepare the meringue while the filling is baking.
In a large, clean bowl, combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat on high speed with an electric mixture. When the whites have become thick and shiny white, slowly sprinkle in the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar while continuing to beat, until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
Remove the baked pie from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.
Fold the meringue onto the top of the baked pie filling while it is still hot. Spread the meringue evenly, being conscious to cover the very edges of the pie crust. This will help keep the meringue from shrinking. Use a fork or butterknife to make decorative peaks and swirls on the surface.
Return the pie to the oven to brown the meringue. This should take about 5 minutes.
When the meringue is deep golden brown, remove the pie from the oven and refrigerate until fully cooled; about 4 hours before slicing and serving. Enjoy!