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Key West Key Lime Pie Recipe

Updated on January 3, 2015
Meringue Key Lime Pie
Meringue Key Lime Pie | Source
25/52 Key Limes
25/52 Key Limes | Source

The Original Key Lime Pie Is A No Bake Recipe

The original Key Lime Pie recipe is a no bake version because there was a lack of supplies available to the residents of the Keys prior to 1930. The Overseas Highway was not completed until 1930 and the Keys had limited available electricity, ice and refrigeration. Condensed milk was a staple often used to replace fresh milk since it could be kept with out refrigeration. Key Lime juice when combined with sweetened condensed milk starts a chemical reaction called "souring". Souring is a thickening process when the two ingredients are combined.

The first documented Key Lime Pie recipe comes from William Curry in the 19th century. "Rich Bill" was a famous ship salvager who became a millionaire from his business ventures. William Curry employed a cook named Aunt Sally. Aunt Sally perfected her Key Lime Pie recipe for "Rich Bill" from the recipe commonly used by local fishermen. Local fisherman were out on their boats for many days without the use of an oven. No bake Key lime pie was a recipe used often on the fishing boats of the Key sponge fisherman. Aunt Sally combined Key Lime juice, eggs and sweetened condensed milk. Baking Key Lime pie came later when electricity became available to the Keys. Baking makes for a thicker version of Key Lime pie and eliminates the danger of eating raw eggs.

Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe Van
Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe Van | Source

Original Key Lime Juice - Nellie and Joe's

What Makes A Key Lime Different From Other Limes

Key limes are smaller than regular limes. They are green when unripened and yellow when ripe and are the size of a ping pong ball. The Key lime has a flavor that is a bit more bitter and tart than that of a standard lime. The Key lime most likely arrived in Florida via the Spanish explorers in the 1500's. Key lime trees were decimated during the hurricane of 1926 and the crops were replaced with Persian limes at many plantations in the Keys.

Key lime juice and Key limes are used to make many delicious foods and desserts. Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe in the heart of Key West offers delicacies beyond Key lime pie. At Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe you will find frozen Key lime pie, key lime chutney, candies, Key lime jellies and cookies, barbecue sauces, spices and rubs, key lime syrups, drink mixes, Key lime oil and Key lime juice.

Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies is a Brooklyn, New York, based dessert company. The owner, Steve Tarpin, started his dessert business in his studio apartment and has grown his company. His pies are highly sought after. Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies use only the freshest ingredients and fresh squeezed lime juice in their pie recipes. Steve started his business out of his love and admiration for the Florida Keys which started from a Boy Scout trip that he took to the Keys when he was just a kid. Visit Steve at Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies.

Sweetened condensed milk, eggs, and graham cracker crust make this pie delectable. It is the Key lime juice that makes this refreshing dessert memorable. Fresh squeezed juice is preferred for use in this recipe but Key limes are often hard to come by if you do not reside in the Florida Keys. Bottled Key lime juice is readily available and can be ordered online if your local market does not carry it. Try Nellie & Joe's bottled Key lime juice if making a pie without fresh Key limes.

Key Lime Meringue Pie
Key Lime Meringue Pie | Source

Easy Key Lime "Conch" Pie Recipe

Key lime pie is yellow when prepared properly because of the Key lime juice and the use of egg yolks. It is highly frowned upon to use green food coloring to color a Key lime pie. Key lime pie is always yellow, never green. It is not frowned upon to choose various toppings for your pie.

The following recipe is an easy recipe for Conch Key lime pie. Conch Key lime pie is traditionally made with meringue. There is often debate over how to top Key lime pie. Should it be served with meringue, whipped cream or plain? I prefer the meringue because the mellow, cool foaminess of the meringue lends itself nicely to the super sweet and tangy Key lime pie filling.

If you prefer the pie sans meringue, feel free to omit it. You can chooses to top your pie with fresh whipped cream just before serving instead of the meringue. Whipped cream also works nicely if you are in a hurry and would like to skip beating the egg whites.

Rate My Pie, Sugar!

4.3 stars from 6 ratings of Conch Key Lime Pie

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 35 min
Ready in: 45 min
Yields: 8 servings


  • 4 egg yolks, save whites for meringue
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 14 oz.
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed Key lime juice, substitute bottled if fresh is not available
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup sugar, granulated
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 4 egg whites, saved from above
  • 6 tbsp. sugar, granulated
  • 1/2 tsp. cornstarch


  1. For Graham Cracker Crust: Combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/3 cup melted butter. Press evenly into bottom of 9" pie pan and bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Remove to cool while preparing Key lime filling.
  2. For Key Lime Filling: Reduce the heat of the oven to 325 degrees F. Whisk egg yolks together in a medium bowl. Stir in the 1/2 cup lime juice and 1/2 cup heavy cream. Pour filling into graham cracker pie crust and bake for 20 minutes. Remove pie from oven and increase heat to 350 degrees F.
  3. For Meringue Topping: Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. In a small bowl combine 6 tbsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp. cornstarch. Stir dry ingredients until well blended. Add dry ingredients to the egg whites a little at a time and blend with mixer between adding dry ingredients until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Spoon the egg white mixture on top of the pie in small peaks and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the meringue is lightly browned. Serve pie warm.

What Is Your Favorite Key Lime Pie Topping?

Which Pie Topping Do You Prefer?

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    • cabmgmnt profile image

      Corey 5 years ago from Northfield, MA

      Thanks TycoonSam,

      Give this a try it is so worth it!!!

    • TycoonSam profile image

      TycoonSam 5 years ago from Washington, MI

      Looks and sounds delicious! I've had lemon meringue pies but never a key lime one. This is one I will definitely have to try.

      Voted up and useful 5 stars

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      wow, the meringue pie looks so inviting!

    • cabmgmnt profile image

      Corey 5 years ago from Northfield, MA


      Key lime pie has similarities to lemon meringue pie. I find Key lime to be a bit more tangy. This is a fantastic summer dessert!

    • profile image

      Starmom41 5 years ago

      I don't think I've ever had lime anything, but have heard about this kind of pie and wondered what it was like. Thanks for posting the recipe- will try it!!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      Great, thanks so much!

    • cabmgmnt profile image

      Corey 5 years ago from Northfield, MA


      Hi again, and I do not mind at all. I will edit and link your article through, too, if it isn't linked already. Thanks!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      Yum, who doesn't love Key lime pie? I just wrote a hub on Key limes...would you mind if I link to this one? I look forward to trying this recipe! Voted up and shared.