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No Bake Key Lime Pie. Key Lime Pie Custard Made Sous Vide!

Updated on March 4, 2009

I love a good key lime pie or a chocolate mousse, and yet as easy as either of these custard based desserts is to make, I often find the thought of cranking on the oven (and setting up a water bath for the delicate baking required) just to much trouble to bother with - and I look elsewhere for my sweet cravings fix.

Well, no more!

Today while thinking about making up a batch of key lime pie, and wondering if I was up to the effort involved, I recalled a cookbook I have been reading, (Thomas Keller's "Under Pressure" on sous vide cookery) and remembered seeing recipes for custard desserts done sous vide.

Well, if the French Laundry in Napa can make crème anglais sous vide - I figured a lazy man's key lime pie was surely doable!

No oven, no water bath, just stir the custard ingredients together, pop it into a zip lock bag, into the hot water bath for 20 minutes – and you are done!

I tried it today. It was easy and it came out beautifully, and with a no-cook nut crust as a base, this key lime pie was a cinch to make.

Read about getting started with sous vide here.

Sous Vide Key Lime Pie Custard

For this recipe you will need one pie crust, premade and ready for the cooked topping. A graham cracker crust is traditional. Since I was cooking for my gluten intolerant mom today, I made a no-flour nut crust out of ground cashew nuts, melted butter and sugar. This freezer crust does not require baking.

  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup of freshly squeezed key limes (it is worth it to try to source the smaller but tarter key limes for this recipe – but bigger regular limes will do in a pinch.
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 large zip lock bag (gallon size)


  1. Set your sous vide water bath to 82 degrees Celsius. (Or fill a large pot with water, and using a thermometer, keep the water at a steady 82 degrees for the cooking time of 20 minutes.
  2. In a bowl combine the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk and lime juice, and stir until well mixed.
  3. Pour all of the contents of your mixing bowl into a large zip lock bag, and press down on the bag to expel as much air as you can. (You can get most of it out pretty easily – seal the bag almost to the end and squash the bag down, then let the liquid come up almost to the top – pressing out all air as it does so – and then seal the final bit closed. It won't be totally vacuum sealed, but it will do.
  4. Pop the bag into the 82 degree water, and let it poach for 20 minutes.
  5. After 20 minutes, the key lime custard will be set and ready to go. Spoon out the contents of the bag into your waiting pie crust, and refrigerate the pie until well chilled and set.

Top with whipped cream and enjoy!

Really easy, and just as good as the oven baked variety.

I love sous vide!


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      C. C. Riter 8 years ago

      Gee thanks for this method. i do a really great key Lime pie myself but don't usually cook it at all, I just freeze it. I feel as long as the eggs are Grade A and very clean I should be OK. But if I am going to tale said pie to a party or other funtion I will cook it to be safe. My wife worked in an egg factory many years ago and has informed me all about the business of eggs. I will now check out the link sous vide, thanks