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Classic Key Lime Pie – Tangy Florida Dessert

time: 15 minutes. Cook
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When you think of Florida, images of palm trees, warm sandy beaches, and the vibrant tang of Key Lime Pie often come to mind. This classic dessert is a true Floridian gem, known for its zesty and tangy flavor, which dances on your taste buds. Today, we’ll delve into the history and preparation of this timeless treat, bringing a taste of the Sunshine State to your home.

Historical Context

The history of Key Lime Pie is as rich and vibrant as its flavor. This iconic dessert can be traced back to the late 19th century, with its origins rooted in the Florida Keys. The key ingredient that makes this pie so special is the small, yellow Key limes, which are native to the Florida Keys. These limes are prized for their intense aroma and sharp, tangy flavor.

The earliest known recipe for Key Lime Pie appeared in the 1933 cookbook “A Date with a Dish: A Cook Book of American Negro Recipes” by Frederick A. Ober. However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that Key Lime Pie became widely popular, gaining recognition as a quintessential Florida dessert.


Step 1: Prepare the Crust

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar, and melted butter. Mix until the crumbs are evenly coated.
  3. Press this mixture into the bottom and up the sides of your 9-inch pie pan, creating a firm, even crust.
  4. Bake the crust in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until it’s lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool while you prepare the filling.

Step 2: Make the Filling

  1. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks until well combined.
  2. Slowly add the Key lime juice to the sweetened condensed milk mixture, stirring continuously. The mixture will thicken slightly as the lime juice reacts with the milk.
  3. Pour the filling into the pre-baked graham cracker crust.

Step 3: Bake and Chill

  1. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the edges are set, but the center is still slightly wobbly.
  2. Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. Once it’s cooled, refrigerate it for at least 3 hours (or overnight) to allow the flavors to meld and the pie to set.

Step 4: Prepare the Topping (optional)

  1. In a clean mixing bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. This will be your luscious topping.
  2. Once the pie is chilled and set, spread the whipped cream over the top.

Step 5: Garnish and Serve

  1. Finish your Key Lime Pie by grating some fresh Key lime zest over the whipped cream for a burst of color and flavor.
  2. Slice and serve this delightful Floridian treat to your eager guests. The tartness of the Key lime and the sweetness of the condensed milk create a harmonious balance that’s truly heavenly.


The Classic Key Lime Pie is a slice of Florida’s culinary history, capturing the essence of the Sunshine State in each bite. It’s a dessert that’s cherished by locals and sought after by tourists. Whether you’re indulging in a taste of nostalgia or trying it for the first time, this recipe will bring a bit of Florida’s sunshine to your table. Enjoy the tangy delight of this iconic dessert, and savor the rich history that accompanies it.


prep time
ion time: 20 minutes.
cooking time
time: 15 minutes.
total time
me: 35 minutes.


  • 9-inch pie pan

  • Mixing bowls

  • Whisk

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Zester

  • Electric mixer (for topping)

  • Oven


  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

  • 4 large egg yolks

  • 1/2 cup Key lime juice (freshly squeezed, if possible)

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

  • Key lime zest for garnish


Prepare the crust.
Make the filling.
Bake and chill.
Prepare the topping (optional).
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