dessert · pie

Key Lime Pie

Happy Pi Day! You would think that as a former 8th grade math teacher, Pi Day would be a thing for me. But I didn’t hear of March 14 being Pi Day until I started working with college students. Our first year at Maryland, our dear friend, Meg, introduced us to the Pi Day phenomenon. Which leads me to wonder, was I a terrible, boring math teacher? Or maybe just not a math nerd? I’ll hope for the latter.

Our younger boys have been reminding me about Pi Day (they don’t even know pi apart from pie), so I decided to be festive and make a pie today. I don’t know what we’re eating for dinner, but I have pie. So there’s that. When selecting a dessert, I’ll almost never consider pie over other options. In Maine, I can feast on a wild blueberry pie like it’s the last food on earth. It’s so good. The only other pie to turn my head is a key lime pie. It had me at graham cracker crust.

Slice of pie on a white china plate with a green napkin beneath. Limes in the corner and the remainder of the pie in the background on a wooden table.

This pie is ridiculously easy. There are just two “hard” things about it.

1. My recipe lists ingredients, and when it says 5 tbsp sugar, it doesn’t say that I’m going to use them separately. Since I often fail to read instructions ahead, I put all 5 tbsp in the crust. And then I see only 3 tbsp were supposed to go in it. I pretty much do this every time. (Yes, I know you’re supposed to give the entire recipe a read… I don’t do that if I’ve made something before). I fixed that below so you don’t repeat my mistake.

Key lime tree with small fruit in fingertips
Little key limes on (and off) my tree. They will grow a bit larger, but not much.

2. Zesting and juicing key limes. You know in the movie Meet the Parents, when Greg (Ben Stiller) makes up a story about milking cats? If you can envision him describing that, that’s what juicing a key lime is like. They’re really small. I bought a key lime tree in the fall since key limes can be a challenge to find. It smells so good. Of course none of the limes are ready, so I couldn’t use them today. If you can’t find them or if you just want to save some time, you can use normal Persian limes. I won’t tell anyone. That’s what I did today. It will just be slightly more tangy. Or you could fly down to Key West and grab some key limes.. not a bad plan!?

The pie is topped with fresh whipped cream, not meringue. Real healthy here, right? Oh, but it’s so good.

Zoomed in slice of key lime pie on a white china plate. The rest of the pie in the pan is in the background with two limes off to the left side. All on a wooden table.

Key Lime Pie

Course Dessert


  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp fresh key lime zest, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar


  1. eat oven to 375 degrees. Combine graham-cracker crumbs, butter, and 3 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl; mix well. Press into a 9-inch pie plate, and bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled.

  2. Lower oven to 325 degrees. Zest your limes (this tool is really helpful). Then cut them in a half and juice them. In a medium bowl, gently whisk together condensed milk, egg yolks, Key lime juice, and zest. Pour into the prepared, cooled crust.

  3. Return pie to oven, and bake until the center is set but still quivers when the pan is nudged, 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

  4. Shortly before serving, combine cream and remaining 1-2 tablespoons sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon over cooled pie; garnish with zest. Serve immediately.


You can place the pie in the freezer for up to 10 minutes before serving to help make it slice neatly.

Source: Martha Stewart

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