My Key lime pie with meringue topping recipe features a homemade graham cracker crust, a luscious sweet-tart filling, and homemade meringue topping. A really simple pie to make, and it is beautiful!
If you are looking for a go-to summer dessert...this could be all you need. If you are looking for something a little tart with an incredible crust...this is your pie! Maybe you'll love the ease of having your pie set in the fridge while you do something else? For all of these reasons, this is your pie!
In case you make just one pie this summer, have it be the one that my kids argue over who gets the last slice. I urge you to make this Key lime pie and don't forget the meringue topping.
The crust does not create a perfect slice each time you cut into it. Since it's homemade, it will crumble a bit more than the store-bought crust. In fact, it's quite the messy cookie type crust. Nobody has ever complained here and as I mentioned before, there is no comparison in flavor with a ready-made crust.
How could it be that something so simple could create wreak such havoc in my house? This dessert. This super simple dessert is the cause of many arguments. A Key lime pie with meringue topping is probably the dessert I get asked to make most in my house. At least it is this past year.
Originally posted September 2013. Updated for content and republished May 2022.
And there is really not much to making it. The kids hover around the kitchen when I'm slicing it monitoring where each slice is going and to ensure each slice is perfectly equal in proportion.
Strange behavior...I know.
They open the fridge to check on the pie periodically throughout the day. Hey! Who took another sliver? It's missing another slice...who ate it?
Silly pie arguments. Do they happen in your house?
Can I use store-bought key lime juice?
Yes! I use Nellie and Joe's Key West Lime Juice. I find now at any local market (or also, online). If you can't find it, you could use freshly squeezed lime juice. I know, I know. I could squeeze Key limes and use the juice for the recipe but that would entail adding additional prep time to this recipe.
That wouldn't work in my house. If you have the patience to squeeze your own Key limes, by all means do it. I know I had a conversation with a friend of mine (if she's reading this, 'HI")and she told me she would never buy the juice when you could just squeeze the limes.
And then there's me who would never buy a ready made graham cracker crust when you could just make your own in no time.
So really, it's all what you prefer. Whatever works for you and makes you happy. It's your pie!
Once you have your crust baked, it's just a matter of a very quick assembly. Here is the recipe for an olive oil pie crust that I make. If you prefer to use a ready-made crust, that's fine.
Oh! I forgot to mention that the longest prep part of the pie is making the meringue topping. How did I forget to mention the most wonderful part of this pie!
Or is the filling the best part? Could the graham cracker crust beat both of those parts of the pie?
Depends on who you are asking...
What ingredients are in a homemade key lime pie?
- graham cracker pie crust (or your own homemade crust)
- sweetened condensed milk
- egg yolks
- Nellie & Joe's Key West Lime Juice (or freshly squeezed)
- egg whites
- vanilla extract
- cream of tartar
After you spread the filling over the graham cracker crust, spoon on the meringue topping (use whipped cream, if you prefer).
In my opinion, it is the meringue topping that makes my heart skip a beat in delight.
Or it could be the perfect sweet-tart filling? No...It's the can't stop sneaking bites simple graham cracker crust. My kids still don't know it's made with olive oil.
But then again, I may not be the guilty family member sneaking an extra sliver but I have been known to spoon up a nice tasting of those graham cracker crumbs-oh, yeah!
Can I serve this with whipped cream?
If you prefer to toss your egg whites and not deal with making a meringue topping, a whipped cream topping is also really nice! Homemade is best, or use your favorite store-bought whipped cream topping.
What is difference between limes and key limes?
Persian limes are the most common ones you'll find at US markets. I've come across key limes in many different markets and you'll see that they are a lot smaller than regular limes. Key limes are 1.5 inches in diameter and have a much more intense flavor.
Can this pie be made in advance?
Yes, Key lime pie may be made 1-2 days in advance.
How to store the pie?
Cover the pie with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
How to store pie with a meringue topping?
If you made a meringue topping for the pie, insert toothpicks around the center to the edge of the pie. Cover loosely with some plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Some other pie recipes to enjoy:
- No-Bake Limoncello Cheesecake
- Blueberry Icebox Pie
- Southern Buttermilk Pie
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Pie
Just a quick request: if you enjoyed this classic Key lime pie as much as we did, would you kindly leave me a 5-star rating and a short (or long!)comment–the ratings are what helps get my recipes and hard work discovered, so I can keep leaving you more delish recipes!
Your comments mean the world to me….and I really SMILE when I read them. Thank you so much! XX
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Key Lime Pie with Meringue Topping
- 9 " graham cracker pie crust or your own homemade crust
- 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
- 3 egg yolks reserve egg whites for meringue topping
- ½ cup Nellie & Joe's Key West Lime Juice or freshly squeezed Key lime (or Persian lime)juice
- for the meringue topping:
- 3 egg whites
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 6 Tablespoons sugar
- In a small bowl combine milk, egg yolks and lime juice; whisk until smooth. If you are using your own homemade graham cracker pie crust, bake the crust before adding the filling for about 7 minutes.
- Pour filling into prebaked pie crust and bake at 350º for 10 minutes.
- While baking, make meringue topping. In the bowl of a mixer, add the egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar. Beat the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form.
- Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating on high speed. Continue beating on high speed until the sugar dissolves and stiff, glossy peaks form. When you lift the beaters, the tips will stand straight up.
- Spread the meringue over the pie and bake at 350º for about 5-8 minutes. Keep an eye on the meringue so it doesn't burn. (I sometimes broil the topping. If you choose to broil, it won't take more than 3-4 minutes and you have to carefully watch it because it could be perfect one minute and burned the next).
- Cool pie completely on rack (filling will set as it cools), then chill, covered, at least 8 hours.
Brian @ A Thought For Food says
This is one scrumptious looking pie, Lora! I'm always so excited when I can get my hands on a slice of ACTUAL key lime pie. Pass me a fork... or just give me the whole darn pan!
Jett Whitfield @get2whit says
Yummy indeed! Thank you =)
Lora, Didi Emmons has a version of Key Lime Pie in her cookbook Entertaining for a Veggie Planet that you might like to try sometime. She refers to it as an "old standby," butt I had never tasted her method before. She makes an Oreo crust with 28 cookies and 2 TB butter, but I think graham cracker crust would be ok too (although I do love the combo of lime and chocolate). But what is realky special is that she whisks together 1 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk 3/4 cup fresh lime juice, then folds in 1 cup of whipped heavy cream. It takes at least 2 hours to set up, overnight is best. This is luscious, and so effortless, espc. If you food process the crust. No heating up the kitchen with an oven either. I do love meringue, but this filling is kind of ethereal. Mereingue is ethereal too, but not necessarily luscious, you know?
I was thinking about your Project Sicilia, and wondered if you were familiar with the cookbook Sweet Sicily? It was published in 2001, when you were probably a toddler. It is a beautiful and loving tribute to Sicily. I checked it out of the library when it was published, and recently bought it 2nd hand on Amazon for $3.99 postage and handling plus 1¢. If you haven't read it (it's one of those cookbooks you read like a novel and salivate over - I've nevet actually cooked from it!), I think you will love it.
Still loving your blog (I'm a newbie)!
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
Beautiful pie, Lora. I love the toasted meringue topping!
I have a friend who loves loves key limes, this would be so perfect for a key lime addict. The topping looks sinfully delicious.
Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom says
omg. . my heart is skipping a beat with this entire thing! I'm totally with you on the homemade crust. . it's really so easy and you are right, there is no comparison with regards to taste. And - I just looked this up b/c I was curious- did you know: "The Key lime is more difficult to find outside of Florida and California markets, and may be available only seasonally and/or in gourmet markets. However, many large grocery chains now carry bottled Key lime juice in the canned fruit aisle near bottled lemon juice." so, ain't no thing. . I'm with you on the bottled key lime juice!! 🙂 can't wait to try this recipe!
Oh, I LOVE this! I've never made a key lime pie topped with meringue, but now I MUST. My kids used to make sure I cut their desserts exactly the same size, too...and they'd always get cranky if I took just a little nibble from one of their plates 🙂
Trish - Mom On Timeout says
I love the meringue on top! So pretty!
wow I want a slice looks amazing
Kumar's Kitchen says
this gorgeous key lime pie is to die for...looks beautiful 🙂
Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen says
Beautiful Key Lime Pie, Lora! Pinning!
Oh my goodness Lora -now you've gone and done it -got me craving pie...key lime meringue pie to be precise, lol 😉
Nancy @ gottagetbaked says
Lora, I'd also be stalking the fridge and accusing others of eating too much pie if I lived with you. This looks amazing! Your key lime filling is so smooth 'n creamy, and that fluffy meringue on top is gorgeous.
Jean | lemons & anchovies says
Oh, my! I'd be hovering around the counter, too, just to make sure I get a hefty slice!
Beautiful pie and it's really cute that your kids argue about this pie, it must we a great one!
I never heard of Didi's Key Lime Pie before, Susan. I think I've got to give it a try. It sounds like an incredible filling. Yes, Sweet Sicily is a beautiful book. Thank you for still loving my blog!
That's so cute that your kids were the same way with the slices, Lizzy! thank you xx
Thanks so much, Nancy. The silly pie arguments are quite funny when you think about it.
Hi. Could you clarify for me whether or not I am supposed to bake the key lime filling in the pie shell before making the meringue? In step 2, you wrote "Pour filling into prebaked pie crust and bake at 350º for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the meringue so it doesn't burn." But then in step 3, you said to make the meringue.
Bake the filling (according to the directions). Then carefully spread on the topping and keep a careful eye on it as it can burn rather quickly. ENJOy!
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I normally make my crust for cheesecakes and fruit pies with homemade biscotti (crumbled) and add the zest of the flavor I want to showcase. For this one, I would use key limes.
Hi Michael-Great idea...sounds delicious!
Just wanted to let you know, I've been baking this recipe since you first posted it and the meringue topping is a MUST! We all love it!