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The Best Traditional Key Lime Pie Recipe

Charlie has worked with many top British chefs and has decided to share some great recipes and cooking techniques.

Key Lime Pie Recipe

Easy no bake Key lime pie recipe

Easy no bake Key lime pie recipe

Easy key lime pie recipe

Key Lime Pie - I only tried it for the first time about 4 years ago and all I can say is 'Wow!' It had a lovely strong, creamy, limey sweet taste. I knew then that I just had to get a recipe for it, and so I did, however I have adapted it to suit my easy and quick way of cooking, whilst still keeping that same lovely taste.

This recipe is a 'no bake' key lime pie recipe, well apart from just melting some butter, and even that can be done in a microwave. When you add the acidic citrus juice to the cream, it magically thickens it, however if you were to add it to milk it curdles. That is one of the magical wonders of cooking!

This recipe can be made using lemons too, or even using Grapefruit and blood oranges, which also make a lovely desert. The PH is lower in the last two fruits mentioned so they will not set the cream and you can't just add more juice, it does not work, I tried it. But there is a way round it to make a grapefruit pie recipe which I will share with you in the future.

I also have done a lot of research in to the history of the key lime pie and tied all up all the facts and dates.

To set the facts straight about what is a traditional key lime pie?

Rate my Key lime pie recipe

Key Lime Pie Ingredients

  • 1 Large pack 18oz (500g) Digestive biscuits, Other types of biscuit can be used
  • 9oz (250g) Butter
  • 1/2 pint(uk) 10 fluid oz (280ml) Double or whipping cream
  • 1 Tin Condensed Milk (sweet), Carnation milk
  • Juice of 5 limes or 5 fluid Oz of bottled juice, there is about 1 fluid oz (29ml) of juice in a lime and two tea spoons of zest
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • 1x 8 inch loose bottom deep cake tin

Method for My Key Lime Pie

  1. Melt your butter in a bowl in the microwave or in a pan on the cooker.
  2. Crush your biscuits, Ether in a food processor or by hand, placing them in to a clean tea towel or plastic bag and hitting them with something hard like a rolling pin.
  3. Now add the melted butter too your crushed up biscuits and mix well to make our buttery biscuit base.
  4. Now we spoon the biscuit mix in to our baking tin and spread it out evenly. Press firmly down with the back of a large spoon to flatten and smooth out the mixture.
  5. Once the biscuit base is evenly smoothed out we place it in to a fridge for an hour, or if you are in a hurry put it into the freezer for 10 minutes instead. Allow the base to chill and set.
  6. For the Key Lime Pie filling we start by whipping the cream until it is fairly thick, so its still just pourable.
  7. Once the cream is whipped we add the condensed milk and mix well,
  8. Next we add the lime zest and lime juice and whisk gently for 20 seconds to combine the ingredients,
  9. We are now ready to pour the lime mix on to our chilled biscuit base. Cover the base evenly and place back in to fridge for a minimum of one hour until set.
  10. Now that our Key Lime Pie is set, it is nearly finished and we need to run a knife round the outside of the tin to loosen it. Then simply pop the pie out, cut and enjoy!

No Cooking , Just Setting Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

1 hour

1 hour 10 min

12 portions key lime pie

Key lime Pie Recipe

Key lime pie mix being poured on to the chilled buttery biscuit base.

Key lime pie mix being poured on to the chilled buttery biscuit base.

Set key lime pie

Key lime pie popped out of tin and ready to cut.

Key lime pie popped out of tin and ready to cut.

Variations of key lime pie

To make a thicker pie filling as in the picture you need to double the ingredients apart from the base ingredients the base will be the same.

To make a key lime pie but with Lemons you need to use juice of 4 lemons zest of two, Or for a thicker pie filling Juice of 7 lemons zest of 3.

History Of The Key Lime Pie

So who invented the Key Lime Pie?

What is the Traditional/Original Key Lime Pie?

Well I get people who say this recipe is not right and that its not how some factory or bakery in their town do it. It should have meringue on or it should have this that or whatever. Ah but recipes evolve - ingredients and cooking techniques change.

My recipe is not the original Key Lime pie recipe, and I do not claim that it is, but it is along the same lines as the original (not the traditional) one. The Traditional key lime as some Americans like to refer to it, with the meringue topping on it, is the traditional Key Lime pie as people have come to know it. But it is not the original one!!!

The original recipe came from a few factors and as the pie got eaten by more and more people, it got developed until it ended up with meringue on top,

The Original/Traditional Key Lime Pie History.

In 1820 a Frenchman named Nicolas Appert came up with the process of condensing milk. At that time the British were sailing from France over to America. People believed, me included until I researched it, that condensed milk was invented by an American named Gail Borden in 1853.

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But Gail Borden was the first man to start canning and manufacturing condensed milk on a grand scale. Condensed milk was actually mentioned and recorded long before this.

The British sailors were already consuming limes on board their ships, which helped prevent scurvy. This is where the term Limeys; comes from, a slang/nickname used by American`s for Britain's main English.On board these ships there was still bad nutrition, despite the limes, so when a way of storing milk that did not deteriorate over a few days was found by Nicolas Appert`s condensing of milk, this new source of nutrition was soon taken aboard the ships.

Now to get the sailors to consume the lime juice was not easy, it was added to their watered down Rum known as Grog, also it was added to the stale water on board too. And it was on one of these very sailings across the Atlantic that a skivvy in the ships galley came up with the idea of mixing the condensed milk and the lime juice. And this resulted in the base mixture of the Key Lime pie,

So the original Key Lime pie was born.

The original Key Lime pie was not baked and did not have meringue topping or what ever biscuit base you believe to be as the original Key Lime pie. From this stage the condensed milk was traded by the British sailors, to the locals. This method was then used by the local sponge fishermen who were at sea for long periods of time and it`s at this time that the eggs were added.

At some stage over the next few years a cook named Sally came across this. Sally was the cook for a rich local ship salvager named William Curry, and it is recorded that this is the first mention of the Key Lime pie. And even then it still had no topping and was not baked.

So what about the base, when did that get added? And the one I know as Traditional Key Lime pie is baked and has topping. Well the base this is believed to be Graham cracker, Graham cracker`s were invented in 1820 and were a luxury item, so to think that they were crushed up as a base at that time maybe a little hard to believe. I would suggest that the pastry bottomed Key Lime pie was more likely.

The meringue topping comes at a later date and from the idea of the lemon meringue pie. Meringue was invented by the Swiss not the French as many people believe. The lemon Meringue Pie was invented in America, (this I have not researched so I do not know if is 100% correct). In the 20th century we realized that we should cook eggs for safety, so it was then that people started to bake the Key Lime pie.

Baking the pie with whole eggs in was not good, so the eggs were separated and only the yolks used, this resulting in having spare egg whites.These egg whites were then used to make the Meringue and the baked Key Lime pie with the meringue topping was born.

I find it funny how if we believe or only know of one version of something is a certain way for a long time it becomes traditional. It`s the same thing with Banoffee pie. Banoffee pie has changed and been adapted to our tastes and modern ways over the years in the same way.

The original Banoffee pie, with mashed up banana and coffee on top, was made at The Hungry Monk, Jevington, a picturesque village in the county of East Sussex in England - it was horrid! Give me the modern version, that I call;traditional; with a crunchy biscuit base, sticky sweet toffee, big chunks of banana and whipped cream topped with chocolate.

So there we have it, Original vs Traditional, sometimes the Original isn`t best after all!

Key lime pie made with lemons

Key lime pie made with lemons Plated up

Key lime pie made with lemons Plated up

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Charlie Cheesman


Margie's Southern Kitchen from the USA on November 12, 2016:

I love key lime pie, thanks for your recipe!

Anna Haun from USA on August 22, 2014:


Would you mind if I got a copy of your recipe. I would like to prepare it for a few of my elderly neighbors whom sometimes I prepare homemade meals for. Also fix it around holidays for family and friends. I collect recipes as a hobby.

Thank you


Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on August 18, 2014:

Tasty ! :). I have a recipe similar to this from one of the cruise lines. Thank you for sharing ..

Anna Haun from USA on July 15, 2014:

I enjoyed your story of how the Key Lime Pie came about. You did a good job of making the story interesting.

Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on July 10, 2014:

I like your recepy on key lime pie. I visited Keylargo in Florida. I try the lime pie. It was delicious. I want to know the way of doing the pie. I am happy that you know how to do it. Thank you for writing this recepy hub. Good job Mister charliecheesman.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on July 10, 2014:

This sounds yummy and easy to make. The explanations on this hub is very informative as well. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Wickison from USA on June 22, 2014:

This is very similar to a popular dessert here in Brazil. It is very rich, but gorgeous.

Alas I can't get digestive biscuits which would work so well in this.

I haven't had this for awhile, maybe I need to correct that.


Leytonfowle on September 30, 2013:

This looks far too easy to work,, I love easy baking and you have described everything so simply,, I can't wait to make this later on today and look forward to eating it all mmmmm

TXSasquatch on August 16, 2013:

Looks great! Will definitely try ! :-D

anuramkumar from Chennai, India on August 15, 2013:

Yummy...gonna try this weekend. :)

Leah Lefler from Western New York on August 15, 2013:

This looks delicious - a perfect dessert for a hot summer day. I love the fact that you give the volume of lime juice in two ways (in the number of limes vs. the fluid ounces) - very helpful for those of us who have bottled lime juice and no limes in the house!

idigwebsites from United States on June 27, 2013:

Your key lime pie looks oh so perfect and yummy. Since I'm not good at baking I think I'm going to have a success following your recipe. Thanks for posting! :)

Dil Vil from India on June 13, 2013:

Its really looking delicious. Good share!

Susan from India on June 12, 2013:

Wow. This Lime Pie is making me feel hungry. Very well written hub. Thank you for sharing.

Ceres Schwarz on June 11, 2013:

This recipe for key lime pie looks really good. The image of the pie really makes it look very delicious and tasty. Now I want to try some. This recipe seems pretty easy to do and it's good that you don't need to bake it.

Charlie Cheesman (author) from England on June 11, 2013:

Thank you jabelufiroz

Firoz from India on June 10, 2013:

Well explained recipe. Voted up.

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