Key Lime Pie

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:

    6 to 8


Appears in

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1987

  • About

If I were asked to name the greatest of all regional American desserts, my answer might very well be Key lime pie, a sweet that is difficult for most people to make authentically. The real McCoy must be made with genuine Key limes of the sort found in the Florida Keys and the surrounding territory or on most islands in the Caribbean. You can make it with the commonplace, store-bought Persian limes, but they lack the pungent, tart flavor of the Key limes. It is one of the simplest of pies to make, whatever juice you have at your disposal.


The Graham Cracker Crust

  • cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup finely chopped almonds
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted

The Filling

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk (about cups)
  • ¾ cup fresh lime juice, preferably from Key limes
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime rind

The Meringue (see note)

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • To make the crust, combine the crumbs, sugar, almonds, and butter in a bowl. Blend well.
  • Use the mixture to line the bottom and sides of a 10-inch pie plate and bake 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the crust to a rack and let cool.
  • Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Beat the yolks in a mixing bowl. Pour in the condensed milk, stirring constantly. Add the lime juice and rind.
  • Pour the filling mixture into the crumb crust. Place the pie in the oven and bake 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool.
  • Make the meringue. Beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl until frothy. Gradually add the sugar and cream of tartar, beating constantly until peaks form. Continue beating until stiff.
  • Spread the meringue over the pie, being sure to cover all the way to the edge of the crust. Bake 5 to 6 minutes, or until the meringue is nicely browned. Remove to a rack to cool. After the pie cools, transfer to the refrigerator. Serve chilled.