Authentic Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie I entered the workforce around the age of 14 as a proud busser/hostess at Scuttlebutts – a restaurant in my hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. It was there that I learned the finer points of clearing tables, refilling drinks, and through gritted teeth, patiently telling demanding patrons that no, there was nothing I could to bump them up the list on our 40-minute wait.

You see, Lake Geneva is a town of about 8,000 people that swells to close to 20,000 in the summer, when droves of upper-class Chicagoans descend on the small town, hauling speed boats and jet skis behind their luxury vehicles. It was as obnoxious as it sounds.

Yet, those tourists were my bread and butter as I eventually became a waitress at Scuttlebutts. It was a good job that I held over many summers, but those were also some of the longest, hottest summer days of my life. Our tiny kitchen had no AC, so working there was an exercise in controlling back sweat. And one of my favorite ways to refuel while waiting for an order to be ready was to take in a huge spoonful from our industrial-sized cans of whipped cream.

key-lime-pie-3 I love whipped cream. Love it. Your average can of Redi-Whip has about a 4-day life span in my refrigerator, as I will come back again and again for just a little squirt, directly into my mouth of course. I cannot stay away from the stuff.

And we had plenty of it at Scuttlebutts because two of our specialties were Swedish pancakes…topped with berries and whipped cream of course…and key lime pie – also bejeweled with little pillows of the good stuff.

One of the greatest perks of working there was that key lime pie because it is a universal law that the first piece that you remove from a pie will fall apart to the point that it has no business being served to a paying guest. So the crumbled piece would be removed to a plate, where it would lie for approximately 6.9 seconds before everyone within a spoon’s reach would greedily descend on it.

I still love key lime pie, and I was eager to try to make it myself for the 10-Pie, 10-Pi Party because I was making three pies for the party already, and I wanted at least one of them to be made-ahead of time, waiting patiently in the fridge.


I settled on using this recipe from the Food Network after reading various other recipes and tips. This recipe seemed pretty authentic and do-able! I used actual key limes because my grocery store sells them, but regular limes would definitely work here if that’s all you can find.

Squeezing the key limes was not my favorite; I had to squeeze a whole pound of those tiny limes to get 2/3 c. of juice – so tackle that task when you’ve got some time and patience…and no paper cuts. But beyond squeezing those adorable little limes, this pie is, well, easy as pie. There’s really not much to it – a baked graham cracker crust, filled with key lime juice and zest, eggs, and sweetened condensed milk. A little baking, then some chill time in the refrigerator, and you’re good to go.


I suggest topping the pie with your whipped cream just before serving. You’ll notice in these pictures that my whipped cream got a little melty, and my only excuse for that is that I’d spent the previous nine hours preparing our house and backyard for forty people to stop by and eat pies, two of which I made myself that same day, all while kind of forgetting to eat anything beyond pie scraps throughout the day, only remembering at the last minute to feed my toddler son some scraps of deli ham and cheese so he wouldn’t pass out.. So we were a little rushed taking these pictures in the 80* heat – thus, melty whipped cream.

If you are a more prepared individual than I, I suggest topping it with your whipped cream and then throwing it in the freezer for about 20 minutes before serving to really firm everything up.

Authentic Key Lime Pie

(recipe from The Food Network )

(yields one 9-inch pie)

This recipe for authentic key lime pie is easy and a perfect pie for summer. Real key limes are preferred, but regular limes can definitely be used if you are unable to find key limes!


Graham Cracker Crust:

1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs

5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

1/3 cup sugar


3 egg yolks

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

2/3 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice (from about 1 lb. key limes)*


Topping: Whipped Cream

What you see pictured here are dollops of Red-Whip topped with half-moons of key limes.


*Use regular limes if you you are unable to find key limes.


Graham Cracker Crust:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9-inch pie pan.

Mix the grahaam cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan, forming a neat border around the edge. Bake the crust until set and golden, 8 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling:

Meanwhile beat the egg yolks and lime zest at a high speed (best with an electric mixer) until very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3 or 4 minutes longer. Lower the mixer speed and slowly add the lime juice, mixing just until combined, no longer. Pour mixture into the pie crust. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the filling has set. Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate.

For the topping:

Top with whipped cream and lime wedges in desired pattern. Freeze pie for 20 minutes before serving.



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