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DIY Food

the BEST key lime pie ever…



For every holiday, get-together, or BBQ, I make and bring my signature frozen key lime pie. Now I have always made it clear that I didn't come up with this recipe, but today is the day where I reveal to you my very closely guarded secret and source: #1 there are no key limes used in this key lime pie {just regular limes} and #2 this recipe was created by the ever so amazing, Ina Garten. It is so simple, so tasty, and really may be my favorite dessert to make. Because I lack the careful planning and precise measuring that baking often requires, this pie makes it fail-proof even for me. 

You can see Ina's recipe right here, but I am also listing it below as I have modified it a bit and have some notes to add for your reference.

Ina Garten's Frozen Key Lime Pie {with my notes & slight modifications}

For the crust:
1- 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

{note: I find this to be just a tad too little to coat a standard pie pan, so I usually make 1.5 this recipe if I want a thicker crust.}

For the filling:
6 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons grated lime zest
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 to 5 limes)

{note: I use closer to 1 or 1.5 tablespoons of zest, and I find that you need closer to 8 to 10 limes to get 3/4 cup of lime juice.}

For the decoration:
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Thin lime wedges

{I use madagascar vanilla extract & cut key limes into thin slices instead of regular lime wedges.}

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl. Press into a 9-inch pie pan, making sure the sides and the bottom are an even thickness. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

For the filling, beat the egg yolks and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for 5 minutes, until thick {note: I use a regular hand-held mixer}. With the mixer on medium speed, add the condensed milk, lime zest, and lime juice. Pour into the baked pie shell and freeze.

For the decoration, beat the heavy cream on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until firm. Spoon or pipe decoratively onto the pie and decorate with lime. Freeze for several hours or overnight.

{note: This pie needs at least 8 hours to really freeze, so I suggest making 24 hours in advance. Also, while you're at it, suggest making two pies at one time. Just double the recipe then serve one for the next day, and keep the other in your freezer for future snacking. It keeps in the freezer well for up to a month, and pretty good up to two months.}


{photo by Oh Joy, original recipe by Ina Garten, melamine plate shown available here.}


  1. looks awesome! i have to say the best key lime pie i ever had was my grandma’s, but unfortunately for me, i am a lactard and can’t eat that stuff anymore! 🙁

  2. YUMMMMMM!!!! Key lime pie is one of my favorite desserts! Yours looks delicious!!! Joy, if you’re ever in LA, you have got to go to Clementine and try their key lime pie and banana cream pie. Their crust alone is amazing. If you don’t like it, I’ll mail you a cupcake or something! haha.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I will be trying this recipe this summer. Have you tried Cheesecake Factory’s Key Lime cheesecake? Very good.

  4. mmmmm…i remember ina making this one. i was nervous about using an entire can of condensed milk. do you think i could get away with 1/2 can, so it’s not too sweet?

  5. Oh, Ina! She can do no wrong. 🙂 Ever since I saw your tweet about Key West, I’ve been craving a slice, it’s been so long! (Marcus is from Florida and will flip when he sees this on the menu for this week, grins!)

  6. We stopped at coochie’s key west cafe a while back and ate what had to be the greatest key lime pie in the world. We were told that it was from a 1920 famous secret recipe. It was baked by some dude named captain coochie pelaez and that it was the greatest key lime pies ever baked. After eating two slices apiece, we all had to agree that coochie’s famous key lime pie was indeed the best that we have ever eaten and by far had to be the best key lime pie ever.
    thanks so much,….mary prolactin

  7. Hi Mary, I just was reading your review about The World’s Greatest Key Lime Pie. I agree with you 100%, that really is the best key lime pie made in the world. The reason that I am posting this to you is that, you seemed to have gotten the name of the place wrong. I still have their business card on file from a former trip there. The name of the place is really Kutchie’s Key West Kutcharitaville Cafe and the dude that bakes those World’s Famous Key Lime Pies is “Captain Kutchie Pelaez”.
    If this is a little confusing to you, just Google Kutchie’s Key West. There you can find page after page of information about this World Famous Island Restaurant.
    I hope this clears up this important subject. Oh and when visiting Kutcharitaville Cafe be sure and try-out their Goody Goody’s, “The World’s Greatest Cheese Burgers”. And that’s a fact, they really are!
    God Bless,…..Andrea Stofer

  8. I doubled this recipe, made it very thick in a cheese cake pan with a thicker crust too. I plan on serving it in tall, thin slices. It looks really great! Can’t wait to dig in! (I made a smaller pie with the leftovers).

  9. Do you freeze this with the whipped cream topping? or freeze the pie and then add the whipped cream?

  10. Oh my…I’m gonna have to try this recipe sometime. I’ve never made a pie before, but if you say it’s foolproof…I’ll have to give it a try!

  11. Have you ever tried the pies at Anita and Kutchie Pelaez’s Key Lime Pie Factory over next to the Biltmore House in Asheville? Boy O Boy those pies must be made by Angles!

  12. How long before serving do you take out of freezer? I did not take out until serving time and it was hard as a rock. So next time I took it out of fridge few hours before, and it was soupy.


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