This easy key lime pie with coconut whipped cream is tangy with a delicious balance of tart and sweet. A homemade dessert with a classic graham cracker crust, it instantly makes me feel like I’m on vacation. With only 20 minutes of active time, it’s surprisingly easy to make and can be prepared the day in advance for easy entertaining.
Originally appearing on the blog in May 2067, the recipe was last updated in July 2019.
The first time I ate this key lime pie, I thought I was in heaven. It was tart and tangy with just a hint of sweet. It was like a key lime flavor explosion for my taste buds.
Then I learned it was only nine ingredients and I was shocked. How could something so delicious be so simple? Shouldn’t it take hours of mixing and whipping and baking to come up with something this impressive?
Truth is that while it is simple, it does need time to bake and then it needs to chill four or more hours after you’ve put it together. While it’s technically not quick to make, that extra chilling time just means you can make it in advance.
The Origins of my Key Lime Pie Recipe
This recipe was a gift from my friend Christie. As far as I know it’s a recipe that has been passed through their family for years. It may have come from the back of the bottle of key lime juice, it could have been shared by a famous pie maker, or it could have been concocted by a relative on a lazy Sunday afternoon. All I know for sure is that when Christie shared this pie with me we would be friends forever.
The recipe Christie gave me didn’t need any changes. That said, I did make one. I swapped the plain whipped cream for coconut whipped cream. The simple change from vanilla extract to coconut extract is what takes this pie over the top for me. The subtle coconut flavor blends with the key lime and really makes me feel like I’m on a tropical vacation.
Homemade Key Lime Pie – VIDEO
Below I’ll walk you through all the steps and have attached the recipe, but for a quick overview of the entire process, check out this video. Note, that while the photos have been updated the video is originally from May 2016.
Homemade Graham Cracker Crust
The easiest way to make a homemade graham cracker crust with whole graham crackers is to use the food processor. The food processor does all the work for you. Don’t have a food processor? You can conveniently purchase graham cracker crumbs instead of full crackers. If you can’t find those, crush the graham crackers by hand or with a rolling pin.
Use a 9″ or 10″ pie pan and don’t skip the step of pre-baking the crust. These extra few minutes in the oven makes the difference between a crust that crumbles on the plate and one that is easy to eat. It also helps give it a bit of a chewy, rather than crumbly, texture.
Key Lime Pie Filling
Once the crust is out of the oven, make the filling. This gives the crust a few minutes to cool so that your egg yolks don’t cook instantly with contact. You can use your stand mixer for this step, but I usually do it by hand.
Yes, I’ll have to dig out stand mixer for the whipped cream, but I usually make the pie a day early and prefer to whip the cream just before serving.
Key Lime Juice or Regular Lime Juice
Warning, what I’m about to admit may be controversial. My first preference for this pie is bottled key lime juice, followed by freshly squeezed lime juice. Yes, I know it’s a key lime pie recipe, but have you ever tasted key limes and regular limes side by side? There isn’t a HUGE difference in their taste.
Where I do find a huge taste difference is between bottled key lime juice and bottled regular lime juice. To me the bottled regular lime juice has an off flavor that I just don’t like, even though I love the flavor of fresh limes.
While regular limes can be found in abundance in my area, key limes can be difficult to find, and since they are tiny, it takes a whole lot of them to make enough juice for this pie. If I’m going to go for fresh, I’m going to opt for regular limes.
Afterall, I’m not sure if the title really refers to the inclusion of key limes, or if it’s referring to how they make their pies in Key West Florida, where this pie originates. Bottom line: use the lime juice you like best. Any of them will give you better results than you will ever get from a boxed mix.
Homemade Coconut Whipped Cream
Homemade whipped cream is one of my favorite ways to improve a homemade dessert. You can choose to sweeten it or not. You can flavor it with extracts, liqueres, or fruit juices, or leave it plain. One of my favorites is this Maple Bourbon Whipped Cream.
For this pie, my favorite is a slightly sweetened coconut whipped cream. You can use coconut extract or a coconut rum for the flavor, depending on what you have on hand. They both have the same alcohol content and will do the same job, so swapping one for the other is an even trade.
Make the whipped cream in a stand mixer with the wire whisk attachment, mixing on high until the cream thickens. Be careful not to overmix or you will make butter. You can serve the whipped cream on the side, dollop it on each slice as you serve it, or pipe it on in a pretty arrangement.
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Key Lime Pie with Coconut Whipped Cream Recipe
Key lime pie with coconut whipped cream is easy homemade dessert, that can make any summer evening feel like a tropical vacation. With a homemade graham cracker crust, tart and tangy lime filling, and coconut whipped cream topping, it’s a surprisingly easy summer treat that will satisfy the whole family. Make it the day in advance and serve chilled.
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Graham Cracker Crust:
- 1 1/4 cups of graham cracker crumbs, 9 - 2 1/4" x 4 3/4" crackers
- 2 TBSP sugar
- 5 TBSP melted butter
Key Lime Pie Filling:
- 1 - 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of Key Lime juice
Coconut Whipped Cream:
- 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup of powdered sugar
- 1 tsp coconut extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Place graham crackers and sugar into the food processor. Process on high until no cracker chunks remain.
- While the food processor is running on low, drizzle in the melted butter and let it mix about 30 seconds longer. The consistency should be similar to wet sand.
- Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9" or 10" pie pan.
- Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
- Cool the crust for 10 minutes while making the filling.
- Whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice, and egg yolks.
- Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake at 350 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes. The 10" pie will bake faster than the 9" pie.
- You will know it's done when the center is set. Test by gently shaking the pie. If the center moves separate from the rest of the pie it needs another minute or two.
- Cool the pie on the stovetop or a cooling rack for 30 - 45 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a quart sized canning jar if using an immersion blender) combine heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and coconut extract.
- Mix on high until the cream thickens, being careful not to overmix or you will make butter.
- Serve the whipped cream on the side, dollop it on each slice as you serve it, or pipe it on using a plastic bag.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 490 Total Fat: 27g Saturated Fat: 16g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 10g Cholesterol: 168mg Sodium: 215mg Carbohydrates: 55g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 47g Protein: 8g