Key Lime (or Not) Pie Recipe | Cook the Book


As is the case for most people of Jewish-American heritage, I have been blessed with doting grandparents. They have relentlessly fawned, fussed, and worried over me for as long as I can remember. No matter how healthy my stature or how rosy my cheeks, they are always concerned that I am too thin, or perhaps a bit tired. Typically, when the weather turns cold they migrate to Florida, to magical places called Boca Raton and Coconut Grove.

My childhood was filled with many meals at diners and many slices of pie. These diner meals were usually facilitated by my grandparents, usually taken at a diner on the Jersey Turnpike en route to my grandparents' beach house outside of Atlantic City. I liked nothing more than a hot open-faced turkey sandwich drenched in brown gravy, followed by a 6-inch tall slice of lemon meringue pie. I was twelve years old when I took my first solo plane ride down to Boca to visit my grandparents and it was on this trip that I had my first slice of Key lime pie. I'm not sure if it was the tropical landscape or the unique tang of the Key limes, but I haven't had a slice of lemon meringue pie since, from that moment on it was Key lime all the way.

Key limes can be a bit hard to come by, but this recipe for Key Lime (Or Not) Pie from Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies by Mollie Cox Bryan is forgiving. You can substitute fresh lime juice for Key lime juice and end up with a pie that is equally delicious. Topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, key lime (or just plain old lime) pie is unbeatable.

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Recipe Facts



Total: 0 mins
Makes: 1 pie

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  • 1 recipe Graham Cracker Crust, prebaked (recipe follows)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 rounded teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1 (14-ounce can) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, made with Key limes or regular limes
  • 1 1/2 cups fine graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

  2. Whisk the egg yolk and lime zest together in a bowl for about 2 minutes, until a light greenish yellow color. Whisk in the milk, then the lime juice, and set aside at room temperature for about 5 minutes, until the filling thickens, and the whisk leaves tracks in it. Spread the filling evenly in the crust.

  3. Bake for about 15 minutes, until almost completely set. The filling should wobble a bit when the pan is jiggled. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before slicing.

  4. For the Graham Cracker Crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the crumbs in a small bowl and stir in the sugar. Pour the melted butter over the crumbs and mix thoroughly. Press the mixture evenly into a 9-inch pie plate.

  5. Bake the empty crust for 8 to 10 minutes, until a dark golden brown (it will continue to harden as it cools). Cool the crust on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before filling. This crust can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.