When it comes to the best lime pie recipes, I have fond memories of one in particular – and, of course, it dates back to college. The Olive Garden housed the cutting edge indulgences of my younger self. Sure, dinner was fine, but what I couldn’t wait for was dessert: a slice of black tie mousse cake and a slice of key lime pie. Garnished with whipped cream, the latter was a real piece of resistance! When I couldn’t tell you what Actually went to the dreamy and delicious pies of my youth, there is one thing I am sure of: my discernment dessert palette has only evolved over the years.
With summer in full swing, my dessert cravings are light, tangy, and full of spice. Refreshing sweets at the end of a meal that still satisfy the need for a little treat. The best key lime pie recipe checks all the boxes for a stellar summer dessert. It’s the one that celebrates the season and will make everyone linger a little longer around the table. To confirm once and for all what constitutes the best (of the best) lime pie, I was more than a little excited to post a few recipes to cooking test.
rules of the road
Normally this is where I tell you all that all recipes are followed exactly as written without any adjustments for personal tastes or flavor preferences. That’s still true, but for this particular bake, I made a half portion of each recipe instead of a full pie (my pie-loving heart Is has its limits!). I used a scale to weigh the halves to ensure accuracy when cooking. I’m just trying to minimize food waste here, y’all! All pies were baked the day before and eaten the next day.
My team of seven taste testers all aligned with the following guidelines when grading each of the pies.
- Filling flavor. Bright and zesty without being too sour or sweet. The lime should be forward but not overwhelming.
- Fill texture. Creamy and smooth, not too dense but firm enough to hold its shape.
- Crust texture. Should add a nice crunch without harming the pie.
Most key lime pie recipes only require a handful of ingredients. Limes, condensed milk and egg yolks. For this reason, see slight variations in quantities or additional ingredients added to the subtle distinctions that made each recipe stand out.
Now for the best part! Keep scrolling to find out which recipe reigned supreme in our Key Lime Pie Bake-Off.
#5 Barefoot Contessa Frozen Key Lime Pie
When I first tried this recipe, I had to go back and check that I hadn’t missed anything, which usually isn’t a good start. The good part about this contender for the best key lime pie recipe is that it’s almost entirely no-bake. The graham cracker crust is baked then filled and frozen. The rest though, we had some issues with.
First, I had a few taste testers who weren’t so enthusiastic about the raw egg yolk situation. Although some traditionalists insist that key lime pies be made with the filling uncooked, my team was unanimously against raw eggs. This also impacted the flavor as some noted it was a bit eggy.
The biggest issue, however, was the texture. The recipe says to prep the pie before slicing so you can slice it, but the pie basically melted in 30 minutes (not ideal!). Overall, I like the novelty of a frozen pie, but we had some structural qualms with this one. If you try it, eat it straight out of the freezer to ensure a solid pie.
Get the recipe from Frozen lime pie.
#4 Petra Paredez Lime Meringue Pie
Our ratings on this pie were actually quite positive and everyone enjoyed their slices. The flavors of the pie filling were very well balanced without being overly sweet, and the lime taste was nice as well. There was some debate over whether the meringue topping was really necessary. While the salted vanilla meringue was tasty, most tasters preferred a meringue whipped cream filling.
As the person who put together each recipe, I thought making meringue required a lot of effort and extra dishes when whipped cream would have been perfectly fine. (Although this is a great way to use up leftover egg whites by only using yolks in the filling!) In the end, this pie recipe was good, but some of the other recipes beat it on the technical details.
Get the recipe from Lime meringue pie.
#3 Grandbaby Cakes Key Lime Pie
This is a very good lime pie recipe. However, I have to admit I was skeptical when I found out that it didn’t use lime zest and included vanilla in the filling. But upon closer examination (and more intentional tasting), I found that the vanilla adds a nice, almost floral flavor to the filling.
Taste testers noted that this one leaned towards the slightly sweeter side, but it satisfied the sweet tooth of the bunch. My testers who aren’t fans of key lime pie also enjoyed this one. However, I think the lack of lime zest makes a difference in flavor. If you really want to enhance the lime, mix it into the filling. The texture was incredibly smooth and overall it made a really good pie.
Get the recipe from Lime tart.
#2 Key Lime Pie from Hummingbird High
This key lime pie had all the ingredients of a classic and got very high marks. The recipe combines Miette’s homemade graham crackers with Martha Stewart’s lime pie filling mixed in a pie pan. I admit that was my first thought: Do we really need to make homemade graham crackers when buying a box is so easy (and convenient!)? However, homemade crackers give the crust a noticeable difference in texture. Yes, it’s extra effort, so you have my permission to use store-bought crackers. As for the final judgment, we loved the zesty, lime-filled flavor of the filling. And with the creamy texture of this pie, we were all fast fans.
Get the recipe from Lime tart.
#1 Key Lime Pie with Coconut from Cozy Kitchen
Drum roll please… this might be one of the best key lime pies I have ever had. I was skeptical at first because of the coconut milk added to the filling. I knew the flavor would work well, but wasn’t sure if it would be overpowering when paired with the limes. However, the coconut milk acted as a nice sweet base that helped temper the lime and keep it from being too sour.
Some tasters couldn’t even tell there was coconut milk in the filling! The lime flavor was crisp without being overpowering, and the one thing I noticed after baking each pie was that Adriana’s recipe is the only one that calls for salt in the filling. It makes a difference in terms of bringing out the flavors. The texture was absolute perfection in its thick creaminess, and it was the only pie that all of my taste testers ate in its entirety. Run, don’t walk to make this pie.
Get the recipe from Lime Pie with Coconut.