Let me just start by confessing that I did not use Key limes for this pie, and while we’re being so honest, this is really more of a tart than a pie (although I won’t claim any credit for that fault, since I didn’t name it). Key limes or no key limes, it really doesn’t matter here—whichever lime you choose to use will be excellent in this super-tart, absolutely delicious dessert.
I made this for a couple of get-togethers with friends last summer, and I’m sure I’ll do the same this year. It’s the perfect make-ahead dessert for a casual backyard hang out, a birthday celebration, or any other reason you might have to gather. It makes me think of bare feet in cool grass, dappled light from tree limbs dancing overhead, a warm breeze lifting the hair off of sticky necks, loud voices chatting about trips and pets and old friends, laughter alighting around the yard like butterflies, cans of beer and fizzy water perspiring in the holders of camp chairs. I passed pieces of this pie around as the last of the evening light waned, tea lights twinkling overhead like stars: a wonderful way to end a gathering.
Let’s talk about this “pie” (I know I have to get over the inaccuracy of that word, but it’s truly tough to do): the crust is salty, sweet, golden, buttery; the filling is almost too tart (but it’s not), tasting so clearly of lime that it’s actually surprising; the topping is creamy, light, the perfect compliment to the mouth-puckering filling. A bite of this pie has a similar cooling effect in the mouth to fresh mint, exactly what you want on a warm summer evening.
You’ll have to work a little while to get the crust evenly spread across the bottoms and sides—it’s a relatively thick crust, but I wouldn’t want it any thinner. You can also double the topping, if you’d like more cream, but I find that this ratio works super well (for me). Feel free to pipe it on top if you’d like, though it’s a little bit soft for clear piping work and, honestly, I like the carefree approach a little better.
Key Lime Pie
makes one 9-inch pie / adapted from Alison Roman’s recipe in Dining In
15 graham crackers
6 tbsp coconut oil, melted
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp kosher salt
4 large egg yolks
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
3 tsp finely grated lime zest, from 2-3 limes
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, from about 8-14 limes (depending on size)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Break the graham crackers up into a food processor. Pulse until the crackers are the texture of thick sand—a few chunks that are closer to pea-sized is fine. (Alternatively, beat the graham crackers in a large plastic bag using a spoon or rolling pin.) Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl and add the melted 6 tbsp each of coconut oil and butter, 1 tbsp sugar, and 3/4 tsp kosher salt. Stir until everything is evenly moistened. Dump this mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and press the crumbs down and around the sides until you have an even, if rather delicate, crust. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the edges start to brown. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer (this is super easy to do with a handheld one) or by hand, whisk the 4 egg yolks until pale, about 2-4 minutes. Whisk in the sweetened condensed and mix for another few minutes, until the mixture is even lighter in color and texture. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the 3 tsp lime zest, 1 cup lime juice, and pinch of salt until just combined. Pour the mixture into your partially baked crust, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until it looks set but the middle is still a little wobbly when you shake it.
Let your pie cool completely—I like to bake mine in the morning and let it sit in the fridge until later in the evening, or I’ll even bake it the day before I want to serve it so it has ample time to cool.
A few hours or right before you want to serve the pie, whisk the 1/2 cup heavy cream with the 3 tbsp powdered sugar using an electric mixer (or, if you want a workout, by hand) until it reaches medium-stiff peaks—essentially, the cream should hold a point, or little mountain peak, when you draw the whisk out of it, but not so stiff that it’s closer to the texture of soft butter. Whisk in the 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, just until you achieve those medium-stiff peaks again.
Scrape the whole cream mixture onto the top of the pie and, using an offset or rubber spatula, smooth and swirl it around as much as you’d like. Zest a lime over the top if you’d like (it does add a nice touch). Eat immediately or store in the fridge for a few hours or up to 5 days (once you put the cream on it’s best eaten within a couple of days). Enjoy!