Why It Pays To Mix Up Key Lime Pie In Advance

Lots of recipes for key lime pie praise the dessert because it's so easy to make. It doesn't call for tons of ingredients, and that should make it foolproof, right? Evidently, that's not the case, as stories abound recounting key lime pies gone wrong. While Once Upon a Chef explains there's no need to juice roughly a billion tiny key limes and that regular limes work just fine for the recipe, there are also cooks, like Charity Robey, a writer for Shelter Island Reporter, who substituted evaporated milk and sugar for the sweetened condensed milk and ended up with "key lime soup," which was destined for the garbage can.

So we understand the key lime pie is not, in fact, foolproof. There are actually useful strategies for getting your key lime pie to turn out properly. And when it's done right, key lime pie is heavenly — sweet, tart, creamy, and with an absolutely silky texture. There's one step that requires a bit of patience but will dramatically improve your key lime pie results.

Mixing your key lime pie filling in advance ensures a perfectly smooth consistency

If you want to know the insider scoop on the perfect key lime pie, there's probably nobody better to ask than the executive pastry chef for the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida. Chef Sebastien Thieffine talked to Food & Wine and shared his considerable expertise. Given the thousands of slices sold each week by the Ritz, Sebastien knows a thing or two.

One of Sebastien's most interesting suggestions is to make the filling for the pie — which includes only egg yolks, key lime juice (he uses Nellie & Joe's), and sweetened condensed milk — the day before you bake it. It's critical not to incorporate too much air into the mixture, and letting that filling settle for at least 3-4 hours will ensure all the air works its way out, leaving the dense, silky, and rich texture you're going for. While there are plenty of no-bake recipes for key lime pie, like The Pioneer Woman's, which combines cream cheese, lime juice, and sweetened condensed milk for a filling that sets in the refrigerator, Sebastien takes a different tack, baking his completely smooth filling for about an hour at 200 degrees F. The result is a luscious, creamy perfection, whether you bake one single large pie or divvy it up into individual jars for a cute, sweet treat.