The Best Subtle Additions To Add Texture To Key Lime Bar Crust

Key lime pie is one of the great American classics for a reason — a treat so beloved that both Florida and New York have battled out their claim on its origins. Made from a custard of lime juice and condensed milk on a graham cracker crust, the dessert is tart, sweet, and delicious. If you happen to live in the Florida Keys, you might be able to find yourself some of the ultra-tart, floral, and aromatic key limes the pie is named for. But if not, ordinary supermarket limes, known as Persian limes, will do just fine.

One of the best things about key lime pie, and its snackable cousin the key lime bar, is that they are relatively easy to make. Once you've got the custard down, all you have to worry about is the simple crust of crushed graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter. This means none of the drawn-out crust-making process that stokes fear in the hearts of novice bakers everywhere — just a no-bake crumb crust that honestly tastes just as good, if not better, than Nana's all-day apple pie crust.

But simple doesn't have to mean basic. There are a couple of tricks you can use to improve the graham cracker crust on your key lime bars with minimal effort.

Nutty key lime bars

A classic key lime bar base is made from graham crackers, which create a crunchy, crumbly crust that adds texture to an otherwise silky custard dessert. Graham crackers are made from graham flour, a type of whole wheat flour, and usually flavored with honey, giving them a slightly sweet, somewhat nutty taste.

But you can play up this nuttiness by adding chopped or crushed nuts like pistachios, pecans, almonds, walnuts, or macadamia nuts. It's best to use nuts with a mild flavor as opposed to things like peanuts or hazelnuts, which have a distinctive taste that might clash with the strong citrus element of key lime bars; You can also lean into this and choose a nut with a complimentary flavor, such as coconut. (And before you start drafting that email, yes, we know coconut is not technically a nut.)

Cookies or crackers are a nut-free alternative

If you want to avoid triggering any nut allergies or you feel like flexing your baking skills a little, omit the nuts and replace your graham cracker crust with a shortbread one. While this requires more time, effort, and technical ability, the flaky, buttery goodness you'll achieve with a shortbread crust is well worth it. ... Or you can cheat by buying shortbread cookies and crushing them as you would with graham crackers. (We promise not to tell.)

In addition to true shortbread cookies, other simple grocery store cookies like Nilla Wafers work just as well; The sweet vanilla flavor pairs perfectly with the sour key lime filling. Some people also prefer to go a saltier route, using Saltines or another type of savory cracker for a salty-sour combo. Either way, the process will be easy as pie.