The Not-So-Secret Ingredient That Makes Publix's Key Lime Pie Delicious

For those unfamiliar with Publix grocery stores, the chain is known for its Southern hospitality, pristine shelf displays, and some signature in-house-made foods that have amassed quite a cult following. From its famous fried chicken to the giant cinnamon rolls, there are staple Publix items that every true Southerner knows and loves.

Publix's beloved key lime pie has been a long-time fan favorite. Key lime pie is a signature dish hailing from the Florida Keys, so it makes sense the grocery chain based in the same state would have a killer recipe. The pie perfectly combines sweet and tangy flavors, highlighting the tart citrus while maintaining a contrastingly creamy and cool base that keeps customers coming back again and again.

If you're looking to elevate your own key lime pie recipe, there are a few notes you'll want to take on Publix's rendition. Several copycat recipes online claim to have perfected this Publix dessert, but if you're trying to make your own recreation at home, you won't need to go hunting for a secret ingredient. Rather, the key to perfecting the Publix key lime pie is a simple ingredient added to the graham cracker crust.

It's not the graham crackers themselves that make the crust special, but rather the unique addition of crushed toasted almonds. The salty, earthy almonds compliment the strongly sweet flavors present in the velvety-smooth pie, elevating the overall experience of eating this dessert.

The key is in the crust

Depending on which key lime pie recipe you're fond of, home bakers opt for a flour crust or a graham cracker crust. The contentious topic may split some key lime pie lovers, but we think that the surprising addition of nuts elevates either crust. The salty, toasted almonds offer a great contrast to the sweet and tart pie, while the nut's crunchy texture perfectly compliments the creamy and rich filling. (And no one can deny the aesthetic value the almonds add, creating a flakey border around the mounds of whipped cream and smooth filling.)

If you don't have almonds on hand, you can add all kinds of other nuts instead to create the same effect. Try adding toasted pecans or walnuts; both can provide the same salty, toasted crunch as almonds. Your other pies could benefit from a nutty addition too: Consider, sprinkling toasted hazelnuts or roasted macadamia nuts around the edge of your next chocolate cream pie or banana cream pie, or you might consider adding macadamia nuts to your next peanut butter pie. Really, you can experiment with all kinds of nuts and pies to create your own signature combinations.

So follow Publix's lead; almost any creamy pie can benefit from the addition of salty, earthy nuts. And once you try adding this not-so-secret ingredient, you'll never be able to go back to your plain old pies — Key Lime or any other flavor — again.