The Wiggle Test To Check If Your Key Lime Pie Is Underbaked

Name a better summertime treat than key lime pie — we'll wait. Once your fork slices through that silky, bouncy filling that's exploding with bright lime zesty-ness and luscious sweetness and hits that crunchy graham cracker crust, you're in for a refreshing indulgence. It's a versatile bake, too. You can make a classic key lime pie, turn to a recipe for a key lime pie with lime meringue, or add tart cherries to your key lime pie.

Baking key lime pie is pretty simple when it comes to ingredients — all you need is key lime juice and lime zest, eggs, condensed milk, that graham cracker crust, and whipped cream or meringue. What can be a little tougher, however, is knowing when the pie is perfectly baked. That creamy filling can be deceiving: How absolutely solid should it be? How much should it wiggle? 

To tell if your pie is underbaked, gently pat the side of the pie tin to make the baked treat dance a bit. If the center ripples all the way across, from side to side, that pie is not fully baked. The cream is still leaning more on the liquid side, which explains how much it's moving. Cut into that pie and the center may pool out onto your plate.

Other tips for checking if key lime pie is underbaked or overbaked

Key lime pie demands a delicate balance. Baking instructions in standard recipes range from 8 to 15 minutes for the crust, plus another 10 to 20 minutes for the filling, depending on the pie's size. Just as recipes vary, though, so do ovens, which makes the bounce test a great way to ensure key lime pie is not underbaked. But you'll also want to make sure it's not overbaked. For this, do the same test as you would for underbaked pie, but this time, look for little-to-no movement. The edges of the center may also show some puffing and cracking. This means it's been in the oven too long and has lost its creaminess. As for the perfectly baked key lime pie, it will have a filling that is custardy but holds firm, wiggling only slightly in the center.

For some back-up underbaked or overbaked tests, you can also stick a toothpick into the custard; if it comes out clean, the pie is done. You can keep an eye on the crust, too, as a perfectly baked key lime pie has a golden brown shell. If you have a thermometer in your kitchen, you could test the pie and make sure it's around 145 degrees Fahrenheit. For your first few bakes, it's a good idea to try a couple of tests. Then you'll get to know what a just-right bake looks like, so a wiggle test is all you need.