Vegan Key Lime Pie Recipe

Key lime pie has been an American classic since the late 1800s, according to What's Cooking America, and like many a classic, certain unwritten rules apply. When it comes to Key lime pie, certain ingredients are pretty crucial, including the highly aromatic Key lime, sweetened condensed milk, and rich yellow egg yolks. That said, legend has it that Key lime pie came about as a workaround for the creamy tart lemon pies favored by fishermen around the Florida Keys because Key limes were plentiful compared with lemons, and canned milk could be stored for longer periods than fresh cream. In other words, as much as Key lime pie has its "traditions," those traditions were made to be broken. 

That is where recipe developer and wellness consultant Miriam Hahn comes in with her vegan version of Key lime pie. "I started making Key lime pie years ago," Hahn explains. After getting into plant-based eating, Hahn started experimenting with how she could make a vegan version. "Cashews are often used to replace cream in recipes so that is what I decided to use for my base," she adds. It worked, and she proceeded to develop this recipe, which uses no eggs or cream, and ultimately, no Key limes, which may not be readily available in your neck of the woods. Read on to learn how you too can make a delectable Key lime pie for the plant-based eating era.  

Gather your ingredients for vegan Key lime pie

To make Hahn's ingenious recipe for a vegan version of Key lime pie, you'll need 1 cup of unsalted, raw cashews, which you'll be soaking before processing into a fine, smooth cashew cream, 1 cup of canned coconut milk (go ahead and use the full-fat version, Hahn recommends), ¼ cup of coconut oil, ½ cup of frozen limeade (thawed), the zest from two limes (plus more for garnish), and ¼ cup of maple syrup. You'll also need a ready-made crust. Hahn recommends using a graham cracker crust, just be sure to use a vegan one!

Soak the cashews

To get started with the prep for this vegan Key lime pie, place your unsalted raw cashews in a bowl, and boil enough water to completely cover them. Hahn advises Tasting Table that the traditional method for making cashew "cream" is to soak the cashews overnight; however, Hahn finds that 30 minutes of soaking time is plenty sufficient to soften the cashews enough to blend them into cream. FYI, Hahn uses the same method to make vegan cheese from cashews.

Transfer the cashews into a blender with the rest of the filling ingredients

After the cashews have soaked for at least 30 minutes, you can go ahead and drain them. Transfer the soaked cashews to the container of a high-speed blender. Add the coconut milk, the coconut oil, the limeade, the lime zest, and the maple syrup. This combination of ingredients is your key to Key lime flavor without Key limes, but if you'd prefer a more tart version you can feel free to leave out the maple syrup, Hahn advises. Further, "if you find Key limes and want to use them, you can use 1/2 cup of key lime juice instead of the limeade concentrate" because Key limes "are sweeter than standard limes" and therefore won't need limeade for sweetness.

Assemble the pie

With all the Key lime pie ingredients in your high-speed blender, turn your blender on to a high speed, and let the blender do its work until the filling has attained a "very smooth"  consistency, Hahn advises. Pour the filling into whichever pre-made crust you selected. Then cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for four hours. The filling should now be the consistency of hard ice cream. If you prefer a creamier filling, let the pie sit out for 20 minutes after freezing to soften up. In either case, top slices with additional lime zest, serve, and enjoy your vegan taste of the Florida keys. 

Vegan Key Lime Pie Recipe
5 from 23 ratings
This Key lime pie recipe incorporates all of that creamy, citrus-filled goodness of the classic dessert, but in a completely vegan rendition.
Prep Time
30
minutes
Cook Time
0
minutes
Servings
8
Slices
vegan key lime pie slice
Total time: 30 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup frozen limeade, thawed
  • zest from 2 limes + more for garnish
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust
Directions
  1. Place the cashews in a bowl, and boil enough water to cover them. Soak the cashews in boiling water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Drain the water off of the cashews, and add them to a high-speed blender.
  3. Add the coconut milk, coconut oil, limeade, lime zest, and maple syrup to the blender, and run until very smooth.
  4. Pour this filling into the pre-made graham cracker crust.
  5. Cover the pie and freeze for 4 hours.
  6. Add additional lime zest on the top before serving.
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