Ever wondered why Key lime pie doesn’t contain cream or milk? The Florida Keys, where the vibrant citrus comes from, didn’t have access to fresh dairy when the pie was developed, hence the filling’s sweetened condensed milk. Going along with the history of the pie, we top it with meringue instead of whipped cream for an extra layer of richness and a fluffy texture.
This pie filling is relatively easy. And though you can simply spoon on the topping, we challenge you to get creative with piping the meringue. Using a large star tip, you can swirl a ring on top of the pie that can be filled with stars of meringue and then torched. It’s a simple way to elevate presentation for this bright dessert.
To learn more, read “TT Culinary Institute: Key Lime Pie.”
Key Lime Pie
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: One 9-inch pie
Prep Time: 25 minutes, plus overnight chilling
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, plus overnight chilling
For the Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
For the Filling:
6 egg yolks
Two 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup fresh Key lime juice
1 teaspoon Key lime zest, plus more for garnish
½ teaspoon salt
For the Topping:
2 egg whites
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350º. In a medium bowl, stir together all the crust ingredients until incorporated. Press the mixture evenly on the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake until the crust is set, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool.
2. Make the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add the remaining filling ingredients and whisk until smooth. Pour into the cooled pie shell, return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely, then chill overnight.
3. The next day, make the topping: In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the syrup has reached 240º. With the mixer’s motor running, slowly pour in the sugar syrup and continue to beat until stiff peaks form and the meringue has cooled completely, 5 minutes. Spoon onto the center of the pie and torch until golden. Garnish with more Key lime zest, then slice and serve.