Taste of the South: Key Lime Pie

For more than 100 years Southerners have been enjoying the sweet-and-tart Key lime pie. Whip up this easy Key lime pie recipe for a flavor-filled dessert.

Key Lime Pie
True Key lime pies are never green and are always made with sweetened condensed milk. Try our traditional Key lime pie recipe tonight. Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas

Key Lime Pie Recipes:

Just as Memphis is known for barbecue and New Orleans is celebrated for gumbo, Key West is internationally famous for Key lime pie. Every restaurant in the city serves this Southern specialty.


Origins of Key Lime Pie

Despite the dessert's immediate name recognition, there's certainly no shortage of theories surrounding its origin or its ingredients.

No one can pinpoint when lime pie first showed up in the Keys. Developed by early Bahamian settlers, Key lime pie appears to have been around for more than 100 years. Debating the history, though, is child's play compared to the arguments that can erupt over the mechanics of the pie. Opinions differ on whether it should contain eggs or even if it should be baked—and that's just for the filling!

You could probably incite a riot discussing Key lime pie's topping and crust. Should the topping be made of whipped cream or meringue? Does it call for a graham cracker crust or a pastry crust?

Key Lime Pie Basics

Key West locals—"conchs," as they're called—do adhere to a few universals for Key lime pie. First, Key lime pie is never green, but rather a natural creamy yellow. it's always made with small, round key limes, not the large Persian limes found in grocery stores. And any Key lime pie worth its weight—and taste—is made with sweetened condensed milk. Never milk. That is because milk was unavailable in the Florida Keys until the 1930s with the opening of the overseas highway when tank trunks carrying ice could get to the region. And after much debate the Key Lime Pie was made Florida's official pie in 2006.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles