Key Lime Pie – One of Florida’s Most Famous Foods

Do you love the mouthwatering tartness and creaminess of a key lime pie?

There is no better place to get Key Lime Pie then in Key West, Florida. In fact, it is a must have dessert when visiting the Florida Keys. With it’s tartness and sweetness combined in a creamy pie, it is a delightful taste sensation.

What makes this fruit so special?

While you probably wouldn’t want to eat Key Limes alone with their extreme tartness, the Key Lime makes a great addition to desserts, specifically, the Key Lime Pie.

All About those Key Limes

Oh, those yummy and tart Key Limes! They are smaller than regular limes, typically green when picked, but more yellow when ripe, and they are much more tart. They only grow in climates where the weather stays warm and never dips below freezing temperatures (tropical and sub-tropical climates), which is why it became popular in the Florida Keys. The Key Lime was brought into the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 16th century and became naturalized throughout tropical areas of South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the Florida Keys.

While Key Limes are no longer commercially grown in South Florida and are produced mostly in India, Mexico, Egypt and other countries in the West Indies, the Key Lime has become an important part of the culture of Key West. Many homeowners have Key Lime trees and Key Lime Pie is a staple dessert in the Florida Keys.

Key Limes are so special in Key West, they even have a festival dedicated to this amazingly tart fruit. The Key Lime Festival is held annually in Key West as a celebration of its importance to the culture of Key West.

The History behind Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Trees were common in the Florida Keys by the 1800’s. And at a place and time when refrigeration was not common, fresh milk was not common, and finding ways to make things that wouldn’t spoil was very common, innovation happened. Sweetened condensed milk was combined with the natively grown Key Lime and the result was a delightful dessert that became a stable in Key West.

The exact origin and who created this delectable dessert is unknown. Some say it probably was a fisherman, while others claim it was a rich man’s cook, Aunt Sally. And it seems that it is likely that Aunt Sally is the one who got the pie noticed, as the story goes, once she started making the pie, word spread and everyone came to Aunt Sally for a slice of her Key Lime Pie.

Another Piece of Pie Please!

So next time you get down to the Florida Keys, Make sure you grab a slice of the original Key Lime Pie.

Can’t get to the Florida Keys?
Try making your own Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie is actually pretty simple to make. It is made with Key Lime juice (from Key West Key Limes if you can get some!), Sweetened Condensed Milk and egg yolks in a pie crust. Many recipes use the egg whites that are left over to make a meringue topping while others top it with whipped cream. The pie crust can be graham cracker or regular pie crust. And best of all, it only takes about 10-20 minutes prep time, depending on the options you choose!

Here’s our Best Authentic Key Lime Pie Recipe:

Start with a graham cracker crust – Easy to homemake!
Simply mix graham cracker crumbs (1.5 cups), light brown sugar (1/2 cup), and melted butter (6 tbsp melted). Press into the bottom and sides of a 8 – 9″ pie pan. Pre-bake in 325 degree oven for about 7 minutes.

Easy Filling:

  • ​​​​​​2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk, 4 large egg yolks, 3/4 cup key lime juice, and you can add some zest from the limes. If you are using a bottled key lime juice, you can skip the zest. Note: some recipes skip the egg yolks and add in either 1/2 c. sour cream, cream cheese or greek yogurt, which are all great options if you don’t want to use the eggs.
  • Beat the egg yolks (with zest if you have it) and slowly whisk in the sweetened condensed milk. Slowly add the key lime juice mixing slightly until blended.
  • Pour the lime filling over the pie crust and bake for about 10 minutes. Chill for 3 hours before serving.


Key Lime Pie can be topped with either whipped cream or meringue. If you opted for egg yolks in your pie, then use the egg whites and make a meringue!

Alternative Additions and Toppings: 

Fo a vegan key lime pie use sour cream, vegan cream cheese, or avocados.

Some fun toppings include various fruits that compliment the tart key lime, such as strawberries or raspberries. Or try adding fudge or chocolate drizzles over whipped cream. You can also add nuts sprinkled on top or added to the pie crust.

Check out these amazingly delicious recipes:

Emeril’s Twist on Key Lime Pie

Here’s a Great Traditional Key Lime Pie

About the author

Patti Jewel

Content Marketing Expert and owner of a content focused digital agency. Patti is also a life-long Florida resident, beach lover, nature lover, who is always looking for the positive things to focus on in Florida.