Bake a zesty Key Lime pie

By Jim Bailey

To anyone who gets riled up about this “delicate” pie recipe, please visit my new website,, Yankee Chef logofor more information on and alternative recipes for Key Lime Pie. You may be surprised what one can do to lower the cholesterol and add even more flavor to this fiercely protected Key Lime Pie.
When I refer to this pie as delicate, it is strictly because there are purists and there are … well, purists. Many swear by Graham cracker crust while others will fight for the pastry crust. Many purists believe that you should never substitute the four egg yolks, regardless of the health benefits.

There is one thing, though, that all Key Lime aficionados agree on. Do not ever use green food coloring. True Key Lime Pie should be an almost pale yellow in color. As for the limes, if you see that key limes are just simply too expensive, substitute regular limes. They are less acidic, and the taste will be just a tad less intense, but you will get the great citrus flavor nonetheless.

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie with whipped cream

The real deal

9 inch prepared graham cracker pie crust
15-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup key lime juice
3 to 4 teaspoons grated lime zest, optional*

Preheat oven to 325-degrees F. In a medium bowl, with a hand-held or tabletop mixer, beat the egg yolks on high until creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice and lime zest. Reduce the speed on your mixer to low and beat until just incorporated, about 1 minute. Many chefs simply stir this mixture with a wooden spoon, saying this is the only way to go.
Pour filling into the Graham cracker crust and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until the center is set but the edges are still slightly wobbly. Remove from the oven, let stand on counter for 30 minutes, then cover with film wrap to finish chilling completely in refrigerator. Enjoy with either whipped cream or … There are many who say that Key Lime Pie should have a meringue topping. Of course, if you were to take that route, you would have to beat your meringue with sugar, spread it on top of the chilled pie  as you would whipped cream. But many don’t like the idea of eating raw egg product but that would be entirely up to you. Mix it half-and-half with whipped cream if that makes you feel better.

* I don’t add zest to my recipe. I think it gives this great pie too much of an off-taste. But if you are a sticklerl with regards to an authentic Key Lime Pie, just add it.
Yankee Chef book coverSchiffer Books of Pennsylvania has released Jim Bailey’s new book The Yankee Chef: Feel Good Food for Every Kitchen. It contains more than 550 traditional New England comfort-food recipes tweaked for today’s palates with hundreds of kitchen tips and food facts. The hardback book is 312 pages and contains 200 color images. Its ISBN is 978-0-7643-4191-5 and the cost is $34.99. The book can be ordered through Misty Valley Books, 802-875-3400.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at

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