Key lime pie

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Inspired by her recent trip to Florida, Urvashi shares her key lime pie recipe – a classic American dessert made from condensed milk, cream and lime juice. Perfect for a stress-free dinner party dessert, it can be made the day before and set overnight.

First published in 2016

My family holidays are researched around food. We watch tons of food programmes and are inspired by the different cuisines that even my very food-orientated family have yet to try. So when we decided to spend Christmas and New Year in Florida, it wasn’t long before my girls discovered that it was famous for key lime pie. And so food holiday objective number one was set – to find the best key lime pie in Florida.

We started on the Gulf Coast. Key lime pie from the convenience store and a sunrise breakfast on Fort de Soto beach. It was sickeningly sweet but that may have just been our jet-lagged tastebuds.

Orlando came next. Surely the home of Mickey and Minnie would produce Florida’s tastiest key lime pie? Nope. We found cookies: giant ones, chocolate ones and double-sandwiched ones, but no key lime pie.

How about NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre? Surely those astronauts would insist on packing Florida’s finest into a vacuum bag? Wouldn’t Mission Control be fuelled by this sugary treat prior to lift off? Sadly no. We found space ice cream but no key lime pie.

Our midway point of the holiday was Miami. I was hopeful. It’s a huge city with a wide variety of cultures. From food trucks to rooftop restaurants, the Floridian food scene is incredible. Focussed on our target in this sprawling city, we booked a culinary tour with those in the know. We scoured South Beach and Little Havana, but our eureka moment came in the arty district of Wynwood at Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop. Derek really is a firefighter. He just bakes in his spare time and the verdict was a thumbs up for his key lime pie.

Our final stop was Key West. The southernmost point in the whole of America. More importantly, it is also here that key lime pie is said to have originated back in the early 20th century. The pie was created by the sponge fisherman using ingredients they happened to have handy one day; condensed milk, graham crackers and key limes.

Key lime pie was everywhere in this town. Cocktails, preserves, chocolates, sweets. You name it, it had a key lime pie version. Our favourite was key lime pie ice cream at Flamingo Crossing on the infamous Duvall Street.

So to sum up our quest, the closest we got to a good pie was Miami. It had been a fun search and the calories were worth it. I’ve recreated the pie back home here in the UK. I’ve stayed true to the key limes and the condensed milk used in original recipes but decided to use a sweet pastry base rather than the traditional biscuit one.




Pastry base

To grease the tins

Key lime filling

  • 300ml of cream
  • 400g of condensed milk
  • 1 tbsp of lime zest, plus extra to garnish
  • 120ml of lime juice, about 15 key limes or 5 large limes
  • icing sugar, optional


To make the pastry, place the flour and cold butter in a food processor and blitz until you have the texture of breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg and lime juice and blend until a ball of dough forms
Tip out on to a work surface and knead the dough lightly until smooth. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and grease 12 x 8cm loose-bottomed tart tins with the melted butter
Unwrap the dough and place it on a clean work surface. Roll the pastry into a log shape, then divide it into 12 balls. Roll each ball out to fit the pastry tins and line each one, being careful to press the pastry into the very edges of the tin
Line the tins with cling film, baking paper or foil and fill each with baking beans or dried rice
Blind bake the pastry for 10 minutes then remove the cling film and baking beans and bake for a further 5–7 minutes, or until the pastry is firm and golden brown. Remove the tart cases from the oven and leave to cool while you make the filling
To make the filling, whisk together the cream, condensed milk, lime juice and zest in a bowl. If it tastes too tart you can add some icing sugar at this point to sweeten the mixture slightly
Divide the filling between the tart cases. Garnish with a little lime zest and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set
First published in 2016

Urvashi finds food, baking, cooking and eating a therapeutic relief from every day work and family life.

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