from key lime pie to lemon pie & back again

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A trip to Florida, a trip to California: back home I made one of the most delicious desserts – it’s so easy!

If you need an all-the-year-round dessert, easy to assemble, easy to store: welcome to lime or lemon pie!

Some years ago my better half & I made a trip to Florida: after a start in Miami & Ft. Lauderdale we went to Cape Canaveral & further north to St. Augustine – one of the oldest towns in Florida. We crossed the state towards St. Petersburg & went south ending up on the Keys… and there one evening after dinner in a restaurant at the beach overlooking the ocean while the sky turned slowly red indulged in a warm breeze – I think you get the picture! – I had a piece of Key Lime Pie – the signature dessert of the Keys (as I learnt). It was simply delicious – all was simply perfect.


Last year we went to the USA West coast – to Pasadena especially – where we were heartily welcomed by my better half’s family … and Aunt Rosaleen prepared a delicious lemon pie! Of course I stored her recipe before starting into the National Park journey we’d planned (a summary coming soon!).

Back home I decided that it was time to start with my own lime & lemon pie adventures based on the pies I’d enjoyed & Aunt Rosaleen’s recipe!

Lime or lemon pie means:

  • there is a crust made of crumbs, sugar & butter
  • there is a filling made of sugared milk & cream
  • the flavour is defined by using either lemons or limes.

It sounds easy & it is really easy to prepare.


You start with a pie or quiche form (diameter 28 cm). For preparing the crumbs put the digestives in a zipper bag & crush it – use your rolling pin. (If you have a food processor you can let it do the work.) Melt the butter & mix it with the crumbs, add some sugar & don’t forget a pinch of salt.

Finally put the “dough” into the pie form & create a crust by just pressing evenly. Preheat the oven to 150° C fan & bake the crust for just 10 min – not longer. The crust will be crispy then – let it cool.




For the filling you’ll need a can of condensed milk – the one with lots of sugar -, some whipping cream, lime or lemon juice & fine shredded lime or lemon zest – that’s all.

Mix condensed milk with lime or lemon juice, whip the cream & fold it into the milk mix.




Last action point before putting the pie form in the fridge for some hours: fill the filling in the cooled crust & sprinkle with the lime or lemon zest.



Attention: When preparing the pie I did the “lemon” version – lemons are yellow, so the decoration is yellow! If you use lime – well: lime is green, so the decoration will be green: the last photo of this contribution (at the end) shows a lime pie!

Now the recipe!


from key lime pie to lemon pie & back again
If you need an all-the-year-round dessert, easy to assemble, easy to store: welcome to lime or lemon pie!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time10 mins
for the crust:
  • 150 gr plain digestives about 10
  • 40 gr icing sugar
  • 100 gr butter
  • a pinch of salt
for the filling:
  • 4 lemons or 6 limes for zest & juice - only organic fruit!
  • 400 gr sugared condensed milk (1 can)
  • 150 ml lime or lemon juice
  • 1,5 tablespoons lime or lemon zest fine shredded - from 2-3 lemons or 4 limes
  • 250 gr whipping cream 32%
kitchen equipment:
  • a pie/quiche form 28 cm
how to:
  • Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C with fan.
  • Take a pie/quiche form.
  • Melt the butter & put it aside to cool.
  • Put the digestives in a zipper bag & crush the digestives by a rolling pin.
  • Alternative: you can also use a food processor.
  • Mix crumbs, icing sugar & salt.
  • Add the melted butter & knead it very well.
  • Put the crumb mess in the pie form & distribute it evenly with your hands & fingers by pressing.
  • Put the pie form in the heated oven for exactly 10 min.
  • Afterwards let the crust cool.
  • Take the lemons or the limes & grate the zest.
  • Squeeze the lemons or limes for the juice.
  • Mix the condensed milk with the lime or lemon juice.
  • Whip the whipping cream until stiff.
  • Fold the whipping cream in the condensed milk mix.
  • Cool the filling in the fridge until the filling & the crust are really cold.
  • Distribute the filling evenly on the cold crust.
  • Sprinkle with lime or lemon zest.
  • Cool the pie in the fridge until it'll be served.
I use digestives - you can also use any other plain crackers or cookies.
You can skip baking the crust: the crust will be soft, but firm by the added butter.
If you bake the crust, don't bake it more than 10 min!
"Condensed milk" refers to thick sugared long-life milk of about 10% fat; 400 gr means 1 can (in Germany).
My experience says that you'll need 2-3 lemons (depending the size) resp. 4 limes for the zest. These won't be enough for the juice! Either you use more fruit or you rely on bottled juice (i. e. 100% juice w/o added water).
You can add a stabilizer to the whipped cream if you think it's necessary.


“Key Lime Pie” is the traditional dessert in Florida coming a long way from the beginning of the last century. There are special ingredients, special limes to be used – ok: I don’t aim at creating this classic delight – I simply write about “Lime Pie” and “Lemon Pie”.

For both pies you’ll need organic fruit. It is much easier to buy organic lemons than organic limes. (I admit that the lime pie I show at the bottom of this page does only exist because I happened to get organic limes just before the weekend dinner I planned!) In a nutshell: it doesn’t matter if you use limes or lemons for the preparation – it’s only a slightly different flavour.

In my version I mixed condensed milk, juice & whipping cream for the filling, but you can also do a bottom layer of the condensed milk mix & a top layer of whipped cream. Another version proposes to add egg yolks to the filling (the milk mix) & bake crust & filling adding whipped cream later… (e. g. in the food blog smitten kitchen). There is also the possibility to replace whipped cream by a meringue mix… and it is possible to set aside the condensed milk & use mascarpone with sugar instead (what I once successfully!) tried…
You see: there are possibilities to adjust the recipe, however, I think we should stay with the simple version just for time & resource benefits!

About the baking time for the crust: once I had the crust in the oven for bout 15-20 min – no good idea: the crust sticked to the pie form & crumbled… normally you won’t get a problem to cut the lime or lemon pie into 12 pieces & get these undamaged out of the pie form (except for the very 1st piece!).

I’ve got small pie forms (diameter about 11 cm); the recipe will cover 6 of these small pie forms instead of the big pie form (28 cm). No further changes necessary.

You can prepare a lime or lemon pie one day before your planned brunch or dinner & store it in the fridge – even 2 days are possible because there aren’t any “potentially hazardous” ingredients (like fresh egg yolks or so)… wait: it cannot be guaranteed that the delicious pie will survive so long.

Afterwards, i. e. after the brunch or dinner, you can store the leftover pie still in the fridge – if anything is left (my last lemon pie vanished completely during the dinner !).


The businesswoman with too man office hours thinks

Fine: I can assemble the dessert – it’s not more than assembling! – up to some days (let’s say 1-2 days) before, but should be guarding my fridge to be on the safe side… I can use this dessert all the year because I can always do with lemons – no seasonal fruits necessary! Maybe there are other fruit versions possible when I think about it!



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