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Key lime pie

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Key lime pie
Cut-away view of a Key lime pie
Place of originUnited States
Region or stateKey West, Florida
Main ingredientsShortcrust pie shell, Key lime juice, egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk
VariationsGraham cracker pie shell

Key lime pie is an American dessert pie. It is made of lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk. It may be served with no topping, or with a meringue topping made from egg whites,[1] or with whipped cream. It may be cooked in a pie crust, graham cracker crust, or no crust.[2] The dish is named after the small Key limes, which are more aromatic than the common Persian limes, and which have yellow juice. The filling in a Key lime pie is typically yellow because of the egg yolks.[1]

The filling is made similarly to a Magic Lemon cream pie, by simply mixing the ingredients without cooking: the proteins of the egg yolks and condensed milk and the acidic lime juice curdle, thickening the mixture without baking. Today, Key lime pies are usually baked to pasteurize the eggs and thicken the filling further.


Key lime pie

Key lime pie is probably derived from the "Magic Lemon Cream Pie" published in a promotional brochure by Borden, a producer of condensed milk, in 1931.[3] The recipe is attributed to Borden's fictional spokesperson, Jane Ellison, and includes condensed milk, lemon juice and rind, and egg yolks. It is covered with meringue, baked, and served cold.[4] According to the pastry chef Stella Parks, users of the recipe altered it with local ingredients; she describes it as "a stunning reminder of how deeply America's traditions are shaped by advertising".[3]

A "Tropical Lime Chiffon Pie", using condensed milk and egg yolks, is documented in a 1933 Miami newspaper article.[5] An "icebox lime pie", was mentioned as a specialty of the Florida Keys in 1935.[6][full citation needed] and a recipe under the name "Key Lime Pie" was published in 1940.[7][full citation needed]

No earlier solid sources are known, despite appeals to the public.[8][9] A 1927 Key West Women's Club cookbook does not mention the recipe.[10] A 1926 restaurant menu includes "lime pie", but it is unclear what it was. Various accounts claim that it was known earlier, but none were recorded before 1933.[11][9] A widely reported story claims that William Curry's cook Aunt Sally invented it in the late 19th century. But there is no evidence for this, and the oldest version of this story dates to only 1995, in promotional materials for a Bed and Breakfast in Curry's former house.[3]

It was in the 1950s that Key lime pie was promoted as Florida's "most famous treat" and in 1987 as "the greatest of all regional American desserts."[3]

Key limes

Key limes

Key lime (Citrus aurantifolia 'Swingle') is naturalized throughout the Florida Keys. While the tree’s thorns make harvesting them less tractable, and the fruit’s thin, yellow rind is more perishable than the common Persian limes seen year-round at grocery stores in the United States, Key limes are both more tart and more aromatic. They have not been grown commercially in the U.S. since the 1926 Miami hurricane, and are generally imported from Central or South America.[3][12] Key lime juice, unlike regular lime juice, is a pale yellow. Bottled Key lime juice, invariably from concentrate, is widely available at retail in the United States.[12]



Florida State Representative Bernie Papy, Jr. is said to have introduced geographical indication legislation in 1965 calling for a $100 fine to be levied against anyone advertising Key lime pie not made with Key limes. The bill failed.[13]

Florida statute 15.052, passed in July 2006, designates Key lime pie "the official Florida state pie".[14][15]


In the television series Dexter, key lime pie features significantly in the episode titled "Easy As Pie", in which the character Camilla Figg (played by Margo Martindale) tasks the title character to bring her the "perfect key lime pie."[16]

See also



  1. ^ a b Artman, L.P. Jr. (August 1975). Conch Cooking. Florida Keys Printing & Publishing. p. 74.
  2. ^ Sloan, David L. (2013). The Key West Lime Pie Cookbook. Self-published. p. 14. ISBN 978-1499621860.
  3. ^ a b c d e Parks, Stella (2017). BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 171–173. ISBN 978-0393634273.
  4. ^ "Jane Ellison", New magic in the kitchen: quick, easy recipes made with sweetened condensed milk, p. 27
  5. ^ "Tropical Lime Chiffon Pie". Miami Herald. April 15, 1933. p. 14. Quoted in Sloan, David (June 6, 2019). "Lustful Urges and the Original Key Lime Pie Crust". Keys Weekly.
  6. ^ Highway Traveler[full citation needed]
  7. ^ June Brown, Buffalo, New York[full citation needed]
  8. ^ Sherman, Elizabeth (July 31, 2018). "In Florida, Debate Over Origins of Key Lime Pie Strikes a Nerve". Food & Wine.
  9. ^ a b Filosa, Gwen (July 31, 2018) [updated August 6, 2018]. "We all know Key lime pie was invented in the Keys, right? Seems not everyone agrees". Miami Herald.
  10. ^ Carlson, Coralie (June 11, 2008). "Tart and creamy, key lime pies delight the Florida Keys". Glasgow Daily Times. Archived from the original on April 27, 2012.
  11. ^ Sloan, David (October 4, 2019). "Once and for All: Key Lime Pie's New York City Origin Story Disproved". Keys Weekly.
  12. ^ a b "Our Story". Nellie & Joe's Famous Key West Lime Juice. Key Limes for commercial use have not been grown in the Keys for many years
  13. ^ Eden Entertainment Limited, True Secrets of Key West Revealed!, 3rd edition, 2011, ISBN 9781458350930, p. 49
  14. ^ "The 2020 Florida Statutes", section 15.052
  15. ^ "SB 676 - Official State Pie/Key Lime". Retrieved August 14, 2006.
  16. ^ "Dexter" Easy As Pie (TV Episode 2008) - Plot - IMDb. Retrieved May 20, 2024 – via www.imdb.com.