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Jessie's Heirloom Key Lime Pie

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Why I Love This Recipe

Note: Several years ago I treated a young man from Key West, Florida who was dying of AIDS. A couple of weeks before he died, he gave me his 75 year old family recipe for Key Lime Pie. He explained that most Key Lime Pie recipes use condensed milk. Even restaurants in Key West serve Key Lime Pie made with condensed milk. Jessie was disdainful of this version. His family recipe, passed from generation to generation, does not used condensed milk. Jessie claimed it is the only authentic Key Lime Pie recipe. So in memory of Jessie, I offer it to you. -A Hospice Nurse.

Ingredients You'll Need

5 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup Key lime juice
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup sugar (for meringue)
1 (9-inch) baked pie shell (I prefer a graham cracker crust, see note below)


Separate eggs into three bowls - 5 yolks in one bowl, 2 egg whites in another, and 3 egg whites in the third. This is the most important step in the whole operation!!!

Cream egg yolks, add 3/4 cup sugar and key lime juice and mix thoroughly. Cook over low heat until very, very thick, add butter and remove from heat. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile beat 2 egg whites until stiff, then fold into cooled lime mixture. Fill pie shell.

Beat the other 3 whites until stiff. Beat in 1/4 cup sugar. Pile meringue on top of lime filling and bake at 325°F for 15 minutes.

Footsie Notes:

I've made this pie many, many times and it's always been a big hit. This is the recipe that taught me how to make a perfect meringue too. The secret to this and any meringue topped pie with a pudding like filling, is to cook the filling so long that it has the consistency of cooled pudding. Most recipes will tell you to cook the filling for 5 minutes, some I've seen only say 1 minute. That's not nearly long enough. Meringue weeps due to excess moisture be it humidity or from the filling. The thicker the filling the less chance of the meringue weeping and the crust getting soggy.

If using graham cracker or cookie crust, brush crust with beaten egg white. Bake at 375F for 5 minutes. Cool completely before filling. Crust will stay crisper if you do this.

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