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How to Thicken Key Lime Pie

Updated February 21, 2017

Key lime pie is named after the small limes found in the Florida Keys. These limes are more tart and aromatic than many other types of limes. The pie is made by mixing condensed milk, sugar, Key lime juice and eggs together. Some recipes call for the pie to be baked, while others require the pie to be chilled in the freezer for several hours. The thickness of the pie is caused by the reaction between the limes and condensed milk, and it can also be enhanced by the addition of whipping cream and baking the pie.

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  1. Mix 2 cups of graham-cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup of brown sugar in an empty bowl. Pour 1/2 cup of melted butter into the mixture and mix them all together.

  2. Firmly press the graham-cracker crumb mix into your pie pan to form the crust.

  3. Cook the pie crust in the oven at 177 degrees Celsius for eight minutes. Then remove the pie crust from the oven and allow the pie crust to completely cool before adding the Key lime filling.

  4. Add 1 cup of heavy whipping cream to an empty bowl. Not all Key lime pie recipes call for whipping cream, but adding it to your recipe will help thicken it. Beat the cream with an electric mixer or by hand until it is slightly thickened.

  5. Mix in 1/2 cup of sugar, a little at a time, so that it thickens with the cream and soft peaks begin to form.

  6. Mix one, 354ml. can of condensed milk, gradually, to the filling. Beat the condensed milk into the filling until stiff peaks begin to form.

  7. Beat in 1 tbsp of Key lime zest and 1 pint of half-and-half cream to the filling a little at a time.

  8. Beat in 3/4 cup of Key lime juice to the filling a little at a time. Thickness is also caused by the reaction of the lime juice to the milk. Add the lime juice into the filling and continue to stir it until it thickens to the consistency you want.

  9. Pour the Key lime filling over a cooled crust.

  10. Bake the pie at 177 degrees Celsius for 10 to 15 minutes. Not all recipes require that you bake the Key lime pie, but baking helps to thicken the texture. If you don't want to bake the pie, cover it with foil and place it in the freezer for four to six hours.

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Things You'll Need

  • Pie pan
  • Bowls
  • 2 cups graham-cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • Electric or hand mixer
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1, 354ml. can sweetened, condensed milk
  • 1 tbsp. Key lime zest
  • 1 pint half-and-half cream
  • 3/4 cup Key lime juice

About the Author

Si Kingston has been an online content contributor since 2004, with work appearing on websites such as MadeMan. She is a professional screenwriter and young-adult novelist and was awarded the Marion-Hood Boesworth Award for Young Fiction in 2008. Kingston holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College.

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