Key Lime Pie, Meet Meringue

If the grocery store isn't your favorite place, it should be. We're sleuthing for the best back-of-the-box recipes and every Sunday, Posie Harwood from 600 Acres will share our latest find. 

Today: Get a little tropical with some Key lime pie—because summer is just around the corner.

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I love a good citrus dessert. There's something particularly refreshing about a tangy lemon sponge pudding or a bright grapefruit sorbet when the weather turns warm (as it suddenly has in New York City). And I'm even happier if the fruit is paired with something to cool the tartness, like whipped cream folded into orange curd or a shortbread base on classic lemon bars

So when I made this Key lime pie, I thought it needed a little something to tame the richness of the filling. A billowy mound of meringue does the trick, and takes the dessert from ordinary to very photogenic. 

Don't get me wrong: The pie is very good on its own. The base recipe comes from the Nellie and Joe's Key lime juice bottle, and they know their stuff. Creamy, sweet, and tart, it's the Platonic ideal of Key lime pie. It will remind you of vacation in the Caribbean, of hot nights in Florida, and of 2 A.M. dessert runs to your favorite diner.

I especially love this Key lime pie recipe for its simplicity—to prepare the filling, all you need is one bowl and a whisk. The graham cracker crust is classic, but a flaky, buttery pie crust would also be fantastic. You could top the pie with whipped cream instead of the meringue or, if you're feeling traditional, with nothing at all.

The pie is best eaten immediately, as the meringue won't hold up well for more than a day or two. Consider this permission to invite your friends over for dinner, serve them Key lime pie, and scrape the pan clean.

Key Lime Meringue Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

Adapted from Nellie & Joe's

12 graham cracker sheets
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 eggs, separated

14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup Key lime juice
2/3 cup sugar

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Do you have a favorite back of the box recipe, or have you heard about a great one? Leave any suggestions in the comments, and I'll try them out and share them here!

Photos by Posie Harwood 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • zz heit
    zz heit
  • Catie B
    Catie B
  • DrRisk
  • EvaBee
  • dc
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


zz H. May 25, 2015
that meringue is beautiful ….
I use Manhattan Key Lime Juice for the best key lime pies…. yummy delicious !
Catie B. May 25, 2015
Everything old must be new again! My mom was making lime meringue pie since before I was born. She began making it back in the mid century sometime. As her mother and grandmother before her. I love lime, and lime meringue pie even better than lemon. But they're both fantastic!
Everyone has a particular twist, added flavor, or special ingredient to make A favorite dish their own. I think that's what makes home cooking so special.
As it ever was, and always shall be,
It's all good!
DrRisk May 24, 2015
I use my grandmother's recipe: vanilla wafer crust with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon added; add 2 tablespoons shredded coconut and 1 thinly sliced banana to the custard; top with meringue.
EvaBee May 24, 2015
This has always been my favorite Key Lime Pie. Meringue is the perfect foil for the sweet richness of the custard. I always use fresh key limes (or lemons when key limes are unavailable and add the zest to the custard.
dc May 24, 2015
I'm a gingersnap crust with key lime girl. Love the meringue on top tho'!