5 Ingredients or Fewer

J. Kenji López-Alt’s 10-Minute Lime Cracker Pie

May  5, 2021
4.5 Stars
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

This icebox cake has the spirit of a Key lime pie and can be layered up in 10 minutes (if you’re not too precious about lining things neatly), then sent to the refrigerator to meld into a glorious tart-sweet-creamy-cakey pudding. But it has a salty secret: its structure comes from Ritz crackers.

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- Rosti Pebble Margrethe Nested Mixing Bowl Set
- GIR Silicone Grip Whisk (Set of 2)
- Farmhouse Pottery Pie Plate

A recipe this slapdash is a bit unusual coming from J. Kenji López-Alt, Serious Eats’ Food Lab columnist-wizard who famously published a 21-ingredient meatloaf recipe, including gelatin, Marmite, anchovies, and soy sauce. But smart kitchen hacks are smart kitchen hacks. This one comes by way of his wife, Adriana, who learned it from her aunt Gloria in Colombia, though there they use Ducales, a local buttery cracker, instead.

This is not the first time we’ve seen Ritz tiptoe into a dessert—the original Mock Apple Pie, a Depression-era invention, was crackers masquerading as apple slices when the fruit was unavailable or too expensive. But it does serve as a good excuse for a PSA: (almost) anything can be an icebox cake. You can use any dry, crunchy cookie-like thing, store-bought or homemade. Excellent contenders include crispy chocolate chip cookies like Tate’s, graham crackers, brown-sugary Biscoff cookies, and now (insert your favorite salty cracker here). Recipe adapted slightly from Genius Desserts (Ten Speed Press, September 2018). —Genius Recipes

Watch This Recipe
J. Kenji López-Alt’s 10-Minute Lime Cracker Pie
  • Prep time 12 hours 10 minutes
  • Serves 8 to 10
  • 2 (14-ounce/396ml) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups (470g) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup (120g) freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 8 limes)
  • 10 ounces (285g) Ritz crackers (85 crackers, from about 3 sleeves)
In This Recipe
  1. Whisk together the condensed milk and heavy cream in a large bowl until combined. Add the lime zest and juice and whisk until thickened, about 1 minute.
  2. Spread 1 cup (240ml) of the condensed milk mixture on the bottom of a deep-dish pie plate, an 11-inch (28cm) oval casserole, or a similar large shallow dish. Top with a single layer of Ritz crackers. Repeat, alternating layers of filling and crackers, until the dish is full, finishing with a layer of filling. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight—the longer you wait, the more the crackers will soften and meld with the filling. Serve cold, zesting more fresh lime over the top, if you like.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Dishlicious
  • Sabine Gagnon
    Sabine Gagnon
  • SophieL
  • student epicure
    student epicure
  • Ikue Tashima
    Ikue Tashima
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

86 Reviews

lisadaughtry1974123 March 4, 2022
This Lime Cracker Pie was delicious! I am from from Florida! So you know what one of the States is known for! Key lime Pie. This is a close rival. So easy, all of my family and friends love this recipe.
Dishlicious January 25, 2022
I am thinking I'd like to try this with graham crackers instead of ritz -- ala key lime pie with graham crust. Anyone tried this?
Dorota D. May 23, 2022
I did and did not like it! What really makes it's the Ritz crackers .Balance of sweet , sour and salty .Graham crackers made it extremely sweet !My family likes the original version .
Dianne N. January 24, 2022
This is a very old recipe. The church ladies in the 50's would make this for potlucks, etc.
I'm pleased that people still like it and don't consider it too "phoney" using Ritz and sweetened condensed milk. I frequently make a "lemon cheesecake" that is similar, but some "foodies" are offended that it is not "real."
K52recipe December 10, 2021
I made this and it is AMAZING..everyone loved! It tastes like you have very thin cake layers between the delicious delicate lime. I am going to make it again and place in a truffle dish to show the different layers and maybe add a small amount of raspberries to show thru the layers. in the truffle dish. Everyone asked for the recipe.
jdewingh September 9, 2021
Did anyone make this with only heavy whipping cream ands sugar? What amounts?!
Holley May 26, 2021
This is easy and delicious! Thankfully my family loved it too so I wasn't able to eat the whole thing myself!!
Sabine G. March 5, 2021
I've been making this at every opportunity I could. I love the flavors. Recently, I purchased my husband the cuisinart ice cream maker. He's been making just about every kind of ice cream. We were looking at this recipe when he got the idea to put the custard in the ice cream maker- and let me tell you- IT'S INCREDIBLE as an ice cream. We did everything the same in preparation- even layering the crackers (we bought ducales). You have GOT to try it as an ice cream if you haven't yet! Smooth, rich, and just a beautiful consistency!
Nazanin F. October 7, 2021
Do you mean he put the sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream in the ice cream make? Or the line juice as well?
Sabine G. October 7, 2021
Yes, everything as the recipe calls for but then instead of building the cake, put the custard in an ice cream maker! Once done, you can crumble in the crackers to make layers :)
Lndarln December 26, 2020
I whipped the heavy cream first and it was 100% better. I made it without whipping the cream and it was flat and condensed. I really liked it fluffy from whipping the heavy cream.
SophieL September 9, 2020
So easy and pretty darn good. I mistakenly bought one cup of heavy cream and rather than go back to the store, I subbed the other cup with creme fraiche and half & half. The chilled consistency turned out fine. Next time I'll add more lime juice to bump up the flavor. I'll also try a grapefruit version (tons of grapefruit trees around me). And I'll make mini pies for individual servings. Like the head notes said, lots of variations and combinations.
Sara May 14, 2021
How'd your grapefruit version turn out? I tried using grapefruit and it didn't thicken properly. Not enough acid in the gfruit is my guess. A lemon version worked great, though.
Vicky L. August 22, 2020
I uncharacteristically decided to take a lot of liberties with this recipe — and I regret it haha. I took bits and pieces from other reviews and this is what I did:
- halved the recipe, but kept lime juice amt the same. Added a ton more zest. Only needed 2.5 limes to get 1/2 c juice, zested all three limes.
- used evaporated milk instead of heavy cream bc I happened to have it.
- Subbed GF Tate’s choco chip cookies and Snyder’s GF mini pretzels for Ritz bc I’m GF. One layer of each.

The GF pretzels were a mistake — their outer coating did not break down really, leading to a weirdly rubbery situation. Not good!

The lime custard was also not great. Will try with heavy cream next time. I’m trying to eat the custard around the pretzels but it’s harder to do than I expected.

Also next time, while I’ll still halve the recipe, I’ll remember to use a smaller/narrower receptacle than the deep dish pie pan I used the first time around, to get a less wide but more tall final product.
jdewingh September 9, 2021
Did you try this with only heavy whipping cream ands sugar? What amounts?
student E. August 15, 2020
My daughter and I had a lot of fun making this. Based on the reviews, I doubled the lime juice and the lime zest, knowing that my family likes flavors to be intense. They still wanted more lime! I made some with Ritz crackers and a small portion with Tate's gluten-free cookies for a family member who doesn't eat gluten. Overall, the consensus was that it was enjoyable, but was too sweet for our preferences.
student E. August 15, 2020
My daughter and I had a lot of fun making this. Based on the reviews, I doubled the lime juice and the lime zest, knowing that my family likes flavors to be intense. They still wanted more lime! I made some with Ritz crackers and a small portion with Tate's gluten-free cookies for a family member who doesn't eat gluten. Overall, the consensus was that it was enjoyable, but was too sweet for our preferences.
Ikue T. August 11, 2020
I didn't love this as much as I hoped. I mean, it is good but I've had a better lime pie before.
samanthaalison May 25, 2020
So easy and so good. I didn't think it was tart enough after I added 1/2 cup lime juice, so I added another 1/4 cup. I might go up to a full cup of juice next time. But so delicious for so little effort!
twinjadojo May 19, 2020
We loved the technique and seeing what the acid does to the cream mixture, but we couldn’t shake the taste of those cheese flavoured sandwich cracker snacks in our finished product. So glad this is a hit for so many others, and glad we tried it.
Graciela May 19, 2020
Do not use the crackers. I have been making it for 50 years and have never used them.
Toddie May 21, 2020
Still trying to decide if this was a joke reply. I believe you're supposed to use plain Ritz.
alison P. January 24, 2022
Florence L. May 2, 2020
This is an amazing recipe. So simple and so deceivingly tasty!!!
Graciela April 29, 2020
I grew up eating a making this in Venezuela, without the crackers. We called easy lime ice cream. So easy and so good! Can be made with evaporated milk instead of heavy cream.
JLK August 8, 2020
I like your suggestion. I tried this recipe and its too sweet with the condensed milk, which is why the reviewers are adding more lime juice. I will definitely remake this with Evaporated milk and some sugar to my liking. Ritz crackers meh....I like this better with ground pretzels. I also used a melon baller to make tiny bites to freeze. I highly recommend it.
kathy August 13, 2020
Not a fan of Ritz, especially in my smooth creamy ice creams, so without suits me. You then have the freedom to add a small maybe ginger cracker on top dipped in or pastry on the side.
J. H. April 28, 2020
Wonderful and easy
Heather S. December 4, 2019
Absolutely amazing in its simplicity to make but, the wow factor in taste is where it's at. I watched the video three times just to make sure I wasn't missing something in the recipe. My household isnt that big on limes so I swapped them out with lemons. It tastes like summer to me. Next time I'm going to try blood oranges or maybe cara cara oranges. Thank you for this fabulous dessert recipe. It's going to get a permanent spot in my dessert cookbook
Leslie September 16, 2019
Ingenious and delicious, this recipe was a huge hit with friends. I gotta say though, I made one version with Ritz crackers as instructed and one with biscoff cookies instead, and everyone loved the biscoff even more. I think they're sturdier and retain more flavor once layered than the Ritz. Though obviously you get a different flavor (the idea of Ritz still appeals to me so much, they just didn't stay real ritzy when I did it). Just an idea if folks are interested in variation!