5 Ingredients or Fewer

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

May  5, 2021
68 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 12 hours 10 minutes
  • Serves 8 to 10
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

What You'll Need
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J. Kenji López-Alt’s 10-Minute Lime Cracker Pie
  • 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)
  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.

  • Jess
  • George Smith
    George Smith
  • Nicole O.
    Nicole O.
  • Andrea J. Brown
    Andrea J. Brown
  • Dishlicious
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

108 Reviews

VickyD July 14, 2024
I made the recipe with 3/4 cups of lime juice, and liked the more tangy taste better. I ate it after 2h, but I guess it's better when the crackers are softer. Why did I only give it 4 stars? I just think it's a little bit too heavy and rich for me.
cg7912 July 8, 2024
Excellent! I made this yesterday morning for a dinner party last night, and it was delicious when we served it after chilling for about 8 hours. But the leftovers are even better today after more time to set up - the lime cream is thicker while the Ritz are softer and more cake-like - so next time I'll definitely chill it overnight.
I did whip the cream like some commenters suggested, not sure how much of a difference it made but I do like the texture - I whipped it to fairly soft peaks, added the condensed milk and whipped some more, then the lime juice and whipped a final time. It actually thickened more than I expected after adding the lime.
I also added a bit more lime than the recipe suggests, probably more like 3/4 of a cup. Used about 3-4 tablespoons fresh lime juice and the remainder bottled key lime juice. It's not overly lime-y so I'd use the same amount next time.
Topped with fresh, sweetened whip cream but I think it'd be fine without a topping as well.
runnerfemme January 16, 2024
I made this for a citrus-loving crew and it was a hit. I made some adjustments based on reviews and my family's preferences -- it's a very easy recipe to tinker with, which makes it easy and fun. Changes I made: I used lemons instead of limes (my crew is bananas for lemon...); I whipped the condensed milk and cream to soft peaks before adding the citrus zest and juice; and used old school Biscoff biscuits in place of crackers. I realize the salt of the Ritz is the point for many but I was making this for an easy Christmas Eve dessert, so opted for the warmer flavors of the Biscoff (just felt more in line with a holidays vibe). Topped with more lemon zest and some fresh raspberries. I used a square ceramic 8x8 dish with 2" sides. Made it the day before serving. Tossed it in the freezer for an hour and then put in fridge. (I left it uncovered to avoid disturbing the top.) Everyone really loved it. It set beautifully and the cookies were perfect -- not mush but pleasantly tender. I'm making it again this weekend for a casual family dinner.
Jess July 26, 2023
A great recipe. A recipe to launch a 1000 recipe variations.....
jcasare June 28, 2023
Made this again. Always rave reviews. I tried whipping it this time. Not worth the effort. The recipe as written is fantastic. Just go for it.
4everagrandma June 10, 2023
Just made this the other day. I must say probably one of my top quick and simple dessert recipes ever! Kids said make this again!!
I did swap crackers and used graham crackers to have a more traditional key lime pie taste.... Also let sit in fridge overnight for maximum flavor...YUMMY 5+ stars
George S. June 7, 2023
The best! I looked at the reviews and whipped the cream first. I had a pile of lemons so that's what I did. One review did a cup of juice and after tasting you definitely want a full cup of juice in my opinion. It is heavenly! South Carolina is hot so this will be my go to summer desert! Thanks!
Bizcochito May 24, 2023
This is a variation of the Mexican dessert called Carlota de Limon made with Maria cookies, which are a plain vanilla wafer.
BakerMary May 24, 2023
Topped with a quick blueberry sauce. Sometimes lilies need gilding.
Joanna M. May 20, 2023
I really didn’t have high expectations for this recipe but I had some sweetened condensed milk, old lemons and a pack of graham crackers that needed to be used. Oh my goodness it was good. I cut the whole recipe in half. I used 1 cup of cream with half a can of sw cond milk and the juice and zest from 2 lemons. We did used a hand mixer but only until it thickened, not like whipped cream; layered the mixture with the graham crackers and left it in the fridge overnight. The final product is like a dense lemony pudding. It scooped out perfectly with beautiful layers. You could serve this for a holiday meal.
kathy A. May 19, 2023
Easy recipe, amazingly easy to assemble. Thanks for the reminder about a fabulous recipe that I haven’t made recently. Will fix that omission right away!
Nicole O. March 15, 2023
Made this in a 8x8 pan. Whipped the cream to soft peaks and then folded in the rest of the ingredients. Increased the lime juice and zest by 50% and it’s the perfect flavor.
Andrea J. February 19, 2023
Loved this the first time I made it, following the other comment to whip the cream first and fold everything together. Second time I put it into little jars about a cracker width wide and will have the best lunches this week
Hilary August 14, 2022
So easy and delicious! I used bottled key lime juice I had leftover from something and it was spectacular. Made it in an 8x8 because that’s all I had. I found it only took 2 sleeves of Ritz. Definitely will make again!
Jo June 9, 2024
Thanks for comment on using key lime bottled juice, I was thinking of using it. What a great summer desert when it’s 110🌵
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!!