A meringue you can't mess up. A punchy-bright middle that—perhaps controversially—skips the hassle of Key limes. And a secret ingredient so obvious (shh, it’s plenty of salt in the meringue), you'll never skip it again. Meet your new favorite Key lime pie, from Petee's Pie Company
co-owner and head baker Petra Paredez (aka Petee).
As Petra writes in her cookbook Pie for Everyone, “Some people insist that Key lime pie can only be made with true Key limes. These tiny, super tart, and floral-scented limes originated in Southeast Asia, made their way westward, and were brought to the West Indies and Florida Keys by Spanish explorers. But Persian limes—the standard green variety you get at the grocery store—can also make for a great pie. The key (sorry!) is simply using freshly squeezed lime juice.”
A few more tips: For Petra’s buttery, flaky crust (with or without coconut), see her recipes in Pie For Everyone or on Taste. Here, we used a simple brown sugar graham cracker crust from Emma Laperruque’s Pumpkin Cream Pie, minus the ginger. To make sure you end up with a tall, fluffy meringue that doesn’t weep or slip-slide around the pie, be sure to start with room-temperature eggs, and don’t be afraid to whip them till billowy and stiff after the syrup has gone in. (Even if you realize you’ve overwhipped and the meringue is breaking rather than swooping nicely, Petra has found that you can let it rest for 30 minutes, then whisk again for a denser meringue she likes even better.) And one extra weep-prevention tip from former White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier, via Shirley Corriher’s BakeWise: Sprinkle a fine dusting of cake crumbs (or graham cracker crumbs) on the curd before dolloping on the meringue, to help absorb any syrup that breaks free and meld the two layers together.
Recipe adapted very slightly from Pie for Everyone: Recipes and Stories from Petee's Pie, New York's Best Pie Shop (Abrams, September 2020).
This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.
Hear about the process of developing this recipe, from Petra herself, on our podcast The Genius Recipe Tapes. —Genius Recipes
- Prep time 4 hours 30 minutes
- Cook time 30 minutes
- makes one 9-inch pie
- Key Lime Meringue Pie
14-ounce (420-milliliter) can sweetened condensed milk
large egg yolks
plus 2 tablespoons (150 milliliters) freshly squeezed lime juice, from about 7 Persian limes, or about 15 Key limes
Zest of ½ Persian lime or 1 Key lime
par-baked crust of your choice—see Author Notes
- Vanilla Sea Salt Meringue
(120 milliliters) egg whites (equivalent of 3 large egg whites), at room temperature
cream of tartar
(200 grams) sugar
pure vanilla extract
fine sea salt
- Key Lime Meringue Pie
- Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks. Add the lime juice and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the lime zest.
- Pour the filling into the par-baked crust, making sure to scrape the entire contents from the sides of the bowl into the pie. Bake until the outer edges of the pie have solidified, but the center of the pie looks slightly fluid under the surface when the pie is jiggled, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the meringue (see below).
- When the filling is done, pile the meringue on top of the pie, making sure the meringue touches the inner edge of the crust, not just the curd, to prevent sliding. Use the back of a hot, wet spoon to create a wavy texture with peaks and valleys, or transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a fluted tip and pipe it on, starting at the outer edge and working your way to the center.
- Set the oven rack so that when the pie is on it, the very top of the pie is 3 to 5 inches (7½ to 12 centimeters) from the heating element. Set the pie on a baking sheet so you can move it in the oven more easily.
- Turn the broiler on high. When the heat is in full effect, place the pie under the broiler and set a timer for 1 minute. Broiler heat varies wildly from oven to oven, so keep a close eye on the pie for the entire time it is under the broiler, carefully rotating the baking sheet if needed to toast the meringue evenly. Heat until the peaks of the meringue turn golden brown, anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes, depending on your oven.
- Transfer the pie to the fridge until cooled completely, about 4 hours. To serve, slice with a hot, wet knife in order to avoid dragging the meringue. The pie will keep for up to 5 days, covered, in the fridge.
- Vanilla Sea Salt Meringue
- Make sure the egg whites are completely free of any yolk and that your bowl and mixer attachments are completely clean and non-greasy. Otherwise, the egg whites will not whip properly.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on high until they are white and foamy and hold soft peaks.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan, stir ¼ cup (60 milliliters) water and the sugar over high heat until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup reaches a strong boil. The temperature on a candy thermometer should read 240°F (116°C) (this is the soft ball stage—if you carefully drip a little syrup into a glass of cold water, it will form a soft, malleable ball). Remove from the heat.
- With the mixer running, pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream into the foamy egg whites. Continue beating until the meringue holds the pattern of the whisk or beater as it spins. The texture should be voluminous but still silky. If it is looking fluid and sticky, feel free to keep beating until it firms up. (Even if you overwhip it, it can be saved—see Author Notes.)
- Add the vanilla and salt and beat just until combined.
- Use the meringue immediately to assemble a meringue pie according to the instructions in the recipe, or use as a pie sundae topping.