Usually, when people obsess about piecrust, they obsess about the pastry kind. Graham cracker crust, however, rarely gets a second thought. We pick up a pre-made graham shell at the store and move along to the important part: what we’ll put inside. But like a vacation that unexpectedly changes your life, a taste of this Key lime pie will make you think differently about graham cracker crust forever.

If you’ve spent any time in the South, you’ve probably enjoyed some version of Key lime pie as long as you’ve been here. It’s an easy dessert, made even easier with the conveniences of bottled lime juice and ready-made graham cracker crust. There’s nothing wrong with that version, but if you’re willing to invest a few more minutes, you’ll get an experience that transports you somewhere tropical.

Start with the foundation: the graham cracker crust is quickly assembled from standard ingredients, with the notable addition of coconut oil and salt. These two ingredients give the crust nutty depth and complexity, bringing much-needed yin to the filling’s yang. As for the filling, don’t worry—the classic sweetened condensed milk base isn’t going anywhere, but fresh-squeezed lime juice and zest make it bright and tart. And finally, when you’re ready to serve, abandon the Cool-Whip to the freezer aisle for heaven’s sake and make your own cloud of whipped cream to pile on top of the pie. It’s probably not how grandma would have done it, but it’s better

Key Lime Pie

Serves 8


10–11 graham crackers
4 Tbs. coconut oil, melted
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbs. sugar
¾ tsp. kosher salt

Filling and topping
4 egg yolks
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened
condensed milk
2 tsp. lime zest, plus more for garnish
1 cup fresh lime juice (8–10 limes)
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt


1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

2. Meanwhile, crush graham crackers with your hands into coarse crumbs. Mix crumbs with coconut oil, butter, sugar, and salt until the crumbs are very moist, like wet sand. Press the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and bake until the crust starts to brown around the edges, 12–15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale and fluffy, a few minutes. Add the sweetened condensed milk and whisk a few more minutes, until the mixture is light and airy. Using a spatula, fold in the lime zest and lime juice and a pinch of salt. Pour the filling into the partially baked crust and return to oven. Bake 20–25 minutes until the filling is almost set (the top should not brown). Remove from oven and let cool completely in the refrigerator.

4. When ready to serve, whip the heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar (by hand or with an electric mixer) until medium peaks form. Fold in the yogurt, and then top the whole pie with swirls of whipped cream. Garnish with fresh lime zest and serve.

*Recipe adapted from Alison Roman.

Photography by Jivan Davé