Key Lime Pie Bars With Vanilla Wafer Crust Recipe (2024)

By Samantha Seneviratne

Key Lime Pie Bars With Vanilla Wafer Crust Recipe (1)

Total Time
45 minutes, plus chilling
Read community notes

Some say that a Key lime’s juice is slightly more floral than that of its more well-known cousin, the Persian lime, the kind you can find in every supermarket and corner deli. Key limes are hard to find, though, so use bottled Key lime juice or conventional lime juice in this easy recipe that's great for a crowd.

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Yield:16 servings

    For the Crust

    • 1(11-ounce) box vanilla wafers
    • 2tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 8tablespoons/115 grams unsalted butter, melted

    For the Filling

    • cup/420 milliliters condensed milk (1 14-ounce can plus ½ cup)
    • 5large egg yolks
    • ¾cup/180 milliliters Key lime or conventional lime juice
    • 1teaspoon lime zest

    For the Topping

    • 1cup/240 milliliters cold heavy cream
    • 1tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (16 servings)

334 calories; 20 grams fat; 11 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 7 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 36 grams carbohydrates; 0 grams dietary fiber; 21 grams sugars; 5 grams protein; 113 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Key Lime Pie Bars With Vanilla Wafer Crust Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. In a food processor, combine vanilla wafers and sugar, and pulse until you have fine crumbs. Add butter and process until evenly moistened. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press it down into an even layer. Bake until fragrant and a shade darker, 15 to 17 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together condensed milk, egg yolks, lime juice and lime zest.

  3. Step


    Pour filling over crust (it’s O.K. if it’s still warm) and bake until the filling is set, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

  4. Step


    Use a sharp knife to release edges. Using the parchment overhang, carefully lift and transfer the bar to a cutting board. Just before serving, whip heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form. Top bars with whipped cream and cut into 16 squares to serve.



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Cooking Notes

Beverly Kaye

After filling is set and cooled, since you already have the egg whites, why not whip them with some sugar and brown that meringue in the oven in lieu of the whipped cream topping?

lou ann

Sub in ginger snaps and dried coconut for the vanilla wafers, and you’ll take this tothe next level.

Lorry Kennedy

This recipe should specify Sweetened condensed milk... right now it does not.


In a test kitchen survey, tasters could not discern the difference between key lime and Persian lime juice. I have used both with great results. The bottled option is the least acceptable: fresh is always far superior!


This recipe looked great until I got to the extra 1/2 cup of condensed milk. Seriously? I should open TWO cans of condensed milk and only use 1/2 cup from the second can? And do what with the other 10 oz. of condensed milk? Seems so wasteful . . .


This came out great! I only had one 14oz can of condensed milk, so used heavy cream for the extra 1/4 cup. Made sure not to pack down the vanilla wafer crust too tightly; just spread with spatula and pressed gently with fingers.

JK in ME

You can freeze the leftover sweetened condensed milk.


Hello from Florida, where my key lime trees are dropping a bounty of ripe, yellow (the color of a ripe KL) fruit every day. Made these bars today and all I have to say is OMG!! Made them almost exactly according to recipe but: 1) Upped quantity of filling by 1/3 to accommodate bigger pan; 2) Used 4 times the amount of zest specified, because key limes have a milder flavor and needed the bump of the zest; 3) used only 12 oz of ‘Nilla wafers (size of the box I bought). AMAZING!


Canned Condensed milk is always sweetened as opposed to evaporated milk.


Made this gluten free by using GF cookies in the crust. RAVE reviews. Also, subbed greek plain yogurt for the half can of condensed milk. Made the filling nicely tart!


Instead of whipping cream at the last minute, you could go really declassé and bring a can of whipped cream and just squirt some onto each bar after you cut them.

Elizabeth O'Connell

Sorry, you probably hate when people do this, but its so close to my Grandma's recipe: 1/2 pretzels/ 1/2 Ginger snaps for crumb base. You can make this into a pie by using 2 cans of the condensed milk, 6 yolks, 1 cup of juice and all the zest you can find. 25 min at 325 or until set.


So I thought I was making this as written, but as soon as I put it in the oven realized I had only put one can of sweetened condensed milk. I left it in the oven for a couple extra minutes, but other than that did nothing else. It still came out great! The only thing I would change is to make a little less crust, we thought it was too thick. Otherwise very tasty, even with "regular" limes and just one can of sweetened condensed milk.

Colleen Barry

Fantastic recipe. Made exactly as written, used regular limes and it was delicious. Rave reviews. I’m sure it would be even better with key limes. The vanilla wafer crust absolutely makes this dessert.


I made 1-1/2x the recipe in a 13 x 9 pan, using 2 cans of condensed milk (avoiding the annoying part-of-a-can leftover issue). I also noticed 5 eggs in to the 7 I had decided to use that it called for yolks only; 5 whole eggs 2 yolks worked just fine. More lime zest is a good call: really as much as you have the patience to zest is good, since the base is very sweet. People loved these.

Lamb Husks

Made nearly as written but used one commenter's suggestion that ginger snaps instead of 'nilla wafers added pizzazz! It sure did and made about 1/3 more filling than called for, extra luxuriant


I love this recipe! I’ve made it numerous times over the years and it’s a hit every time. Super easy, delicious, and guaranteed to impress.


Loved this so much. I used graham crackers because that’s what I had. I also increased the key lime juice to a full cup and left out the lime zest. The result was a smooth and tangy dessert. Disappeared almost immediately. Very easy to make, and will be in our regular rotation.


Made these with my daughter. Family loved the crust, but felt like the bars were too sweet and not tangy enough despite the extra zest we added. So will try with 1 can of condensed milk next time (though we are enjoying the leftover can with our chai!).

Wm ODonnell

So easy. My wife loves cheesecake and loves Key Lime Pie and this is her lifetime favorite versus either. We skipped the topping and though we're sure it's a fine addition, we loved the bars naked. The Vanilla Wafer crust was a revelation.


Two Kinnikinnick boxes minus about a dozen wafersTwo cans of 7.4 oz each of condensed coconut milk

Zaza C

For those complaining about that extra half cup of condensed milk Eagle Brand makes a 14oz squeeze tube. It lasts forever and you can use it in your bitter bitter coffee.


One of the best recipes I ever made from NYT - my friends who I made it for still talk about it.


I just made this a second time - this is a recipe that is open to individual ideas - this time I stirred in a little lime Greek yogurt and two tbsp. softened cream cheese - maybe a little less sweet this time which we prefer.


Almost a shame to assemble all the ingredients and take the time involved and not use the suggestions here for the 9x13 recipe. And it's so easy to keep these bars in the freezer for another time. I also upped the baking time to 30 mins. YUMMY!


My grandmother's recipe for the filling (which could make pie, bars, or pudding) doesn't need to be baked: use the lime juice and one can of condensed milk folded together with the same amount of whipped cream as the topping here. Then top with more whipped cream and the lime zest. Perfect for a South Florida dessert any time, especially with key limes picked fresh the same day.


I also only used one can of condensed milk bc I misread,; turned out great! Extra zest. Actually thought they tasted better after putting whipped cream on and then refrigerating overnight again!


Ran out of condensed milk (300ml) so substituted the balance with (120ml) heavy whipping cream (creme fraîche liquide here in France). Added the white of a single egg's for a fluffier texture. Tart turned out balanced!

Emma F

Made multiple times and they are always a hit. I make them gluten free by using GF shortbread cookies instead of wafers as they are easier to find, just decrease the butter a bit. A little extra zest on top makes them even prettier!


Made a stabilized whipped cream - kept nicely in the fridge for a full day... before they all got devoured.

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Key Lime Pie Bars With Vanilla Wafer Crust Recipe (2024)


Why is my key lime pie crust soggy? ›

Chill Your Pie Shell

Chill the pie shell until firm before placing it in the oven, whether it's empty or filled. Cold pastry going into a hot oven is key to a flaky crust, and a chilled empty pie shell is less likely to slip down as it bakes.

Can I use regular lime juice instead of key lime juice for a key lime pie? ›

While the flavor will be significantly different, you can also use regular limes or a combination of lime and lemon juice. Key Lime Zest: If you cannot get fresh key limes, you can substitute regular lime zest. Make-Ahea​​​​d: This pie can be made up to 2 days in advance.

What is the difference between key lime pie and lime pie? ›

In terms of taste, key limes have a higher acidity, making them a little more tart than what we consider "regular limes." This makes them ideal for pairing with sweeter ingredients, hence the ever-popular Key lime pie.

What is key lime pie crust made of? ›

Similar to coconut cream pie and lemon meringue pie, key lime pie can be made with a graham cracker/cookie crust or a traditional pie crust. I always opt for a graham cracker crust because it's quick to prepare. Plus, why fuss with finicky pie dough when a graham cracker crust tastes so good?

Why is Key lime pie so fattening? ›

Like most desserts, a traditional key lime pie is not particularly healthy. It's loaded with plenty of sugar and its key ingredient (besides lime) is cream. Luckily, with a few tweaks and ingredient substitutions, you can easily make a healthy version!

How many key limes for 1 cup? ›

Key limes are much smaller and rounder than regular limes. The average key lime weighs about 3/4 ounce, and it takes 18-20 key limes to yield a cup of juice. In contrast, a medium Persian lime weighs about 3 ounces, and it takes 5-6 regular limes to yield a cup of juice.

Can I use bottled lime juice instead of fresh? ›

Nothing will bring forward the bright, citrusy, natural flavors and acidity like fresh squeezed limes. However, bottled lime juice is certainly a convenient option. If you decide to go this route, make sure to choose a high-quality brand that is 100% lime juice with no added sweeteners or flavors.

Why did my pie crust get soggy? ›

This is particularly problematic with both fruit pie and custard fillings because they have high moisture content. To prevent it, you need to either create a barrier between the wet filling and raw pie dough, or ensure the pie dough browns and sets before the filling has a chance to soak it.

What to do if your pie crust is too wet? ›

If Your Dough Is Too Wet, Rosemary Says...

It [also] depends on how much butter is in the pastry. It can be solved by putting it into the fridge for a few hours!”

Why is my pie crust too wet? ›

It's an easy pitfall because fruit releases a lot of liquid when it bakes. Thickeners you mix into the filling, like cornstarch, soak up a lot of the liquid, but sometimes not all of it. Plus, as it bakes, the crust itself releases moisture in the form of steam. Often, blind-baking solves this problem.

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