This traditional key lime tart with a graham cracker crust is a must-make dessert for the summer! Each bite is creamy, juicy, and the perfect balance of tart and sweet!
If you’re ever unsure of what dessert to make for a potluck, you really can’t go wrong with a fruit tart. They’re the perfect way to showcase all of the delicious fruits that summer has to offer! These pear, berry, and strawberry tart recipes are just a few of my favorites. You’ll have to try them out at your next gathering. I’m sure they’ll be a hit!
Homemade Key Lime Curd Tart
Nothing screams summer quite like the flavor of key lime. I always get so excited when I see bakeries start to carry key lime pies and tarts because honestly, they’re some of my all-time favorite desserts! Although I like to enjoy them year-round, the flavor and consistency of key lime tarts make them perfect for summer. They’re light and zesty while still being creamy and indulgent. You can easily bring those quintessential summer flavors to your kitchen with this homemade key lime tart recipe! Your friends and family won’t be able to get enough. My mouth waters just looking at it in all of its glossy, citrus glory!
Making a curd tart at home is a lot easier than you would think. It takes less than an hour from start to finish! One thing you need to keep in mind, though, is that after the tart is baked, it needs a few hours to chill and set in the fridge. As tasty as it is, it’s not the best if you’re short on time! On the other hand, it’s GREAT for making ahead and can take a lot of pressure off when you’re trying to prepare for a summer get-together. But be prepared- everyone is going to want a piece. Make sure to snag one for yourself!
All Ingredients Needed
The great thing about this recipe is that it uses so many simple ingredients! The key here (pun definitely intended) is to use key limes if you can find them, because they’ll give your filling a sweeter, more floral flavor. If you’re looking for measurements, they can all be found in the recipe card below.
Graham Cracker Crust
- Graham Cracker Crumbs: I love using graham cracker crumbs as a crust for their amazing texture and nutty flavor. You can also use things like Nilla Wafers, crushed cereal, or shortbread cookie crumbs! You can also use a pie crust if you wish!
- Lime Zest: Adding a bit of lime zest to your crust helps each layer have citrus flavor running through it.
- Powdered Sugar: Used to sweeten the crust.
- Salt: Keeps your crust from tasting bland.
- Unsalted Butter: Melted, unsalted butter adds richness and helps your crust take shape!
Key Lime Curd Filling
- Lime Zest: Added for zesty flavor and aromatics.
- Egg Yolks: Egg yolks act as a binding agent for curds and help achieve that perfect jiggly, glossy filling.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk: Adds a smooth creaminess to the tart filling.
- Key Lime Juice: Use fresh-squeezed key limes if you can find them! If not, regular limes work as a substitute.
- Salt: Salt helps to enhance the overall flavor of the filling.
- Heavy Cream: Make sure you’re using chilled heavy cream. The colder temperatures help it to whip up properly.
- Powdered Sugar: Adds a silky sweetness to the whipped topping.
- Lime Zest: (Optional) For an extra pop of citrus flavor.
I’ve broken up this key lime tart recipe up into 3 different parts to simplify things a little. From seasoned bakers to beginners alike, this is a dessert that anyone can make!
Preparing the Crust
- Preheat Oven: Preheat the oven to 325° Fahrenheit.
- Combine Ingredients: Combine the graham cracker crumbs, zest, powdered sugar, salt, and melted butter in a medium bowl.
- Press Into Pan: Add the mixture into a 9-inch tart pan and use your fingers or a small measuring cup to really press the crust into the pan. Place in the freezer to chill for 20 minutes.
Making the Key Lime Filling
- Mix: In a large bowl, combine the zest, egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice, and salt.
- Add to Crust, Bake: Pour the filling into the chilled crust. Bake for 50 minutes, until the edge of the custard is set and the middle is still jiggly.
- Chill: Cool to room temperature and then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
- Whip: Whip the cream, powdered sugar, and optional lime zest, until medium-stiff.
- Garnish: Top the chilled tart and garnish with lime wedges and lime zest.
Tips and Variations
Here are a few extra ways you can customize your tart! You’re going to love how it turns out. It’s the perfect summer dessert, filled with so much fruity flavor!
- Make it Mini: You can use a mini-tart baking tray to make personal-sized versions of this recipe!
- Let it Set: The most important step in the tart-making process is to let it chill. This helps the curd solidify so it can be cut into uniform slices without any of the filling spilling out! I recommend chilling your tart for at least 4 hours.
- Use Lemon Instead: All of the lime zest and juice in this recipe can be swapped out for lemon. If you’re a lemon lover, you’ve got to try this lemon meringue and no-bake lemon pie as well!
Storing Leftover Key Lime Tart
Leftovers of this tart are never a thing at my house, unfortunately. I’ll come back for a slice and my kids will have devoured it down to crumbs. By the slim chance that you have a few slices left, here’s how to keep it tasting fresh and delicious!
- In the Refrigerator: Covered with plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container, your tart will last for up to 4 days.
Key Lime Tart
- 1 ½ Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
- 1 Tablespoon Lime Zest
- ¼ Cup Powdered Sugar
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- 5 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter Melted
- 2 Tablespoons Lime Zest
- 4 Egg Yolks
- 1 14- Ounce Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
- ¾ Cup Key Lime Juice Substitute lime juice if key limes are unavailable
- 1 Dash Salt
- ½ Cup Heavy Cream
- 3 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Lime Zest Optional
Preheat the oven to 325°.
Combine the graham cracker crumbs, zest, powdered sugar, salt and melted butter in a medium bowl.
Add the mixture into a 9-inch tart pan and use your fingers or a small measuring cup to really press the crust into the pan. Place in the freezer to chill for 20 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the zest, egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice, and salt. Pour the filling into the chilled crust. Bake for 50 minutes, until the edge of the custard is set and the middle is still jiggly.
Cool to room temperature and then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
Whip the cream and powdered sugar, and optional lime zest, until medium stiff. Top the chilled tart and garnish with lime wedges and lime zest.
The Recipe Critic