The Best Key Lime Pie In The Florida Keys: A Definitive Ranking
Like France’s pain au chocolate or Chicago’s deep dish pizza, key lime pie is synonymous with the Florida Keys. And you know I love me a good dessert! So as I was planning my Keys roadtrip, I decided to make it my mission to try as many different key lime pies as possible—to find the best key lime pie in the Florida Keys.
The origins of Florida’s state pie date back to the 1800s, and it’s one of the iconic (truly) American desserts. And while traditional key lime pie only has six main ingredients, the end result…well, let’s just say it VARIES.
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As I made my way up and down the Keys, from Key Largo to Key West and back, I sampled as many key lime pies as I could get my hands on. Some I devoured in the restaurant, but more often than not I got them “to go” and enjoyed with a gorgeous Keys view, in my car, or in my jammies in bed 🙂
I apparently have a totally separate stomach when it comes to key lime pie. Or like a hollow leg or something. An older gentleman I met called my key lime pie mission “a service to humanity”, and I WILL TAKE IT.
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So, what makes a good key lime pie?
Well, obviously that’s subjective. But what I’ve learned is that I’m a purist. First, the filling has to be a perfect balance of tart and sweet, with the lime flavor really punching through. I like a custard-y texture, rather than something more solid, cheesecake-like, or whipped.
Then, I want a graham cracker crust that is buttery and a little sweet, with a bit of crumble to it. And personally I don’t love piling on meringue or whipped cream or whatever…it actually detracts, rather than enhances.
I’ve found my perfect homemade version as well, if you’re interested in giving it a try!
Ranking the best key lime pie in the Florida Keys
Rather than a true linear ranking (which was really difficult when I was eating them over several days), I’ve grouped them into broad buckets. I do think that Blond Giraffe ended up as my #1, but without eating them all side-by-side it was a little hard to say for sure. Here’s the list, and then I go into detail on each below.
- Cream of the crop
- Middle of the pack…okay but nothing to write home about
- Eh…not worth the calories
- A couple alternatives: Harriette’s muffin, Flamingo Crossing ice cream
I’ve plotted all of these on a map so you can get a sense of where everything is. Green are the cream of the crop, orange are middle of the pack, and blue are “eh”. Here’s a link you can use to pull up the map yourself as well.
In Key West I spent one night at the Kimpton Ella’s Cottages and one night at H2O Suites…loved the latter for a bit of a splurge stay (have your own private pool!!). You can read my detailed review here.
Other Florida Keys adventures!
Cream of the crop: the best key lime pies in the Keys
What’s the best key lime pie in the Florida Keys? These would all be on my list, and I do think Blond Giraffe probably takes the top spot.
#1 – Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory
92220 Overseas Hwy, Tavernier, FL 33070
They have many different offerings, all the same key lime pie base but a variety of toppings (whipped cream, meringue, chocolate, frozen on a stick with chocolate, etc.).
I got the meringue even though that’s not my thing, but she said it was the traditional one. The meringue thankfully didn’t distract from the pie itself, which was great…a really light and creamy filling that was delightfully tart. The crust was good as well.
This location has a beautiful peaceful garden in the back where you can sit and enjoy your pie as well…don’t miss it! They have a sign saying children must be seated and quiet at all times in the garden, which made me laugh—love it!
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806 Caroline St, Key West, FL 33040
After a caffeination stop at Cuban Coffee Queen, I popped into Pepe’s for breakfast and to try their famous key lime pie. The key lime pie came with whipped cream from a can, which I don’t love, so just scraped off.
The filling was good and balanced, a bit thicker texture like cheesecake. The lime might have come through a bit more but overall it was delicious. There wasn’t a ton of crust but what was there was good, nice and crumbly, not solid (feels more homemade).
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1215 Duval St, Key West, FL 33040
This key lime pie was pretty great. I have to give it a bit of leeway on texture, because I ended up carrying it around for like an hour (with it banging around and getting a bit soggy from the raspberry sauce) prior to eating it.
The filling was good and tart, and offset nicely by the little bit of raspberry sauce on top. The crust was soggy by the time I got around to eating it, which was not its fault, but it tasted good and was a great texture (prior to sogginess)…could’ve used just a bit less sugar in the crust though.
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Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe
200 Elizabeth St, Naval Air Station Key West, FL 33040
This one’s a bit of a cheat because I’m going off memory…I actually didn’t visit on this trip. Instead, this was one of the only spots I got to stop by in my like 3 hours in Key West before and after my amazing open-water sailing trip a couple years ago (Key West to Dry Tortugas and back).
I literally landed in Key West, took an Uber to Kermit’s, got some key lime pie, walked to Loggerhead’s, and got on the boat! As I remember, the key lime pie was pretty solid. Not the best I’ve ever had, but a great balance of sweet and tart (potentially just a bit more solid than I’d prefer) and a good crust.
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19991 Overseas Hwy, Summerland Key, FL 33042
Mangrove Mama’s key lime pie is a tale of two parts. It had a really creamy custard, the perfect blend of sweet and tart. One of the best fillings, in fact.
But from what I could tell it was a store-bought crust, more solid (though still graham cracker-based), so that let it down a bit more vs. some of the ones higher on the list.
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80499 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036
I finally got to stop here on my way up to the Miami airport, and am so glad I did. And their key lime pie overall lived up to the hype.
The filling was great, one of the best I had. What let it down was the crust, which was just basic bland pie crust—HERESY! The meringue doesn’t add anything. Still, I enjoyed this pie despite the five screaming unsupervised children at the table next to me 🙂
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3502 Gulfview Ave, Marathon, FL 33050
This ended up being one of my favorite places overall in the Keys, and their key lime pie pretty good. Simple and solid all-around pie, nothing fancy.
It has a great texture and fairly good balance of flavors…the key lime citrus punch could have come through just a little more, but that’s a nit-pick. It had a seemingly-prefab graham cracker crust, but was otherwise really solid.
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Middle of the pack: totally fine, with some qualms
823 Whitehead St, Key West, FL 33040
It was a little hard to put this here rather than it barely making the cut in the previous group. So definitely don’t think that means that Moondog’s pie isn’t good…it still is!
Their key lime pie is topped with (I think) Swiss meringue, which is quite sweet and sticky. I preferred it without, and just mostly scraped it off. The actual filling is pretty good, though a bit non-descript. I didn’t really love the crust, it was hard and difficult to tell what it was made of (as the meringue was all up in its biz…).
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79867 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036
The chill seaside ambiance probably elevates the key lime experience a bit here beyond the pie’s actual quality, but I feel confident saying that Lazy Days has a totally fine key lime pie. I wouldn’t kick it out of bed. (Since I literally ate multiple pieces of pie in bed throughout my key lime explorations, so this is a real consideration.)
From what I could tell, the crust was pre-fab, but the filling was a good texture and wasn’t too sweet…it had an almost delicate lime flavor (would have liked it to shine through a bit more).
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729 Thomas St, Key West, FL 33040
I knew I was pushing my luck trying to swing by Blue Heaven around 1p on a weekend and there was quite a wait, but I was able to go to their indoor bar area around the corner and snag a seat right away. I ended my lunch with their famous “mile high” key lime pie.
It sure looks impressive, though I really didn’t love the meringue (the texture was kind of weird). The actual key lime filling is quite good, but the crust is weirdly crumbly and and a bit bland. This is one of the key lime pies that often gets talked about as the best in the Keys, and I’m not entirely sure why. It was fine, but middle of the pack at best.
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530 Simonton St, Key West, FL 33040
I swung by Sarabeth’s to get a piece of their key lime pie to go, as I wasn’t able to find time to have a meal there during my short Key West stay. When I got back to my hotel and opened it, I was honestly a bit shocked at the like $13 price tag for a tiny round piece of pie!
This key lime pie has more of a whipped texture (it’s okay though I prefer the more custard-y one), and the taste and crust overall were fairly good. The lime comes through decently, but for some reason there was a bit of a fake aftertaste that I couldn’t quite place.
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1410 Overseas Hwy MM47.5, Marathon, FL 33050
Porky’s is known for their fried key lime pie, and I was honestly not sure what to expect…like, what does that mean??? You can kind of see below, it basically has a very light batter or crumb coating and I guess has been fried somehow.
The taste was okay but the texture was a bit odd. I think the filling would have been good on its own, but this just didn’t work as well for me.
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Not offensive, but not worth the calories
These are ones that just didn’t do it for me for whatever reason. Again, that’s subjective, and not to say these were “bad”, just didn’t come close to the top of the list. Usually because they lacked flavor or the texture was off.
82758 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036
This seems like a real locals place, didn’t show up on any list, but the people were super friendly and the food gets good reviews.
I swung by here on a rainy night and snagged a piece of key lime pie to take back to my hotel. It was decent, not overly sweet though the lime didn’t really come through much. The filling was a bit more solid than I’d expect. It had meringue on top but it wasn’t offensive. It was fine but not special.
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Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen
99336 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL 33037
My first stop of the entire road trip was the original Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, which is really cute. I got some iced tea and a slice of key lime pie to go. Maybe because it was early yet, the pie was semi-frozen, so I tried to let it thaw a bit before eating.
It was okay, but pretty dense and sweet and the was lime harder to find (the sweet whipped cream on top didn’t help, and I pushed it off).
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Green Turtle Inn
81219 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036
I had high hopes from the looks of it, but this key lime pie fell short for me. The filling was okay, good texture and the citrus kind of sneaks up on you. But the crust was not good, bland and almost bad…I can’t place the taste but it wasn’t good.
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SS Wreck & Galley Grill
58835 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL 33050
This was a desperation dinner play, the closest thing to my hotel. It’s definitely a locals place, and I had fun watching people interact (I got takeout because the weather was nutty and I was tired).
So I didn’t go specifically to get the key lime pie, but grabbed some anyway. (Because, DUH.) And it was just eh…too sweet, didn’t do much for me, and I only had a couple bites before deciding the taste didn’t justify what the sugar rush right before bed would do to my sleep.
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No Name Pub
30813 Watson Blvd, Big Pine Key, FL 33043
Everyone says you have to visit No Name Pub (partly for their key lime pie), so I made my way there one afternoon. It’s about 10 minutes off the highway, so it’s not as convenient for a quick stop.
Their key lime had more of a whipped texture and the flavor was a bit odd (and not key lime-y enough, and too sweet). Just wasn’t a fan overall.
A couple more “outside the box” key lime options
One thing that kept coming up in my pre-trip research was Harriette’s…specifically, their key lime muffin. As muffins go (I’m not a huge fan), it was pretty darn good…super moist but not crazy sweet. Get it warmed up!
Another key lime option to try is Flamingo Crossing, an ice cream shop in Key West. My friend @sjems5 said I had to try the strawberries & cream, so I got that and the Cuban coffee ice cream (a weird combo, I know). But they had a key lime ice cream that looked awesome. (Note, it’s cash only.)
Whew! So 20 or so key lime treats later, I feel mildly ill, 10 pounds heavier, fully indulged, and like I have a good feel for the pie landscape in the Keys…and if you focus on those “cream of the crop” spots then I feel confident you’ll find your own pick for the best key lime pie in the Florida Keys!
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