Key lime pie ice cream is all of the tangy sweetness of key lime pie but in a cool, creamy ice cream. Pieces of homemade Graham cracker crust add the perfect amount of crunch!Jump to Recipe
Last weekend here in the Midwest things got HOT. And sticky. It was totally “do not turn on your oven” weather. So, naturally it became “let’s make some ice cream weather.”
I wanted an ice cream that included all the elements of key lime pie.
- Key lime juice (obviously)
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Graham cracker crust
Key lime juice and lime zest
As we learned when we made mini key lime pies, key limes are a little bit different than the typical (Persian) limes we find in the store. Key limes contain more seeds, are slightly more yellow in color, and more aromatic. They are also known as Mexican or West Indian limes.
Key limes were grown in the Florida keys for years until the hurricane of 1926 wiped out the key lime plantations and they were replaced with the Persian limes.
I live in the mid-west and finding key limes is about as easy as trying to find Meyer lemons. Which is to say, it ain’t easy (or cheap which is the real reason I don’t buy them). I get a bottle of this key lime juice (don’t buy it on Amazon, it’s like 1/4 of that price in the grocery store) and zest some regular ‘ole Persian lime zest into the mix.
Sweetened Condensed Milk
Sweetened condensed milk is the sugar base for key lime pie and it is often used as a sugar base for ice cream, making it an excellent choice for this ice cream. Since it’s already sugar combined with milk, we are going to use a can of sweetened condensed milk in lieu of the whole milk and sugar that is frequently used in homemade ice cream.
What is the deal with adding eggs to my ice cream?
Eggs yolks are what add puffiness and creaminess to key lime pie. They are also what adds creaminess to ice cream. We cook the eggs to both kill bacteria and to encourage coagulation. The egg proteins denature (come apart) and the recombine in a way that makes smooth, silky desserts.
Graham Cracker Crust
Part of the deliciousness of key lime pie is the creamy custard paired with the crunch of the Graham cracker crust. I wanted to have that same experience with the ice cream. I could have just crumbled up Graham crackers, that would have been much easier. But the buttery goodness of a homemade Graham cracker crust is worth the effort.
Short on time/don’t want to turn on the oven at all? Buy a ready made Graham cracker crust and crumble it into the pie. (I was resistant to oven cooking so I baked up my crust in tiny pans in my toaster oven-not recommended for regular pie but for this it worked just fine).
Do I have to buy an ice cream maker?
You totally don’t need to. When I first started making ice cream, I used this method. It’s a little more labor intensive, but it works.
I received my ice cream maker (affiliate link) as a gift from a friend, and it has been so much fun. (There was no way I was going to buy a uni-tasker, but I’m so glad I have one!) Ice cream makers do all the work of incorporating air into the cream as it freezes, giving you ice cream with a wonderful mouth feel.
Key Lime Pie Ice Cream
- Ice cream maker
- Mesh strainer
Ice Cream Base
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup key lime juice
- 1 lime zest only
Graham Cracker Crust
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter melted
- 2/3 cup Graham cracker crumbs
Ice Cream Base
- Separate eggs into large bowl. We only need the yolks. Whisk yolks.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together sweetened condensed milk and 1 cup of the heavy cream.
- Once heated through, ladle a few spoonfuls of the warm cream mixture into your egg. Whisk until combined.
- Pour egg/cream mixture into the rest of the warm cream. Cook on low/medium heat until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from heat
- You may have some chunks of scrambled egg in your cream. Strain cream through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl. Add remaining cup of cream. Stir to combine.
- Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the ice cream base before refrigerating. This helps prevent a "skin" from forming" Chill 3 hours or overnight in the fridge.
- Once the ice cream base is thoroughly chilled, churn your ice cream in your ice cream maker maker according to manufacturers directions.
- Once the ice cream is almost done, add in broken pieces of Graham cracker pie crust.
Looking for more ice cream to make? Maybe try some roasted strawberry ice cream or some pineapple upside down cake ice cream. And don’t forget the toppings!