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Nora Ephron’s Key Lime Pie

My heart is heavy tonight… One of my favorite writers and filmmakers, Nora Ephron, passed away today. In her honor, I wanted to re-post her Key Lime Pie recipe, which is my absolute favorite version of this pie. I promise I will track down some key limes this weekend and make it in her honor. Then eat it (diet be damned!) while watching Heartburn, When Harry Met Sally…, Silkwood, and You’ve Got Mail–my favorites of her movies.

Here is Nora’s Key Lime Pie taken from her book, Heartburn (1983, Knopf). 

My list of top five favorite movies includes the underrated romantic comedy-drama, Heartburn. It’s Nora Ephron’s adapation of her novel of the same name, which was a thinly disguised adaptation of her marriage with (and subsequent divorce from) Carl Bernstein. (Yes, that Carl Bernstein)

The film, directed by Mike Nichols (who also directed the fabulous The Graduate and Charlie Wilson’s War), stars Meryl Streep as Rachel, a food writer, who marries the philandering political reporter, Mark. She is what we’d call a “foodie” nowadays, and like Ephron in real-life, she is known for her skills in the kitchen. But unlike the novel, the movie doesn’t really highlight her culinary prowess.

I didn’t get any good “action” shots while making the pie. So here’s Meryl Streep making it on screen in “Heartburn”.

And that’s where the novel has an edge over the movie. Because it’s not just a typical novel. Interspersed within the story are Ephron’s own recipes. I have made almost everything she writes about in the book; her linguine a la cecca is a summer staple in my home, and her famous vinaigrette is my go-to recipe when I need a tart, homemade dressing. I keep my copy of the novel with my cookbooks.

But my favorite recipe is her Key Lime Pie. If you’ve seen the movie, then you’ll remember the pie that Rachel throws in Mark’s face as her character finally realizes she has to make the hardest decision of her life. This is that pie.

And this is Nora’s recipe. I only made two slight adjustments: the original calls for 1 cup of lime juice and 1 TBS lime zest. I used ¾ cup lime juice and 2TBS zest.

Nora Ephron’s Key Lime Pie
a.k.a. “Dream Another Dream Key Lime Pie” 

A microplane grater and juicer will make your life easier!


6 large egg yolks*
¾ cup lime juice (Bottled is fine, but fresh is best. You’ll need about 20 depending on how efficient you are at juicing them.)
2TBS lime zest (zest before you juice)
2 14oz cans sweetened condensed milk (use full fat; it will set better)
9”-10” graham cracker crust (I used Keebler’s extra large)
A few slices of lime for garnish
Whipped Cream (optional: I only like Cool Whip, and I was all out, so we went without)

  1. Beat the 6 large egg yolks in a large bowl. Add lime juice, zest, and sweetened condensed milk. Mix until well blended.
  2. Pour into prepared graham cracker crust pie shell.
  3. Freeze 6 to 8 hours, until firm.
  4. When ready to serve, allow pie to thaw for a few minutes on counter. Add whipped cream (if you’d like) and lime slices for garnish.
  5. Cut and serve. Throwing at your husband is optional.

Serves 8. Enjoy!

*Since this recipe calls for raw eggs to be used, it is best to use pasteurized eggs. These are pricier and a little harder to find than your regular store-bought eggs. The chances of contracting salmonella are about 1 in 20,000, so relatively small (.005%).  But, I advise you to get the pasteurized eggs in any event. Or, if you are up to it, pasteurize your own eggs!

About Cate Tayler

Mom, Wife, Writer, Catholic, Thinker, Reader, Amateur Gourmand, 'Phins Fan, Superwoman--not always in that order. Fueled by passion and too much caffeine. Lost my cape--it's buried somewhere under that mountain of laundry. Once I find it, look out world!


10 thoughts on “Nora Ephron’s Key Lime Pie

  1. Definitely will be on my “must do” list for this summer! Will serve when entertaining my sisters and their hubbies!! Thanks for your input and recipe!!

    Posted by Sugar & Spice & All Things ? Nice | June 26, 2012, 21:32
    • It’s a great make-ahead pie since you freeze it! But even if you do it the same day, make sure you allow the bare minimum of 6hrs (I usually need a little longer). It still tastes good, but the firmness isn’t there if it hasn’t been frozen long enough. 🙂


      Posted by A Common Sea | June 27, 2012, 08:55
  2. Oh my, sorry to hear of Ephron’s death. She was a great writer. Didn’t she do When Harry met Sally? One of my favorites. The pie looks wonderful!

    Posted by mare ball | June 27, 2012, 00:21
    • Yes! I was in tears (and still am–just listened to NPR’s tribute). When Harry Met Sally… is #2 on my list of top 5 favorite movies. The soundtrack is awesome and it’s how I fell in love with Harry Connick, Jr. 🙂


      Posted by A Common Sea | June 27, 2012, 08:57
  3. Great tribute! Sleepless in Seattle is my favorite of her movies. For some reason I never got into You’ve Got Mail, which is odd since it was the same two (of my favorite) actors. Thanks for highlighting Heartburn, one that I hadn’t heard of. Definitely worth reading, with a slice of key lime pie in hand!

    Posted by katietesta | June 27, 2012, 08:59
    • You’ve Got Mail was actually a remake, and I did enjoy it b/c of Ephron and Hanks and Ryan, but yeah, it wasn’t as good as some of her other rom-coms. Didn’t we used to watch Sleepless in Seattle allllllll the time? LOL I love the soundtrack!


      Posted by A Common Sea | June 27, 2012, 09:10
  4. So it really doesn’t have to bake ever? Interesting! I just listened to the audiobook of this, read by Meryl Streep, and now I want to make something from it. This looks like the best recipe.

    Posted by Jenny Colvin (@jenofjennybakes) | July 12, 2013, 23:17
    • Nope, totally no-bake if you use the prepared graham cracker crust (I use the Keebler–I’m just too lazy to make crust myself). But that’s why you have to watch the raw egg risk and why you’re supposed to use pasteurized eggs. With such a small risk, I prefer to gamble with my family’s life. ;D Just make sure you freeze it long enough so that it sets. I seriously have not found a Key Lime Pie that even comes close to this.

      I also routinely make the Linguine a la Cecca recipe and the Lillian Helmann’s Pot Roast was superb (though being allergic to red wine caused me to have a bad headache afterwards). And her vinaigrette is a staple in this house. Happy Cooking!


      Posted by A Common Sea | July 13, 2013, 01:37


  1. Pingback: Recipe – Key Lime Pie | Day in the life of a Busy Gal… - April 10, 2012

  2. Pingback: In honor of Julia | The Fearless Cooking Club - August 12, 2012

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