This coconut key lime tart features cinnamon graham cracker crust, creamy coconut-lime filling, fresh whipped cream, and toasty coconut flakes. It comes together in minutes and makes for the perfect summer dessert!
I’m officially deeming this summer “coconut key lime tart” summer because I’ve barely worked out since our wedding and to be honest, I’d rather eat pie anyways. Although a new gym did just open only five minutes from our house, so I’m thinking I’ll get back into it, but first thing’s first. We need to discuss this tart. I have priorities!
Key lime pie always makes me think of my Gram because it was her favorite dessert. Probably because she grew up in the Florida Keys where this recipe was created. And, I guess I take after her judging by the absurd amounts of key lime pie flavored yogurt I consumed in my teen years. Anyways, this year, I decided it was finally time to make something based entirely on my cravings, because…self-care? So I added a bunch of coconut and a heavy dose of whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon because honestly, I tried cardamom and it just didn’t shine through. It was the first time cardamom has semi-failed me, but not really, cause it was still good, just not as delicious as the cinnamon addition.
The result is a foolproof, simple-to-throw-together dessert that is perfect for summer. Buttery graham crust, refreshing, slightly tart filling, a creamy whipped topping? Peace out, hot girl summer.
Ingredients you’ll need
I fully believe that summer recipes should be easy, so we’re keeping things pretty basic this time around! For this recipe, make sure to grab:
- Graham crackers – any crisp cookie would work, but I like classic honey graham crackers!
- Unsweetened coconut flakes – shredded coconut would work too.
- Egg yolks – the yolks will help thicken the coconut lime filling.
- Sweetened condensed milk – trust me! It makes the filling so perfect and delicious.
- Coconut cream – We’re looking for the stuff you get in a can in the Thai section of the grocery store. Not the stuff you use for cocktails! **8/12/21 Update: A previous version of this recipe specified not to use coconut milk, but I actually tried this recipe with coconut milk and it worked! Just refrigerate a can of coconut milk for 2-3 hours, and scoop out the thick cream that forms on the top. Avoid the liquid at the bottom of the can, or it could affect the texture.**
- Key limes – you can also use regular limes or a mix of the two.
- Heavy whipping cream – for our whipped cream topping!
- Baking basics – sugar, cinnamon, unsalted butter, Kosher salt, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.
Let’s make a tart!
We’re going to make the coconut key lime tart in three separate parts. But don’t worry! All of the steps are super easy and don’t take long.
Make the crust
- Pulse about 10 graham cracker sheets with coconut flakes, sugar, cinnamon, butter, and a pinch of salt until the mixture comes together.
- Pour the graham crumbs into a lightly greased tart pan and press until it’s evenly distributed. Don’t forget the sides!
- Bake at 350°F until lightly golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Let the crust cool.
Mix up the filling
- In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks until creamy. Add the sweetened condensed milk, coconut cream, lime juice, and some lime zest.
- Pour the filling into the cooled graham cracker crust. Bake until the filling is mostly set and just a little jiggly in the center. Check for doneness at 10 minutes.
- Let the coconut key lime tart cool for about 30 minutes on the counter. Then, cover and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours.
Finish it off!
- In a medium bowl, combine the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Whip until heavy peaks form.
- Spread the whipped cream over the top of the tart. Garnish with toasted coconut, lime wedges, etc. Enjoy!
Regular vs. Key Limes
For this to be a true key lime pie, we’re going to use key lime juice and zest! Yes, it’s a little extra work to juice and zest a bunch of key limes but I promise it’s worth it. They have a slight bitterness to them which gives key lime pie its signature, tropical taste. Regular limes are a bit more floral and tart.
I honestly like to use a mix of both key lime and regular lime juice. However, I would definitely not recommend bottled juice, because it tastes a little stale. If it’s between bottled key lime juice or fresh regular lime juice, go with the regular limes. I won’t tell!
How to store
To keep this coconut key lime tart fresh, just press a piece of plastic wrap to the top to keep it from forming a skin. This tart is best fresh, but it will last in the fridge for about three or four days. Perfect for a make-ahead dessert option. The graham crust will get a little soft over time but it’ll still taste great!
Tips & Tricks
- Let the crust cool completely before adding the filling or it will overcook.
- I highly recommend using a citrus press to juice the limes. It makes life so much easier! If the key limes are too small for your press, you can stack them on top of each other.
- Strain the juice through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any seeds or pulp.
- You want to bake the tart just until it’s set. Don’t let the top brown or it’ll be overbaked!
- To prevent a skin from forming, just press a piece of plastic wrap right against the top of the filling.
- Let the tart set in the fridge for at least 3 hours. The filling will be too runny otherwise.
- Add the whipped cream immediately before serving, or it might melt in the fridge. If you expect leftovers, just add individual dollops of whipped cream to your pie slices.
Other summery pies, tarts, & Galettes to try!
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Key Lime Tart with Coconut
- Citrus press
- 9-10 inch tart pan
Graham Cracker Crust
- 10 full graham cracker sheets (1 1/2 cups of crumbs)
- 1/2 c unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 6 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
- Pinch of Kosher salt
Coconut Key Lime Filling
- 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 c coconut cream**
- 1/2 c key lime juice
- 1 tsp key lime zest
Whipped Cream Topping
- 1 c heavy whipping cream
- 3 Tbs powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Toasted coconut flakes, lime slices, etc., for decorating
Graham Cracker Crust
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease your tart pan with butter or neutral cooking spray.
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the graham cracker sheets, in batches if necessary, until you have semi-fine crumbs. You should end up with about 1 1/2 cups of crumbs. Add the coconut flakes, sugar, cinnamon, melted butter, and salt and pulse until the coconut and graham crackers are finely ground and the mixture comes together.
- Pour the coconut graham mixture into the tart pan and press the mixture evenly into the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake for about 7-8 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool to room temperature while you prepare the filling.
Coconut Key Lime Filling
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until creamy. Add the sweetened condensed milk, coconut cream, key lime juice, and key lime zest until smooth and fully incorporated.
- Pour the coconut key lime filling into the cooled pie crust. Bake 10-14 minutes just until the filling is mostly set, but still a little jiggly in the center. Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool for about 30 minutes on a wire rack at room temperature.
- Press a piece of plastic wrap to the top of the filling to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate the pie until chilled, about 3-4 hours.
Whipped Cream Topping
- With a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form.
- Immediately before serving, spread the whipped cream over the top of the pie and garnish with toasted coconut, lime wedges, etc. Slice and serve immediately. Enjoy!
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the day: Just Like Heaven by The Cure