This vegan key lime pie is what dessert dreams are made of! It's every bit as sweet, fresh, bright, creamy, and delicious as the original, but made without dairy or eggs! It's also gluten-free and coconut-free! Prepare to fall in love with this citrusy vegan treat.
About the Recipe
Most vegan key lime pie recipes call for coconut milk, so I thought it would be fun to create another option.
Personally, I'm fine with coconut milk, but some people are allergic or avoid the saturated fat for health reasons.
And sometimes you don't want every dessert to taste like coconut! Sure, it pairs beautifully with lime, but in other desserts it's not always welcome, like vanilla ice cream.
So creating coconut-free desserts has sort of unofficially become my thing.
If I'm being honest, there are also a couple of selfish reasons why I like to share recipes that offer alternatives to the norm:
a) As a recipe creator, I enjoy the "problem solving" aspect of recipe testing!
b) Also, the more variety there is in vegan recipes the fewer potential barriers there are.
More options = fewer excuses. I hope that makes sense. But enough about my selfish motivations. 🙂
I think you're going to LOVE this vegan gluten-free key lime pie. In fact, it's actually 3 recipes in one:
- you'll learn how to make an amazing vegan key lime pie
- how to make sweetened condensed oat milk (as part of the filling)
- AND how to make vegan whipped topping with aquafaba!
How fun is that? You'll be a regular vegan dessert wizard after making this recipe!
- limes - trying to get a significant amount of juice from key limes is pretty much the definition of hilarious! Save yourself the headache and use regular limes for most, or all, of the juice in this recipe. I used a combination of the two for both the zest and juice. But seriously, regular limes are perfectly acceptable in key lime pie.
- silken tofu - this gives the filling volume and creaminess while also making it lighter than most pies. And hey, who doesn't enjoy getting a little extra plant-based protein while they eat dessert?
- condensed oat milk - please don't let this scare you away from making this pie! I promise it is very EASY to do.
If you don't want the extra steps of making and simmering oat milk, you can substitute Nature's Charm condensed oat milk (contains coconut oil) or any brand of condensed coconut milk.
- raw cashews - if you don't have a high-speed blender, soak the cashews overnight or in hot water for a few hours. Drain and pat dry before blending.
- starch - cashews thicken the filling somewhat, but we still need a little extra help from either arrowroot or corn starch.
- agar agar powder - agar is like a vegan gelatin substitute. Since our pie doesn't contain any eggs or saturated fat that would cause it to firm up and set when chilled, a small amount of agar is perfect. It's a wonderfully versatile ingredient! Use it to make vegan cream cheese, feta, "jell-o" and so much more.
- pie crust - instead of the typical graham cracker crust, I opted for a version of this vegan & gluten-free pie crust, with half of the almond flour replaced with ground pecans. Details below.
It can be tricky to find graham crackers that don't contain honey. Since we love that vegan/gluten-free pie crust so much, it was a no brainer. I tossed in pecans for a little extra southern flair!
See the recipe card below for quantities and full instructions.
How to Make Vegan Key Lime Pie
If you're using a store-bought sweetened condensed non-dairy milk, you can skip these first two steps.
- In a high-speed blender, combine ice cold water and oats, and blend on high for 30 seconds. Strain twice, or place one bag inside another, and strain through the double layer.
- In a large saucepan, whisk together the oat milk and sugar. Turn on the burner to medium heat, and slowly bring the mixture to a simmer while whisking frequently. Once it's steamy and hot, cook for another 4 to 5 minutes or until glossy and thickened. Whisk in vanilla and salt, and set aside.
- Now it's time to make the key lime pie filling. Combine the cashews, silken tofu, lime juice, and half of the lime zest in a blender. Blend on high until completely smooth. Add all remaining ingredients and blend again.
- Cook the pie filling on the stove for about 5 minutes to activate the starch and agar agar.
- Immediately pour into the baked pie crust and smooth the top. Refrigerate for several hours until chilled and set.
This vegan key lime pie is delicious as is. But for special occasions, it's nice to fancy it up a bit with non-dairy whipped topping or whipped aquafaba.
Aquafaba Whipped Topping
To make aquafaba whipped cream you'll need:
- aquafaba - this is the liquid drained from a can of unsalted chickpeas
- powdered sugar
- lemon or lime juice
- vanilla extract - real or clear imitation
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the aquafaba and sugar. Place over medium-low heat and cook just until you see steam rising off the surface and can tell it's hot. Don't let it reach a simmer. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla.
- Pour the hot aquafaba into the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk. Add the lemon juice, and let the machine run for about 2 minutes on medium speed. Increase to medium-high speed and whisk for another 2 to 3 minutes. Increase to high speed, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 4 more minutes.
Vegan Gluten-Free Pie Crust Option
I used this popular gluten-free vegan pie crust recipe and replaced half of the almond flour with ground pecans. To do it:
Place ¾ cup raw pecans in a high-speed blender or a food processor, and blend until the consistency of coarse crumbs.
And that's it! Other than that one swap, you can follow the pie crust instructions exactly. It's literally the easiest pie crust you'll ever make. Prep it in advance or the same day.
Equipment plays a pretty important role in this recipe, but some items are only needed for the optional homemade ingredients (pie crust, condensed oat milk, and whipped topping).
Otherwise, all you need are a blender, microplane, and saucepan.
- rolling pin and 9-inch deep dish pie plate - if making homemade pie crust
- blender - a high-speed blender is ideal, but a standard blender will work if you soak the cashews in advance.
- nut milk bag(s) - to strain the oat milk
- medium-large saucepan - to make the condensed oat milk and cook the pie filling
- microplane - to zest the limes
- stand mixer - for the whipped aquafaba
Preparing in Advance and Storing
Another nice thing about the gluten-free pie crust is that it holds up better overnight than a graham cracker crust or one made with flour. It's a great option if you need to make this pie a day in advance.
Wait until just before serving to add the whipped topping.
Leftover vegan key lime pie will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to a month.
Yes, regular limes make a perfectly delicious key lime pie. Not only are they easier to find year-round, they're much easier to juice than small key limes. For this recipe you'll need 2 tablespoons lime zest and ⅔ cup lime juice. About 7 regular limes should be enough.
Freshly squeezed lime juice does taste better, but sometimes the convenience of bottled key lime juice is needed. Even some Florida restaurants famous for their key lime pie admit to using bottled juice! So while we prefer the flavor of fresh limes, it's your pie and your kitchen. You're in charge!
A powerful blender like a Vitamix will create the smoothest filling and means you won't need to soak the cashews. If using a regular blender, you can either soak the cashews overnight to soften them, or cover with boiling water and let soak for 2 to 3 hours. Then drain and pat dry when you're ready to blend the pie filling.
During recipe testing I first tried to incorporate maple syrup. It's usually one of my favorite sweeteners, but we didn't think it worked well with the crisp and clean lime flavor.
You can try slightly reducing the sugar or replacing some of it with a sugar substitute, but for the best results I recommend following the recipe as written.
I hope you enjoy this creamy and fresh vegan key lime pie. If you try the recipe be sure to comment below and let us know!
More Vegan Gluten-Free Pies
Vegan Gluten-Free Key Lime Pie (No Coconut!)
- 1 baked vegan gluten-free pie crust - or your favorite graham cracker crust; see Note 1 for pecan version (pictured)
- 1 heaping cup raw cashews
- 12 ounces silken tofu, drained - I use the refrigerated type
- 2 tablespoons lime zest, loosely packed
- ⅔ cup lime juice - regular limes are fine; incorporate key limes if you have them
- ½ cup organic cane sugar - reduce slightly if using store-bought sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup homemade condensed oat milk (recipe below) or alternative - see Note 2 for subs
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch - or corn starch
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract - real or clear/imitation vanilla
- ¾ teaspoon agar powder
For Condensed Oat Milk (optional):
- ¼ cup rolled oats
- 1 cup ice cold water
- ¼ cup organic cane sugar
- tiny splash of vanilla
- pinch of salt
For Aquafaba Whipped Topping (optional):
- ⅔ cup aquafaba - the liquid from a can of unsalted chickpeas
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract - real or clear/imitation vanilla
To make the condensed oat milk:
- Combine the oats and water in a blender. Blend on high for 30 seconds in a high-speed blender or about 1 minutes in a standard blender. Strain with a nut milk bag (I like to use two bags, one inside the other, to catch all of the pulp).
- In a large saucepan, whisk together the oat milk and sugar. Turn on the burner to medium heat and slowly bring the mixture to a simmer while whisking frequently. Once it's steamy and hot, cook for another 3 to 4 minutes or until glossy and thickened (see photos above). Whisk in the vanilla and salt, and set aside.
Prepare the pie filling:
- Combine the cashews, silken tofu, lime juice, and half of the lime zest in a blender. Blend on high until completely smooth. Add all remaining ingredients (condensed milk - agar), and blend again until smooth.
- Transfer the mixture to a medium-large saucepan. Over medium heat, slowly bring to a simmer, then cook for 5 minutes until thickened and creamy. This is important to activate the starch and agar agar.
- Immediately pour the filling into the prepared pie crust and smooth the top. Refrigerate uncovered for 1 hour, then cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until chilled and set.
To make aquafaba whipped topping:
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the aquafaba and sugar. Place over medium-low heat and cook just until you see steam rising off the surface and can tell it's hot. Don't let it reach a simmer.
- Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla. Pour the hot aquafaba into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk. Add the lemon juice, and let the machine run for about 2 minutes on medium speed. Increase to medium-high speed and whisk for another 2 to 3 minutes. Increase to high speed, and whisk until shiny, white, with stiff peaks, about 4 more minutes.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.