Barefoot Contessa: Ina Garten’s Trick for Getting Perfect Crust on Frozen Key Lime Pie

Ina Garten has a foolproof pie crust recipe but when it comes to Frozen Key Lime Pie, the Barefoot Contessa host does things a little differently. 

Ina Garten advises not to press too hard when assembling the crust

Ina Garten smiles for cameras while attending 'Ina Garten in Conversation with Danny Meyer'
Ina Garten | Noam Galai/WireImage

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After making a pie it can be disappointing to slice into it only to have the crust stay behind in the pan. Garten’s got a fix for it. As part of the “Ask Ina” section of her Barefoot Contessa website, Garten answered a question about graham cracker crust sticking to the pan. 

“Loved your Frozen Key Lime Pie recipe, but my crust stuck badly in the glass pie pan,” a fan told her. “What am I doing wrong?”

The trick, according to the best-selling cookbook author, is not to press the crust into the pan too hard. 

“That’s happened to me, too,” she said. “I’ve found it’s important not to press too hard when you’re packing the crust.” 

Garten’s tip can easily be applied to other pies (frozen or not) with graham cracker crusts. Combine the butter, graham cracker crumbs, and sugar being careful not to press too hard. 

The Barefoot Contessa lets the Frozen Key Lime Pie defrost to prevent the crust from sticking to the pan

If that’s not enough to keep the crust from sticking to the pan, Garten has another trick. However, it requires some patience before dishing out the sweet treat. The Barefoot Contessa lets the pie soften a bit prior to slicing.

“I also let the pie defrost for 15-20 minutes before serving,” she said, “and that seems to do the trick!”

Not pressing too hard on the graham cracker crumbs combined with some unthawing time should mean the pie comes out of the pan easily, crust included.

How to make Ina Garten’s Frozen Key Lime Pie

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Originally featured in Garten’s cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, her recipe for Frozen Key Lime Pie comes together in about eight hours. 

“This is a really traditional recipe but I think it has more flavor than most,” Garten said on an episode of Barefoot Contessa, according to a video clip on The Food Network’s website. 

She starts by preparing the crust. Garten combines sugar, melted butter, and graham cracker crumbs before pressing the mixture into a pan. Then it gets baked for 10 minutes. 

While it cools, Garten makes the filling. Sweetened condensed milk, sugar, egg yolks, lime juice, and lime zest are combined in a standing mixer before going into the cooled pie shell. Then the entire thing gets put in the freezer until frozen. 

Garten decorates the top with homemade whipped cream and lime slices. Remember to let the pie defrost for 15 – 20 minutes before serving to prevent the crust from sticking to the pan. 

Ingredients for the Barefoot Contessa’s Frozen Key Lime Pie: 

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 6 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons grated lime zest
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 to 5 limes)

For the decoration:

  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Thin lime wedges