If there’s one thing that I love making at home, it’s ice cream! I love customizing flavors and coming up with unique combinations! I didn’t get an ice cream machine until last Christmas, so I was all about no-churn ice cream for a long time (and I still am because it takes a lot for me to want to clear out a space in the freezer and get out the machine)! When I discovered it and found out how easy it was to make AND how delicious the end result was, I was super excited and surprised!
Usually, I’ll make no churn ice cream at night, which only takes about 10 MINUTES to whip up, and then by the next day, I have a freshly frozen batch in the freezer ready to be eaten! But this key lime pie version does include a couple extra ingredients and steps! Still extremely simple and easy so it’s completely worth it!
First of all, the key limes. I don’t think most people can really tell the difference between the flavor of key limes and regular limes. Key limes are a little more acidic and have a stronger almost floral aroma. But the differences are so small that you could easily use regular limes here and no one would know! Plus, using regular limes equals a whole lot LESS work for you! 😉
Second, the baked graham cracker crust! This is one of my most favorite parts of this ice cream! So I totally recommend that you take the extra 10 minutes to pull this together! Sprinkled and incorporated throughout the ice cream, it lends a very rich caramel-y flavored crumb that balances out the creamy and tart flavor of the ice cream! It’s so easy and so worth it! But if you’re really in a rush or you really don’t want to turn that oven on, skip this and just sprinkle the crushed crackers into the ice cream! But I’m tellin’ ya, it makes a huge difference!
1. Heavy cream whips up better when it’s very cold. So keep the cream in the fridge right up to the second you need to use it. I also keep my mixing bowl in the fridge/freezer while I’m preparing everything else.
2. I hate washing extra things. So for the graham cracker crumbs, instead of running the crackers through a food processor, I just place them in a small ziplock bag and crush them with the bottom of a glass cup or whatever you have lying around!
3. This recipe calls for about 5-6 tablespoons of lime juice. But too much added liquid in ice cream can make it icy and hard to scoop. So I cook down the juice into a concentrated, smaller amount of lime juice! I talk through how to do this in the instructions below!
4. Make this recipe easier and quicker by using either regular limes or prepared pure lime juice.
for graham cracker crust:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 5 whole crackers)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
for key lime ice cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoon key lime zest (or regular lime)
5-6 tablespoons key lime juice (or regular lime)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, melt butter in the microwave in 10 second bursts. Place graham crackers in a small ziplock bag and crush with the bottom of a glass cup until it’s mostly a fine crumb. Some bigger crumbs left over is okay. Add crumbs and brown sugar to the melted butter and mix well. Dump mixture onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Flatten it out and pack it with your hands so that it kind of comes together and is about 1/8 inch thick. Bake for 8 minutes and let cool completely.
Place lime juice in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Swirl juice around almost constantly as it heats up. Let is simmer as you swirl it continuously for about 5 minutes. It will cook down to about 1-2 tablespoons. Now it’s highly concentrated. Pour into a heat safe bowl or cup immediately and place in fridge to cool.
In a large bowl, mix condensed milk, vanilla, salt, lime zest, and cooled concentrated lime juice until combined well. Set aside.
With your hands or a spoon, break up the cooled crust into small pieces. It will be crumbly!
With a stand mixer or hand mixer, whisk heavy cream until soft-medium peaks. Don’t reach firm/hard peaks! I like to start whisking on low speed for a minute. Then slowly and gradually increasing the speed to medium high until soft peaks.
Spoon about 1/3 of the whipped cream into the condensed milk mixture and mix gently until well combined. Then, pour the rest of the whipped cream into the condensed milk mixture and very gently, fold to incorporate. Right before it is fully incorporated, add 2/3 of the crust and fold in gently.
Pour mixture into a 9×5 loaf pan (lined with parchment paper if desired). Smooth out the top with the spatula and sprinkle the rest of the crust on top. Sprinkle some lime zest on top if desired. Freeze for at least 4-5 hours or preferably, overnight.