More pie = happier holidays

Save time by making this pie up to two days ahead, and add the candied fruit just before serving.

Save time by making this pie up to two days ahead, and add the candied fruit just before serving. DANIELLE ROSE PHOTOS

Cranberry is a festive addition to Florida favorite, Key lime pie

The kitchen has always been my laboratory. I’m endlessly curious about food and unafraid to experiment. When I eat something I love at a restaurant, I’m already cooking up the recipe in my head. Some are hits; some are misses. Thankfully, my family and friends are always happy to be my guinea pigs. 

But there is one day of the year when they will have none of it: Thanksgiving. When I see memes on the internet about this, I feel like they’re calling me out personally. I’ve learned the hard way that no one wants to try that new side dish. The menu must always be the same. Heaven forbid, you stray from the way Grandma did it. Dressing is no place for nuts or apples. Serve green beans without the crunchy onions on top and you’ll never hear the end of it. 

Dessert might be the one safe space to get creative on Thanksgiving. As long as your family’s favorites are covered, no one objects to more pie. In fact, I’ve found more pie is always welcome. Especially this one. 

Let cranberry Key lime pie be your one experiment. It’s as if Florida’s favorite dessert got all dressed up for the holidays. The filling is creamy and smooth, and the combination of Key lime and cranberries is divine. Cinnamon graham crackers add a hint of warm spice to the crust — a trick I use for my regular Key lime pies, too. Even when you think you’re too full for dessert, a little slice of this hits the spot. It’s a light and refreshing alternative to classic holiday pies. 

It’s also pretty enough to be a centerpiece. The vivid color makes it stand out from the standard beige feast. Decorations of sparkly candied cranberries and citrus take it over the top. I like to add a bit of rosemary, so it looks like a festive wreath. If you’re going to someone’s house and you don’t know what to bring, this is it. In my experience, it will distract and impress even the most challenging guests. Beware: They just might ask you to make it every year.

Cranberry Key Lime Pie

Cranberries are naturally high in pectin, which helps set the filling so it's smooth and sliceable

Cranberries are naturally high in pectin, which helps set the filling so it’s smooth and sliceable



2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs 

5 tablespoons melted butter, cooled

Pinch of salt


1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries 

2/3 cup sugar

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup Key lime juice

3 egg yolks


1 cup sugar, divided

1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

1/4 cup thinly sliced citrus peel

2 sprigs of rosemary



Mix the cinnamon graham cracker crumbs, butter and salt in a bowl. Transfer to pie dish. Use a measuring cup or glass to press the crumb mixture evenly into the dish and up the sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 3 days ahead.


Preheat the oven to 350.

Bring cranberries, sugar, and 1/2 cup water to a simmer in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until berries burst and are very soft. Place a sieve over a measuring cup. Strain cooked cranberries through the sieve, pushing them through with the back of a spoon. You should have about 1 cup of strained cranberry sauce. Pour the sauce into a mixing bowl. Whisk in condensed milk and lime juice, until smooth. Whisk in egg yolks.

Pour filling into refrigerated crust. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving, or up to two days.

Sugared Wreath Decoration:

If you choose to decorate the pie, it’s best done the same day you plan to serve it. 

Combine 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add cranberries, citrus peel, and rosemary to the saucepan and stir for one minute. Use a slotted spoon to transfer everything to a wire rack. [Remaining sugar syrup can be used in cocktails or lemonade]. Allow to cool completely. Place remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in a shallow bowl. Once cool, dip or roll the cranberries, citrus, and rosemary in sugar. Arrange on top of the pie. Leave the pie uncovered until serving.

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