Recipe: Two Paleo Pies: Gluten-Free Vinegar Pie or Key Lime Pie

Two classics can be made with this one recipe: Vinegar Pie (also known as Pioneer Pie) and Key Lime Pie, converted to Paleo to make them perfect.

Everyone knows what Key Lime Pie is, especially if you spend any time in Florida. It’s a favorite citrus-y summer treat. Vinegar Pie is less well known; it’s an old recipe from the Old West, used by the pioneers as they crossed the country in their covered wagons, cooked up during long winters when the supplies of fruit had been all used up. The tartness of the vinegar makes it seem as though you’re eating a luscious, fruity, vitamin-laden Lemon or Key Lime Pie (or whatever citrusy visions you may have in February in North Dakota), which, of course, you aren’t.

The finished products are so much better than store bought. The flavors and textures balance perfectly: sweet and sour; the chewy, nutty crust contrasted with the rich, creamy filling. We tried very hard not to eat too much of this one, but damn it’s good. Citrus pies are always better when they have a chance to sit overnight and meld flavors, but ours did not make it that far.

This is a nutritious pie that can’t really qualify as junk food. It’s still dessert, but better for you than anything in a Sara Lee package. In place of a standard white flour/shortening crust, I used ground almonds and coconut oil sweetened with dates to make a sort of graham cracker crust. In place of  1 1/2 cups of table sugar in the filling, I used 5 tablespoons of raw honey. The nutritional profile is quite a bit improved:

Original Key Lime Pie:

Calories: 709
Fat: 33g
Protein: 18g
Carbs: 85g
Fiber: 1g
Net Carbs: 84g

Paleo Key Lime Pie:

Calories: 306
Fat: 21g
Protein: 6g
Carbs: 29g
Fiber: 3g
Net Carbs: 29g

Big difference! While the new version is still pretty sugary — you won’t lose weight eating pie, sorry! — it’s much better than the original. And the taste is very Oh Yum!

To lower the carb count, you can use fewer dates in the crust; each date has about 18g of carbs, which works out to 2g per slice and per date.

(all nutritional info on this site is estimated using and

Gluten-Free Key Lime or Vinegar Pie

Inspired by a recipe by Steve at PaleoZone

2 cups sliced almonds (or 1 cup almond meal)
6 pitted dates
1/2 Tbsp Virgin Coconut Oil
1 Tbs butter (unsalted)
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor or blender, process all the ingredients until you have a gooey, chunky paste (which is, by the way, ridiculously tasty). I microwave my dates for a few seconds first, just to make them softer and easier to process. Don’t process the almonds too long or you will have almond butter — that’s how nut butters are made.

Oil a pie pan with butter or coconut oil. Scrape the almond goop into the pan and smoosh it around with your fingers, pressing it to the edges and up the sides of the pan. Don’t bring it up and over the edge like a standard pie crust; to avoid burning, you want the crust to be about even with the filling, so about 1/2 inch from the top. (If you don’t have enough, it’s easy enough to process another handful of nuts and dates.)

Pre-bake (blind bake) the empty shell (crust) for about 7 minutes to partially cook it. When I blind bake a pie shell, I place a layer of parchment paper directly on the dough and pour a cup or so of dried, uncooked beans onto it. This prevents the bottom of the shell from puffing up and splitting.

When the crust is just a tad golden, take it out and add the filling.

4 tsp lime zest (I use a small knife as I don’t have a grater — works fine.)
1/2 Cup key lime juice (for vinegar pie, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar and no zest)
4 Tbsp honey (or equivalent stevia/sweetener)
2 Tbsp coconut flour
3 eggs
1 Cup coconut milk (the thick kind in a can, not the watery stuff in a carton)

Place ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl and mix them up until fairly smooth and homogeneous.  Pour into pie shell (some of the pie shell may flake off and into the batter; don’t worry about it, those pieces are super tasty). It should come up juuust barely over the edge of the crust (if not, you may have to cover the edges of the crust with foil once they brown to avoid burning).

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes. The filling will partially set; when you wiggle the pan a little it should wobble just a bit, and not splash. It will still be slightly goopy when you take it out; this will set further as it cools.

Remove from oven and cool on rack. When cool, refrigerate til completely set — if it makes it that far.  🙂  Oh yum!

Notes: I never used to bother with citrus zest, always just adding more juice instead. I’ve since discovered that using the zest makes for a much more interesting and complex flavor — don’t skip the zest!

This pie can be made with regular limes, but key limes are a little sweeter and more aromatic (but harder to get juice from, the little buggers — they’re tiny! They also have more seeds than ‘regular’ limes, so don’t be embarrassed to use bottled key lime juice).

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8 Responses to Recipe: Two Paleo Pies: Gluten-Free Vinegar Pie or Key Lime Pie

  1. Uncle Jeffrey says:

    OOOH ! Tara,
    I love you, I have always loved you -Since 96″ -Please come East again so I may throw my arms around You once again !!!!
    On another note your Mother looks great with this new distraction of hers (way to go Coach!) Her mental outlook has improved and She has not blamed the Republicans or Bush for Global warming, the Economy or Dust bunnies for two weeks now.
    I now venture outside of my room during the day without my Louisville Slugger ! If she manages to Jump into size 10 Skinny jeans I will probably stop carrying my Tazer in a quick draw side holster !
    The cooking aspect of this distraction has not pleased her but the improvement in mental outlook has forced a De’tente with all pots and pans !!

    My sincerest congratulations on the direction of your and her life (Another AttaGirl for you )
    Uncle Jeffrey

  2. You are incorrigible, Jeffrey…! But thank you. Seeing my mom on the road to good health is the bestest thing a daughter could hope for. Thanks for all you’ve done, too. 🙂

    • Wonderful, and it’s about time! I’m not celiac but I know when I’ve eaten gluten — and it’s miserable. So glad the labels will have to actually be closer to reality than they have been. Thank you, Elizabeth!

  3. Nothing like truth in labeling!

  4. I can only find regular limes, is there a bigdifference?

    • Key Lime Pie aficionados might be able to expound on the manifold differences, but to me the main differences are size and sweetness; key limes are a touch sweeter. Also the key limes are loaded with seeds (at least the batch I got were…).

      Since this isn’t a classic key lime pie anyway, I’d go ahead and use regular limes. Just check the filling as you go alone to make sure your sweetener is balanced with the sour.

  5. Nothing like truth in labeling

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