Costco and Trader Joe's Key Lime Pies

Lacey Muszynski / Cheapism

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It's summer, and that means all the bright and sunny citrus-filled seasonal items are back at stores like Costco and Trader Joe's. I'm a lover of all things citrus, so when I saw a recent thread on Reddit's r/Costco proclaiming that the key lime pie was back in store, I knew I was going to try one on my next visit. 

While many people were raving about the seasonal pie in that thread, there were also some detractors. My interest was piqued by the number of Redditors saying Trader Joe's key lime pie was better than Costco's. So I decided to throw calorie counts to the wind, grab both, and compare them myself.

Is Costco Key Lime Pie Any Good?

Just like Costco's chocolate peanut butter pie that was all the rage earlier this year, the first thing you'll notice about the key lime pie is that it's absolutely massive. It's just over four pounds, so it can feed a party full of kids or maybe a small army. If it's just your family of four, plan on eating this for a while. Though I haven't frozen it yet myself, I suspect the Costco key lime pie will freeze well, and Redditors report they have done so in the past with good results. 

You might also notice that Costco's filling is pretty white, especially when you compare it to the bright color of Trader Joe's key lime pie side-by-side. Unfortunately, the lime flavor is a little anemic to match the color. As a citrus lover, I want more of a lime kick and a sour punch. On the plus side, it's very creamy (sweetened condensed milk is the main ingredient) and cuts a beautiful, crisp-edged piece with a shiny top.

Costco and Trader Joe's Key Lime Pie SlicesPhoto credit: Lacey Muszynski / Cheapism

The graham cracker crust is thick — it has to be to support all this pie — and it's plenty crunchy. I love the whipped cream piped around the edges and think that should be mandatory for all citrus pies. It's a good pie, but it needs some lime zest, not just the juice listed in the ingredients, to really make it pop like the pies in the Keys. I'd call this a lime cream pie because of all the dairy and relatively subtle lime flavor.

How Much Does Costco's Key Lime Pie Cost?

Costco's key lime pie is $16. At 4 pounds and 4 ounces, that's 24 cents per ounce. Even if it's not my favorite pie in the world, it's still a crowd pleaser, and it's hard to find this much dessert for only $16. I think it'd be great for summer barbecues and Fourth of July parties. 

Is Trader Joe's Key Lime Pie Any Good?

Sometimes the mightiest things come in small packages. Trader Joe's key lime pie is absolutely delicious, and packs a huge wallop of citrus flavor. The filling is bright yellow and it's super smooth and custardy thanks to the addition of extra egg yolks and whipping cream. 

Costco and Trader Joe's Key Lime Pie slicesPhoto credit: Lacey Muszynski / Cheapism

Trader Joe's key lime pie also contains lime oil and peel in the form of lime puree, which gives it its complex citrus flavor, including a hint of bitterness that counteracts the sweetness. This is much closer to the pies I've had in the Florida Keys than Costco's, and very similar to my own renditions of the pie. You could easily pass this off as homemade; everyone would think you're a genius baker. 

Where Trader Joe's key lime pie falters a bit is in the crust. It's soggy, probably from being a frozen product that you then have to defrost. I also wish it came with a crown of whipped cream like the Costco pie does, but at least that can be rectified easily with a can of Reddi-Whip or a whisk and some elbow grease.

How Much Does Trader Joe's Key Lime Pie Cost?

Trader Joe's key lime pie costs $6. It's just over a pound at 17 ounces, so it's 35 cents per ounce. While that's more per ounce than Costco's pie, it's definitely worth it, especially since you can just keep one on hand in your freezer, thaw it for an hour or two, and enjoy it. It'd be good for a small dinner party or a family of four or six people. 

Costco vs. Trader Joe's Key Lime Pie: The Winner

Both pies are good, but Trader Joe's key lime pie stands out leaps and bounds above Costco's version for its strong lime flavor. If you've got a big party to go to, absolutely grab the Costco key lime pie, and it'll be a hit. But if you like citrus for all of its complex qualities, including mouth-puckering sourness, acidity that makes your tongue tingle if you eat too much, and a refreshing kick in the pants, then Trader Joe's key lime pie is the one you want to buy. 

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