Key Lime Cheesecake

This thick and creamy key lime cheesecake is the perfect combination of sweet and tart! It’s insanely refreshing on those warm days.

While it does take a bit of time, it can be mastered and is SO worth the effort! For more delectable summery treats try Classic Strawberry Shortcake, Heavenly Lemon Cream Pies, or Sour Cream Pound Cake topped with fresh berries! Yum.

Key Lime Cheesecake on a white plate

Sweet + Tart

As the weather starts to get warm, we wake up extra early and head to the park before it heats up, then stay inside to keep cool for the rest of the day. We also make lots of simple dinners and no-bake goodies.

Today’s Key Lime cheesecake, though, is definitely worth the few hours of oven time it requires. After chilling in the refrigerator for a few hours, it’s absolute perfection. Cold, dense, slightly tart and insanely refreshing.

If you’ve never made a classic cheesecake before, it’s time to hop in the kitchen and learn how! I was so afraid for so many years, but ever since I made this New York cheesecake, I feel like I can do just about anything! Ok, more like make any kind of cheesecake I want!!

Key lime pie cheesecake with whipped topping

How to Make Key Lime Cheesecake

CRUST. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the finely ground graham cracker crumbs with the sugar and salt. Pour the melted butter over top and mix until the crumbs become coated. Pour into the prepared springform pan (see recipe)  and gently smooth out (I like to use a metal measuring cup for this). Carefully work the crumbs up the sides so that they are 1½” tall and approximately ¼” thick (You should have a nice layer on the bottom and the sides should go about halfway up your pan).

BAKE. Place into the oven and bake (placing the top rack in lower third of oven.) at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Turn oven down to 325 degrees

FILLING. Beat the cream cheese, salt, vanilla and lime zest in the bowl of a stand mixer for approximately 4 minutes or until smooth and creamy. With mixing speed on low, gradually add the sugar, then turn back up to high and beat for an additional minute. With mixing speed on low, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Add the lime juice, sour cream, then the heavy cream, beat on high for 1 minute.

WATER BATH. Place the prepared springform pan into a large high-sided roasting pan. Pour the cream cheese filling into the springform pan, smoothing out the top with a spatula. Pour boiling water around the springform pan, taking care not to get any on the filling. You’ll want the water to go halfway up the side of the pan (this was just to the lip of my 2″ tall cake pan).

BAKE. Place in the oven and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minuets

  • If you like extra firm cheesecake, continue baking for an additional 14 minutes for a total of 2 hours
  • If the cheesecake is getting too dark, tent it with foil (taking care to not let it touch the top of the cheesecake)

CHILL. After the the cheesecake has baked, turn off the oven, slightly crack the door open and allow to cool for 1 hour (This is the key to getting a perfect top without it falling or cracks forming). Remove the cheesecake from the bath, dry the bottom and cover with foil. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours before serving, I prefer 6+ hours

THE TOPPING

Prepare the whipped cream by beating all of the ingredients until stiff peaks form. Using a extra large star tip, pipe over the top of the cooled cheesecake (you can also do this at about 3 hours into the chill time so that it can firm up even more during that remaining hour).

**During the chilling process the cheesecake should come away from the edges of the pan, making it easy and mess-free to remove it before serving

GARNISH. When you’re ready to slice it up, garnish it with graham cracker crumbs, lime zest and a few lime slices. Totally optional, but it looks really pretty. Enjoy every bite of it!

A Slice of Key Lime Cheesecake

Tips and Substitutions

Substitutions:

  • Key lime juice? If you don’t have actual key lime juice you can use a ⅓ cup of normal lime juice and a tablespoon of lemon juice. The lemon juice will add some delicious tartness!
  • Sour cream? You can use greek yogurt or full fat normal yogurt in place of sour cream. This gives it a sweeter taste than using sour cream.
  • How many limes for fresh juice? If you would like to use fresh lime juice I would recommend starting with about 4 fresh limes.

Pans:

  • Do you need a springform pan? A springform pan is essential for making cheesecake because it easily allows you to remove the cheesecake and slice it. If you don’t have a springform pan, you can use a round cake pan, but it may bake differently and you won’t be able to remove the cheesecake from the pan.
  • What if you don’t have a large roasting pan? You can buy a large disposable foil pan to use if you don’t have an actual roasting pan. Just make sure that it is strong enough to hold the springform pan and the necessary water. If need be you can use two pans at the same time.

Key Lime Cheesecake Recipe garnished with limes

Storing and Freezing

Like I said in the Recipe Card, make sure to leave it uncovered while it cools fully. If you cover it too soon you will ruin the top of your cheesecake. 

Make sure to store key lime cheesecake covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. To freeze cheesecake, let it cool completely and wrap in two layers of plastic wrap as well as a layer of tinfoil, then place it in an airtight container (bag or tupperware).

For more cheesecakes, try:

 

Key Lime Cheesecake | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Key Lime Cheesecake Recipe

This thick and creamy key lime cheesecake is the perfect combination of sweet and tart!
5 from 7 votes
Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 2 hrs
Total Time: 2 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 16 slices
Calories: 287kcal
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Crust
  • 2 cup graham cracker crumbs - about 15 sheets
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 5 tbsp butter - melted
Filling
  • 4 (8 oz) block cream cheese - room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lime zest
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs - room temperature
  • 1/3 cup +1 tbsp key lime juice*
  • 2/3 cup sour cream - room temperature
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream - room temperature
Whipped Cream Topping
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream - chilled
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Garnishes
  • graham cracker crumbs
  • lime zest
  • lime slices

Instructions

  • Cover the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with extra large aluminum foil so that no water can leak in (it's worth a trip to the store to buy the 18" wide foil). Wrap it with two layer for extra security. Crimp the top of the foil around the top edge of the springform pan. You can also place the unwrapped springform pan in a slightly larger cake pan (10") that has 2" sides (I ran out of big foil but had a nice cake pan that it just barely fit into. I didn't have to worry at all about the foil keeping water out).
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees, placing the top rack in lower third of oven. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the finely ground graham cracker crumbs with the sugar and salt. Pour the melted butter over top and mix until the crumbs become coated.
  • Pour into the prepared springform pan and gently smooth out (I like to use a metal measuring cup for this). Carefully work the crumbs up the sides so that they are 1½" tall and approximately ¼" thick. You should have a nice layer on the bottom and the sides should go about halfway up your pan. Place into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Turn oven down to 325 degrees.
  • Beat the cream cheese, salt, vanilla and lime zest in the bowl of a stand mixer for approximately 4 minutes or until smooth and creamy. With mixing speed on low, gradually add the sugar, then turn back up to high and beat for an additional minute. With mixing speed on low, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Add the lime juice, sour cream, then the heavy cream, beat on high for 1 minute.
  • Place the prepared springform pan into a large high-sided roasting pan. Pour the cream cheese filling into the springform pan, smoothing out the top with a spatula. Pour boiling water around the springform pan, taking care not to get any on the filling. You'll want the water to go halfway up the side of the pan (this was just to the lip of my 2" tall cake pan). Place in the oven and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minuets. If you like extra firm cheesecake, continue baking for an additional 14 minutes for a total of 2 hours. If the cheesecake is getting too dark, tent it with foil (taking care to not let it touch the top of the cheesecake).
  • After the the cheesecake has baked, turn off the oven, slightly crack the door open and allow to cool for 1 hour. This is the key to getting a perfect top without it falling or cracks forming. Remove the cheesecake from the bath, dry the bottom and cover with foil. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours before serving, I prefer 6+ hours.
  • Prepare the whipped cream by beating all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Using a extra large star tip, pipe over the top of the cooled cheesecake (you can also do this at about 3 hours into the chill time so that it can firm up even more during that remaining hour). During the chilling process the cheesecake should come away from the edges of the pan, making it easy and mess-free to remove it before serving. Garnish with graham cracker crumbs, lime zest and lime slice, if desired.

Notes

*You can also use 1/3 c. lime juice + 1 tbsp. lemon juice

Nutrition

Serving: 16g | Calories: 287kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 171mg | Potassium: 72mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 598IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1mg

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About the Author

Natalie

Wife, mother, baker and photographer. Recipe developer & author of Life Made Simple. A self-professed peanut butter lover and fond of anything that involves pumpkin, cookie dough, or sprinkles

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Comments:

  1. This looks like cheesecake perfection Natalie! Perfect for a hot day, and totally worth the oven heat! The lime sounds amazing!

  2. I adore key lime pie, so this cheesecake looks beyond fantastic. And it is so pretty! Wish I had a slice in front of me right now. These 100 degree temps are getting old!

  3. My guests loved this. One said it was the best cheesecake he had ever had! Thank you for the recipe and I agree with you on the little bit of extra baking time. I will be making this one again!

  4. This was the best cheesecake that I have ever made! My guests went nuts over it! This will be a staple in my dessert file. I absolutely love key lime. Now I am looking to make a cookies and cream cheesecake and I’m wondering if you have thoughts on how to adapt this recipe. The only question that I have is what to replace the key lime juice with. Vanilla? I’m thinking that the liquid is important for the consistency. I think it will be fine to add cookie pieces. I would love your thoughts!

  5. Hi! Your cheesecake recipes are my favorite! The New York style is the best!!!!! I’ve been making several a week lately and selling them to friends, which means a ton of foil for the water bath! I thought about ordering a silicon round pan to put around the springform pan instead of foil. Do you think that would work?

  6. This is an amazing recipe! I added a bit more key lime juice to make it a little stronger with lime flavor ( I didn’t measure, just squirted in a bit more). I also added 2 T. Flour to offset the extra juice I added. Turned out perfect. The whipping cream makes it a more fluffy type of cheesecake. Instead of using the foil, I used the cake pan idea inside a roaster. Worked wonderful. My guests all enjoyed it! Btw, when a cook knows to add a pinch of salt here and there…good sign of a good recipe?. 

  7. I made this last week. Best cheesecake I’ve ever had. Better than Cheesecake Factory. I loved it. I’m tweaking it to make lemon meringue cheesecake this weekend. The pie is one of my family’s favorites, so I can wait to see how the cheesecake goes over. 

  8. 5 stars
    Key Lime Pies Screams SUMMER! I love anything Key Lime and this did not disappoint! Perfect amount of Lime!

  9. 5 stars
    I made this for my family last week and it was delicious. I just love limes! I can’t wait to make it again.

  10. 5 stars
    I made it and it was the best cheesecake I ever made! This cheesecake was amazing thank you so much for posting it.

  11. 5 stars
    Made this for the office, first time cheesecake but long time baker. Great and easy to follow instructions and best of all it was absolutely delicious!!! Thank you!!