Key Lime Cheesecake is a creamy cheesecake full of tangy key lime flavor in a graham cracker crust topped with whipped cream and key lime slices. Then, more key lime zest is sprinkled on top for a little extra tartness! It is based on my popular lemon cheesecake but with key limes. You will also have to check out my Key Lime Pie!

Piece of Key Lime Cheesecake being picked up by a pie server from overhead.

Ingredients & Substitutions

Crust: Ensure the graham cracker crumbs are coated with butter; it holds the crust together! If crushing graham crackers, you will need about 7 sheets for 1 cup of crumbs. A shortbread or vanilla wafer crust would also be delicious.

Graham Cracker Crumbs

Pre-Crushed vs Crushing Yourself

The quality of store-bought graham cracker crumbs has changed in the last few years and they seem to be less flavorful and have a different texture. When possible, I recommend the full sheets of honey-flavored graham crackers and crushing them yourself or utilizing a food processor.

Room Temperature Ingredients: To enjoy the creamiest cheesecake, be sure the ingredients, specifically cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs, are at room temperature.

Key Limes: Freshly squeezed key lime juice is best, but you could also use bottled juice. (Double-check that the bottle is key lime juice, not simply lime juice.) After juicing the key limes, get the zest from them as well. Then, slice some for garnish. The key limes I used were really small, so I needed about 11 of them for this recipe. If you can’t find key limes, use bottled juice and the zest from a regular lime.

Key Lime Cheesecake on a white serving platter on a wooden table.

What Is The Difference Between Key Limes and Regular Limes?

Key limes are smaller, yellower, and more fragrant than regular limes (Persian limes). They have more seeds and taste tart and tangy, while regular limes are sweeter. Key limes are often used in desserts like pies and this cheesecake, while regular limes are often used in drinks and savory dishes.

Piece of Key Lime Cheesecake being picked up from cake plate.

When Is Cheesecake Done Baking?

Cheesecake is done baking when the sides are set, but the middle is still a bit jiggly. You can check the internal temperature of the cheesecake to check for doneness; it should be 150°F. If you have any holes from checking the internal temperature, cover them up with dollops of whipped topping! Another way to check for doneness would be to take a wooden spoon and tap the outside of the pan. If there is a slight jiggle, it’s done!

A piece of Key Lime Cheesecake on a white plate on a wooden table.

How To Store Key Lime Cheesecake

To store cheesecake, cover it and store it in the refrigerator for a day or two. If you tightly wrap the cheesecake in plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container, it will last up to 3 days in the fridge.

A piece of Key Lime Cheesecake on a white plate on a wooden table with a bite removed.

Freezing Cheesecake

To freeze this key lime cheesecake, do so without the whipped topping and slices of key limes. To freeze:

  1. Let the cheesecake cool completely.
  2. Place the cheesecake (uncovered) in the freezer for about an hour. If you are keeping the cheesecake pie in the springform pan, remove the sides of the pan.
  3. After the hour in the freezer, take the cheesecake off the pan (you may have to pry it off with a knife), and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.
  4. Place the wrapped cheesecake into a zipped freezer bag or wrap it in aluminum foil. Be sure to label and date the cheesecake. It should last up to 3 months.
  5. When ready to enjoy, let the cheesecake thaw in the refrigerator.
Key Lime Cheesecake on a white serving platter on a wooden table from overhead.

Key Lime Cheesecake

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Chilling Time 4 hours
Total Time 5 hours 15 minutes
Key Lime Cheesecake is a creamy cheesecake full of tangy key lime flavor in a graham cracker crust topped with dollops of whipped cream and slices of key limes for an extra burst of citrusy flavor. It is based on my popular lemon cheesecake but with key limes!

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 cup (84 g) graham cracker crumbs, about 7 crushed sheets of graham crackers
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake

  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
  • cup (133 g) granulated sugar
  • cup (77 g) sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons key lime juice, about 10-11 key limes
  • 1 teaspoon key lime zest, plus more for garnish
  • whipped cream, for garnish
  • fresh key limes, sliced, for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 7-inch springform pan with parchment paper.

Crust

  • To a medium mixing bowl, add graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Mix until combined. Make sure all of the graham cracker crumbs are coated in butter; the consistency should look like coarse sand.
  • Press the crust into the bottom of the lined springform pan. Wrap 2 pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil around the bottom and up the sides of the pan. This is to prevent water from getting into the pan during the water bath step. Set aside.

Cheesecake

  • Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
  • Add the sugar. Continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add the sour cream and vanilla. Blend until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • With the mixer on low, add eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated, scraping the bowl after each addition.
  • Add key lime juice and zest to the cream cheese mixture. Mix until just combined.
  • Pour the filling over the crust.
  • Carefully place the foil-lined springform pan into a larger pan and place both in the oven.
  • Pour hot water into the larger pan, about halfway up the side of the foil-lined pan. Using a teapot with hot water works very well, as it is easy to pour and the water is already hot.
  • Bake 70-80 minutes, or until the top of the cheesecake turns golden brown and the edges are set. The center may still be slightly jiggly. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
  • Transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, up to overnight.
  • Garnish with whipped cream, sliced limes, and extra zest from a key lime.

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What the Test Kitchen had to say about this recipe:

Autumn

Hello! Newly converted key lime fan here! I absolutely loved this cheesecake. So creamy and filled with so much flavor.

Elizabeth

This is creamy, tart, and delicious! I never knew I even liked key lime desserts. I do now!

Rachael

So good! The key lime flavor really comes through on it and gives that zesty punch that you expect with key lime desserts! The cheesecake is creamy and complements the lime perfectly.

Bella

Yum! Eating this cheesecake is like eating a slice of sunshine. The lime adds a lovely tang that tastes fresh and vibrant!

Annabelle

Delicious! I love how tangy and flavorful this cheesecake is. Perfect for any key lime fan!

Selena

So creamy and so bright! Perfect for a summer get-together with friends.

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Meet Amanda Rettke

Amanda Rettke is the creator of I Am Baker, and the bestselling author of Surprise Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion – With a Little Something Extra Inside.Over the course of her 15+ year blogging adventure, she has been featured in and collaborated with the Food Network, New York Times, LA Times, Country Living Magazine, People Magazine, Epicurious, Brides, Romantic Homes, life:beautiful, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Mail, Star Tribune, The Globe and Mail, DailyCandy, YumSugar, The Knot, The Kitchn, and Parade, to name a few.

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