Key Lime Pie Bars have a creamy filling flavored with fresh key lime juice and zest, and a crisp, buttery graham cracker crust. Top this easy treat with a dollop of fresh whipped cream for a refreshing treat on a hot summer day!
Published: June 2021. Updated June 2023.
If you’ve never had something like this before, you’re in for a treat! Key Lime Pie – or in this case – Key Lime Bars, are delicious, creamy, and full of a refreshing zippy lime flavor. The texture is almost like a cheesecake – but a little lighter.
Why you’ll love these Lime Bars:
- Packed with Lime Flavor – These bars are bursting with fresh lime flavor, perfect for a citrus fan!
- Creamy Texture – The ultra creamy texture of these bars almost reminds me of cheesecake. You’ll fall head over heels for this easy key lime bar recipe.
- Easy Dessert – With minimal effort and ingredients required, this is a great recipe for any level of baker. And, it’s a great make-ahead option to simplify things when hosting or entertaining!
As always, the full recipe with measurements & directions can be found at the bottom of this post.
- Graham Crackers – Purchase graham cracker crumbs, or pulse graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor until you have fine crumbs.
- Macadamia Nuts – I like to add some crushed macadamia nuts to the crust, but you can totally skip them if you’d like.
- Key Limes – If you can’t find key limes, use bottled key lime juice (found in most grocery stores) and zest from regular limes.
- Butter – I always use salted buter for the best flavor, but feel free to use unsalted butter if you prefer.
- Eggs – Use large eggs, at room temperature.
- Cream cheese – Use full fat cream cheese, at room temperature.
- Gluten-free – Use gluten-free graham crackers to make this recipe easily gluten-free!
- Dairy-free – Use your favorite trusted dairy-free heavy cream, cream cheese, and sweetened condensed milk to make this recipe dairy-free.
- Nuts – Feel free to omit the nuts in the crust with no sub needed.
How to Make this Key Lime Bar Recipe Step-by-Step:
Step 1: Make & Bake the Crust. Mix together crushed graham crackers, melted butter, a pinch of sugar, and crushed macadamia nuts (optional). Press into a lined baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside.
Step 2: Make the Filling. In a large mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese, egg yolks, a can of sweetened condensed milk, plenty of fresh lime juice and lime zest, and a splash of vanilla. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer.
Step 3: Bake. Pour the lime mixture over your crust, and pop it back into the oven to bake until the bars seem just set. Let the bars cool completely at room temperature on a wire rack, then chill them in the fridge overnight (or up to 48 hours!) before slicing and serving.
Step 4: Make Whipped Cream. Freshly whipped cream is an absolute must with key lime pie. All you need to make it is heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Mix everything together on medium high speed until stiff peaks form. Don’t make this until you’re ready to serve the bars.
Serving + Storing this Recipe:
Dollop the fresh whipped cream on top of the key lime bars, and add a sprinkle of lime zest for garnish. One of the easiest desserts you’ll ever make. It’s perfect for SO many summer occasions, too!
Expert Success Tips:
- Oven Thermometer – An oven thermometer will tell you if your oven is actually running at the temperature you set it to. Your oven may not be accurate. Accurate oven temperature is crucial for most bakes, so I leave an oven thermometer in at all times to keep an eye on my oven’s calibration.
- Kitchen Scale – A food scale is the best way to make sure your flour is at the proper weight, since amounts will vary SO widely based on how you measure it, as well as the measuring cup you use, as they are not standardized.
- Clean Slices – Use a sharp knife, and wipe it between each cut for perfect slices.
Yes! Double the crust and fillings and bake in a 9×13 pan.
Key limes are often smaller than regular limes, and have a stronger, more tart lime flavor. Key limes apparently are named for the Florida Keys where they were once grown on a large scale.
I personally would not as I think the creamy sweet flavor of the whipped cream helps balance the tart flavor of the key limes perfectly.
Yes! They can be baked, cooled at room temperature, and chilled in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours before serving with fresh whipped cream.
- Nut-Free Crust – Omit the nuts with no substitution needed in the crust if you prefer.
- Key Limes vs Regular Limes – If you don’t want your bars to be quite as tangy with the lime flavor, use regular limes (use freshly squeezed lime juice) instead of key limes. Use the same quantities of juice and zest.
- Lemon Bars – Use lemon juice and lemon zest in place of the lime if you want lemon bars. You could do this with orange juice, too!
- Shortbread Crust – You could use a shortbread crust from another bar recipe you know and love, but I love a graham cracker crust since it’s what you’d find as the pie crust on a key lime pie.
- 9×9 Pan – A ceramic or metal 9×9 square pan is ideal for this recipe.
- Cordless Mixer – I love the flexibility of a cordless electric mixer!
- Offset Spatula – An offset spatula makes spreading batter a breeze, and I use it for tons of things – especially when frosting cakes, bars, etc.
More Delicious Recipes For Lime Lovers:
- Key Lime Bundt Cake
- Key Lime Rum Cheesecakes
- Mojito Cake with Whipped Rum Buttercream
- Frozen Rum Punch with Strawberry, Mango, & Lime
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Key Lime Pie Bars
For the Crust:
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup macadamia nuts
- 6 tbsp salted butter, melted
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
For the Key Lime Filling
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- One 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tbsp lime zest
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Whipped Cream
- 1/2 cup cold heavy cream
- 1 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- extra lime zest and/or slices for garnish
- Prep: Preheat your oven to 350℉. Spray a 9×9 inch baking pan with nonstick spray and/or line with parchment paper.
- Make and Par-Bake the Crust: Pulse the macadamia nuts in your food processor until finely chopped (or chop them by hand). Stir all the crust ingredients together in a medium bowl. Press evenly into the bottom of your prepared pan. Bake the crust for 9 minutes. Work on the filling while the crust bakes.
- Make the Filling: Beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed, until creamy. Add the egg yolks and mix until just combined. Add the can of sweetened condensed milk, lime zest, lime juice, and vanilla and mix until everything is just combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Pour over the par baked crust.
- Bake: Bake the bars for 22-24 minutes. The bars will appear just set, and there will be a bit of thick batter on a knife or toothpick inserted into the center of the bars. There will be just the tiniest hint of browning around the edges of the bars. Let the bars cool completely at room temp, then cover and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours (or up to 48 hours) before serving.
- Make the Whipped Cream: Make the whipped cream once you're ready to serve the bars. Add all whipped cream ingredients, making sure the heavy cream is cold, to a large bowl. Beat on medium high until stiff peaks form. Don't over mix. Tip: Use a kitchen towel to cover the bowl & mixer to contain splatters while mixing.
- Serve + Store: Slice the bars and dollop whipped cream on top of each. Sprinkle with a little lime zest, and enjoy! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.
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