Key Lime Cheesecake is made with swirls of key lime & lime curd flavored cheesecake batters, baked into a buttery graham cracker crust. Top this cheesecake with more lime curd, swirls of whipped cream, and lime slices for a truly beautiful dessert. It tastes just like a Key Lime Pie in cheesecake form!
This post was originally published in June of 2020 as Mini Key Lime Cheesecakes. I’ve included that original recipe in the recipe notes at the bottom of this post for those who reached out asking for it. Enjoy!
Why you’ll love this Key Lime Cheesecake:
- Bursting with Lime Flavor– Every bite of this Lime Cheesecake is full of zingy key lime flavor.
- Creamy Cheesecake – This cheesecake is ultra creamy!
- Celebration Worthy – This is the perfect dessert to serve for any occasion because of it’s incredible taste and it’s eye-catching appearance.
- Approachable Recipe – Even though there are a few steps to this recipe, the whole thing is completely doable no matter your skill level as a baker!
As always, the full recipe with measurements & directions can be found at the bottom of this post.
- Key Lime Juice – I use bottled key lime juice in the cheesecake since it’s hard to find real key limes where I live.
- Lime Juice – Juice fresh limes for the lime curd.
- Cream Cheese – Use full fat cream cheese, in the block style. This needs to come to room temperature before you bake.
- Eggs – Use large eggs at room temperature.
- Sour Cream – Use full fat sour cream, at room temperature. –
- Vanilla extract – Use real vanilla extract for best results.
- Gluten-free – I’m not aware of a substitute for the cookie butter that’s gluten-free, so I recommend trying one of my many other cheesecake recipes if you want a gluten-free cheesecake! Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a list of cheesecake recipes.
- Dairy-free – Use your favorite dairy-free cream cheese, sour cream, butter, and whipped cream to make this recipe dairy-free.
- Graham Crackers – I believe that digestive biscuits or something similar would be the comparable option to graham crackers if you don’t live in the U.S.
- Limes – You can use regular limes if you can’t find key limes at any grocery stores near you.
How to Make this Key Lime Cheesecake Recipe Step-by-Step:
Step 1: Make the Lime Curd. Cook sugar, lime zest, lime juice, and eggs until thickened. Strain, and add a splash of vanilla extract and a bit of green food coloring if desired. Lime Curd is naturally yellow, so you’ll need to enhance the color a bit if you want it to look like lime, heh. Let cool while you make the cheesecake, or make up to a week ahead.
Step 2: Make the Crust. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and a pinch of sugar. Press this into a 9-inch springform pan and bake for 10 minutes.
Step 3: Make the Cheesecake Filling. In a large mixing bowl, beat your cream cheese on high speed with an electric mixer, until creamy. (You can also do this in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.) Then, mix in the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream. Mix in the key lime juice and lime zest. You’ll have a silky batter. If there are a few tiny lumps, that’s ok.
Step 4: Divide & Flavor the Batter. Remove 2 and 1/2 cups of the cheesecake batter and fold in some of our lime curd.
Step 5: Swirl Cheesecake Batters. Layer the two batters into your pan, adding random dollops of each, until all the batter is used up. Use a butter knife to swirl the batters together, then bake cheesecake as directed in the recipe card below.
Step 6: Prepare Water Bath & Bake Cheesecake. Wrap the sides of your 9-inch springform pan with foil, then place the pan into a 10-inch cake pan, and place that into a roasting pan. Place it on your oven rack and pour in boiling water. Bake as directed in the recipe card below for best results.
Serving + Storing this Cheesecake Recipe:
Cool cheesecake according to directions below. It needs to chill at least 6 hours or overnight before serving. Top with remaining lime curd and freshly whipped cream! Enjoy the cheesecake immediately once decorated. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
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.
- Room Temperature Ingredients – It is imperative that you let your cold ingredients come to room temperature. Cold ingredients will create a lumpy batter.
- Don’t Over Mix – Over mixing the cheesecake batter when you’re adding the eggs can cause the cheesecake to buckle a little bit in the oven. It will still taste great, but won’t look as pretty.
- Don’t Over Bake – Follow the doneness cues given in the recipe card below to avoid over baking the cheesecake. Don’t panic if it browns the slightest bit on top – that can happen without it being overbaked.
Yes, bake a half batch of this recipe in an 8×8 or 9×9 square pan lined with parchment paper. I think half the batter may still be a bit much for a 6-inch springform pan.
Yes! That’s the nature of cheesecake. Allow the cheesecake to come to room temp after it’s baked, and then transfer to the fridge to chill at least 6 hours or up to 1 day before serving.
You can skip the lime curd if you’re in a time crunch, and add an extra 1-3 tbsp of key lime juice to the batter, to taste. Bake as directed, starting with 10-15 minutes less time. Or, make the lime curd, and add 1 cup to the whole bowl of batter, then bake as directed. Separating the batter out makes for a very fancy look but certainly isn’t required.
The hot water produces steam that fills the oven, which helps the cheesecake cook evenly and remain nice and creamy, without cracking. It also helps prevent the edges from cooking at a faster rate than the center.
You have two options – place the roasting pan filled with water on the rack below your cheesecake, or place your cheesecake pan (still wrapped in aluminum foil) into a 10-inch cake pan inside of the roasting pan. Pour water into the roasting pan only. If you place the foil-wrapped cheesecake pan into the roasting pan and pour in water, it will almost always leak to some degree.
- Whipped Cream – If you don’t want to pipe on the whipped cream, you can always make it and let people dollop it on to their individual slices. However, it does make for a stunning centerpiece dessert!
- Other Citrus Options – Feel free to swap orange juice and zest or lemon juice and zest into the cheesecake if you want a lemon cheesecake instead. I’m not 100% sure if the lime curd base recipe will work the exact same with other citrus fruits, so you can use store bought lemon curd there or use your favorite lemon curd recipe.
- Springform Pan – This recipe uses a 9-inch springform pan.
- Offset Spatula – I use an offset spatula for so many things, including smoothing the batter evenly into the pan for this recipe.
- Piping Tip – I used this Wilton 4B piping tip for the whipped cream border.
More Key Lime Recipes to Love:
More Cheesecake Recipes to Love:
- Mini S’mores Cheesecakes
- Strawberry Cheesecake
- Pecan Pie Cheesecake
- Bailey’s Chocolate Cheesecake
- Biscoff Cheesecake
- Triple Nutella Cheesecake
- Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake
Did you make this recipe? Snap a photo and leave a comment!
Key Lime Cheesecake with Lime Curd
For the Lime Curd
- zest of one large lime
- 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup fresh lime juice about 6 large limes
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 6 tbsp salted butter, cubed
For the Crust:
- 3 cups graham cracker crumbs 276 grams
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp salted butter, melted
- pinch salt
- pinch sugar
For the Cheesecake Batter
- 32 ounces full fat cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup full fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup key lime juice 80 mL
- 2 tbsp lime zest
- 1 cup lime curd 263 grams
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Make the Lime Curd: Place a strainer over a medium bowl. Add lime zest and sugar to a medium saucepan, rubbing the lime zest into the sugar well with clean fingers. Add the lime juice, eggs, and salt to the same pot. Whisk until well combined. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat, for 4-5 minutes or until the temperature on a candy thermometer reaches 185° F. The mixture should coat the back of a spoon, and hold a trail when you drag your finger through the curd. Remove the saucepan from the heat immediately at this point, and strain it into the medium bowl to remove any lumps. Whisk the butter into the hot curd mixture, a few tablespoons at a time, until fully combined. Whisk in the vanilla. Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the curd and chill in the fridge at least 3 hours or up to 1 week before using. Curd will thicken as it cools. Tip: Use a bit of green food coloring to make this look more like lime – it is naturally more yellow.Note: This yields just shy of 2 cups, or 520 grams of lime curd.
- Make the Crust: Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and make sure the bottom is securely fastened. Stir together crust ingredients and press into prepared pan and up the sides a bit (see photos above). Bake this for 10 minutes. Set aside. Keep the oven on at 350. Fill a large pot with water and set it on your stove, and get out a large roasting pan – you'll need this for your water bath later.
- Make the Cheesecake Filling: Remember that your cold ingredients need to come to room temp before you start or the filling won't turn out.In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with electric mixer until creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Add the sugar & mix until well incorporated, about 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as you go. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on medium speed after each until just incorporated. Add the vanilla, sour cream, lime juice, and lime zest and mix until just incorporated. Remove 2 and 1/2 cups (560 grams) of batter and add to a medium bowl. Fold in 1 cup of the lime curd. Add a little green food coloring if desired. Alternate adding dollops of the two batters to the baked crust, using up all the batter. Use a butter knife to swirl the batters together for a pretty design.
- Prepare the Water Bath + Bake: Bring the large pot of water to a boil. Set your springform pan on a rack positioned in the center of the oven, and place the roasting pan on the rack below, or wrap the base of the cheesecake pan in foil and place it inside a 10-inch cake pan inside the roasting dish. Pour the boiling water into the roasting pan. Both of these methods ensure no leaks.
- Bake: Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 45 to 1 hour and 55 minutes. When done, the cheesecake will have only a slight wobble in the center, and a knife inserted into the edge will come out clean, and will have just a bit of thick batter when inserted into the center.Turn off the oven and crack the door open. Let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 1 hour before removing it.
- Cheesecake Cooling: Once the hour is up, remove the pan from the oven. It should be cool enough to handle. Remove the foil and set the springform pan on a wire rack. Let cool completely at room temp, then cover with foil and refrigerate at least 6 hours or up to 1 day before removing from the pan and serving.
- Make the Whipped Cream: Add the whipped cream ingredients to a medium bowl and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Or, use a food processor – this will make the whipped cream easier to pipe! Pulse 6-8 times, then run on low until cream is thickened.
- Serve & Store: Spread extra lime curd over the chilled cheesecake and top with the whipped cream (I piped mine on with a wilton 4B tip). Slice and enjoy! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- 3.5 tbsp salted butter, melted
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 11 ounces full fat cream cheese, at room temp
- 3/4 cup + 1.5 tsp granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp blue chair bay key lime rum cream (or another rum)
- 1 tbsp lime zest
- 3 tbsp key lime juice (if using regular lime juice, use an extra 1-2 tsp to taste)
- 1/3 cup full fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
- 2 tbsp blue chair bay key lime rum cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp powdered sugar