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Key Lime Cheesecake Recipe | The Recipe Critic


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Experience the perfect summer treat with this key lime cheesecake. Made with a scrumptious graham cracker crust and topped with lime zest whipped cream, this creamy but juicy dessert is a refreshing delight! Each bite is the perfect combination of tart and sweet.

Once you get the hang of making cheesecake from scratch, you won’t want it any other way. Looking for more ways to impress friends and family at your next get-together? Try making lemon cheesecake or Bailey’s cheesecake!

Hero image of key lime cheesecake slice with a bite taken out of it.

Key Lime Cheesecake Recipe

Key lime is the quintessential summer dessert flavor. I have quite a few key lime desserts already on the blog (no-bake key lime cheesecake and key lime cake are great!) but I thought that a classic cheesecake recipe needed to be added to the list. Key lime cheesecake is creamy, sweet, just a little bit tart, and everything that a summer dessert should be.

The light and fluffy cheesecake filling sits on top of a buttery graham cracker crust. It’s then finished off with a homemade whipped topping, lime zest for some extra citrus flavor, and key lime slices for a picture-perfect presentation! If you want to bring a show-stopping dessert to your next potluck, this key lime cheesecake is the way to go. With how creamy, flavorful, and indulgent it is, everyone will want a slice!

Ingredients for Key Lime Cheesecake

This is everything you will need to create a bakery-worthy key lime cheesecake. Trust me, you’ll think the grocery trip is worth it once you try a bite of this creamy, tangy heaven. Looking for measurements? They can all be found below in the recipe card.

Crust

  • Graham Cracker Crumbs: Crushed graham crackers give the crust nutty flavor and delicious texture!
  • Granulated Sugar: To add a touch of sweetness to the crust.
  • Unsalted Butter: Adds a tasty richness to the crust. Butter also helps to hold everything together. Since we’re adding salt separately, I used unsalted butter here.
  • Salt: You only need a pinch to make the crust even more delicious.

Cheesecake

  • Cream Cheese: It’s best if your cream cheese is at room temperature. This way, it mixes together smoothly with the other filling ingredients. Also, full fat cream cheese is the way to go. It will make your cheesecake nice and rich.
  • Granulated Sugar: To balance out the tartness of the key lime juice and zest.
  • Sour Cream: I know it seems out of place, but sour cream helps to make the cheesecake so soft and dreamy!
  • Key Lime Juice: Freshly squeezed is best. Save the rind for some zest!
  • Large Eggs: Give the cheesecake structure.
  • Vanilla Extract: Adds warm, sweet flavor to the mixture.
  • Key Lime Zest: A great way to add an extra pop of key lime flavor.

Topping

  • Heavy Whipping Cream: To whip up into light, fluffy goodness.
  • Powdered Sugar: Helps to sweeten and stabilize the whipped topping.
  • Key Lime Zest: Because you can’t go wrong with more lime flavor!
  • Key Lime Slices: For that bakery-worthy finishing touch.

Let’s Get Cooking!

Making homemade key lime cheesecake isn’t as difficult as it seems. I know this is a lot to read, but I’ve included a lot of tips and tricks on how to get your cheesecake to turn out perfectly. Patience and attention to detail is key (or should I say, key lime) here!

Crust

  • Preheat Oven, Prepare Pan: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a 10-inch springform pan by spraying with cooking spray. To crush graham crackers, place in a sealed bag and use a rolling pin, or pulse in a food processor.
  • Combine Crust Ingredients: In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter, and salt together. This should resemble damp sand.
  • Press Into Pan: Pour the crumb mixture into the prepared springform pan and press evenly into the pan. You can use the bottom of a flat glass or a flat measuring cup to really press it in well and get a nice, even crust.
  • Bake: Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Cheesecake Filling

  1. Beat Cream Cheese: Add the softened cream cheese to the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and beat with a paddle at medium/high speed for about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat for another minute or so, until very smooth.
  2. Add Sugar and Sour Cream: Add the sugar and sour cream and mix at medium/low speed until just combined. Scrape the bowl again and mix again for 30 seconds.
  3. Mix in Remaining Ingredients: Add the lime juice, eggs, vanilla, and key lime zest and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds-1 minute. Scrape the bowl again. Beat until just combined. At this point the key lime cheesecake batter should be smooth and fairly runny.
4-photo collage of cheesecake filling being prepared.

Baking

  1. Wrap Springform Pan: Using 18 inch heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap the outside of your springform pan with 4 sheets of foil. You can use regular foil, but it may take a couple more sheets to ensure the water does not get into your pan.
  2. Add to Roasting Pan: Place the wrapped pan in a large roasting pan with deep sides. You can alternatively use a baking sheet, so long as the sides are about 2 inches deep.
  3. Prepare Water Bath: Using very hot water, add water to the baking sheet until there is about 1 ½ inch of water around the springform pan. With the rack in the lower 3rd of the oven, carefully move the pan into the oven.
  4. Bake: Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 1-1 ½ hours. After about an hour of baking, check the cheesecake’s consistency. A slight jiggle of the pan (while still in the oven) should tell you if it’s ready or needs more time. The cheesecake should be only slightly jiggly, but not liquid. If it still seems very liquidy, give it 15 more minutes and check it again.
  5. Cool in the Oven: Once the cheesecake has only a slight jiggle, turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour or so, until the oven has cooled down. Resist the temptation to open the oven during this time! The purpose of this step is to allow the cheesecake to cool slowly as the oven cools. Doing this will prevent it from cracking, as one of the biggest reasons cheesecakes crack is the drastic temperature change going from the hot oven into the much cooler kitchen.
  6. Chill in the Fridge: Once the oven and the cheesecake are cooled, remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil lining the pan. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
  7. Add Topping: Before serving, whip together the cream, powdered sugar, and zest until medium soft peaks form. Either pipe or spread the whipped cream over the top of the key lime cheesecake and garnish with slices of fresh key limes.
A slice of key lime cheesecake being served with a metal cake spatula.

Tips for Making the Best Key Lime Cheesecake

Making homemade cheesecake can be tricky. I’ve added a few tips below to help you out!

  • Use Room Temperature Ingredients: Using room temperature ingredients will help you achieve a silky smooth key lime cheesecake batter. I usually get the cream cheese, sour cream and eggs out of the fridge a couple hours before I’m ready to start baking to ensure they have enough time to soften. 
  • Scrape Sides: Scrape down the bowl several times between each step. Doing this will prevent thicker batter from sticking to the sides and bottom of the bowl, only to end up making your batter lumpy. 
  • Wrap With Aluminum Foil: Heavy-duty 18-inch aluminum foil is one of the secrets to making cheesecake that not only bakes evenly in a waterbath, but prevents ANY water from getting in and making the crust soggy. I’ve tried with 2-3 layers of foil, but have found that this can still sometimes leak. Best to go with 4 layers of the foil, making sure it is a big enough piece to go ALL the way up each side of the pan.
  • Cool in the Oven: Letting the key lime cheesecake cool in the oven as the oven cools will prevent it from cracking. You don’t want to poke it or stick a thermometer in it either! That will greatly increase the risk of the cheesecake cracking as it cools down. 
  • Use Regular Limes: If you can’t find key limes, they can be substituted for regular limes, although the flavor will be slightly different than actual Key limes. 
  • Use Bottled Key Lime Juice: Since juicing key limes is time consuming and takes a lot of limes, you can use bottled key lime juice if desired.

A whole cheesecake, garnished with whipped cream and sliced limes.

Storing Leftover Cheesecake

Key lime cheesecake is best stored covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can either store it in an airtight cake container or wrap carefully with plastic wrap.

Can Key Lime Cheesecake Be Frozen?

Yes! Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap then place in a large freezer bag. It will keep for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge when you’re ready to enjoy it. The texture may change slightly, but it will still be delicious!

Top-down view of cheesecake, cut into slices.


Crust

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit. Prepare a 10-inch springform pan by spraying with cooking spray.

  • In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter, and salt together. This should resemble damp sand.

  • Pour the crumb mixture into the prepared springform pan and press evenly into the pan. You can use the bottom of a flat glass or a flat measuring cup to really press it in well and get a nice, even crust.

  • Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Cheesecake Filling

  • Add the softened cream cheese to the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and beat with a paddle at medium/high speed for about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat for another minute or so, until very smooth..

  • Add the sugar and sour cream and mix at medium/low speed until just combined. Scrape the bowl again and mix again for 30 seconds.

  • Add the lime juice, eggs, vanilla, and key lime zest and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds-1 minute. Scrape the bowl again. Beat until just combined. At this point the batter should be smooth and fairly runny.

Baking

  • Using 18 inch heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap the outside of your springform pan with 4 sheets of foil. You can use regular foil, but it may take a couple more sheets to ensure the water does not get into your pan.

  • Place the wrapped pan in a deep roasting pan. You can alternatively use a baking sheet, so long as the sides are about 2 inches deep.

  • Using very hot water, add water to the baking sheet until there is about 1 ½ inch of water around the springform pan. With the rack in the lower 3rd of the oven, carefully move the pan into the oven.

  • Bake at 325 degrees fahrenheit for 1-1 ½ hours. After about an hour of baking, check the cheesecake’s consistency. A slight jiggle of the pan (while still in the oven) should tell you if it’s ready or needs more time. The cheesecake should be only slightly jiggly, but not liquid. If it still seems very liquidy, give it 15 more minutes and check it again.

  • Once the cheesecake has only a slight jiggle, turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour or so, until the oven has cooled down. Resist the temptation to open the oven during this time! The purpose of this step is to allow the cheesecake to cool slowly as the oven cools. Doing this will prevent it from cracking, as one of the biggest reasons cheesecakes crack is the drastic temperature change going from the hot oven into the much cooler kitchen.

  • Once the oven and the cheesecake are cooled, remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil lining the pan. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours.

  • Before serving, whip together the cream, powdered sugar, and zest until medium soft peaks form. Either pipe or spread the whipped cream over the top of the cheesecake and garnish with slices of fresh key limes.



Serves: 12

Calories554kcal (28%)Carbohydrates45g (15%)Protein8g (16%)Fat39g (60%)Saturated Fat22g (110%)Polyunsaturated Fat2gMonounsaturated Fat10gTrans Fat0.2gCholesterol174mg (58%)Sodium344mg (14%)Potassium186mg (5%)Fiber0.4g (2%)Sugar37g (41%)Vitamin A1472IU (29%)Vitamin C4mg (5%)Calcium116mg (12%)Iron1mg (6%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Dessert

Cuisine American

Keyword key lime cheesecake, key lime cheesecake recipe




This story originally appeared on TheRecipeCritic

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