If you like key lime pie and cheesecake, you’ll love key lime cheesecake bars! Featuring a crunchy graham cracker crust and a creamy key lime-flavored cheesecake filling, they’re just begging to be topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Baked in a 9×13-inch baking pan, these bars easily serve a crowd.
Key Lime Pie Cheesecake Bars
What’s your favorite summertime dessert? I have two: key lime pie and cheesecake bars. Both are cold, creamy, and total crowd-pleasers! And they’re perfect for busy summer schedules because they can be made ahead of time and chilled until you’re ready to serve!
These bars are super easy to bake, and since they’re made in a 9×13-inch baking dish, you don’t have to go through the process of making a water bath. If you’re a cheesecake newbie, or just hate the hassle of making a traditional cheesecake, this might just become your new favorite recipe! So preheat your oven and then read all of my must-have tips below.
Key Lime Cheesecake Must-Haves
- Graham Cracker Crumbs: Using pre-crushed graham cracker crumbs makes this recipe a million times easier! But if you can’t find them, feel free to use whole graham crackers. Simply pulse them in a blender of food processor until they’re fine crumbs, then measure the amount called for.
- Butter: While I prefer unsalted butter, salted butter will work in a pinch!
- Ground Ginger: My secret to a killer crust? A little pop of ginger! If you don’t have this ingredient on hand, don’t fret. You can skip it. But don’t use fresh ginger in it’s place. It’ll add too much moisture will can lead to a soggy crust.
- Salt: Just a dash balances the flavors and cuts the sweetness!
- Cream Cheese: Always use full-fat cream cheese and always make sure it’s a little warmer than room temperature. Cream cheese that’s too cold won’t blend evenly.
- Sour Cream: Ditto what I said above!
- Granulated Sugar: Used in both the crust and the filling. In the crust, the sugar sweetens things up without adding moisture (don’t sub brown sugar here). And in the filling, the sugar replaces sweetened condensed milk, which is typically used in key lime pie. Sugar works best and should not be substituted for another ingredient.
- Vanilla Extract: This is another ingredient that enhances the overall flavor, but can be omitted if need be. I don’t suggest using vanilla essence or artificial vanilla.
- Lime Zest: If you can’t find key limes, or don’t feel like zesting a million (they’re so tiny) feel free to use regular limes instead.
- Eggs: Be sure you use large eggs (not medium and not extra large… size does matter here) and bring them to room temperature. You’ll use whole eggs as well as egg yolks, meaning you’ll have a few extra egg whites on your hands. You can save them for another recipe or discard them.
- Heavy Cream: Makes our cheesecake EXTRA creamy! Be sure to bring to room temperature. This should not be replaces with milk or any other ingredient.
- Key Lime Juice: If you can find fresh key limes, that’s your best bet! That being said, I know that’s not an option for everyone. So feel free to use bottled key lime juice or regular lime juice, which doesn’t have the same exact flavor but will still yield a very delicious cheesecake.
- Flour: Just a tiny amount to thicken our cheesecake bars up and give them a nice density. Do not add more!
- Foil or Parchment Paper: To line your baking pan!
Make them Pretty!
For extra pretty cheesecake bars, top with whipped cream swirls, lime slices, and lime zest! Homemade whipped cream is as easy as combining heavy cream with a little powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. Once they’re in the bowl, beat on medium-speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Or use your favorite store-bought variety!
More Key Lime Pie Recipes:
- Key Lime Cheesecake
- Mini Key Lime Cheesecakes
- Frozen Key Lime Pie on a Stick
- Creamy Key Lime Greek Yogurt Cheesecake
- Key Lime Coconut Donuts
Key Lime Cheesecake Bars
For the Graham Cracker Crust:
- 2 cups (228 g) graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup (67 g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter melted
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Key Lime Cheesecake Filling:
- 3 8-ounce packages (681 g) full-fat cream cheese very soft (a little warmer than room temperature)
- 1 cup (227 g) full-fat sour cream room temperature
- 1 and 1/4 cups (249 g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons (24 g) key lime zest
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks room temperature
- 1/4 cup (57 ml) heavy cream room temperature
- 1/2 cup (113 ml) key lime juice
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
For the Graham Cracker Crust:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, allowing two of the sides to overlap (you want an overhang of at least 2-inches on two sides) and spray lightly with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, butter, ginger, and salt, and using a rubber spatula, mix well to combine. Press the mixture into the bottom - and slightly up the sides - of the prepared pan.
- Bake the crust in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and set aside on a cooling rack until needed.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees (F).
For the Key Lime Cheesecake Filling:
- In the body of a food processor or in a large bowl using a hand held electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sour cream until completely smooth. Add in the sugar, vanilla, and lime zest and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
- On low speed, add in the eggs and egg yolks and beat until just combined. Don't over mix here!
- Using a rubber spatula, fold in the heavy cream. Then fold in the lime juice and flour, mixing just until combined.
- Pour filling on top of the prepared crust and spread evenly.
- Check to ensure your oven has cooled to 325°F, then place the pan in the oven and bake for 38 to 40 minutes, or until the edges have set and the middle is still a little jiggly. (They should not be browning, if they are, lightly cover the pan with foil). The cheesecake will firm up a lot as they cool.
- Remove the bars from the oven, and cool at room temperature for one hour. Then refrigerate for at least 5 hours, or overnight.
- When you're ready to serve, use the foil overhang to lift the cheesecake bars from the pan and transfer them to a cutting board. Using a large, sharp knife, slice the slab into squares, wiping the knife clean with a damp cloth between slices.
- Optional: Top with whipped cream, lime slices, and/or lime zest.