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This is the BEST Easy Key Lime Cheesecake recipe! It’s a homemade from scratch baked cheesecake with a graham cracker crust and tons of key lime flavor. It has a creamy texture, sweet and tart flavor from the key limes, and is the perfect cheesecake recipe.

slice of cheesecake on white plate


Why You’ll LOVE Key Lime Cheesecake

This is the only Key Lime Cheesecake recipe you need…forever. I absolutely LOVE baked cheesecakes – and this one has a lime twist! It’s rich and thick and creamy with the perfect amount of fresh lime juice and a graham cracker crust. If you love sweet and tart citrus flavors then this is the cheesecake recipe for you.

There are so many layers of flavor in this recipe, from the graham cracker crust to the creamy key lime flavor and the zesty whipped cream. I know a lot of people cringe at the thought of making cheesecake because it seems hard and complicated, but it’s really super simple. There are just a few important rules to follow to get the perfect cheesecake recipe every time.

ingredients in key lime cheesecake on counter.

Important Ingredients

  • The Crust: You’ll be making a version of my graham cracker crust with graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and melted butter.
  • Cream Cheese and Sour Cream: Be sure your cream cheese and sour cream are softened at room temperature to avoid lumps. This is essential for the perfect texture.
  • Eggs: These must also be at room temperature to avoid lumps. Allow them to sit out for at least an hour.
  • Key Limes: You’ll need zest and juice – if you want to use bottled key lime juice you can. You can tell key limes and regular limes apart because key limes are smaller and have more seeds. The Key Lime comes from a special plant, originally found in the Florida Keys. Key lime skin is thinner and the taste is more aromatic than regular limes.

How to make Key Lime Cheesecake

  • Make your crust by stirring all ingredients together with a fork. Press into a prepared springform pan.
  • Beat butter and sour cream until smooth then mix in sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then mix in flour, vanilla, and key lime juice and zest. Use a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl during mixing.
  • Pour cheesecake into prepared crust and bake in a water bath.

Why use a water bath?

cheesecake in pan with water bath

A water bath is when you bake your cheesecake in a pan of hot water. Why use a water bath? For two reasons:

  1. The water bath creates moisture in the oven, keeping the cheesecake moist during baking. Cheesecakes can dry out from the heat of the oven and a water bath helps combat dryness.
  2. The water bath creates more even and slower cooking time for your cheesecake. This can help avoid cracking during baking; cheesecakes are delicate even though they look sturdy.

How do you create a water bath for a cheesecake?

Wrap your springform pan in two layers of heavy duty foil. Springform pans come apart: the bottom comes off for easy removal. Since it’s in two parts, water can seep into the cheesecake and ruin it so you need to cover the pan with foil. Use 2 layers to ensure it’s sealed. Place the pan in an oven roasting bag for another layer of protection, then place the springform pan in a large roasting pan. Place the pan in the oven and fill with boiling water.

cheesecake with lime slices and whipped cream

Cheesecake Baking Tips

  • Place the cheesecake in the larger baking pan and place it in the oven before adding the boiling water (moving a pan filled with hot boiling water is not a good idea).
  • The cheesecake will bake for almost an hour. You know it’s done when the top is just slightly jiggly in the center of the cheesecake and it’s no longer wet-looking.
  • Once it’s done baking, turn the oven off, leave the oven door closed, and allow it to sit for one hour.
  • Remove it from the oven, let cool to room temperature, then wrap it loosely and chill it overnight before serving.
slice of cheesecake on white plate with lime curd on top

Garnishing Cheesecake

Garnish the cheesecake with fresh whipped cream and key lime slices. I also love to serve this with lime curd for drizzling.

What happens if your cheesecake cracks?

This has happened to me – even when using a water bath. It has to do with so many variables, but if it cracks it’s not a problem. Coat the entire top with lime curd or whipped cream and no one will know!

slice of cheesecake on white plate with lime curd on top and bite missing

Expert Tips

  • Make sure you start with room temperature ingredients. This is VERY important. Cheesecake batter is notoriously lumpy and once it’s lumpy it’s hard to get it smooth. To get a smooth cheesecake batter you must start with your ingredients room temperature: all of them. Eggs, sour cream, cream cheese; they all have to be room temperature!
  • Bake the cheesecake in a water bath. This help your cheesecake bake evenly and keep it from cracking.
  • Use a springform pan for easy removal. I know springform pans aren’t normal baking equipment but they’re essential for making cheesecakes.
  • Chill it overnight before eating it so the cheesecake can rest – don’t skip!

FAQs

Can I use regular limes instead of key limes?

Yes you can. However, I do recommend using bottled key lime juice as the flavor is slightly different than that of regular limes. But regular limes for zest and garnish are just fine.

Can this cheesecake be made gluten-free?

You can use gluten free 1:1 AP flour in place of the added flour.

How do you achieve the perfect cheesecake texture?

Make sure your ingredients are all room temperature. Don’t over mix – mix the eggs in one at a time after the cream cheese is smooth. Use a water bath!

cheesecake with lime slices and whipped cream

Key Lime Cheesecake Recipe

4.80 from 20 votes
Your favorite key lime pie…in cheesecake form! Rich and creamy and filled with key lime flavor, this cheesecake will become a fast favorite!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Resting time 8 hours
Total Time 9 hours 30 minutes
Yield 12 slices
Serving Size 1 slice

Ingredients
 

Crust:

  • 2 cups (198g) graham cracker crumbs from about 12 whole graham crackers
  • ¼ cup (50g) packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon optional
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter melted

Cheesecake:

  • 2 8 ounce packages (453g) cream cheese room temperature
  • ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (241g) sour cream room temperature
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (16g) flour
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) key lime juice fresh or bottled if you can’t get key limes
  • Zest of two key limes or regular limes if you can’t find key limes
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream for garnish
  • Lime curd for garnish
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Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Wrap the bottom of a 9” or 9 1/2” springform pan in two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil. You will be baking your cheesecake in a water bath and you want to make sure no water gets into the pan from the seam at the bottom.
  • Make the crust: If you’re using whole graham crackers, finely crush them in a food processor or place them in a ziploc bag and roll with a rolling pin.
  • Stir graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. Add melted butter and stir with a fork.
  • Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides (about 1”) of your pan. Press hard to compact. Chill until ready to fill.
  • Place a kettle of water on to boil for the water bath.
  • Make the cheesecake: Beat cream cheese with a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth. Beat in sugar and sour cream until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Mix in flour, lime juice, lime zest, and vanilla extract. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl during mixing to get any clumps of cream cheese stuck to the sides or bottom. Pour into crust.
  • Place the cheesecake in a large roasting pan. Place pan in the center of your preheated oven. Pour the boiling water carefully in one corner of the pan, until it reaches about a third to halfway up the cheesecake.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the cheesecake is just slightly jiggly in the center. Turn off the oven and let it sit for one hour. Remove from oven and let it cool completely, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • When ready to serve, carefully remove ring of the springform pan. Top with whipped cream. Serve with lime curd, if desired. (If your cheesecake happens to crack, frosting it with lime curd will cover any blemishes!)

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

  • All ingredients MUST BE room temperature to avoid lumps.
  • Do not skip the water bath step.
  • Do not skip the cooling and chilling steps.
  • Serve with lemon curd and whipped cream.
  • Store in refrigerator.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 256kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 130mg | Potassium: 81mg | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 430IU | Vitamin C: 1.3mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

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Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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72 Comments

  1. Best cheesecake ever! Made it for my son’s 36th birthday upon his request …he even gave me this recipe. I used the real key limes and it was worth it. Must admit the homemade lime curd made it even more amazing.