Key Lime Cheesecake Bars

May 24, 2010 · 31 comments

filed in: Bakery,Dairy,Desserts,Fruit

Key Lime Cheesecake Bars

We Floridians don’t get serious about many things; witness our casual approach to the 2000 U.S. Presidential election. However, we and our sunstruck politicians can be roused by the important matter of key lime pie. In 2006, for example, after several months of vigorous debate in the Florida State Senate and House of Representatives, it was officially named the Florida State Pie. And earlier, in 1965, a state legislator with a keen sense of the State government’s essential oversight responsibilities introduced a bill that would have imposed a fine on anyone advertising key lime pies not actually made with real key limes.

For the uninitiated, the key lime is a small, yellowish, and seedy lime that is distinguished from its more common Persian lime cousins by its very tart, almost bitter flavor. And therein lies the challenge of the deceptively simple key lime pie. Its sweet and sour ingredients must be perfectly balanced so that its tartness definitely gets one’s attention but not so much that rictus ensues. In this easy recipe for key lime bars with a crumb and almond crust, key lime cheesecake filling, and optional almond topping, I have aimed for this “just right” result.


3/4 cup plain graham cracker crumbs (approximately 6 graham crackers)
1/2 cup unsalted, sliced almonds
A dash of ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 14-ounce can sweetened, condensed milk
8 ounces cream cheese (or American Neufchatel cheese), at room temperature
2 raw egg yolks
9 tablespoons (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) fresh or bottled key lime juice (if the latter, the Nellie & Joe’s brand is particularly good)
(optional topping) 1/4 cup unsalted, sliced almonds tossed with 1 teaspoon confectioner’s sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a square 9-inch cake pan or 8-inch by 10-inch rectangular baking pan with parchment paper cut to fit.
  2. In the container of a food processor or chopper, pulse the graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup sliced almonds, and cinnamon until finely ground. Add the melted butter and pulse briefly until fully blended. Press the crumb mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whip the condensed milk, cheese, egg yolks, and key lime juice until smooth. Pour this filling over the crumb crust. If desired, sprinkle on the optional 1/4 cup sliced almonds tossed with 1 teaspoon confectioner’s sugar.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the filling is just set and the optional almond topping is lightly toasted. Chill for at least 6 hours, or preferably overnight, before serving. Serves 6-8 as dessert.

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Teresa The Silversmith May 25, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Key limes are rarely seen in New York area. I happened upon some in a local market and quickly snatched them. Your recipe is absolutely worthy of the finds! These sublime squares became a big hit at a fundraiser that I baked for. The whole tray (double the recipe too!) was gone within minutes since the first taster oooh’d and aaah’d over it.
The only change I made was in garnish. I use lime zests instead of almond slices just to indicate the flavor of the dessert.
Thank you so much! I look forward to trying your other recipes.


Beth July 1, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Great recipe; I substituted the graham crackers with Ana’s Ginger Thins and added a little extra ground ginger to the crust. I omitted the almonds because of potential food allergies at the party. I’ve bookmarked your site; it looks great from what I’ve seen — thanks!


philly April 3, 2011 at 11:19 pm

nice recipe, and yes florida did give the country to bush and we all paid the price. Not that GA was any better.


living_insanity June 24, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I have these in the oven right now. I’m making them for my 5 year wedding anniversary which is tomorrow. My husband loves key lime pie and I love cheesecake. I think we’ll both be happy!


Barbara June 24, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Happy Anniversary! And I hope you like them.


FOODESSA June 17, 2010 at 6:21 am

Barbara…I came in through a comment you made on Food Alliance concerning the ‘about’ page…and I found myself agreeing with a smile…so here I am. One of my favourite moments with Mom was at a beach cafe in Ft. Lauderdale by the sea…devouring their Key Lime pie! Believe or not…I had never known what that was before. Since then, I’ve come up with a pretty interesting frozen lime pie…no ‘key’ in front of lime…unfortunately. I’m taking down your recipe…and I do find that the cinnamon aspect is quite intriguing. It was nice discovering a part of you culinary journal…I’ll have to come back a pass a little more time. Flavourful wishes, Claudia


A Canadian Foodie June 16, 2010 at 9:31 am

Nice crust – great directions and step by step photos …! Though – I did just make a Key Lime Pie – sous vide! Really. I posted it, too – and it was really good. Must try this recipe. I adore limes. Valerie


Deanna June 7, 2010 at 8:37 pm

I can not make Key Lime Pie. I absolutely adore it, and eating it 3 times a day was my favorite part of a recent trip to Key West, but mine NEVER sets. I spend an hour juicing the limes, then the pie refuses to set. Then I turn it into Key Lime ice cream.


Barbara June 8, 2010 at 5:46 am

Have you tried adding an egg yolk or two to the filling mix and then baking it for a short time, as I have done with the above bars? It’s an old trick, and the yolks do help to thicken it up. However, I like your resourcefulness on the key lime ice cream gambit, which is one of my favorites too!


Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free June 4, 2010 at 11:34 pm

These look fabulous – the perfect summertime treat. And the preparation seems almost effortless. My favorite kind of food – easy to make but looks & tastes like you slaved over it.


Juliana June 2, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Oh! What a nice and refreshing looking cheesecake, I sure love the idea of key lime.


Kim June 1, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Thank you for visiting my site and stumbling the Caesar Salad burger! Your blog is beautiful and those key lime bars look positively delicious:)


Gera @ SweetsFoodsBlog May 29, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I’m delighted with these cheesecake bars, look spectacular.
The tartness of the key lime suits perfect with the sweetness of the recipe.
Thanks for visiting my blog Barbara! Have a great weekend, Gera.


Delishhh May 29, 2010 at 12:25 am

These look amazing, i have actually never made key lime anything so this is a great time to try it out.


megan May 26, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I’m on a lemon lime kick and these made me sit up! YUM!


Winnie May 26, 2010 at 10:58 am

These look amazing!!!


Amanda May 25, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Totally gorgeous Barbara, they look wonderful!


HoneyB May 25, 2010 at 8:16 pm

I have yet to try Key Lime pie – your cheesecake bars look delicious!


Taylor May 25, 2010 at 4:36 pm

I absolutely LOVE key lime pie! When my family vacations on Sanibel Island we get at least 5 pies for the week we are down there…we just can’t seem to get enough!


Heather Davis May 25, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Oh Barbara key lime pie is an all time fav in our household. This looks like a great take on the theme. Too bad you can’t get bottled key lime juice in the UK. I will have to wait until I am next in the States.


Barbara May 25, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Actually, you might be able to find it there but under a different name. Key limes, also known as Citrus Aurantifolia and West Indian limes, among others, are not actually native to the Florida Keys or other Caribbean islands (thus the controversy here about naming the key lime pie as Florida’s state pie; many pumped for the pecan pie, which is made of truly native ingredients.) Our so-called key limes are originally from Asia, were brought by Arabs to Spain in Medieval times, are thought to have been transported to Florida and the Caribbean by Spaniards in the 1500-1600s, and became naturalized after that. The so-called Mexican lime, which is green and resembles a tiny Persian lime, also has a similar flavor. Or you could simply fake it. You would get a roughly similar flavor by combining Persian lime with Seville orange juice in a 2:1 ratio.


Belinda May 25, 2010 at 11:07 am

Yum! I love key lime pie, cheesecake, and almonds. The tarter the better for me please!


Katrina May 25, 2010 at 11:04 am

I recently won a cheesecake throwdown with some friends for Key Lime Cheesecake I made. Good stuff! Love yours in bar form.


Aileen May 25, 2010 at 9:42 am

Definitely one of my most favorite things in the world! I have never had it with an almond topping, though – I will surely give it a try.


Koek! May 25, 2010 at 1:31 am

Your cheesecake bars certainly get my vote!


Suzanne Collier May 24, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Lime, cream cheese, almonds. . . Heaven! Can’t wait to give this one a try!!! It appears as if you got it “just right”. We’ll see if I can manage “close to right”. LOL! MM is going to love this one!


Lana @ Never Enough Thyme May 24, 2010 at 9:40 pm

My most favorite pie in a bar! Love that perfect combination of tart, sweet, creamy and crunchy. What a winner of a recipe!


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