Key Lime Cheesecake

Combining the refreshing flavor of key lime pie and the irresistible creaminess of classic cheesecake, this key lime cheesecake is two mouthwatering desserts in one. Made from only 8 ingredients total, this smooth & tangy homemade cheesecake is so much easier than you’d ever guess! For recipe success, follow my in-depth instructions.

This key lime cheesecake recipe is sponsored by PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, whose products I’ve always trusted in my baking.

key lime pie cheesecake

Remember my chocolate peanut butter cheesecake bars? I’m thrilled to show off this quality cream cheese again! As always, all opinions are 100% my own. You know I only work with brands I truly love!

Maybe you’ve caught on by now or maybe you haven’t, but I’m completely nuts about cheesecake. Have you seen my extensive collection of cheesecake recipes? When developing a new flavor, I turned to another dessert love of mine: key lime pie. Sweet and citrus-packed, this warm weather favorite sits on a buttery graham cracker crust. The marriage of two iconic desserts was inevitable. Welcome to the ultimate dessert duo!

If you’re wild about key lime, you’ll flip for these individual upside down key lime pies and dark chocolate key lime truffles too.

key lime pie cheesecake

This Key Lime Cheesecake Is:

  • Made from just 8 ingredients
  • Perfect for spring & summer celebrations
  • Wonderfully sweet & tangy
  • Unbelievably creamy
  • Flavor-packed with plenty of key lime
  • Easy to make ahead or freeze

Homemade cheesecake has the reputation of being difficult to make. I’m here to break that barrier. Because guess what? If you know how to turn on your electric mixer, you know how to make cheesecake. Most of the “work” is hands-off while the cheesecake bakes and cools. This key lime pie cheesecake batter comes together in just 1 bowl and if you read through and follow my instructions, you can easily avoid cheesecake cracks, lumpy batter, and over-baking. (These are all problems you could face if you didn’t have a solid recipe!)

Philadelphia cream cheese bricks

graham cracker crust in springform pan

key lime cheesecake batter

Overview: How to Make Key Lime Cheesecake

  1. Make the crust: A graham cracker crust is a natural choice as it’s the usual accompaniment to both key lime pie and cheesecake. Press the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan. Here’s a tip: use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crust in tightly!
  2. Pre-bake the crust: A quick 8 minutes in the oven helps the crust set up before adding the cheesecake batter on top.
  3. Make the batter: The ingredients come together in a certain order. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together first, then beat in the rest of the ingredients except for the eggs. Add the eggs one at a time, beating only until combined. Over-beating the eggs incorporates too much air into the batter, which causes the cheesecake to deflate and crack.
  4. Prepare the water bath: I promise a water bath is nothing complicated. You see, cheesecake needs to bake in a humid environment. Adding steam to the otherwise dry oven prevents cracks on the surface of your key lime cheesecake. Additionally, it keeps the dessert extra creamy and moist. There are two options for preparing a water bath and both are detailed in the recipe below. The cheesecake can sit in a roasting pan of water in the oven or you can place a roasting pan of hot water on the bottom rack. (This is what I do for flourless chocolate cake! Works like a charm.) Taking a few extra minutes to prepare a water bath is well worth it.
  5. Bake the cheesecake: This key lime cheesecake can take anywhere from 55-70 minutes. It’s done when the edges are lightly browned and set. The very center of the cheesecake will still be wobbly, but don’t worry, it will set as the dessert cools.
  6. Cool the cheesecake: Cheesecake doesn’t like vast temperature differences, so cool it using my guaranteed method– turn off the oven, crack open the door, and let the cheesecake sit in the oven for 1 hour. After that, place it on the counter at room temperature to fully cool down. When it’s cool, chill it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or even overnight.

Trust Me On This Cooling Method

There’s no greater test to your willpower than those few hours waiting for this key lime cheesecake to cool! But every minute is completely worth it when you take that first unbelievably refreshing, satisfying, key lime packed bite. 🙂

key lime cheesecake in springform pan

key lime pie cheesecake with whipped cream

2 Quick Success Tips

  1. Use Bricks of Cream Cheese: To guarantee the cheesecake sets up properly, use 8 ounce bricks of full fat PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese. Do not use low fat cream cheese or cream cheese spread that’s sold in a tub.
  2. Room Temperature Batter: Make sure all of the cheesecake batter ingredients are at room temperature so the batter remains smooth and combines quickly. Beating cold ingredients together will result in a chunky over-beaten cheesecake batter, hardly the way we want to start!

I love serving key lime cheesecake with homemade whipped cream, lime slices, and fresh berries. Though I guarantee that no one would turn down a plain slice either. Ha!

key lime pie cheesecake

slice of key lime cheesecake

How to Freeze Key Lime Cheesecake

  1. Cool the cheesecake on the counter before freezing. No need to chill it in the refrigerator
  2. Freeze on springform pan: Remove the outer rim from the springform pan. Wrap the cheesecake with the bottom of the pan with a few layers of plastic wrap, then a final layer of aluminum foil.
  3. Freeze without springform pan: After the cheesecake has completely cooled, run a sharp knife underneath the crust to release it from the bottom of the pan. Carefully slide it onto a parchment paper lined piece of cardboard or use a plate. Wrap it all in a few layers of plastic wrap, then a final layer of aluminum foil.
  4. Freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
  5. Do not freeze cheesecake with any toppings. Add toppings when serving cheesecake.
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key lime pie cheesecake

Key Lime Cheesecake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 7 hours, 45 minutes (includes chilling)
  • Yield: serves 16
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Key lime pie meets cheesecake in this refreshing and simple cheesecake recipe! For the best results, use either water bath method described in the recipe and notes below.


Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (150g) graham cracker crumbs (about 10 full sheet graham crackers)
  • 5 Tablespoons (70gunsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup (50ggranulated sugar


  • four 8-ounce bricks (32 oz) full-fat PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons (225g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) key lime juice*
  • 1/3 cup (80g) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon key lime zest*
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature

Optional Toppings


  1. Adjust the oven rack to the center position, with a lower oven rack in place for the water bath described in step 5, and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. Make the crust: If your graham crackers aren’t crumbs yet, use a food processor to pulse them into fine crumbs. Pour crumbs into a medium bowl and stir in sugar and melted butter until combined. Mixture will be sandy. Press firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. No need to grease the pan first. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crust down tightly. Pre-bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow crust to slightly cool as you prepare the filling.
  3. Make the filling: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the lime juice, sour cream, vanilla extract, and lime zest then beat on medium-high speed until fully combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stop mixing. To help prevent the cheesecake from deflating and cracking as it cools, avoid over-mixing the batter as best you can.
  4. Pour cheesecake batter into warm crust. Use a rubber spatula or spoon to smooth it into an even layer.
  5. Prepare the simple water bath (see recipe note for traditional water bath method): Boil a pot of water. You need 1 inch of water in your roasting pan for the water bath, so make sure you boil enough. Place a large metal baking or roasting pan (I usually use a 9×13 inch baking pan– do not use glass) on the bottom oven rack of the preheated oven. Pour boiling water into pan, about 1 inch deep. Immediately place the cheesecake on the center rack. Close oven to trap the steam inside. This unique water bath adds steam to the oven without having the cheesecake sit inside the water itself, which is the traditional water bath method explained in the recipe notes.
  6. (Note: if you notice the cheesecake browning too quickly on top, tent it with aluminum foil halfway through baking.) Bake cheesecake for 55-70 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly wobble if you gently shake the pan. Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven as it cools down for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, then cool cheesecake completely at room temperature. Then refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  7. Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Add optional toppings if desired. I used a piping tip for the pictured whipped cream. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean and dip into warm water between each slice.
  8. Cover and store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: This cheesecake can be made the day before. It has to chill for quite some time before serving. See step 6. Another way to make this cheesecake ahead of time is to freeze it. Cheesecake can be frozen up to 3 months. See instructions in blog post above.
  2. Key Limes: If you don’t have access to key limes, use the same amount of regular lime juice and lime zest instead. You can usually find bottled key lime juice next to the regular lime juice in most grocery stores.
  3. Traditional Water Bath: Boil a pot of water. You need 1 inch of water in your roasting pan for the water bath, so make sure you boil enough. As the water is heating up, wrap aluminum foil around the springform pan– you can do this before or after you pour in the cheesecake batter. Place the wrapped pan inside of a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water inside of the pan and place in the oven. (Or you can place the roasting pan in the oven first, then pour the hot water in. Whichever is easier for you.) Bake as directed. When cooling the cheesecake in the oven in step 6, leave it sitting inside the water bath. Remove it from the water bath when letting it cool at room temperature.
  4. Room Temperature Ingredients: Bring all cold ingredients to room temperature before beginning. Room temperature ingredients combine quickly and evenly, so you won’t risk over-mixing. Also, beating cold ingredients together will result in a chunky cheesecake batter, hardly the way you want to begin!

Keywords: cheesecake, key lime pie, lime


  1. Helen Marston says:

    Hi Sally, my whole family like your non-baking cheesecake! Can you make it non-baking key lime cheesecake? Thank you very much!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Helen, For a no bake lime cheesecake follow the recipe notes for lemon flavor in the No Bake Cheesecake post but use lime instead of lemon.

  2. Perhaps it is the fault of my key limes and not the recipe, but it tasted like the filling could do with a tad bit more sugar. I would up it by about a 1/4 of a cup if I made it again. Other than that, the cheesecake baked beautifully and did not crack. It held its shape well but still had a creaminess to it. I opted to top it with a layer of key lime curd to give it even more of a lime kick and really thought it worked well with the cheesecake.

    1. I needed to add more sugar as well!

  3. Planning to make this recipe this week, wondering if anyone has tried making this in the instant pot….

    1. Hi! I can’t find limes nor key lime in my oocal grocery store, but I have the bottled key lime juice. Can I omit the zest? Does it make a big difference if I do?

      1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Lizette! The bottled key lime juice will be perfect with this cheesecake – we would use fresh regular lime zest along with your key lime juice. Enjoy!

  4. I used Philadelphia cream cheese tubs from Lidl (great prices!) and it turned out really well

  5. I love your recipes and this one didn’t disappoint! I used lemons instead of key limes and it has turned out perfect. The only issue I encountered is the cheesecake sticking a little around the top edge where the graham crackers/ digestive biscuit crust (I live in the UK so had to compromise) didn’t go all the way to the top. Will add more crust next time and see if that solves it. Thanks for all of your fab recipes!

  6. Can you make this cheesecake without the graham cracker crust? I have an old cheesecake recipe that does not have a graham cracker crust and it comes out perfect? I would like to make this for Easter?

    Thank you

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Gail, We’ve never used this recipe for a crustless cheesecake but you can certainly try it. Obviously the pre-bake is not necessary. The total cheesecake bake time should be the same though. Keep the cooling and chilling process the same as well.

  7. Can I use 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch in this recipe? I’ve always put cornstarch in my cheesecakes, but this recipe has a half cup of lime juice vs. the 2 tsp. I usually use.

  8. I made this cheesecake and took it in to work for Cinco de Mayo today. It was gone by 9 AM! I’ll definitely make this again and again. Thank you!

  9. This recipe was a huge success. Best cheesecake ever. Consistency perfect. Mix of the tart from the lime and the sweet from the crust just right. Greetings from the Caribbean!

  10. My cheesecake came out beautiful, but I felt it was a bit too tart?? I used Nellie’s Key Lime Juice, so I am not sure if that had anything to do with it. Followed the directions and this was the best looking cheesecake I have ever made. I just need to balance it out with something sweet like whipped cream.

  11. I recently made your Lemon Blueberry Tart with shortbread crust and the crust was a huge success. I was wondering if I could swap out the graham cracker crust in this key lime cheesecake recipe for the shortbread crust? My family loved the shortbread crust and they love key lime pie so I was hoping I could marry the two for a new family favorite!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Caitlin! What an interesting idea, we haven’t tested those two recipes together, but please let us know if you do. Another way to bring those two flavors together would be to use key lime or lime instead of lemon in the Lemon Blueberry Tart recipe. Let us know what you try!

      1. The short bread crust and key lime cheese cake marriage is so good it’s almost illegal. The cheesecake didn’t even last a few days. I definitely recommend trying it if you aren’t fond of the Graham cracker crust.

      2. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        So happy to read this, Caitlin! We’re thrilled it turned out.

  12. Hi. I don’t have a roasting pan. Do you have an alternative for the water bath?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lizette, You can use any metal oven safe pan to create a humid environment inside your oven.

  13. Hi Sally!!

    I have made this cheesecake once before for Father’s Day, and it was the perfect, light summer treat!! I am going to be making it again, but was curious if you had a recipe/cooking time conversions if I wanted to make two 6″ cheesecakes opposed to the one 9″ as directed? Thanks!!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Katie, we’re so glad this cheesecake was a hit for Father’s Day! We’re unsure of the exact bake time for 6 inch cheesecakes. Same oven temperature.

  14. HI I am excited to try making this recipe. I have a 6in cheesecake pan that I am planning to use instead of a 9in-spring form pan, how long should my cheesecake be in the oven for? Thank you!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lisa, we’re unsure of the exact bake time for a 6 inch cheesecake. You’ll want to halve the recipe too, as a full recipe will be too much for the smaller pan. Enjoy!

  15. Hi,i will try to make cheesecake for the first time.And i will used your recipe,seems easy enough.My question is how to take the cheesecake out of the pan or plate of the spring form pan?Thank’s.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Liza! A springform pan will make it very easy to remove the cheesecake. Simply remove the outer ring of the springform pan once the cheesecake is baked and cooled, and then serve on top of the bottom plate (you can put that right on a serving plate or platter if you’d like). Hope you enjoy this recipe!

  16. How would baking instructions and time change if I make several mini cheesecakes using 4-inch mini springform pans? Would you still bake at the same temp and with a water bath? Still prebake the mini crusts?

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nicole, You can use this recipe, but follow the assembly, baking, and cooling instructions for mini cheesecakes.

  17. Living in Canada, Key lime juice or key limes is not available to us. Would regular limes still be ok to use? Was considering a 1/4 cup of lime juice and a 1/4 cup of lemon juice. What substitution would you recommend?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lana, If you don’t have access to key limes, use the same amount of regular lime juice and lime zest instead. You can usually find bottled key lime juice next to the regular lime juice in most grocery stores.

  18. Matt Sechelski says:

    Hey Sally! I’ve made the key lime cheesecake about 6 times. It’s a pretty constant hit with any crowd. I just purchased an oven that has convection steam. Have you done a cheesecake in this type of oven? Do I just forgo the water bath for steam? Any special instructions? Thanks for your help.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Matt! All of the recipes on this site are written for conventional settings, so we haven’t tested a cheesecake in a convection steam oven. Convection ovens are fantastic for cooking and roasting. If you have the choice, we recommend conventional settings when baking cakes, breads, etc. The flow of air from convection heat can cause baked goods to rise and bake unevenly and it also pulls moisture out of the oven. If you do use convection settings for baking, lower your temperature by 25 degrees F and keep in mind that things may still take less time to bake. Hope this helps!

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