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 (180g) graham cracker crumbs (about 12 full sheet graham crackers)
- 5 Tablespoons (71g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 32 ounces (904g) full-fat brick 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
- 2 teaspoons key lime zest*
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- homemade whipped cream
- fresh berries
- key lime or regular lime slices
- 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).
- 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 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow crust to slightly cool as you prepare the filling.
- 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.
- Pour cheesecake batter into warm crust. Use a rubber spatula or spoon to smooth it into an even layer.
- Prepare the simple water bath (see recipe note for traditional water bath method): Boil a kettle or 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 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.
- (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 tap 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.
- 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.
- Cover and store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Food Processor | 9-Inch Springform Pan | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Zester | Spatula | Oven-Safe Roasting Pan (I use this 9×13-inch baking pan)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Non-US Readers: Don’t have graham crackers where you live? Don’t have graham crackers where you live? Use 200g ground digestive biscuit crumbs instead (about 13–14 biscuits), the same amount of butter, and add a bit more sugar (about 1/3 cup, or 67g). You may need to add a few extra minutes to the pre-baking time, as digestive biscuits are not quite as crispy-crunchy as graham crackers. And from what I understand, spreadable cream cheese sold in a tub in countries outside of the US is a little different from the spreadable cream cheese in the US. It’s thicker, sturdier, and more solid and should be OK to make cheesecake. I have no experience with it, but this is what I’ve heard from other non-US readers.
Keywords: cheesecake, key lime pie, lime