american/ Dessert/ tarts and pies

Key Lime Pie Bars

2 July 2021 | Last Updated: 8 July 2021 By Aleksandra

These Key lime pie bars are the ultimate summer dessert. They’re creamy, so refreshing, and have the perfect balance of sweet and tart. This recipe is based on my traditional Key lime pie recipe but it’s a little bit different. The main difference is the addition of cream cheese to the filling which makes these bars super creamy. We love these bars just as much as we love Key lime pie!

Key lime pie bars topped with whipped cream and lime slices on a black cooking rack.

About the recipe

Key lime pie is a pie made with cookie crust and creamy filling made with Key lime juice. It’s the state dessert of Florida and it’s especially popular in the Florida Keys.

This recipe for Key lime pie bars is a spin on the traditional pie recipe. They’re creamier and less tart. We absolutely love them!

Key limes are limes that grow in the Florida Keys, Caribbean, Central, and South America. They are harvested green and are yellow when ripe. They have a floral, aromatic, and sour taste.

What is the difference between Key limes and regular/Persian limes? Key limes are smaller, have floral and more aromatic flavor, and are more sour. You can substitute about 1 Persian lime for about 3-4 Key limes.

A stack of Key lime pie bars topped with whipped cream on a blue plate.

Ingredients

Here’s what you need to make these amazing Key lime pie bars:

For the crust you’ll need:

  • Graham crackers – you can buy whole graham crackers and process them in a food processor to crumbs or purchase graham cracker crumbs. Instead of graham crackers, can use any other crumbly cookies, like shortbread cookies, gingersnaps, or vanilla wafers.
  • Brown sugar – you can also use white granulated sugar but it tastes a little bit better with brown sugar.
  • Butter – holds the crumbs together.

You could buy a premade graham cracker crust but I highly recommend making your own. A homemade crust tastes so much better than the store-bought and it’s ridiculously easy to make.

For the Key lime filling you’ll need:

  • Key lime juice – I used Joe and Nellie’s bottled key lime juice (you can buy it on Amazon), I can’t even dream of finding fresh Key limes where I live. Using bottled juice is totally fine, but if you can find fresh Key limes, sure, use them. There is nothing better than using fresh. Juicing small Key limes can be a bit time-consuming though. You will need to juice about 25-30 small Key limes to get about 3/4 cup of juice! You can also use regular, Persian limes, your pie will also be delicious! The difference in flavor is small but noticeable. You will need about 5-6 Persian limes depending on how juicy and big they are.
  • Sweetened condensed milk – can not be substituted in any way.
  • Egg yolks – they thicken the filling and add flavor.

TIP: an easy way to juice Key limes: I’ve read somewhere that you can cut Key limes in half or into quarters and put them into a garlic press to squeeze out the juice more quickly.

For the whipped cream topping you can use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream.

You can use leftover egg whites to make chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons.

Labeled ingredients for Key lime pie bars.

Baking pan

You will need an 8-inch (20 cm) square pan (brownie pan) for this recipe. If you don’t have it you could easily transform these bars into a pie by baking them in a 9-inch (23 cm) deep-dish pie pan. The baking time stays the same. You can use the same amount of ingredients for the crust for a thinner crust or make more crust since you will also need some for the rim of the pie (I prefer more crust). You will need:

  • 1 3/4 cups (175g) graham cracker crumbs (12 whole crackers)
  • 7 tablespoons (100g) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (50g) light brown sugar
  • big pinch of salt.

Step by step instructions

Make the graham cracker crust:

Grease an 8-inch (20cm) square pan with butter and line with parchment paper. Butter helps the parchment paper to adhere to the pan. I like to use parchment paper because the bars are so much easier to take out of the pan and you can enjoy them sooner but if you would prefer not to use parchment paper – you don’t need to.

Graham crackers in a food processor. Graham cracker crumbs in a food processor.

STEP 1+2: Process the graham crackers and sugar in food processor until crumbs form.

Butter is being added to graham cracker crumbs in a baking pan. Butter is being stirred with cookie crumbs.

STEP 3: Add the crumbs, sugar, salt, and melted butter into the pan.

STEP 4: Stir with a spoon until the crumbs are coated in butter.

Cookie crumbs are being pressed with a measuring cup. Baked cookie crust in a baking pan.

STEP 5: Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan. I like to start with a spoon and then press the crumbs with the bottom of a measuring cup.

STEP 6: Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes at 350°F (180°C), until golden. Chill the crust for 10 minutes before filling.

Make the filling:

Ingredients for the lime filling in a white bowl. Key lime juice is being added to a bowl.

STEP 7: Combine the egg yolks, cream cheese, lime zest, and sweetened condensed milk, mixing well with an electric mixer.

STEP 8: Slowly add lime juice, while continuing to mix until well blended. Mix it for about 2 minutes.

You will see that the filling already starts to thicken – this is a chemical reaction between the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and lime juice. Lime juice ‘cooks’ the egg yolks a little bit and the filling can thicken on its own. Baking is only needed to achieve a thicker consistency of the filling and to pasteurize the egg yolks.

Key lime filling is being poured over a cookie crust. Key lime pie bars ready to be baked in a pan.

STEP 9: Pour the mixture into the baked cookie crust.

STEP 10: Bake for 20 minutes. The pie can be a little bit jiggly in the middle but it should look set on the surface and not ‘wet’. There’s no need to test it with a cake tester – it will be still a little bit too wet, it needs to be chilled to fully set.

Let cool to room temperature then put in the fridge for at least 4 hours and preferably 8 hours or overnight. When covering it with plastic foil make sure the pie is cooled down and the foil doesn’t touch the surface of the filling (it will leave marks, but you can also always cover them with whipped cream).

Now make your whipped cream by simply beating heavy whipping cream (or heavy cream) with sugar until stiff.

Cut the pie into 9 bars (squares). Dollop a heaped tablespoon of whipped cream onto each bar. You can decorate the bars with lime slices. You can also transfer the whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe nice swirls.

Enjoy!

How to serve it: it tastes best chilled or 5-15 minutes after being taken out of the fridge.

Storage

How to store it: These bars keep very well. They’re best on the day of baking only because the crust is still a bit crunchy (it softens the next day). The filling is like freshly baked for at least 5 days. Keep them covered in the fridge. The whipped cream is best freshly prepared but it will also be ok-ish the next day.

Storing the crust: You can prepare the graham cracker crust 1-2 days in advance, cool it completely, then cover it tightly and store in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.

How to freeze it: These bars freeze very well. Wrap them in plastic foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw in the fridge overnight.

One Key lime pie bar topped with whipped cream and lime slices on a blue plate.

Did you make this recipe? RATE THE RECIPE or tell me in the COMMENTS how you liked it! You can also add a photo of your dish. It would make me very happy and will help other readers. Thank you!!

Key Lime Pie Bars

These Key lime pie bars are the ultimate summer dessert. They’re creamy, so refreshing, and have the perfect balance of sweet and tart.
Pin This Recipe! SAVE THIS RECIPE
Key lime pie bars topped with whipped cream and lime slices on a cooling rack.
Print Recipe
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 9 bars
Calories 588kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

for the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups (150g) graham cracker crumbs 10 whole crackers
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) butter
  • 1/4 cup (50g) light brown sugar
  • pinch of salt

for the filling:

  • 6 oz (170g) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 (14-oz/400ml) cans sweetened condensed milk 2 cans = 28 oz
  • 3/4 cup (180g) Key lime juice I used bottled ‘Joe and Nellie’s’ Key lime juice
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime zest

to serve:

  • 1 cup (240g) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Instructions

Make the graham cracker crust:

  • Grease an 8-inch (20cm) square pan with butter and line with parchment paper.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C / Gas Mark 4, no fan (if you have a convection oven reduce the temperature by about 20° or follow the manufacturer's instructions).
  • If you’ve purchased whole graham crackers and not graham cracker crumbs, you need to pulse them in a food processor with sugar until crumbs form.
  • Add the cookie crumbs, salt, and melted butter into the pan. Stir with a spoon until all the crumbs are coated in butter.
  • Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan. I like to start with a spoon and then press the crumbs with the bottom of a measuring cup.
  • Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes or until golden.
  • Chill the crust for 10 minutes before filling.

Make the filling:

  • Combine egg yolks, cream cheese, lime zest, and sweetened condensed milk, mixing well with an electric mixer.
  • Slowly add lime juice, while continuing to mix until well blended. Mix it for about 2 minutes.
  • Pour the mixture into the baked cookie crust

Bake:

  • Bake for 20 minutes. The pie can be a little bit jiggly in the middle but it should look set on the surface and not 'wet'. There's no need to test it with a cake tester – it will be still a little bit too wet, it needs to be chilled to fully set.
  • Let cool to room temperature then put in the fridge for at least 4 hours and preferably 8 hours or overnight to fully set. When covering it with plastic foil make sure the pie is cooled down and the foil doesn't touch the surface of the filling (it will leave marks, but you can also always cover them with whipped cream).
  • Beat heavy whipping cream with sugar until stiff.
  • Cut the pie into 9 bars (squares). Dollop a heaped tablespoon of whipped cream onto each bar. You can decorate the bars with lime slices.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • Graham crackers – you can buy whole graham crackers and process them in a food processor to crumbs or purchase graham cracker crumbs. Instead of graham crackers, can use any other crumbly cookies. I used honey graham crackers.
  • Key lime juice – I used Joe and Nellie’s bottled key lime juice (you can buy it on Amazon). Using bottled juice is totally fine, but if you can find fresh Key limes, sure, use them. Juicing small Key limes can be a bit time-consuming though. You will need to juice about 25-30 small Key limes to get about 3/4 cup of juice. You can also use regular/Persian limes – the difference in flavor is small but noticeable. You will need about 5-6 Persian limes depending on how juicy and big they are.
  • For the whipped cream topping you can use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream.
  • How to serve it: it tastes best chilled or 5-15 minutes after being taken out of the fridge.
  • How to store it: These bars keep very well. They’re best on the day of baking only because the crust is still a bit crunchy (it softens the next day). The filling is like freshly baked for at least 5 days. Keep them covered in the fridge. The whipped cream is best freshly prepared but it will also be ok-ish the next day.
  • Storing the crust: You can prepare the graham cracker crust 1-2 days in advance, cool it completely, then cover it tightly and store in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
  • How to freeze it: These bars freeze very well. Wrap them in plastic foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw in the fridge overnight.
  • Calories = 1 serving (1/9 of the recipe). This is only an estimate!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Key lime bars, Key lime pie bars, Lime bars

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Recipe Rating




The maximum upload file size: 1 MB. You can upload: image. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here