Key Lime Bars Recipe

5 from 8 votes

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A creamy, tart Key lime pie filling sits on top of a buttery graham cracker crust… It’s so much easier than making a whole pie!

key lime pie bars on a platter and slices of lime on top of each

Easy Key Lime Bars

My first experience with Key lime pie was, naturally, in Key West, Florida.

I took Matt on a cruise for his college graduation present (yep, pretty great girlfriend– he proposed 6 months later!), and our first stop was Key West. We knew it wasn’t going to be a beachy port, so the only thing on our “must do” list was to get Key lime pie.

While we were walking down Duval Street, we figured our best bet was to ask a local where the best place to get a slice was.

We were directed to a restaurant called Blue Heaven, and oh my goodness gracious, I wish we could have gone back to find the man who sent us there and thanked him for directing us to an amazing treat!

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stack of key lime pie bars with slices of lime scattered around and on top of the stack

When we told our waiter what we were there for (at 9am), he told us that Adam Richman had been there just a couple weeks before specifically for the pie while filming an episode of Man vs Food.

Before we even had a bite, we knew we were in the right place!

slice of authentic key lime pie on a plate in a restaurant

Sidenote: let’s take a moment to look at that amazing layer of meringue. It was so fluffy, and I remember thinking it was so delicious, I could have eaten a plate of it alone. It was the perfect pairing with the lime filling and graham crust!

The waiter brought us our pie and we were so confused.

Maybe you already knew this because you’ve had key lime pie before, but I hadn’t, and neither had Matt, so we were surprised to find that it was yellow. YELLOW! Aren’t limes green?

a key lime pie bar in the foreground with a bite taken out of it and a stack of key lime pie bars in the background

Funny you should ask… Because although they look mostly the same on the outside, Key limes are quite different from regular limes.

What is the difference between Key Lime Juice and Lime Juice?

  1. Key limes are smaller than regular limes, and can have a lighter green peel.
  2. They are a bit sweeter than regular limes (kind of like the whole lemon/Meyer lemon deal which you can read about in my blueberry lemon pie bar recipe) and have a slightly orangey taste.
  3. Since Key limes are not so easy to find and they’re quite expensive, there’s a really great company (Nellie and Joe’s) that bottles up the juice nicely for your baking enjoyment!
bottle of key lime pie juice

You can find this juice on Amazon, or you can find it in the mixer section of the grocery store (with seltzers, cocktail mixes, etc.).

Key Lime Bars Recipe ingredients

For the graham cracker crust, you will need:

  • graham cracker crumbs
  • brown sugar
  • ground ginger
  • ground cinnamon
  • unsalted butter

For the Key lime filling, you will need:

  • block cream cheese
  • egg yolks
  • sweetened condensed milk
  • Key lime juice
  • lime zest
key lime pie bars on a platter with limes and slices of limes scattered around them

How to make Key Lime Pie Bars

These bars are quite simple to put together. The hardest part is waiting for them to chill in the fridge or freezer before you can eat them!

aerial photo of key lime pie bar batter in a glass mixing bowl and a zested lime off to the side

You’re going to start with a graham cracker crust for your base, for which I used my homemade graham crackers. You may most certainly use regular graham crackers, but nothing beats the buttery flavor that the homemade ones produce (besides, with leftovers, you can make some s’mores)!

When I decided I wanted to create this recipe for a housewarming party I was attending, I knew I needed to make them sturdy because they would be outside.

aerial photo of key lime pie bars on a platter

To help them hold up to the summer heat, I added some cream cheese to the Key lime pie base, and not only did it make the bars sturdy, but the creaminess mixed very well with the tangy lime flavor.

Egg yolks, some sweetened condensed milk, a little cream cheese, your Key lime juice, and some lime zest is all you need for the filling!

key lime pie batter being poured onto a baked graham cracker crust in a foil lined baking pan

The creamy, tart filling pairs nicely with the oh-so-buttery and crunchy crust that it sits so perfectly on top of. There is just enough tart to balance the sweetness, and it really satisfies the sweet tooth while also throwing some savory undertones in the mix.

Key Lime Bars substitutions and additions

If you can’t find or don’t have Key lime juice, you can use regular limes and lime juice. You can even use lemon juice or any citrus juice that you want to make a citrus pie bar!


If you can’t find it, don’t feel like buying it, or just don’t want to use it, you can use regular lime juice (I suggest freshly-squeezed for best flavor) + lemon juice in its place. 

Use half lime and half lemon juice to mimic the brighter flavor of Key lime juice vs regular lime juice.

Just keep in mind, you’re no longer making Key lime bars, just regular old lime bars. And the ones from the Keys sound much yummier… Just sayin’…

How to serve Lime Bars

This really is a perfect dessert, and you should probably consider making it for your 4th of July celebration that’s coming up soon… I promise, this is easy, only takes a few ingredients, and will really wow your party guests.

You might be their favorite person ever after sharing these. That’s a pretty bold statement, but whenever I make these, my empty container is always proof these bars are epic!

Key Lime Pie Bars FAQs

How long do Key limes last?

Like most citrus, Key limes will last about 2 weeks at room temperature and about 3 weeks in the refrigerator. If you remove any zest, be sure to store them in a covered container with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.

Is there an easy way to juice Key limes?

You can juice a lime by using a citrus juicer, or you can simply buy the juice already prepared in a jar (my personal preference, since it can often be hard to find Key limes in the store).

Why are they called Key limes?

True Key limes are grown in the Florida Keys and other parts of Florida. They are typically smaller than traditional limes and their juice is more yellow than green.

a key lime pie bar in the foreground with a bite taken out of it and a stack of key lime pie bars in the background

For more Key lime desserts that aren’t pie and a way to use up some more Key lime juice, consider one of these recipes:
3 ingredient Key lime sherbet from Cooking With Carlee
Key lime cupcakes from House of Nash Eats
Key lime fudge from Berly’s Kitchen
Key lime pie mojito from We Are Not Martha
No bake Key lime mousse pie from Beyond Frosting
Pressure cooker Key lime curd from This Old Gal
Key lime pie popsicles from Easy and Delish
Key lime pudding cake from 2 Cookin’ Mamas
Key lime coconut parfait from A Hundred Affections
Vegan Key lime ice cream from The Roasted Root

Key Lime Pie Bars: A creamy, tart Key lime pie filling sits on top of a buttery graham cracker crust... It's so much easier than making a whole pie!
5 from 8 votes
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Key Lime Bar Recipe

A creamy, tart Key lime pie filling sits on top of a buttery graham cracker crust… It's so much easier than making a whole pie!
Prep Time15 minutes
Bake Time25 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Recipe Author Lynn April
Servings: 16 bars



  • 2 cups (170g) graham cracker crumbs approximately 16 rectangles
  • 1 and ½ Tablespoons (18g) brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 Tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter melted


  • 4 ounces (115g) block cream cheese softened to room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 14-ounce can (397g) sweetened condensed milk full fat
  • ½ cup (120g) Key lime juice
  • zest of one lime


  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC).
  • Line an 8″ x 8″ or 9″ x 9″ baking pan with foil. Leave an overhang on the sides and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.


  • In a small bowl, blend the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, ginger, and cinnamon. Pour in the melted butter, and then mix to combine.
  • Press the mixture evenly into prepared baking pan, being sure to press firmly. Bake the crust for 10 minutes.


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a medium sized bowl with a handheld mixer, beat cream cheese on high until smooth. Beat in egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the sides as necessary. Beat in sweetened condensed milk, Key lime juice, and lime zest and mix until combined.
  • Pour filling into prepared crust and bake for 23-25 minutes. Edges should just start to brown and middle should no longer be jiggly. Allow pan to cool at room temperature on a wire rack. When completely cool, chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or in the freezer for 1 hour.
  • When bars are completely chilled, lift out of the pan using foil overhang and cut into squares. Bars can be stored covered in the refrigerator up to 1 week.


Recipe adapted from Paula Deen
Did you make this recipe?Mention @freshaprilflours on Instagram or tag #freshaprilflours!

Nutrition Disclosure

All nutritional values are approximate and provided to the reader as a courtesy. Changing ingredients and/or quantities will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.

Try my Key lime cookies next!

Key Lime Cookies: Easy drop cookies bursting with tangy Key lime juice, crunchy graham cracker crumbs, and creamy white chocolate.

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  1. Okay Lynn they look delish! The proof will be if Rodger Hamrick likes ’em. Maybe they won’t make his stomach swell with an allergic reaction like most of my recipes!! Happy fourth!

  2. We don’t get Key Limes here in Australia. I will just have to make regular, old lime bars… I’m sure they’ll still be super awesome though 🙂
    After a cruise to celebrate his graduation no wonder he proposed! Lime bars and cruises, you are definitely a keeper 🙂

    1. Hahaha, thanks, Amy!

      Maybe if you tried these, you could add a splash of orange juice to liven up the regular lime juice… If you do try, let me know! 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    I don’t know how to review these without using profanity, because they are so ******* good. Smooth and creamy with a delicious tang from the lime. The crust is crumbly and buttery. They are easy to make. Only issue is that I’m not sure the pan will last until tomorrow.

  4. 5 stars
    Love these easy-to-make delicious summer bars! The instructions are so easy to follow. Thanks Lynn!

  5. 5 stars
    I’ve made these three times now and they are always a hit. My husband is smitten. Thank you for the great recipe!

  6. 5 stars
    My favorite desert is Key Lime Pie and I’ve been searching for a good recipe….well search no more because I found it, this was excellent!!!! I was worried because I couldn’t find key limes at my store but the substitution that you posted of the lime juice tasted great. I definitely will be making this again and again and again!!!!