Key Lime Bars Recipe

5 / 5 (1 review) 4 Comments

key lime bars

I love the animal cracker crust and how simple it is to prepare! And you can’t go too wrong when cream cheese is involved, in my opinion. These would be a big hit with the lime-lovers at your next summer BBQ or gathering!

If you don’t have Key limes, you can use the more common and larger limes. It will still be delicious, plus you won’t have to use as many. These will need to be made at least 4 1/2 – 5 hours ahead of time in order to allow for cooling and chilling times.

Recipe slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.

lemon squeezer

More Recipes for Lime Fans:

Key Lime Bars Recipe

5 / 5 (1 review)
Prep Time: 10-15 mins | Cook Time: 30-40 mins
Yield: 1 8x8 pan | Serves: 16 servings


  • Crust:

  • 5 ounces animal crackers
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • Filling:

  • 2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon grated lime zest, minced (about 2 large limes)
  • pinch table salt
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 large limes)
  • Garnish:

  • 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted until golden and crisp


  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Use foil to create a sling for an 8x8 pan, with overhang on 2 of the sides. Spray the foil with cooking spray.
  3. In a food processor, pulse animal crackers until evenly fine crumbs (about 1 1/4 cups crumbs). Add brown sugar and salt, then pulse to combine (about 10 pulses). Drizzle butter over crumbs and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened, about 10 pulses. Press crumbs evenly and firmly into bottom of the prepared pan.
  4. Bake until golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while making the filling. Leave the oven on.
  5. In a medium bowl, stir cream cheese, zest, and salt with a rubber spatula until softened, creamy and combined. Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk until incorporated and no lumps. Whisk in the egg yolk. Add lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated. Pour filling into crust; spread to corners and smooth surface with the rubber spatula.
  6. Bake until set and edges begin to pull away slightly from the pan, about 15-20 minutes. Cool on rack to room temperature, 1-1 1/2 hours.
  7. Cover with foil and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.
  8. Loosen edges with knife and lift bars from pan using the foil sling. Cut into 16 squares. Let bars stand at room temperature about 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, if desired. Enjoy! Refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days; crust will soften slightly.


If you don't have Key limes available, use the larger, more common Persian limes.
Want more? Double recipe and make it in a 9x13 pan. Increase baking time by a few minutes, as needed.

Ingredients: Cheese, Egg, Lime
Meal Type: Desserts, Easter, Mother's Day, Spring, Summer, Meatless
Categories: Brownies and Bars, Oven

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