Key Lime Pie Bars
You need less than 10 ingredients to make my Key Lime Pie Bars. These squares are zesty, filled with lime juice, and are the perfect springtime dessert!
Something about spring time just makes me CRAVE desserts that are citrusy and tangy. These key lime pie squares are always the first desserts I crave come spring time. Here is proof. Around the same time last year, I made these ‘not key lime squares’, and if you’re looking for an explanation as to what in H-E-Double hockey sticks that means, well, let me explain. Basically it’s key lime with regular limes.
So this is the part where you ask me if I’m repeating recipes on you and I’m going to say um.. yeee-as, kinda. I highly urge you to give these lime bars a try — disappointed, you won’t be. <– We’ve been watching ALL the Star Wars movies with some friends and that’s my inner Yoda coming out. (side note: I didn’t really think i’d like Star Wars at all, but it’s not soo bad. I may even say, I kinda like it. But not like you’ll see me at a sci-fi convention anytime soon or anything like that.)
How to make the best key lime pie bars:
Have you ever had a food craving that lasted you a week? That’s what it’s been like for me. Just torturing me. At one point I even purchased some key lime pie flavored white chocolate. Which btw, was totally gross. Chocolate should taste like chocolate and not key lime pie. Or frozen yogurt. I tried this greek frozen yogurt that was key lime pie flavored. Oh. Ew! Yuck. This was a craving that would only go away with the real deal.
The first time I made these bars last March, I took one bite and told Anees that these absolutely, hands down, had to be the BEST thing i’ve ever baked. And though Anees had a hard time believing that something that didn’t contain chocolate could be the ‘best’ anything, upon taking a bite, he was nodding along that these would definitely make the list of top 5.
What really makes these key lime pie bars outstanding is the crust:
Raise your hand if that’s your favorite part! Okay, well don’t. Because your boss may walk by and give you a peculiar look as to why you’ve got your hand up in the air. The crust on these key lime pie bars is a few simple ingredients. We’re using graham crackers, sugar, butter, and here’s the shocker — cinnamon and ground pecans.
Okay, so before you hit the little X at the top window, let me say that cinnamon and ground pecans are going to take these bars to the next level. The Cheesecake Factory uses nuts in their classic cheesecake crust to make the flavor so unique, along with a pinch of cinnamon. The cinnamon flavor isn’t noticeable if you’re worried about that. Just a quarter teaspoon makes the crust so delicious but keeps the eater guessing what it is that makes these key lime pie bars so addicting.
These key lime pie bars are quick and easy to make.
They’re the perfect spring/summer dessert to serve at any gathering. Nobody wants to slave in the kitchen when the heat hits, these bars are your answer to a quick dessert. They require a quick 30 minutes of hands on time, just 9 simple ingredients, and they taste like a million bucks. No, really, they do.
Creamy, cool, smooth, and so much flavor. After baking the bars, they need a couple of hours to chill in the refrigerator. This had to be the hardest part of the whole process. I couldn’t wait to dig in to these key lime pie bars. That first bite, it makes it alllllll worth it.
Happy Friday, y’all!
P.S. If you like this recipe, you might also want to check out my creamy lemon squares – equally delicious with a lemony twist!
Key Lime Pie Bars
You need less than 10 ingredients to make my Key Lime Pie Bars. These squares are zesty, filled with lime juice and are the perfect spring time dessert!
- 1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs (12 large rectangles)
- 2 tablespoons ground pecans
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted
- 3 egg yolks, room temperature
- 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
- 4 teaspoons lime zest (about 3 limes)
- ½ cup key lime juice (regular limes are fine too)
- PREP: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spray an 8x8 square baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, set aside.
- CRUST: In a small bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, ground pecans, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. Make sure all the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the baking pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, leave the oven on.
- FILLING: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the yolks for 2 minutes. Add the condensed milk and continue to whisk for another 2 minutes. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides, add the lime zest. With the mixer on low, drizzle in the lime juice, let the mixer run for 2 minutes once added. The pie mixture will be slightly thicker when done. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 15 minutes.
- SERVE: Cool completely on wire rack. Filling will set as it cools. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and ideally overnight. Slice and serve chilled.
These look wonderful! As soon as the sun comes out here I dream of citrus desserts and all things fresh and zingy – I need to try these bars!
My grandson made these with me , & they are a hit! Will definitely be making these again.
I made these and they were fantastic. However, I used an 8×8 pan and the amount of graham crackers the recipe called for and the bars didn’t come out looking even like they do in your pics. Do you have any tips for getting bars like this to come out looking nice and not completely destroyed when you try to cut them and lift them out of the pan? TIA!
I allow the bars to cool completely in the refrigerator (usually longer than 2 hours) also I use an extremely sharp knife and I wipe my knife on a paper towel between every cut. Hope that helps 🙂
I have found that if you dip your knife in very HOT water, then wipe it off, you get a very clean slice of anything that can be sticky either from sugar or egg. This method provides smooth sides to your slices.
I will follow your inner Yoda and give these little beauties a try. The photos look good enough to eat too.
Can this recipe be easily doubled? What size pan would you use? Thank you. Feeding a crowd!
Yup, you can double the recipe easily but I do suggest still baking it in 8×8 pans. Perhaps the disposable ones if you don’t have two? A 9×13 or similar won’t work as the crust and key lime mixture will both end up being thicker and that will then change the baking time.
Will it turn out fine if I use a hand mixer? I don’t own an electric mixer with whisk.
Absolutely! You may need to beat it just a bit longer for it to thicken up but it’ll definitely work just fine! 🙂
These were amazing!! We were celebrating 4th of July (except we are in australia) and looking for something american but not the usual apple pie. This was great! Anyone in oz wanting to make them- we used just normal limes and digestive biscuits in the base. Yummmm!
My daughter is allergic to nuts, would it still be good without the pecans ? Would I omit the cinnamon too?
It’s totally your call on the cinnamon, Debbie. You can add it or omit it, either is okay. Personally, I’d add it in as the cinnamon really makes the crust so much tastier! 🙂
Hello! I’m excited to try this as a birthday treat for my husband who loves key lime pie. I have a question though. I’m confused about the parchment paper part. Do you place the paper in the bottom of the pan and put the graham cracker crust on top of it? Sorry, I obviously don’t bake a lot lol. Thanks!
Yup, that’s absolutely right! So just spray the pan with a little cooking spray, then place the 8×8 cut out of parchment paper inside the bottom of the pan. The cooking spray helps the parchment stay put and the parchment prevents the crust from sticking to the pan. Hope your hubby loves the key lime pie bars 🙂
How far in advance can you make these?? I’m making Jambalaya for book club (The Promise by Ann Weisgarber – historical fiction about Galveston – fabulous) and thought these would be a refreshing dessert.
I’ve made them up to 2 days in advance and they were just as delicious (actually, even more) than the day I made them! Hope you guys love them!:)
Can you use the already ground up graham crackers that come in the boxes? And if so what measurement would it be? Thank you.
Already ground graham crackers should be fine. I’m unsure about the measurements because I always use sheets. Perhaps the box has a conversion chart from graham cracker sheets to cups?
I accidentally used walnuts instead of pecans buuuut they still taste amazing. I used ground graham crackers and measured 1.25c out and also creamed my butter instead of melting it since i don’t own a microwave. I only grated 2 limes for the zest because thats all i had and it was still great. Also i had to use a 9 inch pie pan, my graham cracker crust layer was a bit thinner and i sliced in wedges. I noticed my bars had green flecks and a noticible tint to them more than your pictures, overall they were perfect though, i will definitley make them again! I have a picture but it doesnt look like i can attach it.
Has anyone tried coconut cream instead of condensed milk?
I tried using coconut cream instead of the condense milk. It didn’t set in the time for this recipe. And coconut cream isn’t sweetened so you will want to add some sugar (otherwise it will be way too bitter and tart and not sweet). I had to cook down the liquid mixture for a couple hours on very low heat to get it to thicken up, and I added a little bit of flour mixed with water to help with thickening. I would not try it this way again. I need to experiment with more recipes to find a good dairy free one.
I buy condensed coconut milk from my local health food store. It’s dairy free and sweetened.
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Could you make these ahead, bake them and then freeze them? I would love to make the. A week ahead for an event coming up.
I made a batch of these and froze them. Amaaaaazing. They take 10-15 mins max to defrost and are as delicious as when first made. I have a constant supply in the freezer now…
Hi Steve did you slice them and then freeze?
These look AMAZING!!! My family and I are brand new LOVERS of anything key lime!!! ? And, I know they’ll really enjoy these!!
But, I do have a question? I noticed you posted a copyright disclaimedisclaimer below the recipe for little Spice Jar. It says we would have to rewrite the recipe in our own words. My question is…if I pin this recipe to one of my dessert boards, to make at a later date, will I get a notice from Pinterest’s Administrators that the recipe was removed because of your copyright? I’d hate to pin it, then go to make them and not have the recipe! So, if I’ve misunderstood, then please forgive me. But, can you please clarify this for me? It’s 3:00 am in the morning and no pen in sight. Thank you! ?
Thank you! Nope, you won’t be flagged by Pinterest Brenda! This only applies to other bloggers/websites that choose to share the recipe on their own site! Feel free to pin all the content that you like and I hope you enjoy the Key Lime Pie bars!:)
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Can this be frozen ahead of time and thaw for wedding?
Hi Kathy! I haven’t tried freezing them before so i’m unsure. But coincidently, the commenter above you (Jen) mentioned she’s frozen them before successfully.
These bars are amazing! Tart and luscious! The first time I made these, I followed the recipe exactly as written; the bars were delicious but I didn’t crunch up the crackers small enough (using a rolling pin) and the crust/bars didn’t hold when when cutting and removing from the pan. Since then, I made a tweak to my process and have had consistently excellent results. I now use cinnamon graham crackers and reduce the amount of ground cinnamon to 1/8 tsp. I use my food processor and chop the pecans first (I usually only have whole pecans on hand). Then I add the sugar, cinnamon graham cracker sheets and 1/8 tsp cinnamon into the nuts and process till it’s fine. I melt the butter in a large bowl and then add the graham cracker mixture. I use the 8 x 8 disposable foil pans that are non stick; no spray, no parchment and I’ve never had an issue with the bars sticking. I also make sure to really pack the crust well, so it helps stay together when cutting. Aside from that first tweak of compiling the crust, I follow the rest of the recipe to a T. These freeze well, too. Thanks for a great recipe!
Glad to hear you enjoyed them Jen! Thank you for taking the time to comment 🙂
I made these bars last weekend and my only complaint was the crust falling apart. I read your comment and did what you said with the food processor and it worked like a charm! Thank you, Jen!
I made this recipe but I substitute the graham cracker for a oatmeal cookie crust, and also added cream cheese to the filling. I line a cupcake pan w/ parchment paper added the crust and filling, came out very good.
Hi! I would love to make these. I only have graham crackers already crushed. Do you know how many cups it is in place of the squares? 🙂
It’s in the ballpark of 1 2/3 cup but please know that you may need more/less butter to get the crust to form properly as this will change the recipe a bit. It’s difficult to give an exact measurement of the crushed crumbs so I’ve always gone by rectangles instead.
Hi Marzia. Our readers will love this. I have included your wonderful recipe in our Crafty Like Granny weekly Craft roundup 🙂 https://craftylikegranny.com/creativity-never-goes-out-of-style/ Cheers Emily
Easy to make and delicious. What more needs to be said?
These are AMAZING! I’ve made them 5 times now, and they are delicious every time! The crust is a show stopper! My family said they would eat the crust alone if I made it, lol! I always use a hand mixer and it works perfectly. I have tried to make a little extra thicker crust by adding some more graham rectangles and it was still delish just a little crumbly (I don’t think I increased the butter enough) I’ve cut back on the lime juice and zest for a friend who is on the fence about key lime and she loved it! When I used the already crushed graham crackers it did come out more crumbly so I always use the rectangles now. I really can’t stress enough how good this crust is! This is by far the most requested dessert I make! Thank you for sharing!
Love this dessert (and I am a dessert hater usually) have made this a few times last time didn’t have lime but the husbeast wanted them so I used lemon instead of lime they were WICKED good!!
Absolutely THE best! Easy to make refreshing dessert (35 year Florida resident and we KNOW great key lime!)
I accidentally used almonds for the crust, yummy accident. Also, I topped them with whipped cream.
These are fantastic! I was skeptical that the base would be greasy, but no, it was crunch and caramelized. Just the right combination of sweet and tart. I may try gingersnaps and almonds in the next batch.
So delicious!! They were a big hit and I’m definitely making them again. I might make them in a 9×9 pan next time, the crust was a bit thick to cut but ultimately it was fine. I followed the recipe exactly.
I made these bars this past weekend and they were a HUGE hit! Perfect dessert for the start of summer 🙂