Key Lime Pie Bars
My Key Lime Pie Bars are outrageously delicious and you need less than 10 ingredients to make them! These squares are zesty, filled with lime juice, and are the perfect springtime dessert! And the crust is seriously irresistible!
Something about springtime just makes me CRAVE lime-y desserts that are citrusy and tangy. These key lime pie bars are always the first desserts I crave when spring finally hits. It makes me feel like the humid wind blowing through my hair came straight from the Florida Keys. Or like I’m on vacation or something!
Key Lime Pie Bars! Have you had them? For me, it all starts with the perfect crust and the creamy filling.
And my crust, I guarantee, is like no other you’d had before. That’s because I add a few not-so-traditional ingredients for key lime pies into the crust. I know you’re giving me the look, but let me say that cinnamon and ground pecans are going to take these bars to the next level. The Cheesecake Factory uses nuts in some of their 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. You’ll also find a few typical ingredients like a boatload of fresh lime zest and lime juice in the filling.
Overall, these are sweet but tart, and totally irresistible.
How to make the best key lime pie bars:
Ingredients for key lime pie bars
- Graham cracker crumbs: I like to buy whole sheets of graham crackers in a box and then break them down into fine crumbs in the food processor. You can also just buy premade graham cracker crumbs these days so it cuts down on the prep work a little bit.
- Ground pecans: Adds nuttiness and texture to the key lime pie bar crust.
- Granulated Sugar: Adds sweetness to the graham cracker crust.
- Ground cinnamon: Just a pinch works so beautifully with the other crust ingredients.
- Butter: You’ll need a stick of melted, unsalted butter to use from the pie crust.
- Large Egg Yolks: You’ll need to separate 3 yolks from the eggs. I find it easier to separate the egg whites from the yolks while the eggs are cold. You can use the leftover egg whites for breakfast the next day or to make a meringue!
- Sweetened condensed milk: Adds sweetness to the key lime pie bars and keeps the bars nice and firm. A lot of recipes call for cream cheese, but I opt for sweetened condensed milk here and it’s absolutely perfect.
- Lime Zest: You‘ll need a good bit of fresh lime zest for this recipe. Make sure to use a good zester to help get the lime zest nice and fine. We’ll add this to the filling and whisk it together so that the flavor of the zest carries throughout the lime bars.
- Lime juice: Feel free to use key lime juice or regular lime juice for this. Nellie Key lime juice is the stuff that comes in a bottle, usually in the juice section of the grocery store. Key limes have a slightly floral scent and make the bars so much more delicious, but I do understand they aren’t available everywhere. You can also use bottled key lime juice for this recipe, but I tend to like the freshly squeezed version better.
How to make the best key lime pie bars:
- Set yourself up with the basics. You want to start by preheating the oven. You’ll also want to grab an 8×8 baking pan for this recipe. Spray with cooking spray then line with a sheet of parchment paper. This keeps the sheet from moving around too much when you the press mixture of graham crackers into the pan.
- Make the crust. In a small bowl, combine the crushed-up graham cracker crumbs, ground pecans, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. Make sure that all the crumbs are evenly coated in the melted butter. This will make it much easier to press the crust into the prepared pan. Dump this out into the 8×8 pan and press it out to an even layer. It helps to use round bottom glass sprayed with cooking spray to aid in this step. Bake the crust for 10 minutes.
- Make the key lime filling. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks together for 2 minutes. You want to do this when they aren’t cold from the fridge, they mix much easier when they’re closer to room temperature. Then add the condensed milk and continue to whisk until the mixture is combined. Scrape down the sides of the mixer, and add the lemon zest. With the mixer running on low, slowly drizzle in the lime juice while the filling combines. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust and then bake the key lime pie bars for 15 minutes.
- Have patience, let them cool. When the bars are out of the oven allow them to cool on a wire rack without attempting to remove them from the baking dish. The filling will continue to set as it cools.
FAQs about this recipe
Yes, absolutely! Many readers have mentioned that they’ve made and frozen my key lime pie bars recipe successfully.
I like to dip my knife in hot water before attempting to make cuts. Cut all the way down to the crust with a very sharp knife, then wipe the knife between cuts to help keep things clean. It also helps to redip your knife in hot water between cutting pieces.
I think compared to most key lime pie bar recipes, my recipe has an abundance of crust – some might say too much. Something to consider if you usually prefer significantly more filling to crust. I’m the kind of girlie that wouldn’t mind pushing the filling-to-crust ratio closer to 50:50. But this recipe has a 60% ratio of filling to crust and I love how they slice up beautifully!
I’ve also made these into lemon pie bars and they are absolutely fantastic! I love topping them with a dollop of whipped cream.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Easy Mini Fruit Tarts
- Texas Blueberry Cobbler
- Classic Southern Banana Pudding
- Quick Warm Cinnamon Apples
- Easiest No Bake Nutella Pie
Original recipe shared March 2015, updated May 2023.
- 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 15-17 minutes. The filling will finish setting when the bars cool, but it shouldn't be too liquidy.
- SERVE: Cool completely on a wire rack. Filling will set as it cools. Refrigerate for at minimum of 2 hours, and ideally overnight. Slice and serve chilled.