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Key Lime Pie Bars Recipe – How to Make it in 19 Simple Steps

Loaded with lime favor and encased in a crisp, tasty, graham cracker crust, our recipe for Key Lime Pie Bars features tangy lime flavor and creamy cheesecake texture. Our recipe uses traditional Persian limes so you don't have to search for Key limes in the store.

Slices of key lime pie bars on a plate.

Key lime pie was created in the early 1900s. While some Floridians say that this dessert was made in the state of Florida in the 1920s, others believe that this popular kind of pie was invented by chefs in the Borden company. Borden produced an essential ingredient to Key lime pie, sweetened condensed milk. Whatever the origins, Key lime pie traditionally uses Key limes.

Key limes are somewhat different than regular limes. The traditional limes that most people think of are known as Persian limes, while Key limes are also known as Mexican or West Indian limes. Key limes have yellow rather than green juice and many people consider them to be more fragrant, with a stronger flavor than traditional limes. In years past, Key limes were grown in groves located in the Florida Keys. However, when a hurricane in the 1920s destroyed many of the groves, farmers replanted their orchards with the larger Persian limes.

Slices of key lime pie bars on a plate.

Key Lime Pie Bars Recipe

April Freeman
Loaded with citrus flavor and with a creamy, refreshing texture, key lime pie is a distinctly Southern dish. While this recipe for Key Lime Pie Bars strays from the classic recipe in some ways, it has the delicious tang for which Key lime pie is famous.
Prep Time 30 mins
Baking Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Cuisine American
Servings 18 Servings


  • 9 inch Square Pan
  • Food Processor
  • Medium-Sized Bowl
  • Zester
  • Electric Mixer


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a nine-inch square pan with cooking spray.
  • Place graham crackers in a large, gallon sized zip top bag, and, using a rolling pin or a meat mallet, crush the crackers until they are crumbs. Alternately, you can use a food processor to crumb the graham crackers.
  • Place the graham cracker crumbs in a medium sized bowl and stir in the sugar and salt.
  • Slowly drizzle in the butter, stirring with a fork to coat the crumbs with butter.
  • Using the back of a large measuring cup, press the crumbs into the prepared pan to create a layer of graham cracker crumbs.
  • Bake the crust layer in the oven for about ten minutes to help it set up.
    The crust of Graham crackers and butter is made.
  • While the crust is baking you can prepare the lime for use. Wash and dry the limes completely.
  • Zest one of the limes, mincing the zest finely.
  • Slice both of the limes in half, and squeeze all of the juice from the two limes. You will only need the zest of one lime, but you will need the juice of both of the limes.
    The zest of the lime is grated from the lime.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese until it is creamy and smooth.
  • Pour in the condensed milk, beating again.
  • Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating to combine after each egg yolk is added to the mixture.
  • Beat in the lime zest and the lime juice along with the vanilla extract.
    The filling is mixed in one bowl.
  • By now the crust should be baked, and you can pour the filling mixture over the hot crust.
  • Return the pan to the oven and bake the dessert for about 15 to 20 minutes or until it is set, but not browned.
  • Remove it from the oven and set it on the counter to cool for about 45 minutes and then place it in the refrigerator for at least two hours to chill.
  • Cut into squares and serve the bars.
    A slice of key lime pie bars on a plate with lime on the side.
  • Store leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to five days.


While purists insist that Key lime pie can only be made with Key limes, with their distinctive flavor and tanginess, did you know that many people can’t taste the difference? The trick to making a delicious Key lime pie with Persian limes is to use freshly squeezed (not bottled) lime juice. Our recipe for Key lime pie bars needs just that, as well as finely grated lime zest.
Lime zest is the outer colored portion of the lime. The trick to zesting a lime is to only remove the outer colored portion and do not include any of the bitter, white pith layers that lies underneath the zest. You can use a box grater, a sharp knife, or a lemon zester to remove the zest. Just be sure to mince the zest thoroughly if it’s not grated.
Traditional Key lime pie uses sweetened condensed milk, eggs, and lime juice and zest in a crust with a whipped cream or meringue topping. Our recipe for Key Lime Pie Bars adds a few more ingredients to make them a sort of a cross between cheesecake with a graham cracker crust and traditional Key lime pie. These bars have all the flavor of Key lime pie, but they are sturdy enough to be eaten out of hand as a snack, rather than as a fancy dessert.
Keyword Dessert, Key Lime Pie Bars, Recipe, Snack

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