Key Lime Pie Bars

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Key Lime Bars — There’s plenty of bold lime flavor in these easy bars that are a twist on the classic pie everyone loves! This is the perfect make-ahead dessert for potlucks and parties! 

Key Lime Bars — There's plenty of bold lime flavor in these easy bars that are a twist on the classic pie everyone loves! This is the perfect make-ahead dessert for potlucks and parties! 

Easy Key Lime Dessert

I’ve been blogging for 5 years and can count on one hand the number of lime recipes I have. And that includes squirting some lime over avocado. Time to branch out and make a classic.

Except rather than making classic key lime pie, I made key lime pie bars. I’ll always take bars over pie since making pie crust is never on my to-do list, and this is a one bowl, no-mixer recipe.

Just like my Lemon Bars, there’s nothing lackluster about how much robust lime flavor is present. The filling is tart and bold without being overpowering. While baking, the butter and brown sugar in the crust caramelize, and it plays perfectly off the lime.

It’s the same crust I used in Peanut Butter Swirled Cheesecake BarsSalted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars, and Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars. It seriously makes the bars. It’s a keeper, even for someone who doesn’t like crust. It’s got just enough crispiness and crunch, yet there’s slight chewiness, and it holds together without crumbling, something that graham cracker crusts don’t always do.

Key Lime Pie Bars - Plenty of bold lime flavor in these easy bars that are a twist on the classic pie everyone loves!

For the filling, I used actual key limes. They’re smaller ping-pong sized limes, about half the size of average limes. They’re typically grown in the Florida Keys, hence the name. I found a bag of about 25 for $2.49 at my regular grocery store and literally needed almost all of them to get 1/2 cup lime juice.

The filling is simply lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, 1 egg, sour cream (I used lite), and sugar. Because I didn’t want the bars to resemble cheesecake, I avoided using any cream cheese and instead used sour cream to lend richness and creaminess.

After whisking together the filling and tasting it, I thought it was a little bitter. Taste your mixture, and because all limes and palettes vary, add sugar if necessary.

Key Lime Pie Bars - Plenty of bold lime flavor in these easy bars that are a twist on the classic pie everyone loves!

After removing the pan from the oven, the bars looked like a beating heart was pulsing under the surface for over 2 minutes. It was like watching on a science experiment on the cooling rack. It should go without saying, but you must allow them to cool for at least a couple hours at room temp, cover them, and refrigerate until chilled. I cannot imagine eating warm Key lime pie.

 It’s an easy key lime dessert to make a few days before an event and just keep parked in the fridge until you need it. The bars remind me of warm weather, ocean breezes, and I want to blast some Margaritaville.

And make one, too. To wash down the bars with.

Key Lime Pie Bars - Plenty of bold lime flavor in these easy bars that are a twist on the classic pie everyone loves!

What’s in Key Lime Bars? 

To make these key lime pie bars, you’ll need:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Graham cracker crumbs
  • Light brown sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • Salt
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Egg
  • Lime juice
  • Sour cream
  • Granulated sugar

Key Lime Bars — There's plenty of bold lime flavor in these easy bars that are a twist on the classic pie everyone loves! This is the perfect make-ahead dessert for potlucks and parties! 

How to Make Key Lime Pie Bars

Whisk together the graham cracker crust mixture, then firmly press into the bottom of a foil-lined 8×8-inch baking pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, whisk together the key lime pie filling. Once the crust has been in the oven for 10 minutes, pour the filling into the pan and continue baking until the center is set with only some slight jiggle.

Don’t let the key lime bars get ‘browned’, they should stay fairly pale and light.

Key Lime Pie Bars - Plenty of bold lime flavor in these easy bars that are a twist on the classic pie everyone loves!

Can I Double This Recipe? 

You most likely can double the ingredients and bake these key lime pie bars in a 9×13-inch pan. However, I haven’t tried this myself so I can’t say for sure if the bake time would be altered. 

Can I Use Regular Limes? 

If you can’t find Key limes, just use regular limes or I’m sure bottled lime juice will be just fine. I’m wishing I had gone either of those routes because juicing all of those mini limes wasn’t what I had bargained for.

Key Lime Pie Bars - Plenty of bold lime flavor in these easy bars that are a twist on the classic pie everyone loves!

Tips for Making Key Lime Bars

Note that the ingredients list calls for sweetened condensed milk and NOT evaporated milk. They’re two totally different milk products, so read the labels closely before purchasing. 

You can purchase pre-made graham cracker crumbs or you can make your own by pulsing regular graham crackers in a food processor until sandy in texture. 

Baking times will vary based on oven and climate variance, the type of sour cream used (lite makes batter runnier thus taking longer to bake), and if sugar was added (makes batter runnier). The center should be set and not too jiggly. Always watch your bars, and not the clock. Bake until done.

Key Lime Bars — There's plenty of bold lime flavor in these easy bars that are a twist on the classic pie everyone loves! This is the perfect make-ahead dessert for potlucks and parties! 

Key Lime Bars — There's plenty of bold lime flavor in these easy bars that are a twist on the classic pie everyone loves! This is the perfect make-ahead dessert for potlucks and parties! 

Pin This Recipe

Yield: 9

Key Lime Pie Bars

Key Lime Pie Bars

There's plenty of bold lime flavor in these easy bars that are a twist on the classic pie everyone loves! The perfect make-ahead dessert for potlucks! 

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste

Filling

  • one 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup lime juice (freshly squeezed Key lime juice is optimal; use regular limes if necessary, or substitute with bottled lime juice only if you must)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (lite is okay)
  • up to 1/2 cup granulated sugar, optional and if necessary, see directions
  • thinly sliced limes for garnishing, optional

Instructions

    1. Preheat over to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.

    Make the Crust:

    1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
    2. Add all remaining crust ingredients and mix with a fork to combine.
    3. Turn loose crumbs out into prepared pan and using a spatula, pack mixture firmly into pan in an even, smooth, flat layer.
    4. Bake for 10 minutes. While crust bakes, prepare the filling.

    Make the Filling:

    1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large mixing bowl (same one used for crust is fine), and whisk until smooth and combined.
    2. Taste filling. If it’s bitter or too tart, add sugar as necessary, to taste. I used 1/2 cup sugar because my Key limes were a bit bitter.
    3. After 10 minutes, remove crust from oven and pour filling over it, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
    4. Return pan to oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until center is set with only some slight jiggle; some looseness is okay, but there should not be sloshing in the center. You’ll notice the filling near the edges start setting up first; remove pan from oven when center starts to take on the same appearance as the edges. Don’t let the bars get ‘browned’, they should stay fairly pale and light. Bars firm up more as they cool. Bars will be bubbling vigorously so use caution when removing them from the oven.
    5. Allow bars to cool in pan on a wire rack for about 2 hours.
    6. Cover pan with foil (to prevent fridge smells), and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight, or until well chilled before slicing and serving.
    7. Optionally, garnish with thinly sliced limes before serving.

Notes

  • Bars will keep airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

9

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 464Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 151mgCarbohydrates: 69gFiber: 1gSugar: 61gProtein: 7g

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Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars — The bars are one of my all-time favorites, even if you’re not a huge pecan pie fan. They’re thick, rich, decadent, filling, salty-and-sweet.

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Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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Comments

  1. This recipe looks good! Can I substitute the lime juice for lemon juice to make lemon bars and double the recipe to bake in a 9×13 pan? How long would you recommend baking it for a 9×13 pan? Thank you!

  2. Made these with some limes from my backyard – OMG. As if I wasn’t already obsessed with the lemon bars on your site, these are also to die for. Usually I share my desserts with family and friends, but this time, I was greedy. As always, your recipe was easy to follow and a yummy outcome!

    1. I love that you were greedy :) Every once in awhile I’ll be like that hoard the whole thing for myself pretty much!

  3. I just popped my crush out, poured the filling In and baked it again. The crust was still pretty giggly. Is that normal?

    1. You don’t want to overbake it when the crust bakes by itself or after you pour the filling on, it will bake up overly firm. It’s a judgment call – 10 minutes worked for me but maybe you could have gone a few more if you said it’s pretty jiggly. Baking is never an exact science based on ingredients, climates, etc. but 10 minutes is what I did.

  4. That slight bitterness you mention actually comes from the key limes. The best way to fix it is not extra sugar, as you would naturally think, but a couple of tablespoons of lemon! Trust me on this (and bonus! that makes one or two less key limes to squeeze). Fresh squeezed juice is the only way to go in this one– there is absolutely no comparison– try it, people!!  It may be heresy, but I think you CAN get away with persian limes instead of key limes– if they’re the only fresh limes available–but still add the lemon to brighten up the taste.  Just think of juicing all that fruit as a way to burn off a few of the many so-totally-worth-it calories you’re going to consume once you taste how delicious these are! (And get one of those cute hand squeezers– like a garlic press but bigger and designed for citrus. They cost 5 or 6 bucks and they’re so easy and work like a charm! Thanks for the recipe!

  5. I’ve been eyeing these little bars up since you first posted them. I agree with Trinity’s comment–I didn’t add any sugar (I did use bottled lime juice due to my inherent laziness) and they ended up having a perfect consistency and sweet/tart flavor. According to my 8-year-old daughter, these are her favorite cookies ever and I WILL be making them again. From the sounds of forks scraping the plates, I think everyone else agreed! Gotta get every last smidge!

  6. Made these for a get together and had some guests that prefer “not too sweet” desserts and this was just perfect. I left out the sugar and the tartness was spot on! The consistency was also perfect and I didn’t have to change a thing..with recipes that are creamy or based on pie, I’m always nervous it’ll end up too soupy but these are wonderful!!

  7. This looks like the perfect recipe to use all the key limes that I bought! (I plan on trying to propagate the seeds!) One question; how about subbing the sour cream for plain Greek yogurt? Sounds probable…

  8. These look mouth-watering!! I think I need to make some of these bars soon. And such gorgeous photos, girl! Pinned! :)

  9. These look absolutely amazing! I am total key lime / lemon fan and the crust sounds terrific as well! Great stuff! :)

  10. Averie, I simply LOVE key lime pie!! It’s one of my most favorite desserts in the world. I made some key lime bars and pie last year after returning home from St. Lucia. I’m craving key lime all over again as the weather (finally!) starts to warm up. I don’t have many lime recipes on my blog either – what a shame because I love its flavor. Hey, ever have key lime pie paired with dark chocolate? It’s amazing!

    1. I remember your Key Lime Bars and your St Lucia trip very well! I am so ready for some limey, tropical desserts (and drinks) :) And lime does not have the crowd appeal lemon seems to (at least so far for me) but I think I maybe prefer lime stuff! I can imagine lime and dark chocolate would be…sublime!

  11. Hi Averie,
    I was out of town and just saw this post…cleaning out my mail!! Can I share a little trick, use your garlic press on your key limes to juice them. It works great you get all of the juice and some pulp, scrape the bottom of the press, and no seeds them pop out the lime ( they look like mini berets) So easy!!

    1. So I LOATHE garlic, as in, I hate hate hate it and don’t have a garlic press but I can see where that would be so helpful here! Thanks for the tip!

  12. I’ve wanted to make Lime pie for a long time, but I just don’t have that courage! You encouraged me to try with these fantastic looking bars! Pinning!

  13. Trust you to take my expectation of key lime bars and blow it away! I really like that you didn’t use any cream cheese; a texture surprise for everyone! These look so creamy. I bet they were packed with lime flavor! I think I’ll go the already juiced route; 25 little limes is a lot if juicing!

  14. Hi, Averie! I love these, and your photos are so pretty! It’s weird but ever since I made a cake with lime and coconut, I’m seeing lime-flavoured things everywhere. It’s a sign! (for what I’m not sure. Eat more lime-flavoured sweet things? I hope!)

    1. That’s great that you see more lime around. I still see so.much.lemon. Not a bad thing, but it’s nice to give lime some…limelight :)

  15. These bars scream sunshine to me! The crust looks nice and crisp, just the way I like it.

  16. Key Lime. So cute. Reminds me that I’m going to Key West in April I haven’t been since the 80s. Which means I must practically be in my 80s, right? GREG

    1. You. Key West. The 80s. Omg what I wouldn’t give for some stories. Don’t suppose you ever made it to Studio 54 either? : )

  17. Your hand must have been sore from juicing so many little limes! I would just buy the juice and a few key limes to garnish!

  18. Lime desserts really do take a backburner to all the lemon desserts, I’m glad you posted these. My husband loves key lime pie so I know he will LOVE these bars! The crust looks amazing!

  19. Ooh. Yum. I’m too lazy to hand-squeeze limes, either the big ones or the key limes, but this would be easy-peasy with lime juice. I’d be sneaky enough to buy a lime and slice it on top to make it *look* like I went to the work of squeezing. Deception at its finest.

  20. These are amazing. My daughter is obsessed with lemon bars so she will love these. Pinned!

  21. I definitely don’t use lime enough either. These look perfect. Love the idea of bars over pie too. So much simpler than rolling out that dreaded pie crust. Pinning!

  22. Love! Lime desserts are my favorite! I think this will make its way to our Easter table this year !

  23. I have only had key lime pie a couple of times and have never made it. I haven’t seen any key limes in the grocery store, but I’ve seen the juice and would probably opt to use it. I know those things are tiny and it sounds like the juicing was a lot of work! These are a great recipe for spring–fresh, light, citrus-y. I am in the mood to bake something to go with your salmon tonight! Oh–I am getting my scoby today!! Let the fermenting begin….

    1. Oh that’s awesome with your scoby! I remember when I got my first, it was like getting a new pet :) Just make sure to leave it alone once you put it in, don’t jiggle, jostle, move around your container. It will look like nothing is happening for a few days and then barely some life. And then within about 4-5 days you’ll see things working and then you should be good to go. The first batches are very prone to hostile yeast take-over, or can be, http://www.happyherbalist.com/ is the BEST most informative site I’ve ever read on brewing. He knows everything. And will actually respond to emails (within a week or so).

      And that’s great about baking, and the salmon, and yes buying lime juice is wayyyy easier :)

  24. I must make these bars. Key lime pie is one of my holiday dessert standbys. My son loves it and it’s so easy to make. Although, I must confess, I always use Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime Juice instead of squeezing all those tiny little key limes.

  25. Oh my gosh, my mouth is watering. These look delicious!! I will most definitely have to try these out. I just stumbled upon this blog, and I am so very glad that I did. I am now following and I look forward to more scrumptious recipes. Thanks, Averie!

  26. That crust is seriously fantastic. I am so in the mood for lime, and I’ve never had key lime pie. I need to fix that!

    1. Wait. WHAT.?? There are SO many things you say you’ve never had, tried, etc and I’m like how can this be?! Omg Dorothy! Since you love lemon so much, I can totally see you digging these lime bars! It’s kind of like an edible margarita :)

  27. After reading your first few lines, I just realized I barely have any lime recipes either! I used lime juice in a marinade once, but… I think that’s it. It’s so much easier to bake with lemon when my parents have 4 trees in their backyard that they always ignore! I love the idea of bars instead of a pie, especially with that easy crust. Definitely an amazing dessert Averie — just like always! :)

    1. Oh Im jealous of all those lemon trees! I used to live in a rented house with a 100+ year old tree and it was HUGE!!!! and it had like 100+ lemons on it at all times. Ridic.

      1. That’s incredible!! If only you could move that lemon tree when you moved to a new home… Now that would be awesome! :)

    1. Really? Ok well do NOT buy the little bag of key limes from Ralph’s. Just buy the lime juice so you don’t want to punch a wall juicing all those things! lol

  28. I love lime in desserts! This sounds amazing. And I know how you feel about squeezing those tiny limes, I made a hummus recipe where you had to individually peel the chickpeas by hand. Delicious end product but half way through I was like what have I done to myself…haha.

  29. These are a delicious deviation from your norm! They sound divine! And I have to agree that an easy bar crust beats out pie crust any day!

  30. Bars beat out pie always, whether I’m baking or eating. I’ve never actually made a pie, and I have no desire at all to do so.

    Did you read about the drought causing lime shortage in California? Might not be able to get those limes so cheaply anymore…

    1. There’s always a drought here. It’s a bit…dramatized? I mean, yes, it’s dry. But it always is. And then I see the public municipalities watering the sidewalks and streets. Err, the grass but the sprinklers are so mis-aligned that Balboa Park is watering the street most days. Nothing like conservation at it’s finest :) But I digress. I think the limes were actually from Fla though! lol

  31. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen lime/lemon bars with sour cream! What a unique idea and I bet it adds to that tart flavour really well. I love how creamy the centre looks, just perfect.

    1. Most of them use cream cheese but I didn’t want key lime pie cream cheese bars which is easy to wind up with so this was a good option for the creaminess (without making custard or some complicated pastry creme) minus any cheesecake taste. My family isn’t big on cheesecake so I have to be careful!

  32. Averie, these bars look like a burst of tropical paradise! I saw some key limes at the store the other day and now I have an excuse to go back and get them. I love lime anything, especially if sweetened condensed milk is involved :)

  33. Averie these look amazing and so much like spring/summer! I am very excited to try these and your very delicious looking and easy go-to crust! I can relate 100% on bars over pie crust – too much fuss! Pinned!

  34. I saw someone IG a bottle of pure Key Lime juice. *head slap* I need to find that because I love key lime desserts! These look perfect. I’m dying over that crust…and bars. Bars all the way!

  35. Such gorgeous bars! I’ve made lemon bars before, but now I so want to try lime bars. —they would be perfect for this summer! (but I definitely plan on trying them before summer rolls around!) Gorgeous pictures, as always. pinned!

  36. Can’t believe you’ve been blogging for 5 years already! I remember your blog from the beginning :D

    Excellent key lime bar recipe!

    1. YOU WERE MY VERY FIRST COMMENTER, EVER!!!! And I will never forget that!! Thank you, Liz! I hope you’re doing awesome :) xoxoxo

  37. Oh, Averie, these key lime pie bars look wonderful! I love citrus desserts, but usually end up using lemons over limes. Time to switch it up!

  38. I rarely bake with limes and it’s so silly since I love them so much. Thanks for the reminder and the FAB recipe! xx