This key lime pie cheesecake has a tangy, sweet, and creamy- with a perfect graham cracker bottom. Top with a bit of sweetened whipped cream for the perfect special occasion cheesecake.
I still remember the first time I had cheesecake. We had a big family dinner out at some restaurant, and the finale to the dinner. Cheesecake.
And. I hated it.
I would spent the rest of my childhood and well into my early adulthood avoiding the stuff. The next time I had a cheesecake was working at some high end restaurant. And guess what. I loved it. I mean absolutely loved it. What the heck? I mean all these years I had harbored this absolute hatred towards it.
And then it hit me. That cheesecake I had as a kid. Cherry cheesecake. Those big red cherries drizzled over the cheesecake. I hated cherries. Not cheesecake! All those years wasted. Cheesecake-less.
So I am determined to make up for those lost years. And starting with this key lime pie cheesecake. I thought why not marry two of my NOW favorite desserts- key lime pie and cheesecake all into one. What a happy marriage it is.
How To Make This Key Lime Pie Cheesecake
This cheesecake starts with making a perfect buttery graham cracker crust. You can crush the graham crackers by placing them in a zip-loc bag and using a rolling pin to smash them to smithereens. Had a bad day? Then this is totally your method. In a bit of a rush? Well, then the food processor is your going to be your go to.
After those graham crackers have been reduced to crumbs. It’s time to add melted butter, a pinch of salt and a bit of sugar. Then press into your springform pan. I like to use the bottom of a measuring cup to press down the crumbs and a bit up the sides of the pan. You want to then bake the crust for 10 minutes in the lower third of your oven.
Once you have pre-baked your crust, you will need to wrap the outside of the pan in 3-4 layers of tinfoil. This is going to protect your cheesecake while it bakes in a water bath. Another great alternative to wrapping in tin-foil is to use a slow cooker liner. Here is a great tutorial on how to use these liners to protect your cheesecake while it bakes from Life Love And Sugar.
Now for the filling. Ok, so I have to admit I guess that this is technically a lime cheesecake and not a key lime cheesecake. I don’t know about but I am rarely able to find key limes or key lime juice in my supermarket. And if I was to find key limes, I really don’t feel like juicing a whole bunch of those tiny limes. For me? I simply grabbed about 4 limes and juiced and zested those instead.
I make my filling in my stand mixer for quick easy work. Simply combine your cream cheese and sugar for about 4 minutes until smooth. Be sure to not continue to mix beyond that point because otherwise you will be just adding in unwanted air that will cause your cheesecake later to crack in the oven. Then mix in your salt, vanilla, eggs and sourcream. After that is all incorporated then add in your heavy cream. Give your bowl a scrape down.
Throw in your lime juice. And your zest. And voila! You’re good to go!
Now time to bake. You want to place the springform pan (it’s all wrapped in foil or a slow cooker liner right?) into a large heavy duty roasting pan. And go ahead and pour your filling into the pan.
Then add in hot boiling water into the roasting pan so it comes halfway up the sides of the cheesecake. This method of cooking your cheesecake will help it to cook slowly. Cheesecake is basically a big giant custard, similar to creme brulee– so you want the water to surround cheesecake and cook it slowly.
The cheesecake will bake for about 1 1/2 hours. But once that timer goes off, don’t take that cheesecake out yet. It will seem like the cheesecake isn’t quite baked in the center. But that just means your’e doing it right. You want to crack open the door to your oven and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for about an hour with the heat off.
Is it time to eat it yet? No sorry. Patience friend. That cheesecake now needs to cool for about 4 hours. Cheesecake is the perfect make ahead dessert.
When you are ready to dig in, remove the foil from the outside. Run a knife along the inside edge and remove the outer ring to the pan. I topped my cheesecake with a bit of sweetened whipped cream before serving.
Basically it was absolute perfection.
Tips For Making This Key Lime Pie Cheesecake
- Make sure all your ingredients, especially your cream cheese is at room temperature. Cold cream cheese will not incorporate into the rest of the ingredients, so be sure that you leave at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. This may take longer depending on the temperature of your kitchen!
- Do not overmix your ingredients. Over-mixing your cheesecake will result in TOO much air incorporated into the batter which results in a cracked cheesecake!
- Use a waterbath or bain marie as the French call it. Wrap your cheesecake pan several times in tinfoil on the outside of the pan and set the pan inside a larger pan (like a roasting pan) that has been filled with hot water. The key here is make sure your pan is completely covered by tinfoil so no water seeps into the cheesecake, which would result in a soggy crust! I wrap my cheesecake in 3 layers of foil and use a good quality springform pan.
- A great alternative to the waterbath is placing a pan of boiling water on the rack below where your cheesecake is baking. The steam from the hot water will gently cook your cheesecake and you do not have to worry about a soggy bottom!
- Allow your cheesecake to cool in the oven with the heat off for an hour. It will appear that it is not done, and be a bit wiggly in the middle. Just allow the cheesecake to sit in the oven for an hour. Then be sure to refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours (up to overnight) at which point your cheesecake will completely set up.
Why This Key Lime Pie Cheesecake Recipe Works:
- This key lime pie cheesecake is a perfect combination of smooth creamy cheesecake with the right combination of tanginess from the lime juice and zest. If you do not have access to key limes, you can simply use part lemon juice and part lime juice to get that key lime flavor. I just kept is simple and used good old limes.
- Be sure to mix for the correct amount of time with room temperature ingredients. Room temperature ingredients will incorporate together smoothly. Overmixing will result in a cracked cheesecake, so be sure to follow the recipe exactly!
- Allowing the cheesecake to bake with a water bath allows for gentle even heating. If you do not have a larger pan to fit your cheesecake in, simply place a 13×9 dish of boiling hot water on an oven rack below your cheesecake in the oven.
- Letting the cheesecake sit in the oven for an additional hour with the heat turned off, again allows for even gentle heating and helps for the cheesecake to not be overbaked. Additional time in the fridge allows the cheesecake to officially set up.
The Science Behind The Sweets: What causes my cheesecake to crack?
There is nothing more frustrating than taking your cheesecake out of the fridge only to reveal a giant crack down the middle! Simply put, your cheesecake cracked because it was overcooked. Although it may appear jiggly in the center when you first turn the heat off in the oven, it still may have been overcooked. Notice around the crack the cheesecake will be dry. So what caused it crack? Overcooking causes the proteins to shrink, causing that big canyon like crack down the middle. So how do you prevent this? First step, is to shorten the cooking time. You can also add more sugar to the batter. Sugar will prevent the coagulation of the proteins, which will prevent them from shrinking. You can also use one less egg in the cheesecake. Eggs are proteins after all, so less protein means less chance of cracking. So what do you do if the cheesecake is still cracked? Top with some homemade whipped cream or fresh fruit and no one will be the wiser! (Source: Fine Cooking)
So the long cheesecake drought is over. I have seen the light. And its a bright green key lime light. So don’t be like me. Don’t wait years to make this. Heck, don’t waste another second. Make this key lime pie cheesecake now.
To Make This Key Lime Pie Cheesecake You Will Need:
- Stand Mixer
- 9- inch Springform pan
- Slow Cooker Liner (or just triple up on some heavy duty aluminum foil for the water bath)
- Food Processor – for the graham cracker crust (or just place the crumbs in a zip-loc bag and use a rolling pin to smash the crackers into crumbs)
- Roasting Pan (for the water bath)
Key Lime Pie Cheesecake
A tangy, sweet, and creamy key lime cheesecake with a perfect buttery graham cracker crust. Top it with sweetened whipped cream for an out of world dessert!
For the crust:
- 1 3/4 cup graham crackers (from about 15 crackers)
- 2 Tbs sugar
- pinch salt
- 4 Tbsp + 1 tsp unsalted butter melted
For the cheesecake filling:
- 2 pounds cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- pinch salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup lime juice
- zest 2 limes
For the whipped cream:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tbs powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1.Process graham crackers, mix with sugar, salt, butter: Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor or blender until finely ground. Put in a large bowl, and stir in the sugar and salt. Stir in the melted butter.
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C), with rack in lower third of oven.
2 Press the graham cracker crumbs into the bottom of the springform pan: Gently press down on the crumbs using your fingers, until the crumbs are a nice even layer at the bottom of the pan, with maybe just a slight rise along the inside edges of the pan.
3. Bake the crust: Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. While the crust is cooling, you can skip ahead and start on the filling. Wait until the crust has cooled to wrap the pan in foil in the next step.
4 Triple wrap pan in heavy duty foil: Prepare the springform pan so that no water leaks into it while cooking. Place a large 18-inch by 18-inch square of heavy duty aluminum foil on a flat surface.
Place the springform pan in the middle of the foil. Gently fold up the sides of the foil around the pan. Make sure to do this gently so that you don't create any holes in the foil. Repeat this 2 more times so you have 3 layers of foil. You can also use a slow cooker liner.
5. Make the cheesecake filling: Beat cream cheese, then sugar: Cut the cream cheese into chunks and place in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 4 minutes until smooth, soft and creamy. Add the sugar, beat for 4 minutes more.
Add salt, vanilla, then eggs, then sour cream: Add the salt and vanilla, beating after each addition. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Add the sour cream, beat until incorporated.
6. Add the heavy cream, beat until incorporated. Remember to scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl, and scrape up any thicker bits of cream cheese that have stuck to the bottom of the mixer that paddle attachment has failed to incorporate. Stir in your lime juice and zest.
7. Bake the cheesecake: Prepare pan and boiling water: Place the foil-wrapped springform pan in a large, high-sided roasting pan. Prepare 2 quarts of boiling water. Lower the heat on the oven to 325°F (160°C).
8. Pour filling into pan: Pour the cream cheese filling into the springform pan, over the graham cracker bottom layer. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
9. Place in oven: Place the roasting pan with the springform pan in it, in the oven, on the lower rack.
10. Carefully pour the hot water into the roasting pan (without touching the hot oven), to create a water bath for the cheesecake, pouring until the water reaches halfway up the side of the springform pan, about 1 1/4 inches. (Alternatively you can add the water before putting the pan in the oven, whichever is easier for you.) Bake at 325°F (160°C) for 1 1/2 hours.
11. Turn off the heat of the oven. Crack open the oven door 1-inch, and let the cake cool in the oven, as the oven cools, for another hour. This gentle cooling will help prevent the cheesecake surface from cracking.
12. Chill 4 hours: Cover the top of the cheesecake with foil, so that it doesn't actually touch the cheesecake. Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight.
13. When ready to serve, remove the foil. Run a knife around the edges and remove the outer ring of the pan. Make the whipped topping: Pour the cream into a well-chilled bowl and add the sugar and vanilla. Using an electric hand mixer or balloon whisk, beat the cream to the desired consistency. For soft peaks, the cream will be just thick enough to hold its shape in soft billows. For stiffly beaten cream, the beaters or whisk wires will leave distinct traces on the cream and stand in firm peaks when the beaters are lifted. Spread the topping onto the cheesecake or serve on the side.
The cheesecake is adapted from Simply Recipes Perfect Cheesecake Recipe can be made up to 3 days ahead. Just simply cover the cheesecake and refrigerate until ready to serve. The whipped cream also can be made up to 1 day ahead. Just keep refrigerated. If the whipped cream seperates, just simply re-whip to incorporate the liquid again.
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