Key Lime Pie Bars
There are few desserts that make me think of carefree vacation days filled with sunshine and warm ocean breezes more than key lime pie. It has a smooth, light texture and is packed with a lime punch. The flavor of citrus – be it lemon, lime, orange, etc. – always makes me think of sunny days; it has such a bright flavor. Last year, I made my first key lime pie and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to assemble and bake. I’m a big fan of portable desserts and with summer picnics in full force right now, I thought that a key lime bar was long overdue.
Just as with the pie, these bars came together in no time at all. You’d think that a creamy pie filling such as this would require a tedious curd, but instead you simply whisk together a tiny bit of cream cheese, lime zest, sweetened condensed milk, an egg yolk and lime juice… pour into the crust and bam! Done!
While key limes can sometimes be hard to come by unless you live in a major citrus-growing area, you can also substitute regular limes for both the zest and the juice. The crust is made with animal crackers (my inner kid loved munching on the leftovers!), but if you can’t find them, you could easily use graham crackers or your favorite basic cookie for the crumb crust.
A crunchy crumb crust combined with a cool, creamy filling and zesty lime flavor is the perfect recipe for a hot summer day.
What’s your favorite summer dessert?
One year ago: Chinese Coleslaw and Golden Grahams S’mores Bars
Two years ago: Top 10 List: Favorite Brownie Recipes and Zucchini Pineapple Bread
Three years ago: Rocky Road Ice Cream
Four years ago: Italian Supreme Calzones
Key Lime Pie Bars
For the Crust:
- 5 ounces (141.75 g) animal crackers
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
For the Filling:
- 2 ounces (56.7 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon grated lime zest
- Pinch of salt
- 14 ounces (396.89 ml) canned sweetened condensed milk
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup (121 ml) Key lime juice
For the Garnish:
- ¾ cup (60 g) shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened, toasted
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, allowing the extra foil to hang over the edges of the pan. Lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.
- Make the Crust: Process the animal crackers in a food processor until finely ground, about 10 seconds. Add the brown sugar and salt and pulse a few times to combine. Drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs and pulse until the crumbs are evenly moistened, about 10 pulses. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.
- Make the Filling: Stir together the cream cheese, lime zest and salt in a medium bowl. Add the sweetened condensed milk and whisk until completely incorporated and no lumps remain. Whisk in the egg yolk, then add the lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated.
- Pour the filling into the crust and smooth into an even layer. Bake until the filling set and the edges are beginning to pull away slightly from the sides of the pan, 15 to 20 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool to room temperature, 1 to 2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight.
- When ready to serve, run a paring knife around the edges of the pan and lift the bars from the pan using the foil overhangs. Cut into 16 squares and sprinkle with toasted coconut, if desired. Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
This has been my go to for key lime pie bars since I discovered the recipe a few years ago. Quick, easy, and fantastic! Making it today for a family event tomorrow, always requested. Thank you, BEB! 💙
This recipe is word for word America’s Test Kitchen version. Of course it will taste great, but this is not your recipe and you are getting paid by ads and plagiarism. Very sad.
I noticed that as well with no credit given. Seems to happen often with all the “foodies”
Can I eliminate the foil lining ? I’ve made lemon squares in a Pyrex portable glass pan with baking spray and they cut easily?
Look amazing – and a decent size for 2 senior adults. Question: does the quantity “5 oz animal crackers” equal 5 oz of boxed crumbs? Thank you
Hi Judy, Yes! Enjoy!
I’m going to make these…(wiping mouth)…but I have a couple ready made graham crusts in my fridge calling out to be filled! So I thought to double your recipe and fill those.
Will work ok for that, u think? (They are 9″ each).
Also, I noticed someone left a comment about her bars not pulling away from sides at the 325•, your recipe calls for…if this were to happen, should the temp be increased or should I just leave in oven longer (until I start seeing the pull-away happen?).
Hi Chelsea, The store bought pie crusts will work just fine. If you use a pie crust then you won’t be looking for the filling to pull away from the sides of the pan, since it will be sitting inside a pie crust.
These look so good! I’m going to make these today for an event. Hopefully I’ll take pics and post on Instagram. :D
Did I miss something? These didn’t even start to set up (or pull away from the edges) at 20 minutes at 325°. All other recipes I found had them bake at 350. I’m a fairly experienced cook/baker. I measured everything and double checked. Frustrating.
As a born and bred Floridian I adore Key Lime anything. Persian limes do have a different taste than Key Limes but I also understand how hard they are to find and to get the amount of juice you have to squeeze a lot of them. Check if your local store carries or can get “Nellie & Joe’s Famous Key Lime Juice” It is bottled Key Lime juice and it is great to use this if you can’t get or don’t want to squeeze the limes.
What started as a birthday treat for a coworker living alone and far from home is now a staple on my list of delicious baked goodies! That are incredible tasting, easy to make and ALWAYS a big hit. Thanks for me look like the best baker in town.
This might be a really silly question – but if I “double” the recipe and put it in a 9×13 pan should I also double the time? Thanks!
Hi Diane, You shouldn’t need to add too much baking time, if any at all.
I made these tonight….Amazingly good. I used regular limes but will definitely try key limes next time since I live in South Florida. Love the toasted coconut. :)
I would like to know: what happens to the bars after the “2 days” you mention?
I just made these yesterday and I’ll be eating them today when I get home from work. I think they won’t last long but I would like to know just in case.
Hi Beatriz, They could start to weep.
Thank you :) I’ll eat them soon, then. They are delicious, by the way :P
I recently discovered your blog and I’m loving your style :) Your coowboy cookies were the ones that hooked me :P
I’ll be trying some of your recipes these holidays.
Ups, typo in cowboy…
These were delicious !!!
Can I double this to make one large pan?
Yes, I think you could do that easily.
These look so cute and delicious! I like portable desserts (easier to carry to work and if I am in the mood share with coworkers and friends :).
I made these for a Fourth of July party and everyone loved them! Thanks for such a great (and simple) recipe!
New to this site, and so happy I found it! I love key lime pie in the summer, and these looked just delicious! I made them this past weekend, and they did not disappoint! Were easy, and so good…like having a piece of key lime pie in one bite. I used Nilla Wafers for the crust (I have a mini lemon cheesecake recipe that calls for a Nilla Wafer crust and I thought it would work with these, too, and it did!) Yum! But…I wasn’t sure how to figure out how many cookies equaled 5 oz? I assume 5 oz is the size of small package of animal crackers, but I had an 11 oz box of cookies. I counted out 24 cookies, made about a cup of crumbs, and it turned totally out fine. Would love an exact measurement on the crumbs, though. :-) Thanks for this wonderful recipe!
Hi Ivy, I weigh everything, but next time I will measure out the crumbs.
Great! Thank you so much. Making them again today. :-)
Extreme cuteness alert ! Look at those snow white pretty little thingies ! Would execute your recipe with pleasure ASAP :)
I made these Friday evening for Saturday family picnic. They were a huge hit. I used regular limes, rather than key lime. Will probably become a summer staple for me to take to picnics. I was thinking about using oranges instead of limes. :-D
I made this on Saturday. Very tasty. I couldn’t find key lime but lime worked fine. I just found your site a week ago. I really enjoy your recipes and insights. Thank you.
Yes please to anything key lime! Love that you made animal cracker crust.
Oh my gosh. These look incredible! I wonder if there really is something distinctive about Key limes though. I’ve never had one :/
Ah, I love this! Looks so yummy, will def be trying this out myself! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe!
love key lime cheesecake so i would love these!
I love citrus desserts in the summer. I’m a sucker for the key lime tart at Barnes & Noble Cafe. I bet this is much better. I’m definitely giving this a try.
You read my mind. But what you created looks even better than what I have been craving! I am going to see if I can rustle up enough limes to make these bars tomorrow!
Key lime is the best- these look awesome!
These look fab! Love the animal cracker crust idea-they were my favorite treat growing up!
Love key lime pie! The bars look amazing!
How timely!! Someone JUST gave me two bags of key limes that they couldn’t use. I will definitely be making this in the next day or so! Thanks for the recipe, it looks delicious.
The animal crackers were a cute addition! And what perfect bars for a summer party :)
I would never have thought of using animal crackers and just love that idea. How clever. They are delicious on their own…and then paired with key lime? Over the top! I can already taste them.
Pretty pictures, these bars look so good. And animal crackers for the crust? AMAZING.
I wanna sink my teeth in to these!
key lime desserts are always a hit – I love the animal crackers in the crust!
These look fabulous! Can’t wait to give them a try!
These look fantastic! My mom loves anything with lime, so I’ll be sure to whip these up for her on a sunny summer weekend. Thanks for sharing!
This sounds like an amazing recipe, I think I’ll make if for the 4th of July. One small, picky note… as someone who used to live in the FL Keys, I don’t think those are Key Limes pictured with the dessert. Key Limes are about half the size of a regular lime, and the difference in flavor between the two limes is huge! Sorry to be picky, but I’d hate for someone to grab regular limes at the store and try the recipe and not get to really try a Key Lime.
Yes, key limes are much smaller. They’re actually quite difficult to find up here unless you’re lucky enough to live near a very large grocery store that carries a wide variety of “exotic” product. This recipe can definitely be made with regular limes if key limes are not available in your area.
These look AMAZING! I have just discovered I liked key lime anything and this sounds like a great recipe!
Love the animal cracker crust. I’m totally obsessed with key lime lately!
Oh wow, these look heavenly!
Love that addition of toasted coconut!
YUM! I’ve been using this recipe for years – with a few modifications. I usually purchase Persian limes (larger and great taste) from Sam’s or Costco and have a “zesting and squeezing” party. The zest I put into a freezer bag (no need to measure ahead of time as it doesn’t stick together). I measure the lime juice into separate freezer bags, squeeze out the air and pop them into the freezer – I’m ready to go with fresh lime juice and zest any time! The second modification is to the crust – loved the animal crackers, but kept thinking I would LOVE a ginger cookie taste with the lime – OMG – delicious. I use Trader Joe’s Ginger Thins – a sleeve and a few extra from the second sleeve gives me enough for the crust. Oh, wow! They don’t stay on the plate long!!!
Ohhh amazing! Perfect for summer!
Ooh! LOVE this recipe for Key Lime Pie Bars, Michelle! Key Lime Pie rules. And, I like the fact you used animal crackers to make the crust. I’ve used Lorna Doone and Nilla Wafer cookies before, but never animal crackers for a crumb crust. Nom!
I always have limes in my fridge, and coconut in my freezer… :-) And my girl Sophie (10 month old black lab) always has animal crackers in her cookie jar. While part of me thinks I could just use Sophie’s animal crackers for the crust, the cookies I have for her are the non-cinnamon, non frosting kind. I think that cinnamon/frosting kind would be outstanding in this recipe. In fact, the crust looks like those are the ones that you did use.
This just looks so delish, I need to make it tonight. :-)
Have a lovely day everyone.. <3
Key lime pie is always such a crowd pleaser, and I love it in portable form for easy party traveling! So cute, too! :)
These are gorgeous and sound spectacular! Love this recipe!
Wow. That’s all I have to say. Beautiful and I bet they taste even better! Which is virtually impossible…but anything’s possible when it comes to your creations! Love it :D xoxo
To make these even more portable, I figured out that you can bake the crust in a cookie sheet and cut rounds out to fit push pops. Bake the filling the same way and layer them in the push pops alternating with the crust. Looks pretty and you can top it with whipped cream at the last moment. I did that for a party recently and they went over well.
OMG – these are drool worthy! The animal cracker crust looks soooo yum!
LOL, I shouldn’t be looking at this… My appetite grows within seconds. It looks delicious, O my.
These bars look like absolute perfection!
I love key lime desserts, and animal crackers sound like such a fun crust!
Key lime is one of my favorite flavors ever! The animal cracker idea is genius, I haven’t had those in years. Thanks for sharing!
They look awesome! Animal crackers for a crust is the coolest idea! I bet that they taste awesome!
They look incredible! I love that you used animal crackers in the crust! Not graham, gingerbread, shortbread, etc. But animal crackers :) And I am sure they are so good! I love key lime anything and it’s such a treat and havent had it in awhile. This makes me want to bake!