Key Lime Cake

Looking for a taste of the tropics right in your own kitchen? Look no further than our sensational Key Lime Cake recipe! With its tantalizing blend of tangy lime zest and refreshing lime juice, this cake is sure to transport you to a sunny beachside retreat with every bite. Plus, topped with a dreamy lime cream cheese frosting and adorned with fresh lime wedges and crushed graham crackers, it’s a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.


  • 2 ¼ cups cake flour
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime zest
  • 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 egg whites
  • Lime wedges (for garnish)
  • Graham crackers (for garnish)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar


For the Cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and prepare two 8-inch cake pans by greasing them and lining the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Add buttermilk, lime juice, lime zest, vanilla extract, and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients. Beat until fully combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they form medium stiff peaks. Gently fold them into the batter until just combined.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool completely.
  6. Once cooled, wrap each cake in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  7. Frost the chilled cakes with lime cream cheese frosting and decorate with fresh lime wedges and crushed graham crackers. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

For the Lime Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth.
  2. Add vanilla extract, lime zest, salt, and powdered sugar to the bowl. Mix on low speed until the powdered sugar is moistened, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is smooth and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Use the frosting immediately to frost the cake, or store it in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before using.

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Serving and Storage Tips:

Serving Tips:

  1. Presentation is Key: Before serving, garnish your Key Lime Cake with fresh lime wedges and a sprinkle of crushed graham crackers for a visually appealing touch.
  2. Slice with Care: Use a sharp knife dipped in hot water and wiped clean between slices to ensure clean, smooth cuts through the cake layers.
  3. Pair with a Refreshing Beverage: Accompany your slice of Key Lime Cake with a chilled glass of iced tea, lemonade, or even a tropical fruit smoothie for the ultimate flavor experience.
  4. Serve at the Right Temperature: For the best taste and texture, let the cake sit at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to fully develop.
  5. Add a Dollop of Whipped Cream: For an extra indulgent treat, serve each slice with a dollop of freshly whipped cream on top, adding a creamy contrast to the tangy lime flavor.

Storage Tips:

  1. Refrigeration is Key: Due to the cream cheese frosting, store any leftover Key Lime Cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness and prevent spoilage.
  2. Properly Wrap for Longer Storage: To prolong its shelf life, tightly wrap individual slices of cake in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before storing them in the fridge.
  3. Consume Within a Few Days: While Key Lime Cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days, it’s best enjoyed within the first couple of days for optimal taste and texture.
  4. Avoid Freezing the Frosted Cake: While unfrosted cake layers can be frozen for longer storage, it’s not recommended to freeze Key Lime Cake once it’s been frosted, as the texture of the frosting may change upon thawing.
  5. Allow to Come to Room Temperature Before Serving: When ready to enjoy leftover cake, remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before serving to allow the frosting to soften slightly and the flavors to mingle.


  1. Coconut-Key Lime Cake: Add 1/2 cup of sweetened shredded coconut to the cake batter for a delightful tropical twist. You can also sprinkle some toasted coconut flakes on top of the frosting for extra flavor and texture.
  2. Margarita Key Lime Cake: Replace the buttermilk with margarita mix and add a splash of tequila and triple sec to the batter for a fun and boozy twist on the classic recipe. Garnish with lime slices dipped in coarse salt for a festive touch.
  3. Key Lime Cupcakes: Turn this cake recipe into adorable individual treats by baking the batter in lined cupcake tins instead of cake pans. Top each cupcake with a swirl of lime cream cheese frosting and a lime wedge for a perfect grab-and-go dessert option.
  4. Key Lime Bundt Cake: Pour the batter into a greased and floured bundt pan and bake according to the recipe instructions. Once cooled, drizzle with a simple glaze made from powdered sugar and lime juice for an elegant presentation.
  5. Key Lime Cheesecake Bars: Press a graham cracker crust into the bottom of a baking dish, then pour the Key Lime Cake batter over the crust. Bake until set, then let cool and chill in the refrigerator until firm. Cut into squares and serve as creamy and tangy cheesecake bars.
  6. Vegan Key Lime Cake: Substitute the buttermilk with a mixture of plant-based milk and apple cider vinegar, and replace the egg whites with a vegan egg replacer or aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas). Use vegan cream cheese and butter for the frosting, and ensure all other ingredients are vegan-friendly.
  7. Gluten-Free Key Lime Cake: Use a gluten-free flour blend in place of regular cake flour, ensuring it contains xanthan gum or another binder for structure. Double-check that all other ingredients, including baking powder and soda, are certified gluten-free.


  1. Can I use bottled lime juice instead of fresh lime juice for this recipe?
    • While fresh lime juice is preferred for the best flavor, you can substitute bottled lime juice if fresh isn’t available. Just be aware that the flavor may not be as bright and vibrant.
  2. Can I use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour?
    • Yes, you can substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour, but the texture of the cake may be slightly denser. To mimic the properties of cake flour, you can remove 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour per cup and replace it with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
  3. How can I tell when the cake layers are done baking?
    • Insert a toothpick into the center of each cake layer, and if it comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, the cakes are done baking. Avoid overbaking to prevent a dry texture.
  4. Can I make the frosting ahead of time?
    • Yes, you can prepare the lime cream cheese frosting ahead of time. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to use, let it come to room temperature and re-whip it briefly to restore its creamy consistency.