This moist key lime cake with cream cheese frosting is the perfect blend of tangy and sweet! You won’t be able to stop at one slice!

Looking for more homemade cake recipes that taste like heaven? I’ve got you covered! These chocolate cake, white cake, and red velvet cake recipes are so easy but turn out moist and delicious every time!

Taking a slice of key lime cake with a cake server.

Key Lime Cake From Scratch

Super excited for this recipe, given that I’m such a big fan of all things key lime! They’re so creamy and sweet with that hint of juicy, tart lime flavor. No-bake key lime pie and key lime pie bars are some of my favorite treats on the blog. Time to add to that list with this incredibly delicious key lime cake! Topped off with decadent cream cheese frosting flavored with lime zest, don’t be surprised if this becomes one of your new favorite cake recipes! It’s definitely one of mine! I love it because it’s straightforward to put together and packed with juicy flavor.

Making this key lime cake takes just as much effort as making a boxed cake. The only difference is- it’s supremely moist and filled with all of that great lime flavor you crave! Coated with nutty graham cracker pieces, this citrus dessert really checks all the boxes when it comes to flavor! Sweet, tart, and nutty, all in one beautiful cake! I promise if you take this to a party it will be the star of the show. It looks great and tastes even better! Let’s get baking!

Ingredients for Key Lime Cake

Now, I know what you’re thinking. That’s a long list of ingredients! Trust me, you probably have them all in your pantry right now! Simple ingredients are what make this key lime cake good. And if you’re looking for measurements, they can all be found in the recipe card below!

  • Cake Flour: I love using cake flour because it gives your cake a light and fluffy structure. All-purpose flour works too, but will alter the crumb slightly.
  • Granulated Sugar: White sugar added for sweetness!
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda: Both are necessary for your cake to rise properly.
  • Salt: Salt helps to boost all flavors.
  • Buttermilk: The acidity in buttermilk helps to tenderize the cake. If you don’t have any, skip the grocery trip! It’s super easy to make at home!
  • Fresh Lime Juice: Fresh lime juice is a must since lime is the main flavor here.
  • Lime Zest: Don’t throw out your limes once you’ve juiced them! Zest is an easy way to add a pop of flavor.
  • Clear Vanilla: Reguar vanilla extract works too, I just like using clear vanilla to keep everything light and bright.
  • Vegetable Oil: Added for moisture and to help bind ingredients together.
  • Egg Whites: Egg whites make your cake perfectly fluffy!
  • Lime Wedges and Graham Crackers: Both make the perfect garnish for your key lime cake!

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream Cheese: I always use full-fat cream cheese for the most decadent result. 
  • Butter: Adds a rich flavor and smooth texture.
  • Clear Vanilla Extract: Again, regular vanilla works too, but clear vanilla helps keep the light aesthetic of this cake.
  • Lime Zest: The tart flavor of lime zest helps to balance out flavors and keep the frosting from becoming too sweet.
  • Salt: Just a pinch is needed to enhance the flavor of the frosting.
  • Powdered Sugar: For a smooth sweetness!
Process shots of preparing cake batter.

Let’s Bake!

  1. Preheat Oven, Prepare Pan: To begin, preheat the oven to 350°F and spray two 8-inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Add a parchment round to the bottom of the pans and spray the parchment with the nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. Whisk Dry Ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Mix in Wet Ingredients: Add the buttermilk, lime juice, lime zest, vanilla, and oil to the dry ingredients and beat with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or a hand mixer just until fully combined.
  4. Prepare Egg Whites: In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they reach medium stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites careful into the batter just until the streaks of egg whites have been absorbed.
  5. Bake: Separate the batter evenly into the two cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the center of the cake springs back when pressed on. Let cool completely. I find the cake is easiest to frost when it has been chilled, so wrap each cake in a couple layers of plastic wrap and store in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  6. Frost: Once chilled, frost with the lime cream cheese frosting and decorate with fresh lime wedges and crushed graham crackers. Store key lime cake in the fridge until ready to serve.

How to Make the Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Mix Cream Cheese and Butter: In the bowl of a mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and beat again for about 10 seconds to make sure it’s well incorporated.
  2. Add Remaining Ingredients: Add the vanilla, lime zest, salt and powdered sugar. Mix on low until the powdered sugar is moistened enough for you to increase the speed to medium-high without making a mess. Beat until smooth and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Frost: This frosting is best used immediately to frost the cake. If you make it in advance be sure it let it come to room temperature before using it to frost the key lime cake.
A whole key lime cake on a cake stand.

Tips for Making the Best Key Lime Cake

This bright, zesty key lime cake is going to be the talk of your friends and family! It’s quickly become one of my favorites. Use these tips to ensure the best results every time!

  • Use Room Temperature Wet Ingredients: If possible, make sure any wet ingredients are at room temperature before use. For this cake, I like to pull butter, eggs, and cream cheese out and let it sit on the counter for about 30 minutes before I begin baking. This helps both the batter and the frosting mix together more smoothly.
  • Be Gentle with Egg Whites: When preparing your egg whites, only beat until they reach medium peaks. They will deflate if you overmix. You want your egg whites to be as light and fluffy as possible! Also, use a gentle hand when folding them into your batter.
  • Clear Vanilla Extract: I prefer to use clear vanilla extract in my key lime cake to keep the inside of the cake bright white. If you use regular vanilla extract, the cake will be slightly yellow. Clear vanilla extract is a great thing to have on hand for other bright cakes like white cake, angel food, and chantilly cake as well.

Storing Leftover Cake

With how good this zesty cake is, we never have leftovers at my house. If by a slim chance you do, here’s how to keep it tasting fresh and delicious!

  • In the Refrigerator: Since this key lime cake is frosted with cream cheese, it needs to be kept in the fridge. Wrap in plastic wrap and store for 3-4 days.

Closeup of a bite of key lime cake.

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