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Key Lime Icebox Cheesecake – a terrific summer dessert with a light and creamy no-bake filling.
Key limes make the best summer desserts!
Of course we all think of the iconic Key Lime Pie when talking about key limes, but their unique flavor is terrific in many other recipes too. I love to make key limes the star of the dessert, as they are here. This creamy icebox cheesecake is light and airy, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture that holds together beautifully. With a not-too-sweet tart and tangy flavor, and a perfectly crunchy graham cracker crust, this dessert is hard to beat!
What is the best kind of lime to use in this recipe?
While the larger, more common Persian Limes would be a great substitute, I encourage you to use key limes if you can get them. With higher acidity and a stronger aroma, key limes have a super tangy and unique flavor that makes all the difference in this dessert. Key limes also have a thinner, softer rind, making for delicious zest!
The easy no-bake filling is held together by a little plain gelatin, but doesn’t have the texture of a jell-o dessert. No jiggly filling here!
Made with just a few ingredients, the flavor is heavenly. The lightly sweet graham cracker crust is baked for just a few minutes to ensure it holds together well, but unbaked is fine too. Finally the top is decorated with a cream cheese whipped cream pipped into a simple design then decorated with key lime slices and plenty of zest.
Best made a day ahead, our Key Lime Icebox Cheesecake is a great way to end a nice summer dinner party on the deck, or around the pool.
This icebox cheesecake slices beautifully with a large thin knife warmed under hot water, then wiped dry. Do this between each cut for perfect slices! The filling holds up beautifully and won’t melt on the plate making this a great warm-weather dessert. It’s very stable and so darn good!
Can you make this dessert with other citrus?
Try this dessert with lemons too. It’s bright and light with great citrus flavor!
What if you don’t have a springform pan?
Feel free to prepare this Key Lime Icebox Cheesecake in bar form if you don’t have a springform pan. I would use a 9×9-inch square pan lined with parchment paper for easy removal and serving.
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Key Lime Icebox Cheesecake
For the crust:
- 1 ¼ cups crushed graham crackers one whole wax paper package
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- Zest of 2 key limes
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
For the filling:
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 (0.25 oz) package unflavored gelatin
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1 pound cream cheese room temperature
- ¼ cup key lime juice about 8-10 limes
- zest from 4 key limes
For the topping (optional):
- 2 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 15-16 key lime slices
- zest from 2-3 key limes
To prepare the crust:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Assemble an 8-inch or 9-inch springform pan, with the bottom turned upside down to make it easier to slide off the finished cheesecake. Line the bottom with parchment paper if desired for easy removal.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the graham crackers, sugar and zest. Process until finely crushed. Add the melted butter and pulse until well mixed. Press the mixture firmly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 8 minutes at 350°F. Remove from the oven and cool completely before filling. Once cooled, the crust can be refrigerated while preparing the key lime cheesecake filling.
To prepare the filling:
- Place ¼ cup of the heavy cream into a microwave safe measuring cup. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and whisk to combine. Let the gelatin rest for about 5 minutes, then microwave on high power for 30-seconds, or until cream is bubbling and the gelatin is completely dissolved. Set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the remaining 1 ¼ cups heavy cream and ⅔ cup of sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium-high until soft peaks form, about 2-minutes. Cut the cream cheese into small pieces and scatter half over the beaten cream. Blend on medium-low until combined, about 1 minute. Add the remaining cream cheese pieces to the mixture and blend until smooth. Some small pieces may remain - this is okay. Add the lime juice and beat on low until combined. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat one more minute on medium-high until the mixture is very smooth. Add the dissolved gelatin mixture and lime zest and beat on medium-high until smooth, light and airy, about 2 minutes.
- Pour the filling into the prepared, cooled graham cracker crust. Using an offset spatula dipped in hot water (then dried), spread the filling evenly. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or for best results, refrigerate overnight.
To prepare the topping:
- When ready to serve, prepare the topping. Combine the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for about 30 seconds. With the mixer running, slowly add the heavy cream and beat until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.
- Wrap a hot, damp kitchen towel around the springform pan and hold it there for about 30 seconds. Unlock the pan and carefully remove the sides. Slide the cheesecake onto a serving platter and carefully remove the parchment paper from underneath, if desired.
- Pipe the topping around the outside edge of the cheesecake and place a key lime slice in-between each mound of topping. Sprinkle the top with the remaining key lime zest.
- For neat, clean slices, run a large thin knife under hot tap water and dry. Slice into 8-10 pieces cleaning and heating the knife between cuts.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature. Do not heat to rush the process. The cream cheese is best set out about 2 hours before making the filling.
- The key limes will juice easier if at room temperature also. Roll the key limes under your palm on a hard surface to help release the juice.
- This no-bake cheesecake can be made in a square pan too. Line with parchment paper for easy removal and serving.
- Filling lightly adapted from a recipe on Cook’s Country
Here are a few more of our favorite key lime recipes you might like:
Key Lime Pie – this summer classic has a creamy smooth, tart filling and a sweet graham cracker crust. Use fresh key limes and plenty of zest for the best flavor!
Key Lime Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches – with homemade graham crackers and homemade Key Lime Gelato for a wonderful frozen treat!
A deliciously creamy, tart and sweet Key Lime Gelato with ribbons of Graham Crackers throughout.
I’d love to try this Key Lime Butter Cake recipe from Crazy for Crust. It looks super moist with a zippy key lime syrup poured over the top. These 5-Ingredient Key Lime Pudding Pops from A Spicy Perspective have summer written all over them! Like key lime pie on a stick 🙂