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key lime bars

Key Lime Bars

Key Lime Bars have a sweet cookie crust, a zesty yet creamy lime filling, and are topped with toasted coconut. Perfect for parties and BBQs!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Cool and Chill Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 bars


For the Crust:

  • 10 ounces animal crackers
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 pinches of table salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly (1 stick)

For the Filling:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons grated zest from 2 limes
  • 2 pinches of table salt
  • 28 ounces sweetened condensed milk (two 14-ounce cans)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice (from about 40 Key limes or about 6-8 Persian limes)

Optional garnish:

  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut (toasted until golden and crisp)


  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with a double layer of foil, placed so that the foil extends beyond the sides of the pan to help lift the bars out when finished. Spray foil with vegetable oil spray.

Make the Crust:

  • Pulse the animal crackers in a food processor until broken down, about 10 pulses; process the crumbs until evenly fine, about 10 seconds. You should have about 1 1/4 cups crumbs.
  • Add the brown sugar and salt; process to combine, 10 to 12 pulses. If large lumps of sugar remain, break them apart with your fingers.
  • Drizzle the butter over the crumbs and pulse until the crumbs are evenly moistened with the butter, about 10 pulses.
  • Press the crumbs evenly and firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while making the filling. Do not turn the oven off.

Make the Filling:

  • While the crust cools, in a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese, zest, and salt with a rubber spatula until softened, creamy, and thoroughly combined. Alternatively, use the bowl of a stand mixer and the whisk attachment.
  • Add the sweetened condensed milk and whisk vigorously until incorporated and no lumps of cream cheese remain; whisk in the egg yolks. Add the lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated. The mixture will thicken slightly.

Assemble and Bake:

  • Pour the filling into the crust; spread to the corners and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Bake until set and the edges begin to pull away slightly from the sides, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.
  • Loosen the edges with a paring knife and lift the bars from the pan using the foil extensions; cut the bars into squares. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut and serve.


Source: Adapted from the Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook
You're Gonna Bake It After All
Keyword dessert, lime