Easy Key Lime Cake is bursting with fresh lime flavor & topped with whipped cream. A yummy twist on a key lime pie!
a cake version of your favorite pie
We all know about Key Lime Pie, but this Key Lime Cake will give your favorite pie recipe some stiff competition.
The cake itself is super moist and filled with fresh lime flavor. Then it gets soaked in a simple lime syrup, and topped with Whipped Cream and lime zest.
What’s even better is that it’s a shortcut recipe that’s crazy easy to make because the recipe starts with cake mix. Then the lime flavor is fresh and tangy (but never sour) because we’re using fresh limes.
I know a lot of key lime cake recipes use jello for the lime flavor – but I wanted to make a key lime cake without gelatin in it. Spoiler alert – if you don’t have key limes on hand, you can also use regular limes.
How to Make Key Lime Cake
KEY LIME CAKE
PREP. Preheat the oven to 350°F (or 325°F if using a glass pan). Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.
WHISK. Add the cake mix, eggs, sour cream, ½ c oil, lime juice and lime zest to a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.
BAKE. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 27-32 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and if you give the pan a gentle nudge the cake doesn’t wobble in the middle.
COOL. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
HEAT. In a small saucepan over low heat add the lime juice and sugar. Heat until the sugar dissolves while gently stirring.
BRUSH. When the cake is out of the oven, take a small pastry brush or a spoon and brush/drizzle the syrup over top.
TOP. Spread the whipped topping over top of the cooled cake. Then sprinkle with lime zest.
SERVE. Cut into slices and serve.
Other topping ideas:
- Use whipped topping, or homemade whipped cream. Then decorate with a little lime zest.
- If whipped cream is not your favorite cake topping, try cream cheese frosting. This would give it a sweeter and richer taste, but you could still add lime zest on top to bring in the citrus flavor.
- Another topping idea is to add a dusting of powdered sugar to the top of the cake and then grate lime zest over the top.
Cake mix. Use vanilla, white or yellow cake mix, or for even more citrus flavor use lemon cake mix. Make sure not to use angel food cake mix.
Ingredients. Instead of the ingredients listed on the box – we’re using ½ oil, ¾ sour cream, 3 eggs, ⅓ cup fresh lime juice and 2 tablespoons lime zest. The sour cream makes the cake extra moist and using 3 eggs ensures that it’s really tender.
Limes. 6-7 key limes should provide enough juice for the recipe since each lime gives 2-3 teaspoons.
Lime syrup. After the cake is baked, we brush a simple key lime syrup made from sugar and lime juice. If you prefer a more mild lime flavor, feel free to skip this step.
Green food coloring. If you would like to make the cake green like key limes, you can add a drop or two of food coloring. If you are worried about changing the taste or texture of the batter I would suggest gel food coloring because it requires very little to make the color appear.
Key limes are known for being grown in the Florida Keys, hence their name, but they grow all over Florida, in CA and in Mexico. Key limes are typically smaller and more yellow than regular limes. Key limes are also more tart which makes their flavor shine through the sweetness of many desserts. Fresh squeezed key lime juice can be stored in the fridge for 3-5 days or in the freezer for 6 months.
Make a layered circle cake
Make a Key Lime layered cake by using two 9-inch cake pans.
- Line each cake pan with a circular piece of parchment paper. Once you have mixed the cake batter, pour it evenly into both pans.
- Bake at 350°for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool a bit in the pan before placing them on wire racks to cool all the way.
- Add whipped cream between the cake layers. Top with whipped cream.
STORE the cake, unfrosted on the counter, in an airtight container for 2-3 days. Once the whipped cream has been added to the cake it must be stored in the fridge.
FREEZE. Wrap it tightly and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.
If you love key lime, try these other favorites:
Key Lime Cake Recipe
Key Lime Cake
- 1 box cake mix , vanilla, yellow or white
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons lime zest
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
Key Lime Syrup
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 cups whipped topping , or whipped cream
- 1 tablespoon lime zest
Key Lime Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees (or 325F degrees if using a glass pan). Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.
- Add the cake mix, eggs, sour cream, ½ c oil, lime juice and lime zest to a large bowl.
- Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 27-32 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and if you give the pan a gentle nudge the cake doesn’t wobble in the middle.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- In a small saucepan over low heat add the lime juice and sugar. Heat until the sugar dissolves while gently stirring.
- When the cake is out of the oven, take a small pastry brush or a spoon and brush/drizzle the syrup over top.
- Spread the whipped topping over top of the cooled cake. Then sprinkle with lime zest.
- Cut into slices and serve.