Key Lime Cake

This super easy key lime cake is bursting with fresh lime flavor and topped with whipped cream. It’s a delicious summer cake recipe, and if you love key lime pie – then definitely give this recipe a try.

Citrus desserts are a must in the summer time, and this cake (inspired by key lime pie), is a favorite. We also love lemon bundt cake, and lime sheet cake when we need a citrus fix!

Key Lime Cake with a bite missing

a cake version of your favorite pie

Today I’m sharing this super easy key lime cake. 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.

Overhead shot of Key Lime Cake Recipe in a glass baking dish

How to Make Key Lime Cake

This cake recipe starts with a box mix. You can use vanilla, white or yellow cake mix – or for even more citrus flavor use lemon cake mix. Just make sure not to use angel food cake mix.

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.

(Note: 4 key limes should provide enough juice for the recipe since each lime gives around 2 tablespoons.)

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.

Then the topping is whipped cream. Since key lime pie is decorated with whipped cream – I figured it was the perfect topping for this key lime cake. You can use whipped topping, or homemade whipped cream. Then decorate with a little lime zest.

If whipped cream is not your favorite cake topping, I would suggest trying cream cheese frosting. This would give it a richer taste, but you could still add lime zest on top to bring in the citrus flavor.

TIP: 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 of the batter I would suggest gel food coloring because it requires very little to make the color appear.

Slice of Key Lime Pie Cake on a white plate

This is such a fun cake recipe because it tastes like summer, is so easy to make, and is just a little different. If you love citrus flavors or key lime pie – then definitely give it a try.

If you love key lime, try these other favorites too:

Key Lime Cake Recipe

Super easy key lime cake is bursting with fresh lime flavor and topped with whipped cream. It's a delicious summer cake recipe, and if you love key lime pie - then definitely give this recipe a try. 
5 from 11 votes
This super easy key lime cake is bursting with fresh lime flavor and topped with whipped cream. It's a delicious summer cake recipe, and if you love key lime pie - then definitely give this recipe a try. 
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cooling 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 18 slices
Calories 58 kcal
Author Lil' Luna


Key Lime Cake

  • 1 box cake mix , vanilla, yellow or white
  • 1/2 cup 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 9x13 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.

Lime Syrup

  • 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. 


*If making the cake ahead of time, make the cake the night before and drizzle with the lime syrup. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature over night.  Add the whipped topping before serving.
**Once the cake has been decorated with whipped topping or whipped cream, cover and store in the fridge. 

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About the Author

Fiona Dowling

My name's Fiona and I love to bake and blog. I share homemade, from scratch, classic recipes for desserts & sweet treats including cakes, cupcakes, cookies and more.

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    1. You could do either vanilla, white, or yellow cake mix. I think mine was yellow cake mix. Any of those taste great 🙂 Hope you try it soon!

  1. I made this cake and loved the flavor. However, the cake itself was very dry. Any ideas why? Is it because there is no oil?

    Thank you

    1. The lime juice makes up the liquid. I am not sure?? It hasn’t been too dry for us, so really I’m not sure what happened. I wish I could be more help. I’m sorry. I appreciate you making it 🙂

    2. In the intro she says they use 1/2 C. oil, but it’s not included in the ingredients list or directions. That’s probably the problem…

      1. Yes, sorry..I need to add that. I had it in the paragraph, but forgot it in the ingredients. You add 1/2 cup oil, when mixing the ingredients in step 2. Sorry about that 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    This looks absolutely delicious! A bit difficult for me to make as a beginner but I think its worth a try!

  3. In the list of ingredients for key lime cake you dont have oil- in instructions you say add 1/2 cup oil.
    I caught it- but didnt add. We’ll see how it turns out. ?

    1. Yes, sorry..had it in the instructions, but forgot the ingredient list, so thank you for catching that!! Uh, oh..hope it’s ok 🙂

    1. Yes you sure can! Just make sure you don’t overfill the bundt pan – leave at least 1/2 inch of empty space from the top. Also – you will need to adjust your cooking time. Bundt cakes typically take about 40-45 minutes to bake so I would check it at 40 minutes by inserting a toothpick into the center to see if it comes out clean. If it does not come out clean then bake it for 5-10 more minutes and check again. Hope this helps!

  4. 5 stars
    I am a huge fan of anything Key Lime Pie! This cake did not disappoint! So moist and full of that delicious key lime flavor.

  5. 5 stars
    So easy to make and tasted really amazing! Thank you so much for this key lime cake recipe, will surely have this again! Fam really loves it! Well done!

  6. 5 stars
    The perfect flavor of citrus in such a yummy textured cake. Thank you for always having the BEST recipes. This is a new family favorite!

  7. 5 stars
    We love key lime, just as much as we like lemon. I love mixing it up & alternate between the two cakes. It’s nice & fluffy!