These Mini Key Lime Cheesecakes are the perfect combination of creamy, tart, and sweet in the cutest little cakes. Quick and easy to make using a muffin pan and paper liners.
Get your Key Lime Pie and your cheesecake fix in these sweet little Mini Key Lime Cheesecakes. Creamy Key Lime cheesecake on a graham cracker crust topped with swirls of whipped cream. So irresistible!
I love Key Lime Pie, but some of my kids find it a little intense. Enter these Mini Key Lime Cheesecakes. All the wonderful flavor of Key Lime Pie in a creamy smooth cheesecake.
These Mini Key Lime Cheesecakes are quick and easy to make. No fussing around with a water bath or long baking times. Baked in a muffin pan lined with cupcake liners, they bake up in about 20 minutes and cool much faster than a big cheesecake. They’re pretty much fool-proof!
I love miniature desserts. They’re so impressive to serve to guests. Only you will know how easy they were to make. Plus, you can have a satisfying dessert in a few bites without committing to a whole slice of cheesecake.
Do I have to use Key Lime juice
The limes we see most often in the grocery store are known as Tahiti or Persian limes. They’re bigger and darker green than Key Limes.
Key limes have their own unique flavor. They’re more aromatic, and their juice is generally thought to be tarter and more floral. Whenever I find them fresh, I grab a couple of bags and go crazy making Key Lime desserts.
To be honest, I make these Key Lime Cheesecakes with regular limes when I don’t find the Key Lime variety.
In an article I read at Fine Cooking, the author and her husband, a horticulture professor who specializes in tropical fruit, found the acid and sugar components to be quite similar in both Key and Tahiti limes. They encountered so many skeptics who claimed they’d be able to tell the difference in a pie, that they devised a dinner-party test where they served pies with both Key limes and Tahiti limes. In the more than twenty times that they asked the guests to taste both pies and guess which one was made with Key Limes, the votes were always tied.
Key Limes were grown commercially in the Florida Keys until a hurricane in the late 1920s pretty much wiped the crop out. Following that, production largely switched over to the more efficient and disease-resistant Persian variety. While many residents in the Key region still grow the eponymous trees on their property, most of the Key limes you find in stores here are sourced from Mexico.
After reading Stella Parks’ article on Key Limes over at Serious Eats, Key Limes? More Like Key LIES, I’m starting to rethink the whole Key Lime vs. Tahitian lime debate. Stella points out that while this particular species of lime, Citrus aurantiifolia, was grown in California, Texas, and mainland Florida, groves in the Keys came to dominate the market in the early 20th century because they produced a superior citrus.
Growing conditions matter as much as genus or species, which is why tea drinkers, coffee lovers, wine enthusiasts, and chocoholics care to learn about origins and estates. The region's uniquely alkaline soil mellowed the limes' astringency, and abundant coastal rains fueled their growth to larger, lemon-like proportions, with an average length of two inches. That means the original Key limes were fat and juicy, with well-rounded acidity and a rather yellow rind.
And as Stella put it, “Sure, these limes are Citrus aurantiifolia regardless of where they're grown, but if that's all it takes to nail authenticity, I'm going to start farming Hawaiian pineapples in my backyard.”
What kind of crumbs to use in the crust
A graham cracker crust is the traditional crust to use with Key Lime Pie and often with cheesecake and is what I have given the recipe for.
I also love to use shortbread or plain vanilla or butter cookie crumbs. Since shortbread cookies are sweeter than graham crackers and have different amounts of fat in them, you may need to use less butter and less sugar if you substitute shortbread cookie crumbs for graham cracker crumbs.
Depending on the brand of shortbread, I just add the melted butter a tablespoon at a time until the mixture looks like wet sand.
How to make Mini Key Lime Cheesecakes
Graham cracker or cookie crumbs are mixed with melted butter and sugar, then pressed into a paper lined muffin pan. It’s baked for a few minutes until it is set and golden.
While the crusts are baking, the filling ingredients are mixed together. After the crusts have cooled slightly, the filling is spooned on top, then baked for about 20 minutes, until they tops are set and they are slightly jiggly in the centers. After cooling to room temperature, they are refrigerated for 2-3 hours until chilled and set. They’re topped with whipped cream before serving.
How to make stabilized whipped cream
Stabilizing the whipped cream topping is optional, but it’s so easy that I find it’s worth it if I want the whipped cream to stay fresh for some time.
Normal whipped cream begins to deflate and leak water after a few hours and doesn’t hold up well when not refrigerated. As extra insurance that the whipped cream will stay perfect until the cakes are eaten, I like to stabilize the whipped cream with a little gelatin.
It’s very easy and there is no noticeable difference in the texture and taste. It’s very natural tasting and feeling, not like that funky whipped cream topping you find on desserts in the supermarket.
Simply stir 1 teaspoon of powdered, plain gelatin into 1 tablespoon of water. Let it rest for 5 minutes so the water is fully absorbed. Heat the gelatin mixture in the microwave for 5-7 seconds so that it melts and smooths. Let it cool slightly, and stir in 1 teaspoon of whipping cream so there are no streaks of gelatin in the whipped cream.
With a cold bowl and cold beaters, whip the cream and sugar until it thickens and forms soft peaks (when you lift the beaters out of the bowl the whipped cream folds over). With the mixer on low, you’ll slowly pour the cooled gelatin mixture in as your mixing the whipped cream. Continue mixing the whipped cream on medium high until you have stiff peaks (when you lift the beaters out of the bowl the whipped cream stands straight up and doesn’t fold over) but don’t let it get crumbly.
Tips for Stabilized Whipped Cream
Chill your bowl and beaters before getting started. This will help your whipped cream thicken up quicker and increase the volume.
After dissolving the gelatin in the microwave, stir in a teaspoon of cream to help it incorporate more thoroughly into the whipped cream.
Let your gelatin cool slightly before mixing it in so that it’s not too hot when you add it to the whipped cream.
You can spoon or pipe the stabilized whipped cream on your dessert, then refrigerate the dessert until you’re ready to serve it. The stabilized whipped cream will hold up at room temperature for a couple of hours, but it’s best to keep your dessert refrigerated. Avoid leaving it anywhere too warm for too long.
Baking tips for Mini Key Lime Cheesecakes
Make sure your dairy products are at room temperature before mixing the cheesecake filling. This will ensure a much smoother and creamier cheesecake.
Line the muffin tin with paper cupcake liners to ensure easy removal from the pan.
Don’t over bake the cheesecakes. Bake until just set and the center jiggles slightly. If your cheesecake cracks on the top, you’ve over baked it a bit.
You can serve these mini cheesecakes in the liners. If you prefer to remove the liners before serving, place the cheesecakes in the freezer for 30 minutes or so to make it easier to remove them.Print
Mini Key Lime Cheesecakes
- Total Time: 4 hours 35 minutes
- Yield: 12 1x
These Mini Key Lime Cheesecakes are the perfect combination of creamy, tart, and sweet in the cutest little cakes. Quick and easy to make using a muffin pan and paper liners.
For the graham cracker crust:
- 1 ¼ cups (150g) graham cracker crumbs (about 10 full-sheets)
- 3 tablespoons (37g) granulated sugar
- 4 and ½ tablespoons (64g) butter (melted)
For the cheesecake filling:
- 16 ounces cream cheese ((454g), softened to room temperature)
- ⅔ cup (132g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (57g) sour cream or Greek yogurt
- 4 ½ tablespoons (64g) fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon lime zest (finely grated)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
For the Whipping Cream:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
For the optional Stabilized Whipped Cream:
- 1 teaspoon plain (unflavored gelatin)
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon whipping cream
- Freshly grated lime zest
To make the graham cracker crust:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-count muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners and set aside.
- Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a mixing bowl and stir until well combined. Evenly distribute the mixture between all 12 cavities of the muffin pans, making sure to press each one down firmly into an even layer. Bake at 350°F for 5 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Keep oven temperature at 350°F.
To make the cheesecake filling:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the lime juice, lime zest, sour cream, and vanilla. Mix until fully combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Then, add in the eggs one at a time and mix on low speed until just combined.
- Evenly distribute the cheesecake filling between all 12 cavities of the muffin pans. Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes or until the tops of the cheesecakes are set. The center should be slightly jiggly. Don't over-bake. If you notice them starting to crack in the oven, they are over-baking.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Wrap with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- You can serve these mini cheesecakes in the liners. If you prefer to remove the liners before serving, place the cheesecakes in the freezer for 30 minutes or so to make it easier to remove them.
- Pipe the freshly whipped cream on to the top of each mini cheesecake.
- Sprinkle with freshly grated lime zest if desired.
For Whipped Cream or optional Stabilized Whipped Cream:
- If making optional Stabilized whipped cream, stir 1 teaspoon of powdered, plain gelatin into 1 tablespoon of water. Let it rest for 5 minutes so the water is fully absorbed. Heat the gelatin mixture in the microwave for 5-7 seconds so that it melts and smooths. Let it cool slightly and stir in 1 teaspoon of whipping cream.
- With a cold bowl and cold beaters, whip the cream and sugar until it thickens and forms soft peaks (when you lift the beaters out of the bowl the whipped cream folds over).
- If making the optional Stabilized Whipped Cream, with the mixer on low, slowly pour the cooled gelatin mixture in as your mixing the whipped cream.
- Continue mixing the whipped cream on medium high until you have stiff peaks (when you lift the beaters out of the bowl, the whipped cream stands straight up and doesn’t fold over), but don’t let it get crumbly.
- Transfer whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, and pipe on cheesecakes.
- Garnish with freshly grated lime zest.
Store mini cheesecakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Freezing instructions: Mini cheesecakes will freeze well for up to 3 months. Store in a freezer bag or container, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Add the whipped cream once the cheesecakes have thawed.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: mini key lime cheesecakes
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I too adore mini desserts. These cheesecakes look incredible, Kelly.
The mini's are so cute, aren't they?! Thanks so much, Angie!
Cookie Monster says
The taste is phenomenal.
Thanks so much, Cookie Monster!
David Scott Allen says
Gorgeous, Kelly! I could probably eat eight of them! Love your tips for stabilizing whipped cream! And just to add another layer of lime confusion, Mexican limes are the same as Key limes. And I do believe there is a distinct difference in flavor. 🙂
I do notice a difference in flavor, and when I see Key limes in the store I grab a couple of bags. I'd love to come across a Key lime that was grown in the Keys and see how it compares to the Key limes grown in Mexico. Thanks so much, David!
Kankana Saxena says
I love any kind of citrusy dessert! And these look so perfectly cute. A must for my next weekend brunch party. Saving it to try 🙂
Me too, Kankana! They're so refreshing and flavorful! Thanks so much!
An entire slice of cheesecake is just too much for me, so I love making mini cheesecakes! Key lime is one of my very favorite flavors, so I'm loving these Kelly!
Key lime is my favorite too, Marcie! I love its fresh, sweet-tart flavor. Thanks so much!
Kim Lange says
Perfect luscious bites of yumminess! YUM! Pinning!! xo
They're delicious! Thanks so much, Kim!
Wow! These are SO pretty. I've always loved making (and serving) individual portions of desserts, and these are perfect. They'd be so lovely at a dinner party.
I love mini desserts! And these are so easy to make. Win-win! Thanks so much, Valentina!
Wow just wow! Cheesecakes are my thing. My favourite dessert. But do you know Kelly that even though I've made loads of cheesecakes, I've never made a key lime one? I think I'm going to have have to put that right with these delicious mimi key lime cheesecakes. Love how they're made in a muffin tin too!!
Neil, it has such a wonderful tart and sweet taste, I think it's my favorite flavor of cheesecake! The muffin tin makes them so easy. Thanks so much!
Beautiful as always Kelly ! Special thanks for gelatin tip 🙂 🙂
I hate it when whipped cream starts weeping out water on desserts. The gelatin isn't detectable in taste or texture and it's such a simple addition to keep the whipped cream fresh and holding it's shape. Thanks so much, Davorka!
These are so pretty! I love the crust on the bottom. And you’ve fancied them up perfectly.
They're a fun dessert to fancy up for guests and a yummy dessert just to stick in the fridge for the family! Thanks so much, Mimi!
These mini cheesecakes are stunning, Kelly! And I’m with you on loving miniature desserts...they seem “special” for some reason.
So interesting about Key Limes too...I had no idea.
I learned a few things when researching for this post, Marissa. I was particularly surprised to find the opinion that regular limes are just as good if not better than key limes from Mexico. Works for me! I certainly enjoy them just as much. Thanks so much!
Sarah McWhorter says
Hi Kelly, I am trying these for the first time now and cant wait to see how they come out. I absolutely love both Key Lime Pie being a Florida girl and I love cheesecake too so to bring these desserts together is like OMG!! I have a question, does the mixture have more of a lime taste then a cheese cake taste? I was just wondering because mine does taste like that which is not a bad thing but I wanted to know if I didn't want the lime to be over powering, how would I do that?
Hi Sarah! The cakes do have a lime taste. If you'd like to reduce the lime flavor, leave out the zest. That's where most of the flavor is coming from. Thanks so much!
Leanne @ Crumb Top Baking says
These really are the cutest little cheesecakes Kelly! I don't know if I've ever seen key limes in the grocery store around here, and I'm pretty sure I've only had a key lime dessert once, and that was on vacation! But I'd love to have a stash of these in the fridge right now!
I only very occasionally find key limes in the supermarket. I'm pretty happy when I do, but most of the year, I just make these with regular limes and enjoy them just as much. Thanks so much, Leanne!
Haylie / Our Balanced Bowl says
Kelly, these photos are absolutely GORGEOUS!!! I seriously need one (or three) of these mini cheesecakes right now. I've always loved key lime flavored cheesecakes because I love how the tartness balances with the sweetness. To me, this looks like the perfect Summer dessert!
It's the perfect balance of sweet, tart, and creamy! So irresistible! Thanks so much, Haylie!
I love these little key lime cheesecakes! The perfect size (to have seconds!)! Nothing I love more than cheesecake, and I’ve been on a bit of a key lime kick lately! These are so easy, too! Thanks for the recipe!
I love their little size. And they're the combination of two of my favorites! Thanks so much, Laura!
these look absolutely adorable kelly. and i adore lime or any citrus-flavoured desserts. How yum! I've just posted a muffin recipe where i used patty pan liners. makes life so easy! cheers Sherry
The patty pan liners (such a cute name!) make it so easy! And your pizza muffins look delicious! Thanks so much, Sherry!
My husband and I are both Key Lime pie fanatics. Because it's so filling, we usually end of splitting a piece which I buy from a local bakery. These cupcakes are just perfect - a little smaller than a piece of pie and totally awesome. So very pretty as well.
They're the perfect size for enjoying a couple of bites! Thanks so much, MJ!
OMG, they look very cute. And I can imagine with lime they taste awesome!
They're so delicious and addictive! Thanks so much, Balvinder!
Alexandra @ It's Not Complicated Recipes says
These look fantastic! I made a key lime pie today, but I LOVE anything mini - such a delicious and beautiful way to present these 🙂
Can't get enough Key lime! Thanks so much, Alexandra!
John / Kitchen Riffs says
Key lime pie is my favorite! Became a real fan of it when we lived in Florida. And cheesecake is another favorite, so this recipe is perfect for me! Thanks.
John, I'm so obsessed with getting some Key limes that are actually grown in the Keys! The flavor of Key limes is so addicting. Thanks so much!
The Kitchen Lioness says
Dear Kelly, you have a wonderful blog! And your blog posts are amazing - so many wonderful pics and tips and helpful pointers!
Your Mini Key Lime Cheesecakes baked in muffin tins look adorable, delicious and perfectly made! Respect! I have to give this recipe a try - I am sure my kids would love these as much as your kids, you are so right about Key Lme Pie being a bit too much for the younger ones, so combining the flavors of cheesecake with Key Lime Pie would make them (and us) vey happy!
Looking forward to browsing through many more of your posts...
Aw, thanks so much, Andrea, for your kind words!
I do love citrus desserts in the summer as they are so refreshing! They are so adorable too 🙂
I love sweet-tart flavor of citrus desserts! Thanks so much, Susan!
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary says
These mini cheesecakes are the cutest!!!! My husband absolutely loves key lime pie and I'm a cheesecake lover for life, so these little cuties would disappear in .2 seconds flat in our house!!! They would be perfect for serving at an upcoming labor day party... if I didn't eat them all beforehand of course. 😉 Pinning!!!
Their perfect balance of sweet-tart and creamy makes them so irresistible! Thanks so much, Chey!
David @ Spiced says
Interesting notes about the types of limes here. I had no idea! I always thought using Persian limes was just a cop-out instead of looking for actual key limes. Apparently I need to rethink that, though. The whole line of reasoning with the environment and soil type makes perfect sense to me! (Same goes for San Marzano tomatoes. I saw a can of tomatoes in the store the other day labeled 'San Marzano style' tomatoes...they were grown in the US. Uhhh...no.) Anyways, this dessert looks amazing, Kelly! Once again you nailed it!
Haha! San Marzano style - very tricky! The environment and soil type reasoning sure did give me something to think about. I'd love to get some Key limes that are actually grown in the Florida Keys and do a taste test! Thanks so much, David!
Nancy Buchanan says
Hi Kelly - these are gorgeous and the perfect dessert size! I adore Key lime pie and these mini cheesecakes would definitely not last long in my house!!
They disappear so quickly, Nancy! Thanks so much!
nicole (thespicetrain.com) says
These little beauties sound and look irresistible, Kelly! Such incredible flavors and such beautiful presentation. I am also completely fascinated by your technique of stabilizing whipped cream with gelatin, that's genius!
The flavor and creaminess is so addictive! They definitely don't last long, but I do hate it when whipped cream gets weepy. Since it's no extra trouble and I can't detect the difference in the taste or texture, I like the extra insurance of the whipped cream staying fresh. Thanks so much, Nicole!
Hi! Confused with your stabilizing cream.. the direction says mix the cream with sugar until soft peaks and then you say add the sugar.. so when do you add the sugar? When whipping the heavy cream or after you get that peaks? Thank you!
Hi Diana! Thanks for pointing that out! You can add the sugar when whipping the heavy cream.
Second time making these... they are delicious, but are deflating in the middle, so not very pretty. Please let me know what I’m doing wrong to cause them to deflate. Thanks!
Hi, Sue! Make sure you're not over-mixing them. You can beat the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy and smooth, but once you've added the eggs, only mix as much as necessary to fully combine them. Eggs, when beaten, will incorporate air into the batter. This air will cause them to rise when baking and then fall. Thanks so much!
HUGE hit with the whole family! Most of us aren’t even key lime fans but I made these for my moms birthday because she loves key lime, and the entire family loved them so much and I have already made them a second time by request! I was also told they would be required for Easter as well haha! Very refreshing and perfect sized dessert!
So happy you liked them, Antoinette! Thanks so much!
These turned out so delicious! How many calories per mini cheesecake?
So happy you liked them, Taylor! There's 338 calories per cheesecake. Thanks so much!
Truly delicious but was curious if I could simply replace the lime ingredients with lemon to make Lemon Cheesecake Cupcakes? Same measurements just different citrus fruit? Again love the recipe thanks for all you do and your time answering!!! Have a great one
Hi Samantha! That would work just fine. Thanks so much!
Diana Boontriga Evans says
SO good! I keto-fied this recipe and actually made it crustless as well, and it was amazing.
Great idea, Diana! Thanks so much!