Key Lime Layer Cake

Today’s cake is a winner, and I mean that literally since it’s won multiple competitions and was created by Melinda Winner, who cooks, bakes and writes a blog about managing arthritis. In fact, some of her recipes include tips on how to complete certain tasks that might be difficult for the arthritic – like holding a lime. In the original recipe for this cake, she tells you how to zest one without pain.

Melinda has made this cake many times and my intention was to follow her recipe to the letter, but as usual I went off course and made some changes. Instead of a 6 layer cake, I made a 3 layer cake….and since I didn’t need quite so much frosting, I reduced that and ended up changing the recipe a bit. Still, the recipe is Melinda’s in spirit and it’s great! It’s very tart, so if you like lime you’ll be happy.


Key Lime Layer Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A three layer Key lime layer cake with a lime flavored cream cheese frosting.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
  • 2 1/2 cups (11.25 oz/315 grams) all purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (14 oz/392 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh or bottled key lime juice
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime zest
Key Lime Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 8 oz cream cheese softened (230 grams)
  • 8 tablespoons salted butter (114 grams) -- softened
  • 3 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar (442 grams) 1 box
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Garnish
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut, toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 3 9-inch round baking pans with flour-added cooking spray.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together into mixing bowl. Add eggs, oil and lime juice mix on medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy. Add sour cream and zest; mix until smooth. Pour cake batter evenly into cake pans and bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean (mine took 32 minutes).
  3. Cool in pans for 5 minutes and then turn cakes out onto cooling racks. Cool for 1 hour.
  4. Spread frosting over cakes, stack and ice the whole cake with frosting. Spread toasted coconut over top and down sides.
  5. Frosting:
  6. In a mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter. Add vanilla, then add 2 cups of powdered sugar.  Beat in the lime juice – beating and scraping sides of bowl all the while, then add remaining powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you reach desired consistency and sweetness.  Adjust with more lime juice if desired.
  7. Toasted Coconut: Spread on baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated 375 for about 5-10 minutes. Stir often. Let cool. I like to cook mine until some of the coconut is lightly browned.



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  1. Louise says

    Looks great. I love limes — especially in mojitos. I’ve hesitated with lime/coconut combinations as I really like each of those and don’t want to screw up the taste, but maybe I’ll just have to try it. 🙂

  2. says

    Yumm…I’ve been craving citrus lately. This might just do that trick. Looks like some weekend baking is in order. Thanks for the amazing recipe!

  3. says

    This looks awesome, and actually very similar to your Hummingbird Cake. I have had Key Lime on the brain lately. 😛

    I love that it has some actual cake to it – sometimes it seems like good lemon and lime desserts only come in pie or bar formats.

  4. AJ says

    Wow, 3-layers! I wonder if this would translate into a 9×12 pan or if it would be more like a half sheet pan (like a texas sheet cake would)??

    Or maybe cupcakes…. =)

  5. AJ says

    Maybe I should’ve read the grapefruit version first… they use a bundt pan (more portable is my thinking). The glaze they use sounds interesting!

  6. says

    Thank you for making my recipe. I am so glad you enjoyed it as much as my family does! It looks delectable! Great Job!!!!!!!!!!

  7. says

    Ooo, this cake sounds fabulous! Who doesn’t love a key lime flavored cake?! Oh, and that key lime cream cheese frosting sounds so amazing. Man oh man, I’m saving this one!

  8. jan says

    I made this cake yesterday for my aunt’s b’day and it is THE best cake I have ever made in my 25 yrs of baking! Incredibly moist — just absolute perfection…thank you so much for this recipe!

  9. Katherine says

    I found key limes at our fruit market, so I made this cake for a baby shower yesterday. It got rave reviews. I loved how moist and tart is was. And the frosting. Amazing! One tip I’d like to share… cut the key limes in half and squeeze out the juice in a garlic press. It made the job SO much easier. Great recipe.

  10. Teacake says

    This cake is fabulous!!! Dont let the cup of lime juice scare you it actually works, this recipe is from heaven!!

  11. Olga says

    Hi Anna… it is going to be my birthday on saturday!!! and i want to make me a delicious and special and pretty cake.!! and i feel like lemon and/or coco… i remembered i had seen something like this in your blog… i don´t have much time though.. and i saw your other recipe with a white cake mix…. but this one looks delicious..what do you recommend ? ejej. i want both.. i would find me the time to make this.. but if the other ones is just as good.. then i might choose the other because i happen to have the cake mix at home. je…Saludos 🙂

  12. Deborah says

    I made this recipe a few weeks back for my Aunt and Brothers birthdays and Ohhhhhh MmmmmmmYYYY Goooooodneessss was it good. I too had to deviate from even the deviated recipe. I didnt have all the ingredients on hand and had to use one lemon for the zest it requires. I used apple sauce instead of so much oil and subbed out the sour cream for ricotta cheese. Everyone loved it so much! Thank you both for the excellent recipe!

  13. Halo says

    ok. i’m giving it a shot for my husband’s birthday today. i think the altitude is going to kick my butt, though. i’m at 7500 feet (yes, another half mile higher than Denver). i went with it as-is, partly because i’m not sure reducing the baking soda would stop it from rising so fast (a good portion of the rise happens in the bowl when you add acid to base). fingers crossed!

  14. Idalhi says

    Thank you for the recipe!
    Best lime cake I’ve ever tasted or baked.
    So tart, moist and delicious. Everyone loves it in my house.

  15. Deborah says

    Gonna try this again for my Brother, a year later. His request! He has been asking me to make this cake since last year and Im gonna do it today! Hope it turns out as good as last time! Will update with results Sunday after we devour it Saturday!

  16. Deborah says

    So I made the cake in 3 9″ rounds but it didnt rise! Each round is 1/2 inch! Is that how it comes out for you? I vaguely remember this from the last time too, i think. HELP!

  17. says

    Hi Deborah,

    The layers are not that thick, but they should be slightly thicker than 1/2 inch. Is it possible that your baking powder is out of date? Is it possible that you used 10 inch pans instead of 9? Sorry to ask dumb questions, but I’m trying to figure out what could have gone wrong. This recipe has always worked well for me. Did you use cake flour instead of all-purpose? Let me know how it all comes together. Would you say your layers are about the same thickness as the ones in the photo?

  18. Deborah says

    No, they are definitely not as thick as the ones in the picture. My baking powder was out of date, but i looked online and found that if you put a teaspoon of powder in a cup of hot water and it fizzes then it is still good. I compared it to a brand new container of b.p. and the fizziness is the same. I cant imagine why it didnt rise, if the b.p. was good. I am gonna try it again next week, after we eat this one, and with the new b.p. It still tastes good, just not fluffy. Last time it definitely rose higher than this. Put together, this thing is only gonna be 3″ high.

  19. says

    Sounds like you did everything right. The only suggestion I have is to use the new baking powder. Your out of date baking powder passed the bubble test, but maybe it really wasn’t powerful enough to do the job for this cake.

  20. Foxyvee says

    I made this and it is great! I doubled the levening agents, and cooked it in two 8 in pans. Next time I will use 9 in. Anyway, I split the layers filled them with strawberry jam and frosted with cream cheese frosting! Made a fantastic birthday cake! Thanks for the great recipe!

  21. Felicia says

    Oh how I have have loved this recipe! I’ve made it as 9 inch layers, muffin sized cupcakes, regular sized cupcakes (for a birthday party), a sheet cake that I later cut into a layer cake and always got great results. I especially love that it tastes so authentic… and it’s not green! I don’t like green key lime pies either. Thank you so much for this blessing of a recipe! Thank you too Melinda for being the inspiration!

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