Add a little zest to any event with this bright and beautiful Key Lime Cake! The interior bakes up perfectly moist and tender, and the outside comes decadently frosted with a sweet and tangy Vanilla-Lime Buttercream!
If you love all things citrus and can't get enough key lime recipes in your life, this cake is an absolute must-make!
You'll be pleasantly surprised at just how easily this bright, three-tiered dessert comes together, and with all the praise you are about to receive, you'll see it's a show-stopper that's well worth every second!
Key Lime Cake is absolutely perfect for warm weather entertaining, but is well-received at any party or holiday gathering, any time of year!
KEY LIME VS. LIME
Ok, so here's a secret -- most key lime recipes? There's actually zero key lime juice involved...and this one is no exception.
We'll be using regular ol' limes for this Key Lime Cake and here's why: They're 1000% easier and faster to work with. Plus, literally, no one will know the difference.
You'll need 6 limes total for both the cake and the icing!
If citrus desserts are your thing, be sure to try our Lemon Raspberry Cake next!
FOR SOFT AND TENDER KEY LIME CAKE...
The dry mix is more important than you might think when it comes to a soft and tender cake.
Be sure to use cake flour and not all-purpose flour. Cake flour has a finer texture and will result in a lighter, more tender cake.
You also want to be sure not to mix up your measurements for the baking soda and the baking powder. Mixing these ingredients up can dry out your cake and/or cause it to sink! Measure them carefully and be sure to get those amounts just right.
WHY ROOM TEMPERATURE INGREDIENTS MATTER
For the wet ingredients in your Key Lime Cake, you will need room temperature, unsalted butter, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk. The important thing to note for the wet ingredients? The butter really needs to be at room temperature.
Actually, any time you're baking a cake, it's best if all of the wet ingredients are at room temperature, but butter is by far the most important.
The butter needs to be at room temperature in order to properly cream with the sugar. The creaming process creates bubbles in the batter, which results in a lighter, fluffier cake!
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST KEY LIME CAKE
- Prep the pans and preheat the oven.
- Mix the dry ingredients.
- Mix the wet ingredients.
- Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk to wet ingredients.
- Bake, cool, and level the cakes.
- Make the key lime frosting.
- Ice the cake!
Love a layer cake? Us too! Try our Red Velvet Cake next!
1. PREP THE CAKE PANS
You'll begin your Key Lime Cake by preparing the cake pans. Grease them well with butter or cake spray and line them with parchment paper. There's no need to worry so much about lining the sides. Just the bottom will do!
Preheat your oven to 350°F and move on to the batter!
2. MIX THE DRY INGREDIENTS
Add the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and fine sea salt to a medium-sized mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
3. MIX THE WET INGREDIENTS
To kick off the wet ingredient portion of the cake batter, you'll combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. If you don't have a stand mixer, use a large mixing bowl and a handheld mixer.
Beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 2 to 4 minutes, until the mixture takes on a pale yellow, almost-white coloring and has increased in volume. Then, add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, followed by the vanilla.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix once more before adding the dry ingredients.
4. ALTERNATE WET AND DRY INGREDIENTS
Mixing on low, you'll now add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three rounds, alternating with the buttermilk. Once everything has been incorporated, you'll transform it into a Key Lime Cake by adding in fresh lime juice and lime zest!
4. BAKE, COOL, AND LEVEL
Once the lime is evenly distributed throughout the cake batter, you'll divide the batter amongst the three prepared pans and bake for 23 to 26 minutes. To determine if the cakes are done, gently poke the center with your finger. If the indention slowly springs back up, the cake is ready!
Set the cakes aside on a rack to cool completely. Once they've cooled you can level them out and make the icing!
To level out the cakes, a long, sharp serrated knife is your best friend! Just saw any doming tops right off and set the cakes aside while you make the icing.
5. MAKE THE VANILLA-LIME FROSTING
To make the icing for your Key Lime Cake, combine room temperature, unsalted butter, powdered sugar, cream, vanilla, and salt in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or you could also use a large bowl and a handheld mixer.
Mix the icing ingredients together until they are smooth and creamy in appearance, and then, add in the remaining lime zest and juice! Mix one more time and the icing is ready!
Speaking of crazy-easy icings, our Carrot Cake with easy cream cheese icing should definitely be on your "to-bake" list!
6. STACK AND ICE THE KEY LIME CAKE
To ice the cake, place one the cake layers cut side up on your serving dish, add a dollop of frosting, and spread outward from the center to the edges. Then, add the second layer cut-side down and repeat. Add the last layer cut-side down and use the remaining frosting to ice all over!
All that's left to do now, is serve and enjoy!
6 MORE CAKE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
- Peach Cobbler Pound Cake
- Butterfinger Cake
- Apple Crumble Cake
- Sopapilla Cheesecake
- Texas Sheet Cake
Bright and beautiful Key Lime Cake bakes up perfectly moist and tender, and the outside comes decadently frosted with a sweet and tangy Vanilla-Lime Buttercream! It’s perfect for warm-weather entertaining, but is well-received at any party or holiday gathering, any time of year.
- 2 ½ cups cake flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cup buttermilk
- Zest of 4 limes + 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Zest of 2 limes + 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
Preheat the oven to 350°F and have ready three greased 9" baking pans, lined with parchment paper on the bottom.
Sift or whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set aside until ready to use.
Add the butter and sugar to a large bowl and using a handheld mixer, mix until fluffy and pale yellow in color (about 3-5 minutes). You could also use a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for this task.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix again. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl using a silicone spatula and mix once more.
With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in 3 rounds, alternating with the buttermilk (adding it in 2 rounds). Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl, and mix once again. Add the lime juice and zest and mix once more.
Divide the batter amongst the prepared pans, and smooth over the top. Bake for 23-26 minutes. Set the cake aside to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
For the frosting, you will need a large mixing bowl and a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter to the bowl and mix on medium-high speed for 2-4 minutes, smooth and almost doubled in volume.
Add the powdered sugar, cream, vanilla, and salt and begin mixing on low. Once the sugar is mostly incorporated, you can begin mixing on medium-high. Mix for 2 minutes more, until light and fluffy. Add the lime zest and juice and mix until smooth.
Level out any uneven cake layers using a long, serrated knife. Place one of the cake layers on a cake stand or serving dish, and top with a large dollop of frosting. Spread the frosting to the edges and repeat with the second layer. Add the third cake layer on the top and use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake. Serve and enjoy!
HOW TO KNOW WHEN THE CAKE IS DONE:
The cake is ready when the center of it springs back ever so slightly after a gentle poke or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few crumbs clinging to it.