Coconut Key Lime Pie Cake

Jun 13

Coconut Key Lime Pie Cake – Layers of coconut lime cake, coconut buttercream, key lime curd, toasted graham cracker, and toasted coconut.

It’s Here!

First off, let me apologize for taking so long to get this recipe up! I wanted it to be the first post on my new website, which I thought would be ready to launch last week, but it took a little longer than expected to work out a few glitches.

Thanks for being patient!


The idea for this cake came from my stepdad. He is the biggest fan of key lime pie I have ever met. For months now, he’s been begging me to do a key lime cake, but I keep putting it at the bottom of my cake list because the flavor didn’t really speak to me (probably because it’s a pie flavor and pie isn’t really my cup of tea, as you know).

But as I started to think about this flavor, I realized the reason I was hesitating to make this particular cake was because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted in it.

Then, just a few weeks ago I was at Porcupine Grill in Salt Lake with my mom and stepdad, and per usual, Garry ordered the key lime pie for dessert. I took a bite to see if his love of the dessert had rubbed off on me at all. And while I didn’t suddenly love key lime pie, this bite did turn a light bulb on in my head!

The cake itself didn’t need to be lime flavored like I was originally stuck on. This cake just needed a lime element to it. Something with a real lime flavor like you get from the custard in the pie. It also occurred to me that I definitely needed a graham cracker crust. The one element of the pie I decided not to throw into the cake was the meringue topping. It’s too airy and flavorless for a cake, in my opinion.

So without the meringue element, I started to brainstorm other flavor combinations and quickly settled on coconut as the companion to the key lime. With coconut and graham cracker crust in the mix, I was ready to make this cake.

Graham Crust or Crumbs (Updated)

The graham cracker crust is the same one I use for my Ultimate S’mores Cake and bakes beautifully with the moist and tender coconut cream cake on top. UPDATE: However, I know that it can be difficult to cut through the crust on the bottom of the cake, so I’ve updated the recipe to include the option of making graham cracker crumbs to use between cake layers instead. The option for the graham cracker crust is still there. I just wanted to make sure you had options.


I also did a coconut buttercream that I flavored with coconut emulsion for a soft, creamy coconut flavor. The tart key lime curd in between each layer provides a nice balance to all the sweetness in the buttercream and cake. I also decided to throw in some toasted coconut – simply because I love different textures in my cake.

Just take a look at all those scrumptious layers! (This is a look at the old version with the graham cracker crust).

After finishing the cake, I was excited to get my hands on the scraps and create a sample piece for myself. I’ll be honest, I was hoping to at least like it, but didn’t expect to love it… but you guys, I seriously died over this cake! I couldn’t stop eating it and literally danced around my kitchen I was so excited about this cake!

Assembly Tips

Stacking and Crumb Coat

Final Coat

The cake layers are moist, the curd is subtly tart, the buttercream is incredibly silky, and the graham cracker crust and toasted coconut are the perfect accents to this pie turned cake!


Coconut Key Lime Pie Cake





Yield One 3-layer, 8-inch round cake

Layers of toasted graham cracker, coconut lime cake, coconut buttercream, key lime curd and toasted coconut.


For the Lime Curd

  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 g)  fresh lime juice (about 4 large limes)
  • 4 teaspoons( 7.2 g) lime zest
  • 3 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g)  LorAnn key lime flavor
  • 4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
  • Green food gel (optional)

For the Graham Cracker Crust

  • 3 cups (360 g) graham cracker crumbs, about 25 rectangular crackers (this is best done in a food processor or blender, but can be done by placing the graham crackers in a zip-lock bag and rolling over the crackers with a rolling pin)
  • 3/4 cup (169.5 g)unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 (2.8 g) teaspoon salt

For the Coconut Lime Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (16 g)  coconut emulsion
  • 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (339 g)  cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon (10 g)  baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5.6 g)  salt
  • 2 teaspoons (11.2g) lime zest
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk, mix the cream and the liquid really well.

For the Coconut Buttercream

  • 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter, slightly chilled
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) cream of coconut
  • 6 cups (750 g) confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 4 teaspoons (16.8 g) coconut emulsion
  • Pinch of salt
  • *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping, you’ll want to make an extra 1/2 batch.

Toasted Coconut

  • 1 1/2 cups (150 g) sweetened shredded coconut


For the Lime Curd

  1. In a small sauce pan, combine the sugar, lime juice, and lime zest over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the egg yolks and whole eggs, stirring while you add them. Continue to stir while the mixture cooks for about 5 to 6 minutes. The mixture will thicken during this time. Remove it from the heat and add the butter. Stir until smooth.
  2. Run the curd through a fine mesh sieve. Once cooled, place plastic wrap directly on top of the curd and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

For the Graham Cracker Crust

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch or four 6-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray and then line with parchment. Spray again. Set aside.
  2. In a medium sized bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Stir until all the graham cracker crumbs are damped by the melted butter.
  3. Divide evenly between the three pans and press down firmly with your hand or the back of a spoon.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool while you make the coconut lime cake.


For the Graham Cracker Crumble

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium sized bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Stir until all the graham cracker crumbs are damped by the melted butter.
  3. Evenly spread the crumbs on the baking sheet, leaving some larger chunks in the mix.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool while you make the coconut lime cake.

For the Coconut Cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar together on medium speed for two minutes.
  3. Gradually add the egg whites and whole eggs, making sure to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl between additions. Mix on medium-high for 2 minutes after all the eggs are added.
  4. Add the coconut emulsion and vanilla extract.
  5. In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk the cake flour, baking powder, lime zest and salt.
  6. Turn the mixer on low speed and alternately add the flour mixture and the coconut cream, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until combined.
  7. Evenly distribute the batter over the graham cracker layers in the three pans and level with an offset spatula.
  8. Bake for about 23-25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the edges of the cake start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Don't turn off your oven.
  9. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and then invert onto cooling racks to cool completely.

For the Toasted Coconut

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and evenly spread the shredded coconut across the pan in one layer.
  2. Toast the coconut in the oven for about 10 minutes, checking and stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until the coconut is golden brown all over.
  3. Let cool completely before use.

For the Coconut Buttercream

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter and coconut cream. Beat on medium-high speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  2. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the sifted powdered sugar, followed by the extracts and salt.
  3. Turn the mixer to medium speed and beat the frosting until it is light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Before frosting your cake, make sure to mix the frosting by hand with a wooden spoon to push out the air pockets. 


  1. Level each cake layer with a knife or cake leveler.
  2. Place your first cake layer, right-side up, on a cake plate or cake board. Cover the cake layer with frosting, allowing some of the frosting to go over the edge of the cake, and then pipe a rim around the cake to act as a barrier to the lime curd.
  3. Pour and spread about 3 to 4 tablespoons of lime curd. Cover with toasted coconut (and the graham cracker crumbs IF YOU DID NOT bake the graham cracker on the bottom of the cake). 
  4. Repeat step 2 and 3 for the second layer, and then place the final cake layer on top, top side up as well. Frost the entire cake with a thin coat of frosting to lock in the crumbs. Freeze the crumb coat for 10 minutes. 
  5. After the crumb coat is chilled, continue frosting the cake and decorate with toasted coconut and lime zest. 

Courses Dessert

Cuisine Cake

42 thoughts on “Coconut Key Lime Pie Cake

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  1. I’m probably just missing something, but in the assembly stage, I’m not seeing where to put the graham layer? Thanks for you help.

  2. I just made the lime curd, but I didn’t see in the instructions when I was supposed to put the LorAnn key lime flavor in. I just put it in when I added the eggs. I hope that was ok! I can’t wait to finish this cake!

  3. OMG! I can’t wait to dig a fork into this beauty!
    Just an observation for you though…Your instructions say to put the final layer of cake, top side down. This would put the graham cracker crust at the very top of the cake, which could be very crumbly to frost. In looking at your pictures, I see that you put all 3 cake layers, top side up. This makes more sense for frosting.

  4. I finally made this cake to sell at an event… which means I didn’t get to eat it… but the scraps were DELICIOUS! So addicting. Can’t wait to make it again all for me! 🙂 Thanks for the amazing recipe!

  5. This cake looks amazing! I am going to make it for my moms birthday but i am trying to figure out how i can make it 2 days ahead of time. Should i make the cake up to the crumb frosting level and keep frozen until the day of? I want it to be as fresh as possible. Any tips would be greatly appreciated! I can’t wait to make this!

    1. Yes, you can definitely make it all the way through the crumb coat or even do the entire thing. When you’re done, freeze it for 30 minutes to set the frosting and then wrap the entire thing in plastic wrap to freeze until the night before the party. Move to the fridge overnight and then room temp without the plastic wrap in the mid morning.

    2. I can’t even begin to Express my love for a crust in a cake… this cake is AMAZING!!! Followed the instructions to a T and turned out beautiful!!! Thanks so much!!!

  6. You may want to update the graham cracker crust instructions to include the salt! I forgot to add it – it’s listed in the ingredients but not the steps. 🙈

  7. Hi Courtney! Your site is lovely. You are so talented. Just curious…what type of cream of coconut do you use. The link doesn’t seem to be working. If its similar to Grace cream coconut, do you grate it in the batter? Please confirm. Thanks so much!

  8. Does the butter need to be softened in the cake portion? I made this last night and they baked flat and I’m thinking it’s because my butter was very room temperature? I really try not to over mix so I’m thinking it was the butter?

  9. Hi Courtney!
    I made this cake this week for an event last night. People went CRAZY for it and it was gone in less than 10 minutes- the room was almost silent as people devoured the cake. Not a crumb was left!! The lime curd is the star here but every part of this cake is delicious. Thanks for a great recipe 😁

  10. Hi! I’m in a pinch and my LorAnn’s key lime flavoring won’t be delivered in time and I can’t find anything similar in any local stores. Are they any substitutes that would work in it’s place or could I leave it out all together? Thank you!

  11. Hi Courtney! In the lime curd directions there isn’t any key lime extract. Do you add it with the eggs or after you run it through a sieve?

  12. I can’t find that cream of coconut or anything like it in the grocery stores I’ve been to. I’m up in Canada so maybe it’s just not available? Could I use coconut cream instead or would it not have as much flavour? Or maybe a coconut flavouring syrup for putting into drinks?

  13. I just made this cake for a friend’s birthday tomorrow and can’t wait to try it! My cake layers didn’t rise very high, though. I used all really fresh ingredients. What else could it be? Also, does this cake have to be refrigerated due to the lime curd? Thanks!

  14. Hi Courtney, I really want to make this cake this weekend but I can’t find any coconut emulsion in my stores. Would coconut extract work? If so, would I use the same amount as the emulsion?

  15. I just made this cake for my birthday and it was AMAZING! The flavors and textures are amazing! It was a big hit!

  16. Hi Courtney! I’m planning on making this for my boyfriend’s birthday – looks SO GOOD – I’m just wondering whether an ingredient is missing from the cake part of the recipe. There is an extra bullet point that just says “T” and I’m not sure if something was accidentally deleted. Thank you!!!

  17. So excited to make this, as your cakes have not let me down ever. Going with the crumb option, I’ve decided. But rookie flavoring question….. The Lorann Key Lime flavor that I bought on Amazon is labled “super strength”. That’s the same as what’s linked in the ingredient list but just want to make sure that’s right and so that I don’t overpower the cake if I bought the wrong kind. Thanks if you see this and can help!