Key Lime Cheesecake

A dessert that’s only a little sweet and refreshingly tart would be this Paleo and Vegan Key Lime cheesecake. Creamed cashews are whipped with sweet dairy free condensed milk, topped with an elite whipped coconut cream, and sprinkled with lime zest and toasted coconut for the final touch. And of course only using Key Limes fresh from Florida. It’s truly a dessert of champions.

How delicious!

How delicious!

I’m not at all shy to admit that I will only use Florida Key limes for a Key Lime pie. Why? Key limes are smaller and have a thinner rind when compared to other limes, with extraordinary flavor. Slightly more bitter, tart, with a distinct and strong aroma gives them a uniqueness that cannot be interchanged. Thus, they are the prime variety lime for a dessertAnd I’m feeling a bit of Florida nostalgia right about now, so they must be Key limes. Let me have my grudge. <3

Paleo Key Lime Cheesecake

Key Limes are small yet pack a flavorful punch!

But, I get it. Key limes are rare and are not easily available outside of Florida. In fact, I went to four different grocery stores in Mass, including Whole Foods a specialty produce store, to find them! My final stop was the ordinary grocery store a block from my house, and was ecstatic to find a huge stock of these petite beauties.

Paleo Key Lime CheesecakeStill, you don’t have to be as obsessive as me and visit every produce store within a sixteen mile radius to find them. You can order a sackful here or use Nellie and Joe’s bottled version. Key limes can be a pain to find even in peak season, so I’ll forgive you for using any available lime. Though, nothing beats fresh hand-squeezed Key Limes. Yes squeezed around 16* or so by hand, since most juicers are too big for these cute little limes.

Paleo Key Lime Cheesecake

I was nervous about a key feature in this cheesecake: the balance between sweet and tart. I personally do not care for Key Lime desserts that are cloyingly sweet, yet you may know I’m very sensitive to bitter things. Yet I do appreciate rare and unconventional bitter flavors, notably from Key limes. Those flavors should not be distracted by excess sugar and sweetness. So, this Key lime cheesecake is just sweet enough but lets that Key lime tartness shine through. And the balances is well received.

A blend of soaked cashews and macadamia nuts are used for the base, now common with Paleo and Vegan “cheesecakes.” I heated coconut milk and syrup to reduce the liquid, which eliminates the need to chill the can of coconut milk overnight for the cheesecake layer. Reducing the liquid from the milk and syrup also lets me use a lot of Key lime juice, which is the star ingredient after all. However, chilling coconut milk cans overnight is still required for the whipped coconut topping.

Paleo Key Lime CheesecakePaleo and Vegan Key lime cheesecake, with love from Florida. :)

Coconut Key Lime Cheesecake
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 16
For the Cheesecake Layer
  • 3 cups of Raw Cashews
  • ½ cup of Macadamia Nuts (or substitute more cashews)
  • 1 can of Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • ⅔ cup of Maple Syrup or Raw Honey
  • ⅔ cup of Key Lime Juice
  • ⅔ cup of Melted Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Zest of one Key Lime
For the Coconut Whipped Layer
  • 2 cans of Cold Full Fat Coconut Milk (chilled overnight)
  • ¼ cup of Arrowroot Starch
  • 1 Tablespoon of Maple Syrup or Honey
  • 1-2 teaspoons of Coconut Flour (optional if needed)
For the Cheesecake Layer
  1. Soak the cashews and macadamia nuts for 6-8 hours in water.
  2. Boil the can of coconut milk and honey/maple syrup at medium heat for about 30 minutes. You should be left with about ¾ cup of condensed coconut milk. Let cool completely.
  3. In a food processor, combine the soaked cashews and Key Lime juice and pulse until creamy and smooth.
  4. Add the condensed milk and coconut oil and blend until smooth.
  5. Pour over cookie crust shell.
  6. Chill in the refrigerator for about 6-8 hours.
For the Coconut Whipped Layer
  1. Chill your mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Open the coconut milk can from the bottom and pour out the liquid portion.
  3. Beat the solid portion on high speed for about 3 minutes until fluffy. Add the coconut flour if the mixture still appears flat and runny.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until fluffy.
  5. Spread on top of the cheesecake layer while in the sprinform pan, sprinkle with Key lime zest and toasted coconut, then chill for about an hour or so.
  6. Enjoy!

Sharon’s Notes

  • I wasn’t really counting how many key limes I had in the 1lb bag. Sixteen just seems like a sweet number right now. :) 



  1. says

    This looks absolutely amazing!! I am going to give this a try for my hubby’s birthday. He loves cheesecake and we miss them! Thanks for the article.

  2. Ella says

    Looks so delicious – I read through the ingredients and it all seemed great – until I got to the point in the recipe where it says to add condensed milk? Noo!!! How is condensed milk Paleo? All that lactose would not do well with me :-(

    Is there any sort of substitution? I was hoping to make this for my birthday!

    • Sharon says

      Hi Ella. There is no conventional condensed milk in this recipe. Step two describes how to make a Paleo dairy free condensed milk by boiling honey/maple with coconut milk. :)

  3. Lulu says

    Hi Sharon, I really want to make your Key Lime Cheesecake, because it looks absolutely amazing, but I can’t find palm shortening anywhere. Can I sub in coconut oil in the cookie crust?

  4. Meredith says

    I have digestive issues and on scd diet where starches age harmful to me. What can I substitute arrowroot for that is not a starch and how much? Thanks so much, I really want to make this!

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