As soon as Key limes appear in the produce aisle, this from-scratch Key lime pound cake is the first thing I’ll make! This easy recipe is fast becoming one of my favorite summer desserts. My Key lime cake is spongey and tender, bursting with the bright, fresh flavor of real limes. I’ve brought this cake to every occasion lately, from our Fourth of July cookout to a family picnic. It’s been met with RAVE reviews!
Why You’ll Love This Homemade Pound Cake Recipe
Like my lemon pound cake recipe, this Key lime cake is filled with summery citrus flavor. I love the way that the icing just melts into the rich, buttery cake. Here are more reasons you’ll want this recipe on repeat:
Easy batter. Simple ingredients and a quick prep time mean your zesty pound cake batter is ready for the oven in minutes.
Zesty flavor. This moist and tender Key lime pound cake is bursting with lime flavor, from the fluffy crumb to the creamy Key lime icing on top.
Perfect for gatherings. I prepare this cake in a bundt pan because not only does it make for a gorgeous presentation, but it’s perfect for feeding a party. Potlucks, BBQs, get-togethers with friends – you’re covered.
Key Limes vs. Regular Limes
You might be wondering, “Is there even a difference between a lime and a Key lime?” The answer is, yes! Key limes are a citrus hybrid, with a more intense, tangy, and acidic flavor than regular limes. They originate in Southeast Asia, but they’re grown in California and Florida. Key limes have found their way into US kitchens via desserts like Key lime pie (or Key lime cheesecake).
Ingredients You’ll Need
Aside from getting your hands on fresh Key limes (see my note on this below), the rest of the pound cake batter comes together using pantry staples. Remember to scroll to the recipe card for the full amounts and recipe details.
Flour, Baking Soda, and Salt: Our baking regulars that give this pound cake lift, structure, and rise. I recommend making this pound cake with all-purpose flour for the most consistent results.
Butter: Your butter can be salted or unsalted. Just make sure it’s at room temperature, this way it will be easier to mix.
Sugar and Eggs: More pound cake essentials. You’re gonna need a lot of eggs for this one. A whole 6 pack! All those eggs help bind the ingredients and give this Key lime pound cake its richness. You’ll also need some granulated sugar for sweetness.
Milk and Vanilla: Regular whole milk or 2% milk is best. I recommend using real vanilla extract over the imitation kind.
Key Limes: You’ll need a couple of spoonfuls of fresh Key lime juice, along with some lime zest to boost the flavors. If needed, you can substitute regular lime juice for Key lime juice. See my note below. Whatever you do, skip the bottled stuff!
Powdered Sugar: When your cake is baked, you’ll whisk up a quick Key lime icing made from powdered sugar, additional lime juice, and vanilla extract.
Where Can I Find Key Limes?
June to September is Key lime season in the States. Depending on where you live, you can find Key limes in major grocery stores when they’re in season. Key limes are much smaller than conventional limes (the ones that are available year-round), and they have a more floral aroma. If you can’t get your hands on fresh Key limes, the good news is, you can easily substitute regular fresh lime juice for Key lime juice in this Key lime cake.
How to Make Key Lime Pound Cake
Before you start, get a 12-cup bundt pan nice and greased while your oven preheats to 325ºF. Now, let’s get going with this delicious homemade Key lime pound cake:
Make the batter. Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, and then use your stand mixer to beat together the butter, sugar, and eggs until creamed. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients, alternating with milk until they’re just combined (don’t overmix!). Finally, stir in the vanilla with the lime juice and zest.
Bake. Pour the batter evenly into the bundt cake pan. Bake your bundt cake at 325ºF for 75-85 minutes, until set. Once your pound cake is out of the oven, let it rest and cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. Afterward, invert the pan onto a wire rack so that the cake can finish cooling.
Add the lime icing. When your cake is cool, whisk some additional lime juice and vanilla into powdered sugar to make the icing. Drizzle it all over the cake. You can garnish your Key lime pound cake with more lime zest if you’d like, then slice and serve!
Tips for Success
Here are my final tips for the best homemade pound cake that’s rich and dense, but soft and moist at the same time:
Take time to cream the butter and sugar well. Beat the butter and sugar together, and add the eggs one at a time to incorporate air, for a light and fluffy pound cake.
But don’t overmix the batter. Once the dry ingredients are added, make sure to only mix until everything is just combined. Over-beaten batter activates gluten, which can lead to a tough, overly dense pound cake.
Check if your pound cake is done by inserting a toothpick into the middle. If the toothpick comes out clean, your cake is ready to come out.
If the top of the cake is starting to brown too much, tent the pan loosely with a piece of foil until it’s done baking.
Why is it called a pound cake?
Pound cake gets its name from how the cake was originally made (as far back as the 1700s!): with one pound each of flour, butter, sugar, and eggs.
How do you keep pound cake moist?
Proper storage is key to keeping this pound cake soft and moist. Make sure that you keep it covered airtight, ideally at room temperature as the fridge tends to dry it out. See below for storage directions.
Can I use lime instead of key lime?
Yes. As mentioned, if you don’t have Key limes, you can make this dessert with the juice and zest from regular limes instead.
How to Serve Key Lime Pound Cake
The bundt-cake style of this Key lime pound cake makes it perfect for feeding a crowd! You can get anywhere between 12 and 16 servings out of one cake. We love serving slices topped with ice cream or swirled with whipped cream. Add a lime wedge for extra garnish.
How to Store
Store this pound cake airtight on the counter for up to 3-4 days. I usually don’t recommend storing cakes in the refrigerator, but if you live somewhere warm, you can also keep your pound cake covered in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Can I Freeze Pound Cake?
Yes! You can freeze this pound cake frosted or unfrosted, either whole or in slices. Once the cake is at room temperature, double-wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store it frozen for up to 3-4 months. Defrost the cake on the countertop before serving.
Key lime pound cake is an easy summer dessert bursting with fresh lime, drizzled with creamy Key lime icing. This easy homemade pound cake recipe is ready for the oven in minutes!
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 cup fresh Key lime juice
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh Key lime juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cake: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour (or powdered sugar) a 10-inch (12-cup) bundt pan, or coat generously with baking spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mix the butter and sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add in the eggs one at a time until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Turn the mixer to low and add in the flour mixture and milk in alternating additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in vanilla, lime zest, and lime juice.
Spread the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake for 75 – 85 minutes, or until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. If you notice the cake browning too quickly, loosely tent a piece of aluminum foil over the pan to slow the browning.
Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes, before inverting the pan onto a wire rack to cool the cake completely.
Lime Icing: Whisk together powdered sugar, Key lime juice, and vanilla until smooth. Use immediately. Drizzle onto the cooled cake.
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