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+ servings
sliced lime cake on a cake plate

Lime Cake

This lime cake is made totally from scratch and it's a delicious treat for lovers of citrusy desserts!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Cooling time 4 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 10
Author Kelsie


Lime curd

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • zest of 3 limes*
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice from 3 to 4 limes
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into 8 chunks

Cake layers

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • finely grated zest of 2 to 3 limes**
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk*+


  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons chilled lime curd
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream if necessary


Lime curd

  1. Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a medium mixing bowl and whisk vigorously until smooth.
  2. Whisk in the lime juice and zest. Pour the mixture into the top of a double boiler set over simmering water.
  3. Cook, stirring, until mixture is pale in color and thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon—about 15 to 20 minutes. (See the body of this post for a visual guide to determining when your lime curd is done.)
  4. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring to melt each pat of butter before adding the next.
  5. Scrape the curd into a clean mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. (If you prefer, you can strain the curd through a fine mesh sieve to eliminate any lime zest before putting it in the clean bowl.)
  6. Refrigerate until completely chilled before using. Once chilled, lime curd can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to about a week.

Cake layers

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 3 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment, spray the parchment with cooking spray, and set pans aside.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. (These are the dry ingredients.)
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with with an electric mixer until smooth.
  4. Add the sugar, vanilla, lime zest, and eggs and beat on medium until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Stop the mixer a few times to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.)
  5. With mixer on low, beat in half of the dry ingredients until just combined. Beat in half of the buttermilk.
  6. Beat in the remaining flour, then the remaining butter milk until just incorporated. Use a rubber spatula to stir a few times to ensure all of the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.
  7. Divide batter between the prepared cake pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
  8. Cool the cake layers in the pans for 20 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pans to loosen. Carefully turn onto a wire rack to cool completely before filling and frosting.


  1. Beat the butter and cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl until smooth.
  2. Beat in the lime curd, vanilla and salt. With mixer on low, gradually beat in 4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.
  3. Once all the sugar is incorporated, turn mixer to medium and beat until the frosting is smooth. If frosting is too thick, beat in a little milk. If it’s too thin, beat in more powdered sugar.
  4. Assembly
  5. Use a long serrated knife to trim your cake layers if they've domed.
  6. Set 1 cooled cake layer on a cake stand or cardboard cake circle. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top, then spread about 2 to 3 tablespoons of lime curd over that; don’t go all the way to the edge with the curd.
  7. Top with a second layer, more frosting, and more lime curd. Top with the third cake layer. Frost and decorate your cake as desired. Slice and serve.
  8. Uneaten lime cake can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days. It can also be stored in the freezer, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 months.

Recipe Notes

  • *Zest your limes before juicing them; it’s really hard to zest limes once they’ve been juiced.
  • **Use 3 limes for a more pronounced flavor and 2 for a more subtle flavor.
  • *+You can substitute 1 1/2 cups whole milk mixed with 2 1/2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar. Stir them together and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, then you’re ready to use it.
  • If you prefer, you can use store-bought lime curd between the cake layers.
  • See the body of this post for tips for storing and using the egg whites you’ll have left over after you make your lime curd.