Calling all lovers of tart and tangy limes, you will love these easy and delicious key lime cookies. They are soft, buttery, and covered in powdered sugar. And with only four ingredients and some fresh key limes, this cookie recipe comes together in no time.
Key lime recipes are super popular this time of year. Much like a key lime pie, these cookies have a bright and refreshing citrus flavor making them perfect for spring.
These cookies are light, buttery, covered in powdered sugar and are reminiscent of the snowball cookies everyone loves at Christmas.
Why you'll love this recipe
- They are easy. The recipe is very simple to make and with just a five ingredients, you will have the perfect bite-sized cookies in just 15 minutes.
- They are super buttery. These are basically a shortbread cookie shaped like a ball flavored with key lime juice and zest. This makes for a super tender, melt-in-your-mouth buttery cookie.
- They are tiny. Tiny means these key lime cookies are easy to travel with, easy to serve, and (best part) easy to eat more than one.
- They have a subtle but bright lime flavor. The lime in these cookies is not overpowering, it is just enough to be bright and refreshing.
What is a key lime?
Key limes are smaller, more yellow, and more aromatic than regular limes. They have more seeds and less juice. They are used most commonly in pie and cocktails.
How is key lime different from regular lime?
First and foremost, their size. Key limes are significantly smaller than your everyday lime.
They also have a much thinner skin than regular limes, and this means they don't last nearly as long, you have to use them pretty much right away. And though they have less juice than a regular lime, the juice is much more fragrant and noticeably sweeter, a lot less acidic. I think they have much less of a pucker factor, which makes them a more balanced citrus fruit in dessert.
If you can't get your hand on any to make key lime cookies, I recommend using Nellie and Joe's. I use it all the time and it is perfect for this recipe.
Can I use regular limes in this recipe instead of key limes?
Absolutely. The cookies will be a bit more tart, but definitely still enjoyable
Five simple ingredients. And aside from the key limes, it is all basic pantry ingredients. Here's what you need:
- Powdered sugar. This will go into the cookie dough and also be used to roll the cookies after baking.
- Key limes. Both for their juice and their zest.
Like a typical buttery shortbread cookie, these key lime cookies come together quick.
Cream together the butter and the powdered sugar.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and key lime zest.
Add the lime juice to the creamed butter and sugar.
Slowly mix in the flour mixture, just until combined.
The cookie batter gets scooped and then rolled into little key lime cookie balls and placed on a parchment lined baking sheet.
How to finish the cookies
After baking and cooling for a few minutes, the cookies will get rolled in powdered sugar, like a traditional snowball cookie.
Ingredient swaps and variations
While this is a key lime cookies recipe, it doesn't only have to be key limes. I can't even find them all the time! So here's a few ideas for mixing these cookies up a bit:
- Use regular limes. The taste is not identical to key limes, but regular lime juice and zest certainly will do the trick and give you a great flavor.
- Use lemons. Lemons are a great alternative to key limes in this cookie recipe.
- Make a zesty lime glaze instead of powdered sugar. Melt a tablespoon of butter and stir in and stir in 1 cup of powdered sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of lime juice and dip the top of the cookies for a bright and citrusy glaze.
How to store
These cookies will keep for a week in an airtight container on the counter, though they will get drier after about three days.
My biggest tip is to be sure to measure everything properly. A cookie as simple as this and with so few ingredients, really requires precise measuring for all the things. This includes making sure not to scoop each cookie too large. Measure a tablespoon or less for each cookie, otherwise they will be crumbly and dry.
Other cookie recipes you'll love
Love making cookies? AFter you try these key lime cookies, make sure to try one of these:
- tablespoon or cookie scoop
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoon key lime juice
- 2 tablespoon key lime zest
- 1 ¼ cups flour spooned into cup and leveled – DO NOT SCOOP WITH CUP OUT OD FLOUR BAG
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar together until light in color and fluffy. Mix in the key lime juice.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, lime zest and salt.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing on low, just until incorporated and a dough comes together.
- Let the dough rest for five minutes. Using a small cookie scooper, or a tablespoon, scoop some dough into your hands and roll it into a ball.
- Place onto the cookie sheets and bake for about 14 minutes. These cookies don’t really brown up or change shape when they are finished, so I really recommend 14 minutes, MAX 15 so they don’t overbake and dry out.
- Cool them for three minutes, and then roll each warm cookie in the additional powdered sugar. Continue to cool completely before serving