This Key Lime Cookies Recipe is everything you didn't know your heart desired. They are soft and chewy; the absolute perfect texture and full of that delicious tangy key lime flavor. No need to go to Key West, just hit up your local grocery store for the ingredients.
These are popular mostly in the spring and summer, but we LOVE to whip them up towards the end of January and in February when we are ready for winter to be over and spring to arrive. Great for Cinco de Mayo and Easter. We also think with their green tint (you can add some green food coloring too!) they are also perfect for celebrating St. Patrick's Day.
This was inspired by Trader Joe's and my Lemon Cookies on this site, and goes great with our Strawberry Lemon Cookies or our Cadbury Egg Easter Cookies for spring. Try our refreshing citrus drinks like our Brazilian Limeade and Creamy Lemonade.
This is also a great recipe we've added to our foods that start with K list.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Quick and Easy - is there anything better than a delicious treat that is easy to make and can be ready in 20 minutes?
- Kid-Friendly - obviously kids gobble these up, but kids can also make these with a little guidance and older kids can make them by themselves. Just make sure they don't microplane their fingers (like I am prone to do!)
- Taste Like Summer - we are summer lovers and love bright summery foods, and these hit the nail on the head for a spring/ summer flavor.
- The Best Texture - this recipe was tested and tested until the exact perfect texture was achieved. They are so soft and so chewy. Cookie perfection.
- Great for a Party - Key Lime Sugar Cookies are unique enough that they are great for a party. I love having easy yummy impressive treats to take to get togethers and these fit the bill.
- Simple - they are simple to make and have simple ingredients, nothing complicated here!
- butter- I used salted
- sugar- basic granulated sugar
- key lime zest- I like to use a microplane for the best results.
- egg- large
- vanilla- use pure vanilla for the best flavor. Imitation will work too, but we prefer pure.
- key lime juice- you can use fresh squeezed for the best flavor, or bottled will work fine in this recipe too. (I like to use the juice from the key limes I need for the zest, then fill in the rest with bottled juice)
- all-purpose flour - unbleached or bleached is fine
- salt - I used basic table salt
- baking soda
- baking powder
See recipe card for quantities.
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine the softened butter and sugar and beat on high for at least 2 minutes, and up to 3 minutes. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
2. Add the eggs and beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the vanilla, key lime juice and key lime zest. Beat on medium until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and combine.
3. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix on low, just until combined. It's a slightly wetter dough than chocolate chip cookies.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop out dough balls around 1 ½" in diameter, or use a medium size cookie scoop. Smooth the dough balls out before baking for a smoother finish. This is for looks only and will not affect the taste or texture.
5. Bake at 350° F for 9-11 minutes. Bake until the tops are matte and the edges are set. No need to wait for them to be golden, or they will be over cooked and crumbly! Let sit on the baking sheet 5-8 minutes, then move to a cooling rack.
6. After the cookies have cooled, whisk together the key lime juice and powdered sugar together in a bowl. You may need to add more to get the desired consistency. We like ours thick enough to not seep into the cookie, and thin enough to get a good drizzle. Drizzle the glaze over top of cooled cookies. Allow to set up (around 5 minutes then enjoy!
Hint: Don't leave them sitting on the baking sheet for more than about 10 minutes or they will start to dry out. Also, don't add glaze until the cookies are cooled, or it will absorb into the cookie.
- Regular Limes - as long as you have key lime juice, you CAN use regular lime zest. There wasn't a huge taste difference when we tested it.
- Dairy Free - use your favorite plant based butter at a 1:1 ratio for dairy free cookies.
- Imitation Vanilla - there is a lot of talk lately that imitation works as well as pure vanilla in baked goods. While I disagree, I do think in something like this where the prominent flavor is key lime and not vanilla, imitation vanilla will be unnoticeable.
- Salt - feel free to use your favorite salt instead of table salt in these cookies, just be aware you may need to use a little more or less as different salts have different "saltiness".
- Essential Oils- If you have pure essential oils, you can substitute the zest for about 8 drops of lime essential oil. Please make sure that it is pure and food grade before doing so.
- Spicy - Sprinkle some tajin on top before the glaze has a chance to solidify.
- Mexican Lime Cookies - before baking, roll into balls and coat in powdered sugar. Skip the glaze. Roll in powdered sugar again after they have baked and cooled.
- Coconut Lime Cookies -stir ½ cup shredded coconut into the cookie dough after adding the flour. Feel free to sprinkle some on top while the glaze is still wet too.
- Lime Cookies - make these plain lime by using regular limes and regular lime juice. Side note about plain lime: we've tried it this way and all of our taste testers preferred key lime.
- Lemon Lime Cookies - keep the key lime juice, and substitute half the juice and zest with lemon juice and zest. We like to call them Margarita Cookies.
- Oreo - make them OREO by adding ½ cup crushed OREOs and sprinkling with more OREOs on top.
- Ginger- add ¼" of fresh grated ginger at the same time as adding the zest.
These CAN be made by hand without an electric mixer, but will take awhile. Make sure you get the butter and sugar properly creamed.
Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months. When freezing, I like to put them in the freezer when they are still oh so slightly warm.
Do Not over bake the cookies! They will be dry and crumbly. As soon as the tops are matte and the edges are set, these are done! Allow them to cool on the baking sheet and finish cooking/ setting up for 5-8 minutes.
Make as you would normal cookies, adding key lime zest and key lime juice. Top with a drizzle of delicious key lime glaze!
Absolutely! Using real lime juice adds the best tangy flavor and makes them SO delicious and they still have a great texture.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Key Lime Cookies
- ⅓ cup butter I used salted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg large
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- zest from 1 key lime
- ¼ cup key lime juice fresh squeezed for best flavor
- 2 cups flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 Tablespoon key lime juice
- ½ cup powdered sugar can add 2 Tablespoons more powdered sugar for a thicker glaze.
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Beat together the butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and beat until combined. Add key lime zest, key lime juice and vanilla and beat until well combined. Scrape down the sides and combine.
- Add flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix on low just until combined. The dough is much looser than normal cookie dough. See process photo above for a picture of the texture.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop out dough balls about 1 ½" in diameter on the sheet. Allow room for them to spread while baking. Bake until the edges have set and the tops are matte, about 10-12 minutes. Do not wait for them to turn golden or they will be dry! Remove from oven and allow to finish cooking for 5-8 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.
- Whisk together the key lime juice and powdered sugar together in a small bowl. Add more powdered sugar if needed. The glaze should be thick enough that it won't seep into the cookie and thin enough to get a good drizzle. See picture above in step by step instructions for reference.
- Drizzle glaze over cooled cookies and Enjoy!!
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. It will take longer for them to go bad, but the texture will be compromised.
- Store in the freezer for up to 2 months. I like to freeze them when they are fresh and still oh so slightly warm for maximum softness upon defrosting.
- Tip: Do not over bake! For the perfect texture, remove from oven as soon as the tops are matte and the edges are set. This will create a cookie that is juuuuuuuust barely done in the center. For a more done cookie, cook an additional 2 minutes after the tops are matte and the edges are set. They won't be quite as soft and chewy.
- Tip: Wait until the cookies have cooled completely to add the glaze or it will seep into the cookie.
- Don't leave perishable food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove