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These homemade key lime cookies are better than boxed! A secret lime icing layer adds a slight cooling feel, making these soft, melt in your mouth cookies totally refreshing. Perfect recipe for lime lovers and for summer!
If you love key lime pie, then you'll go crazy for these key lime cookies! These cookies are similar to shortbread, but dipped in a secret key lime glaze before being coated in powdered sugar. The result is a delightful sweet and sour flavor combination that's impossible to resist.
What Are Key Limes?
Key Lime is derived from hybrid citrus trees native to Southeast Asia. Leaves usually green upon picking but yellow upon ripening. The key lime is small and spherical with a thin, yellowish-green rind. The sour citrus flavor is used to add tartness to drinks or desserts.
What makes it such a popular fruit? Key lime is famous in the US because it is popular in Florida where it has been brought into the Spanish hands in the 1500s and 1600's.
What Do These Cookies Taste Like?
These cookies have more of a shortbread consistency and are a bit more crumbly.
They are not chewy key lime cookies or key lime sugar cookies (although I think I definitely need to make a recipe for those!)
They are also not like key lime pie cookies as they do not contain any other flavors of what you'd find in pie.
Are These Like Key Lime Cooler Cookies?
These key lime cookies are similar to key lime cooler cookies; a simple lime cookie that are absolutely delightful to enjoy on a hot day!! In fact, the recipe is based off of my lemon cooler cookies recipe.
The secret is the key lime glaze which adds a slight cooling feel underneath the powdered sugar, making these soft, melt in your mouth cookies totally refreshing.
What Is The Difference Between Regular Limes And Key Limes?
Key limes are actually a type of citrus fruit that is native to the Florida Keys. They are smaller and more acidic than regular limes, which gives them their signature tart flavor.
If you can't find key limes, you can use regular limes in this recipe. Just know that the flavor will be slightly different.
Key limes are available during the summer months, so these key lime cookies are the perfect treat to enjoy during the warmer weather. But really, they're delicious any time of year!
Can I Buy Key Lime Juice?
Yes, bottled key lime juice is available at most grocery stores. You can find it in the aisle where the other citrus juices are located. Regular bottled lime juice works as well.
Ingredients In Key Lime Cookies
This is a very simple cookie! You only need a handful of ingredients.
- unsalted butter (room temp)
- ¾ c granulated sugar
- zest of key limes
- an egg yolk
- 2 c all purpose flour
For the Coating
- key lime juice (from fresh key limes, bottled key lime juice or regular lime juice is a good sub if needed)
- powdered sugar
You'll notice there is no baking powder or baking soda in the list of ingredients. These cookies resemble a shortbread versus a cakey, airy cookie, which I really like. It's not like a chewy key lime cookie either.
Other cookie recipes use brown sugar/light brown sugar, cream cheese, white chocolate chips, etc. but I wanted to keep the texture of the cookie itself basic so it didn't take away from the delicious key lime flavor! Same applies with the removal of vanilla extract; all you'll taste is pure lime with this recipe.
How To Zest A Key Lime
Getting key lime zest is hard to do since the limes are so tiny, so do be careful when using a sharp microplane to zest the limes.
The lime zest will add a lot of flavor to these cookies because the zest of the fruit contains concentrated oils. This is key (no pun intended) to flavoring these key lime cookies!
When you go to microplane the limes, be sure to remove just the bright green part of the rind. The white area underneath is called the pith and is especially bitter, so avoid zesting that part if possible.
Again, if you can't find key limes, you can substitute regular lime zest.
Making Key Lime Sugar
To ensure that we maximize the flavor in these key lime cookies, I like to make key lime sugar first! It really does set these cookies apart.
To do this, I place the granulated sugar and the key lime zest into the bowl of a food processor. I pulse and blend until the zest is completely mixed with the sugar.
Once it's ready, the sugar will even have a slight, green hue to it.
Making key lime sugar is a great way to be sure that this cookie is completely infused with the flavor of key lime!
If you're in a pinch for time, you can skip this step, but I think it really does make a difference.
How To Make The Cookies
These cookies are super easy to make!
Start by mixing the softened butter and infused key lime sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Then, add in the egg yolk and mix until combined.
Add in the flour and mix until everything is well combined.
The key to getting these cookies to be nice and thick is to not overmix the dough. Once the flour is incorporated, stop mixing! Otherwise, your cookies will be tough.
Next, use a cookie scoop to scoop out cookie dough balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
To ensure the cookies look uniform and have a nice shape, you'll want to roll the cookie ball in your hands to until the dough looks smooth.
Once you've placed the balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Remove them from the oven once you see slight golden brown on the edge. The key is to not overbake! You want these cookies to be soft and tender, not hard.
Once the cookies cool down on a cooling rack, it's time to finish them off with a dunk in glaze and powdered sugar!
Key Lime Icing
The key lime glaze is what makes these cookies so special! It's a simple mixture of key lime juice and powdered sugar.
I like to use fresh key lime juice for the best flavor, but you can also use bottled key lime juice if you can't find fresh key limes, or regular lime juice.
The key to making the perfect glaze for this recipe is to keep the glaze thin. You almost don't want to even notice the layer of icing underneath the powdered sugar - that's the key to giving these cookies a bit of a cooling sensation on the tongue.
By using fresh juice and powdered sugar, you'll make the thin glaze and then dump the entire cookie into the glaze. Then, let the excess key lime glaze drip off before moving on to the next cookie.
After you've given each cookie a key lime glaze dunk, then it's time for the final touch - powdered sugar!
Roll the cookie around in the powdered sugar to coat and then place back on the wire rack to fully set and dry.
One of my favorite parts about the final look of this cookie is, the powdered sugar soaks into some areas with the wet glaze and it leaves this beautiful inconsistent covering of sugar all over the cookie. To me, it looks JUST like the classic coolers you get in a box. You can always use more powdered sugar on the outside of the cookie if you want a more covered look!
Do I Need To Refrigerate Key Lime Cookies?
No, you don't need to refrigerate key lime cookies. They can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for about 4-5 days.
Can I Freeze Them?
Yes! These cookies can be frozen. Place them in a tight zip lock bag or freezer friendly air tight container and freeze baked cookies for up to 3 months.
Is it possible to bake small cookies? Yes! Simply cut down on the bake time. Check them around the eight minute mark and keep a close eye on them in the oven.
Can I use a different type of lime juice? You can, but key lime juice has a more tart flavor that pairs well with the sweetness of the cookie and glaze.
I don't have key limes, can I use regular limes? Yes, you can use regular limes but the key lime cookies will have a more tart flavor.
What type of key lime juice should I use? You can use fresh key lime juice or bottled key lime juice.
How long do key lime cookies last? Key lime cookies will last for about four to five days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Can I freeze key lime cookies? Yes, key lime cookies can be frozen for up to three months. Place them in a freezer-friendly zip lock bag or airtight container.
So, what are you waiting for? Give this key lime cookie recipe a try today! You won't be disappointed. Trust me, these cookies are simply irresistible and absolutely delicious!
Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or suggestions. Happy baking!
For the Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
- ¾ c granulated sugar
- Zest of 4 key limes (or 1 regular lime)
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 c all purpose flour
For the Coating
- The juice of 4 key limes (or 1 regular lime)
- 1 c powdered sugar
- More powdered sugar for coating
- Preheat the oven to 350° and prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, add the softened butter. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the granulated sugar and zest.
- Pulse and blend until the zest is completely mixed with the sugar. Once it's ready, the sugar will even have a slight, green hue to it. If you're in a pinch for time, you can skip this step, but I think it really does make a difference.
- Using a hand mixer (or if you have this in a stand mixer) beat the butter and key lime infused sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Next, add the egg yolk and beat until combined.
- Lastly, add the flour and mix on low speed until large crumbles form. Stop mixing once all the flour is absorbed. Do not over mix.
- Using a 1 tablespoon sized cookie scoop, scoop the dough into the palm of your hand and squeeze together to form a ball. It's okay if the dough is crumbly, but you should be able to form a nice, smooth ball after squeezing the dough together tightly. If the dough is too dry, try adding a couple teaspoons of key lime juice.
- Place the dough balls on the prepared cookie sheet, spaced 1½ inches apart.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottom is light golden brown.
- Allow to rest of the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
- Once cooled, place the key lime juice in a bowl and add the 1 cup of powdered sugar. Stir to make a thin icing glaze. Then, place additional powdered sugar (for rolling) in the other bowl).
- Dip the entire cookie into the thin key lime juice icing, allowing the excess to drip off. Then, immediately roll the cookie into the other bowl with the sugar, rolling the cookie around to coat.
- Place back on the cooling rack for at least 30 minutes to dry. Re-roll in the powdered sugar if needed (sometimes the lemon juice absorbs some of the sugar!)
- Store in an airtight container for 4-6 days or freeze up to 3 months.
Recipe by Owlbbaking.com
Check out my Lemon Cooler Recipe!
- Prep Time: 35
- Cook Time: 10
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: key lime cookies, key lime coolers, lime cookies, key lime juice, key lime desserts