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Last Updated on June 3, 2021 by Chenée Lewis
I’m so obsessed with key lime desserts! My key lime pound cake is one of my favorite cakes on the blog, and I just included an incredible coconut key lime cheesecake in my new cookbook Sweet Summertime (get your copy here)! But these key lime cookies are the simplest and most irresistible way to enjoy the flavor of key limes! They’re so tart and delicious, with a fluffy, tender texture from cream cheese that just melts in your mouth! And they’re so easy to make! They’re the perfect bright, citrusy cookie that are always a crowd favorite.
What is the difference between key lime and lime?
Key limes, also known as Mexican limes, are slightly less tart than typical grocery store limes, which are also known as Persian limes. Key limes are also smaller, and have thinner skin than Persian limes, so they’re a bit more difficult to work with. Their flavor is also a bit more floral and aromatic. Otherwise, the flavors are largely similar.
- salted butter – your butter should be room temperature. See below for a tip for how to soften your butter to room temperature quickly! I like to use salted butter to add flavor to this key lime cookies recipe, but if you prefer to use unsalted butter, just add an extra ¼ teaspoon of salt in with your dry ingredients.
- cream cheese – I recommend using full-fat cream cheese for this recipe. Like the butter, your cream cheese should also be softened to room temperature.
- key lime zest – use a microplane zester to remove the zest from your key limes. If you aren’t able to find key limes, feel free to substitute regular limes.
- powdered sugar – using powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar in this key lime cookies recipe contributes to a softer, melt-in-your-mouth texture! I would recommend using a kitchen scale to measure your powdered sugar by weight, or use the spoon-and-level method to measure by volume.
- eggs – your eggs should be room temperature to help to get that light, fluffy texture that we want in these key lime cookies!
- pure vanilla extract – be sure to use a high-quality pure vanilla extract. Or better yet, check out my post on how to make vanilla extract at home with just 2 ingredients!
- all-purpose flour – be sure to use a kitchen scale to measure 256 grams of flour by weight, or use the spoon-and-level method to measure by volume.
- baking soda and baking powder – these leaveners help give our key lime cookies their lift!
- key lime juice – your best option is fresh juice from key limes, but you can also opt for store-bought key lime juice, or if you can’t find either then freshly squeezed regular lime juice would work too.
Then we’ll be making a delicious key lime glaze to top these cookies! For that you’ll just need:
- powdered sugar
- key lime zest
- key lime juice
This is a pretty straightforward recipe for key lime cookies, so you’ll need standard cookie-making tools: a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer, a large baking sheet, and a small cookie scoop to scoop out perfectly-sized cookies! Here are my other equipment recommendations:
Tips and F.A.Q.
To soften your butter, place the stick of butter on a microwave-safe plate and heat on high for 4 seconds. Turn so another side of the stick of butter is facing up and heat for another 4 seconds. Repeat for a total of 16 seconds.
To soften your cream cheese for these key lime cookies, just remove it from the foil and place on a microwave-safe plate. Heat in the microwave for 10 seconds or until softened. It should be ready to add to the recipe!
Yes! Chilling the dough is an important step for keeping our cookies from spreading into a flat mess in the oven, and keeping that light, fluffy texture that is SO good in these key lime cookies! Plus, chilling the dough means you can make this dough the day before to save time! Just store it in the fridge overnight, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap or in an airtight container.
Yes you can! In my experience, the difference in flavor isn’t major. But if you’d like to more closely mimic the flavor of key lime, you can sub in 1/2 fresh regular lime juice and 1/2 fresh lemon juice.
These cookies store well at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 4 days. They can also be stored in the fridge for up to 7 days, but the cooler temperature in the fridge may dry them out a bit.
If you like these key lime cookies, you’re gonna love my Key Lime Pound Cake It’s got these same delicious flavors of key lime juice and zest, plus the richness of sweetened condensed milk! Basically it’s a decadent key lime pie in pound cake form! Or try my No-Churn Key Lime Pie Ice Cream! It’s got it all — key lime juice and zest, sweetened condensed milk, AND a buttery graham cracker crust swirl! Plus, you won’t need an ice cream maker!
Or for another incredible cookie recipe that you HAVE to try, check out my Small Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies with Brown Butter and Sea Salt! They’re made with brown butter (of course), big pools of bittersweet chocolate, brown sugar, and flaky sea salt! They always get rave reviews! And the best part is that the recipe only makes 8 cookies, so there’s never a bad time to make them!
Key Lime CookiesPrint Pin Recipe Rate Recipe
Equipment you may need
- microplane grater/zester
- small cookie scoop
- ½ cup (114 g) salted butter - room temperature
- 4 oz (113 g) cream cheese - room temperature
- 2 tsp (10 ml) key lime zest - packed (see note)
- 1 ¾ cup (210 g) powdered sugar - sifted
- 2 large eggs - room temperature
- 1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups (313 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp (2 ml) baking soda
- ¾ tsp (4 ml) baking powder
- ¼ cup (61 g) key lime juice - (see note)
- In a large bowl, stir together key lime zest and sugar, pressing zest into sugar to release oils.
- Add butter and cream cheese and cream the mixture together until smooth. Beat in eggs, vanilla extract, and key lime juice.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Fold dry ingredients into wet mixture until just combined.
- Cover dough and chill in the refrigerator for least one hour.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner.
- Use a small cookie scoop to scoop out chilled cookie dough and place 2 inches apart on lined cookie sheet. Place any leftover dough into the fridge to stay chilled while your first batch of cookies are baking.
- .Bake 10 minutes in preheated oven. Cool cookies completely on a wire rack.
- To make key lime glaze, whisk together glaze ingredients until smooth, adding a little extra key lime juice if needed to reach desired consistency. Spoon onto cooled cookies.
To soften your cream cheese for these key lime cookies, just remove it from the foil and place on a microwave-safe plate. Heat in the microwave for 10 seconds or until softened. It should be ready to add to the recipe! Substitution for Key Limes: Feel free to use store-bought key lime juice, or substitute regular lime zest or juice. In my experience, the difference in flavor isn’t major. But if you’d like to more closely mimic the flavor of key lime, you can sub in 1/2 fresh regular lime juice and 1/2 fresh lemon juice. Salted butter: I typically use salted butter in baking, but you can use unsalted butter in this recipe — just add ¼ teaspoon of salt in with the dry ingredients. Storing: These key lime cookies store well at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 4 days. They can also be stored in the fridge for up to 7 days, but the cooler temperature in the fridge may dry them out a bit.
PIN these key lime cookies for later!
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