The best key lime cookies recipe is right here! These easy, chewy key lime cookies are so good, you’ll feel like you’re in Key West! And if you love these cookies, try my Key Lime Pound Cake or my No-Churn Key Lime Pie Ice Cream!
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Easy Key Lime Cookies Recipe
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 cookbook Sweet Summertime (get your copy here)! But these chewy 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, have a slightly less tart flavor 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.
For best flavor in these key lime cooler cookies and quick lime glaze, use the juice and zest fresh key limes or bottled key lime juice. If you can't find either, feel free to use regular lime zest and juice in place of key limes.
Check the recipe card below for full measurements, but here are the ingredients you'll need for this easy key lime cookie recipe:
- 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 Persian 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 large bowl, stand mixer or handheld electric mixer, a large baking sheet, and a small cookie scoop to scoop out perfectly-sized cookie dough balls! Here are my other equipment recommendations:
Tips and F.A.Q.
Key limes are a hybrid citrus fruit native to tropical Southeast Asia. They are usually green when picked, but yellow when ripe.
Key limes are called that because of their popularity in the Florida keys, where they were brought by the Spanish in the 1500s.
Key lime coolers are cookies that are soft and thick just like these cookies, but have a tart powdered sugar coating. For these easy key lime pie cookies, I went with a key lime glaze instead, and I love how they came out!
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, 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 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 ½ fresh regular lime juice and ½ 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.
More Cookie Recipes to Try
- Peppermint White Chocolate Sugar Cookies
- Lemon Curd Cookies
- Oatmeal Cookie Bars with Brown Butter and Salted Nutella Swirl
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies
- No Spread Sugar Cookies
Equipment you may need
- 2 teaspoon (4 g) key lime zest - packed (see note)
- 1 ¾ cup (210 g) powdered sugar - sifted
- ½ cup (114 g) salted butter - room temperature
- 4 oz (113 g) cream cheese - room temperature
- 2 large eggs - room temperature
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups (313 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon (4 ml) baking powder
- ¼ cup (61 g) key lime juice - (see note)
Key Lime Glaze
- 2 cups (240 g) powdered sugar - sifted
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) key lime zest - packed
- 3 tablespoon (44 ml) key lime juice - plus extra as needed
- In a large bowl, stir together key lime zest and sugar, pressing zest into sugar to release oils.2 teaspoon key lime zest, 1 ¾ cup powdered sugar
- Add butter and cream cheese and cream the mixture together until smooth. Beat in eggs, vanilla extract, and key lime juice.½ cup salted butter, 4 oz cream cheese, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, ¼ cup key lime juice
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 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.2 cups powdered sugar, 3 tablespoon key lime juice, 1 teaspoon key lime zest
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 ½ fresh regular lime juice and ½ 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 cookies for later!
Last Updated on May 22, 2023 by Chenée Lewis
dina and bruce miller
Gonna need 10 stars to review this recipe! Made it, love these, and also saved to my fourth of july board, cause I know what I am bringing to the party!!!!
These cookies would be perfect for thr fourth!
I’m considering rolling the balls in Graham cracker crumbs to add the classic taste and crunch. I’m going to split the recipe and roll half the balls 100% before baking and the other half do just the bottoms…have you tried this before?
I haven't tried that but it sounds delicious! I'd love to know how it works out for you!
I love everything key lime and these cookies are no exception. They are so light and fluffy, and the flavor is perfect!
Thank you so much! I love the texture of these cookies too!
Key lime cookies look gorgeous. Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe.
My toddler loves key lime yogurt, so I knew he'd be stoked about these and boy, he won't stop asking for me to make them again! They're amazing!
Yay! They're always a hit over here too!
Oh wow, this looks so delicious. My family is going to devour it!
I'm sorry, but these were awful. I should have known given the recipe called for powdered sugar and no salt in the dough. The dough was a gluey, sticky texture and difficult to work with. The "cookie" had no texture like a cookie at all. More like a biscuit from a can.
Hi Rachel! The recipe calls for salted butter, which adds about 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the dough. Also, the added moisture in the dough contributes to a moister, soft texture after baking. I recommend using a cookie scoop to make the dough easier to deal with, but it sounds like that didn't work for you. I personally love the soft, fluffy texture of the cookies after baking -- I haven't noticed any resemblance to canned biscuits -- but I'm sorry you didn't enjoy them as much as I do.
I normally don't comment until after I make a recipe, but I wanted to in this case. I love the way you wrote down the recipe. Directions for each action with ingredients listed directly under. No need to jump back and for between two separate things. You give us all we need right in one neat package. Wonderful idea!! I will comment again once I make them. I can already tell we are going to love them.
Thank you so much! I hope you did love them!
These were delicious! The dough was very soft and sticky and a little hard to work with, but the end product was delicious! I wonder if this dough can be frozen and still work well? Thanks for the delicious recipe!!!
Hi! So glad you liked them! I definitely think they would do well to freeze balls of dough ahead of time -- you could bake them from frozen and just add a couple of minutes to the baking time.
These cookies are bright, buttery, and dangerously good! I froze some of the dough to have on had all summer.
What a great idea! Glad you liked them!
Okay! These are my new favorite cookies! I've made them twice now and each time they turned out perfect and are absolutely delish!! Thanks for the recipe 🙂
Thank you so much! They're a new fave of mine too! 🙂
Lovely photography as always and gorgeous recipe that was easy to follow and execute! I enjoyed these cookies and the cream cheese really did make the texture exceptionally soft! This was lovely!
I'm so glad you liked them! I love this recipe!
These cookies were delicious and soft just like you said. I especially loved the addition of lime as it added a tasty citrusy twist! Yum.
Thank you! I love the lime especially in the glaze!
These cookies are so fluffy and moist! They were absolutely delicious, thank you for the simple to follow recipe can’t wait to make them again.
So glad you liked them!
I made these as soon as they hot the blog because I have full faith in you when it comes to sweets! They were a hit, as with all of your desserts! Thanks for sharing, they were delicious!
Thank you for trying them! 🙂
I actually found key limes at the store so I knew I had to try these. They are PERFECT. Tender, light and kind of fluffy. I brought them to a bbq over the weekend and they were devoured.
Yay! I'm so glad they were a hit at your barbecue!
These cookies appeal to me particularly because they taste like key lime pie but I can (try to) control myself by eating just one or two. Joyous!
Thank you! So glad you liked them!
Soft, buttery, melt in your mouth delicious are just a few words that describe these cookies. Certainly making these again!
Thank you!! I agree with all of those!
These cookies tasted like my favorite lime sherbet , only better! I doubled the recipe because I was invited to a friend's graduation party and everyone who tasted them fell in love.
How fun! So glad they were a hit with everyone 🙂