Key Lime Cookies

Key Lime Cookies - On Drying Rack

On my one trip ever to Charleston, South Carolina, as much as anything, I remember a few culinary things more than anything else (not terribly surprising maybe). I haven’t made sweet potato pancakes in a while and that needs to change, but these key lime cookies were an unexpected treat that I LOVED during out stay.

One of my favorite things about traveling is trying local foods. It can be hard to try the more basic local favorites, so you have to be on the lookout and not be afraid of asking around.

Key Lime Cookies on Drying Rack

Key Lime Cookies

Our trip to Charleston was a bit tough on the food front for me when it came to anything fried or garnished with bacon, but there was also no shortage of tasty dishes that I loved. All the shrimp and the local, farm-to-table cooking had me head over heels. One tasty surprise were key lime cookies.

The key lime cookies we had were small and crunchy, which I loved. The slightly tart, crunchy morsel was a great afternoon, evening, and late night treat (I told you I loved them).

This version is softer, but the great tart flavor is what really has you inhaling them. These goodies are so light, it’s hard to have self-control. All my neighbors kept reaching for seconds and thirds when we shared with them too, so it wasn’t just me!

How to Bake with Key Limes

The thing that makes key lime desserts so delicious is the combination of the very tart key limes (small but quite mighty) and all the powdered sugar. These key lime cookies are really just soft butter cookies with fresh zest. It’s the topping of powdered sugar and zest, however, that makes them delectable!!

When you think of citrus desserts, they’re often covered with powdered sugar, sweetened meringue, or whipped cream. It’s because the sugar counters the tartness well (though – little known fact – citrus actually have very high levels of sugar, you just don’t taste it with the acid)!

Storing These Cookies

If you don’t get them all gobbled up right away, you’ll want to store them. Because these are soft cookies, I have a few tips. First, if you’re storing for a short time, just layer them (even with paper or cloth napkins) in a sealed container. Keep them from warm temps as they’re butter-based cookies and will soften quicker than expected.

If you want to freeze them (definitely possible!), I’d recommend laying them on a rack or sheet pan in a single layer, so they freeze flat. Then place in a sealed bag or container. They’ll need to soften a bit before eating, but shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to be soft enough to enjoy out of the freezer!

Key Lime Cookies on Drying Rack

Looking for more cookies recipes? Try these saffron shortbread – an unexpected flavor combination that’s surprisingly DELICIOUS! I also love these muesli cookies as a great way to add crunch to a cookie! And these half moon cookies remind me of my younger days going to bakeries with my parents on our travels!

Soft Key Lime Cookies
Print Recipe
5 from 5 votes


After a trip to South Carolina, I discovered key lime cookies. Traditionally crunchy, these key lime cookies are much softer but still reminiscent of those lovely sweet and tart treats that are a perfect afternoon treat!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baking, cookies, dessert, keylime
Servings: 36
Calories: 69kcal
Author: Luci Petlack


  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • teaspoons lime zest
  • confectioners’ sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in lime juice and zest.
  • In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend into wet mixture.
  • Use two spoons to drop rounded tablespoons of cookie dough.
  • Bake 12-14 minutes until lightly browned.
  • Let cool 2-3 minutes. Remove to cooling rack. Sift confectioners’ sugar over cookies. Store in airtight container.


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Calories: 69kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 99mg | Potassium: 11mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 86IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 0.3mg

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