Made with zesty key limes and just a handful of other ingredients, these Key Lime Meltaways will do what they promise – melt in your mouth! Topped with a cream cheese filling, these cookies are simple and easy to make.
When you think of key limes, you likely think immediately of the famous key lime pie and not key lime cookies. But after trying these lime cookies, I think that may change. These key lime cookies are laced with key lime zest then topped with a luscious key lime cream cheese filling.
I first learned how to make these cookies at a class I took with my mom at Mohawk College. It was a nice day that introduced me to my love of key lime cookies and I’ve been making these ever since. They’re perfectly tart and sweet and when you bite into them, they have that perfect light, airy meltaway texture.
With the citrus flavour, these cookies are perfect for making year-round. The colour is perfect for the holidays while the bright flavour is ideal for summer. No matter the time of year, it’s always the perfect time to make these key lime cookies.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Powder Sugar – Gives the cookies the perfect amount of sweetness while also contributing to the “meltaway” factor.
- Butter – I always use unsalted when baking, as a general rule.
- Lime zest – Either the zest of one lime or 3 key limes. I recommend using key lime zest.
- All-purpose flour – No need for pastry flour in this recipe. In case you are new here, I almost always use pastry flour in cookies.
- Cornstarch – Cornstarch helps create a crumb that will melt in your mouth.
- Salt – a flavour enhancer.
For the Filling
- Cream cheese – Soften the cream cheese so it’s easier to whip.
- Butter – The butter for the filling should also be softened.
- Powdered sugar – Adds a sweetness to balance out the other ingredients.
- Key lime juice – This is where that tart and floral key lime flavor comes in for these cookies.
How to Make Key Lime Meltaways
Start by beating the sugar and butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the lime juice and zest.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. I like to place a large sieve over the top of the bowl and let the sifted dry ingredients fall below into the butter.
Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture just until mixed. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place the cookie dough in the fridge for about 1 hour to firm up a bit. This will make it easier to work with and less sticky.
When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Drop rounded teaspoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Use your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon to indent the tops of the cookie, creating a “nest” for the frosting.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until set. They should not brown or spread and will be quite fragile. Let rest a minute on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.
The well in the centre of the cookies may have puffed up a bit so while they are hot you can use the end of a wooden spoon to push the centre down a little to make room for the cream cheese centre to come.
Let the cookies cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese with the butter until smooth in a large bowl. Add the powdered sugar and lime juice and continue to beat until the powdered sugar is completely mixed in.
Pipe the frosting into the centre of each cookie or use a small spoon to fill the centres. Sprinkle with a little remaining lime zest and a quarter slice of key lime for decoration if you wish.
If you don’t have a piping bag, just cut the corner off from a sandwich bag, place the decorating tip inside the bag like you would a piping bag and fill.
Seal the sandwich bag halfway removing as much air as possible and twist the bag to push the frosting down to make it airtight and ready to pipe.
How to Juice Key Limes
Since there are so many seeds in key limes and you want to extract as much juice as possible, the easiest way to do so is actually to use a garlic press. Cut them in half – depending on the garlic press, you may also have to cut them in quarters – and place them in the garlic press. Squeeze into a mesh sieve over a glass or measuring cup.
How to Store Meltaways
Without the frosting, these lime cookies can last at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. With the frosting, you can store them in the fridge for up to a week. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months. Because they are made with cream cheese thaw them on the counter for about 15 minutes if eating right away or in the fridge overnight.
What’s the difference between key limes and regular limes?
Key limes are smaller than regular limes and grown in tropical and subtropical regions. They have a thinner outer skin, so they don’t last as long as regular limes, and are light yellow when they ripen instead of green.
Flavour-wise, key limes are less tart and more floral than regular limes, and extra juicy. It’s this sweeter more floral flavour that makes them a great addition to these lime cookies and other desserts.
Where do key limes come from?
Key limes were originally grown in the Florida Keys, hence the name “Key lime”. However, today they are more often grown in other tropical and subtropical regions. They are sometimes referred to as “Mexico Limes” as they are primarily exported from there.
More Cookie Recipes:
Key Lime Meltaway Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1 tbsp key lime juice
- 3 tsp lime zest saving 1 tsp for decorating at the end.
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup cream cheese softened
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp key lime juice
- In a large bowl use an electric mixer to beat the sugar and butter until creamy. Mix in the juice and zest.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Refrigerate 1 hour.
- When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop rounded teaspoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Use your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon to indent the tops of the cookie to create a "nest" for the frosting. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until set. They should not brown or spread and will be quite fragile. Let rest a minute on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. Let the cookies cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting, in a medium bowl use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese with the butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and lime juice and continue to beat.
- Pipe the frosting into the centre of each cookie or the tip of a spoon to fill the centres. Sprinkle with a little remaining lime zest and a quarter slice of key lime for decoration if you wish.
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For the step-by-step version of this recipe, check out the How to Make Key Lime Meltaways Story.