What You Need to Know About Key Limes

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Working with Key Limes

Today let's talk about Key limes. How are they different, you are probably wondering. What is their appeal? Let's go through a comparison of Key limes vs. Persian limes one aspect at a time.


The Key lime is small, while the Persian lime can be double or triple in size. Due to the small size of the Key lime it can be a challenge to remove the juice. In a minute I'm going to tell you a tip I used that worked great! I found that I needed six Key limes to get four tablespoons of juice.

The amount you get from your Key limes will depend on how juicy your limes are. My six limes weighed 4 ounces, and once squeezed produced 4 tablespoons of juice. If you are planning to make the Key Lime Cupcakes recipe that I'll be sharing next week, I would suggest weighing your Key limes when shopping. If the six you choose weigh 4 ounces, you should have enough juice. But you may want to buy extra, just in case.

Price & Preference

Typically in the United States, the Persian lime will be less expensive since it is preferred by Americans. Now according to an article at the LA Times about Key limes, this preference is mainly due to a historical weather incident. They state that at the turn of the century a hurricane in Florida wiped out most of the Key lime plantations, and when the farmers replanted, they decided to go with the Persian lime which was believed to bear a heavier crop, and more resistant to disease. As a result, we in the U.S. ended up using the Persian lime more than the Key lime. The Key lime is said to be preferred everywhere else in the world.

I shopped for my Key limes at a grocery store chain that caters to the Hispanic community, and the cost for Key limes was the same as the Persian limes, 89 cents a pound.


At one point in time, I wondered if limes were just unripe lemons. I know. Duh. Hey, I'm just keeping it real. I was also surprised to learn that the two are a completely different species. The Persian lime is Citrus × latifolia while the Key lime is Citrus × aurantiifolia.

Seeds & Taste

The Key lime is said to have more seeds than the Persian lime. Most sources state that Key limes are much more tart than Persian limes, some even go so far as to say the taste is bitter. It's important to use the correct lime for the recipe you are following as the two taste slightly different, and can affect the outcome of your recipe. The Key lime is said to more aromatic, with an herbal, fruity undertone, whereas the Persian lime has the citrus-y punch.


Key Lime Cupcakes with Raspberry Curd Filling

Next week I'll be sharing a recipe with you for Key Lime Cupcakes, and since I've never used Key limes before, I wasn't sure of how many I'd need for my recipe. My plan was to make my Lemon Poppy Seed loaf recipe, but substitute lime juice for the lemon juice.

I bought one pound of Key limes, and for that one pound, I got 24 Key limes. That ended up being four times the amount I actually needed, but I did manage to find ways to use the remaining limes! (I also made a Key lime dairy-free cheesecake which was D.I.V.I.N.E.)

I grated the rind on some of the Key limes first, since I needed the zest. And then I started to squeeze the little things. My normal citrus squeezing routine was definitely not working for Key limes. I mentioned earlier that I would share a tip with you on squeezing the limes, and I have to say it's a pretty neat little tip. You'll need a garlic press, ideally one that isn't used for garlic, since you may end up with garlic flavored Key lime juice. Which may or may not work to your advantage, for example, if you're making salad dressing or Lime Guacamole, but otherwise, try to use a dedicated press.


I found it works best to cut the Key limes into quarters, than press them into the garlic press rind side up, flesh side down.

Hold the press over a small container to catch the juice and S.Q.U.E.E.Z.E.

I found that it was necessary to turn the garlic press upside down and dump the juice that would be sitting on top of the rind. There are just a few drops, but every drop counts when you're working with Key limes. Besides, if you don't, the juice spills onto the counter top.


I have to admit it was somewhat tedious working with these tiny limes. However, the Key Lime Cupcakes were definitely worth the extra work!

It took me a while to get into a rhythm, but eventually I decided to quarter six limes at a time, then press each quarter, and move on to the next six. It felt more efficient to work that way.


Have you worked with Key limes? Do you have a preference for regular Persian Limes or the Key Limes?


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