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Lime Meltaway Cookies

Lime Meltaway Cookies are a buttery, tender, shortbread type of cookie that seem to melt in your mouth. They pack a citrus punch due to fresh lime juice and zest in the cookie dough and in the icing. They’re as perfect for Christmas cookie trays as they are for spring celebrations or afternoon tea.

I guess we’re in the final stretch of this holiday season. How’s everybody doing with that?

We knew the window between Thanksgiving and Christmas was going to be short this year, but boy, it feels like it’s flying by so fast!

Even my son mentioned that Christmas is coming up fast. You know, when kids think time is going fast, it’s really going fast!

The last couple of years I’ve tried to reign in some of the massive cookie baking that happens in our house. It’s a problem for me. Seriously. I may need to seek cookie baking therapy ;)

Stack of lime meltaway cookies sitting on a small cake stand.

For my long time readers, you know I’ve talked about the 1200+ cookies I used to make each year. We’d make trays and trays of cookies to share with all our friends and family.

It sounds like a lot of cookies, and it is…but, it seems to add up quickly when you’re making things like Classic Butter Spritz Cookies with my electric cookie press. I have a video on that post of pressing cookies so fast it’s like a cookie factory popped up in my kitchen.

A close up view of a stack of cut out iced cookies.

That press is vintage at this point; I hope it never breaks.

Then, there are the kind of cookies that you roll up and chill, like these Slice and Bake Cheesecake Cookies. I love those kinds of recipes where you make the dough ahead of time.

Overhead view of iced cookies.

For me, especially if I’ve left the dough in the fridge overnight…it feels like little elves showed up and got the whole thing ready for me to simply cut and bake. Funny how a little separation of time between steps makes the pre-work seem like it never happened.

I feel that way about decorating cookies too. Well, as long as the decorations aren’t crazy tedious.

I baked up some of my Rustic Caramel Iced Brown Sugar Cookies a few days ago, but waited until the next day to finish them off.

I kept thinking about that outstanding decorating on my list to do for the next day. But once I made the caramel icing and toasted the nuts, got out my sparkling gold sugar and set to work, it was so much fun!

A stack of lime meltaway cookies on a small cake stand surrounded by tree shaped cookies and pieces of cut up lime

I wish I had made a double batch because I just wanted to keep going with my drizzles and sprinkles! I love those cookies! They’re such a fun addition to my cookie trays.

Anyway, I told my family this year that I wasn’t going to be able to pull off 16 or 17 kinds of cookies this year. Wait! What?!? Yep. You heard it…less is more this year :)

So I asked them…which cookies can you not live without? I gave them a target of, say, 6 cookies.

My husband is easy. He’s pretty pragmatic about it. He’s fine with anything because he doesn’t HAVE to have a certain cookie for Christmas. As far as he’s concerned, we can whip up a batch anytime, so he let the kids pick…

Or did he??? Let’s just say he was in the kitchen last weekend whipping up a batch of his favorite chocolate chip cookies, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. That’s his claim to fame. (It’s his stolen claim to fame, but I roll with it ;)  He’s mastered the recipe, so he’ll whip up a batch whenever the mood strikes.

Stack of lime meltaway cookies cut into tree shapes

But the kids? Well, I knew that Italian Biscotti would be tops on the list as well as Raspberry White Chocolate Almond Blondies. Those are two cookies that must be on the list every year.

I get more comments on those two cookies than any other. Sometimes I think that there are those that would just take a batch of either or both of the cookies and forgo the rest of the choices.

The kids also love the aforementioned spritz cookies. So buttery! The ones with the chocolate chip in the middle are dangerous! Be careful not to eat them by the handful!

Stack of square meltaway cookies with two tree shaped cookies in the foreground. A plate of cookies can be seen in the background

So the problem is this…if I make whatever I set my limit at, as far as kinds of cookies, I always, always, ALWAYS want to make more.

This doesn’t happen in the moment of baking them. But once I’ve made the set number, the pressure on getting them all done is relieved and suddenly, I feel renewed energy to make more. There’s always a new recipe I might want to try.

It happens whether the number is 6 kinds of cookies, 10, 12 or even 16.

This year, I wanted to add a new meltaway cookie to the list.

What is a meltaway cookie?

A meltaway cookie is a shortbread like cookie generally made with flour, sugar and butter and a few other ingredients depending upon the variation.

Russian tea cakes, Mexican wedding cookies, crescent cookies and snowballs are all types of meltaway cookies. You know them. You love them. And yes, they do melt in your mouth.

Minty Cocoa Snowballs are one of my meltaway cookies. Meltaway cookies are pretty classic and have wide appeal. I don’t think I know anyone that doesn’t love at least one version of them.

Close up view of tree shaped cut out cookies

Ingredients in Lime Meltaway Cookies

Flour- I use all purpose flour.

Butter- I used unsalted butter. If you use salted butter, you can omit the salt.

Confectioner’s sugar- This is also known as powdered sugar or icing sugar. If you read the ingredients on the bag, it generally contains cornstarch. Confectioner’s sugar is used instead of granulated to keep the cookies nice and velvety.

Cornstarch-Some recipes only use confectioner’s sugar, like my Minty Cocoa Snowballs. For this recipe, I wanted the additional tenderness and “melt in your mouth” factor, so this recipe includes it.

Lime juice- Freshly squeezed is best, plus you need the limes for the zest anyway.

Lime zest-Remember to zest before juicing!

An overhead view of three stages of rolling out the cookie dough from messy ball of dough, to rounded disc, to fully rolled out between pieces of plastic wrap.n plastic wrap.

How to make Lime Meltaway Cookies

The dough comes together pretty easily. You’ll cream your butter, sugar, lime juice and zest. Whisk the dry ingredients and mix them into the butter mixture until well combined. That’s it. Seven ingredients.

How to roll and cut meltaway cookies (the easy way)

Once your dough is mixed, it will be soft and a bit sticky. We’re going to use the trick we use with my Easy All Butter Pie Crust and roll it between plastic wrap before we chill it.

Place a large piece of plastic wrap on your work surface. Ideally, it should be a surface that the plastic sticks to so that it stays put while you roll.

Take half the dough, cover it with a piece of plastic wrap and form the dough into a disk. The plastic wrap will keep the dough from sticking to your hands while you shape the dough.

Once the dough is formed into a thick disk, straighten out the plastic wrap and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough to just under 1/2″ thick. Use the excess edges of the plastic to wrap up your rolled dough and set aside while you repeat the process with the second half of the dough.

An overhead view of cutting shapes out of rolled out cookie dough

Does the cookie dough need to be chilled?

Yes. There are two reasons that you want to chill the dough until it’s very firm.

First, it will be easier to cut nice clean shapes. This also means it will be easier to remove the dough from the cutter. Soft dough will stick to the cutter and make life difficult.

Second, you want to bake a chilled cookie cut out. If you bake it when the dough is chilled, it will hold its shape better. The tiny little trees I cut out would have baked into blobs if the dough were warm when I cut it out and/or baked it.

A close up view of square meltaway cookies on a baking sheet before baking.

Is it better to use an ungreased baking sheet or parchment paper to bake meltaway cookies?

I generally bake my cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet unless directed otherwise. But, for my tests, I tried both ungreased and parchment lined.

(Actually, the truth is, I forgot to take the parchment off my second tray so I had an unintended test.)

The results? Hands down they baked up better on the ungreased sheet. Why? When you bake these cookies, you don’t want them to brown.

The cookies on the parchment lined sheet ended up with lightly browned bottoms while the cookies baked on the ungreased sheet stayed nice and blond even though they were baked for the same amount of time.

Icing the cookies

The icing couldn’t be easier. It’s just a mixture of confectioner’s sugar, fresh lime juice, lime zest and a small pinch of salt.

My sugar was a little lumpy, but I didn’t feel like sifting it. I know, from experience, that if I just stir the icing vigorously, the lumps will eventually disappear.

Sifting works great though, if you’d like to go that route. You’ll have to stir it less but you’ll have more dishes to do. It’s your call. My kitchen was already piled high from lots of baking that day; I saved the dish.

A close up view of icing being spread on a square meltaway cookie

Why isn’t there an exact measurement for the lime juice?

Since we’re not measuring the sugar by weight, we might all measure a bit differently. So, you’ll need to add enough lime juice to get a thick drizzling consistency.

I usually just squeeze a bunch of lime juice into a bowl and use a measuring spoon to add the juice to the sugar until I get the right consistency. It’s also good to have nearby just in case your icing in the bowl starts to set and you need to loosen it up a bit.

If the icing is too thin, it will drip all over the cookie. That’s not a bad thing, if you want a thinner glaze.

I went with a thicker consistency. I wanted to spread the tops with a nice layer and have it stay put.

Close up view of a tray of iced meltaway cookies.
overhead view of iced cookies on a cooling rack.

Do I have to ice the cookies?

Nope. Feel free to eat them plain. You won’t have that extra punch of lime flavor from the icing, so you might want to double the zest in the cookie dough, if you’re looking for of that citrus note.

Alternately, you could dust them liberally with confectioner’s sugar while they’re still warm. I wouldn’t try to shake them in a bag of sugar. I don’t think the shape will hold up to that kind of action.

I love the icing option because it adds so much flavor. The cookie isn’t terribly sweet to begin with, so the icing adds a nice note of sweetness as well as additional lime flavor.

The coating in confectioner’s sugar option will give you that melt in your mouth feeling before you even start chewing. All are good options. Choose your favorite.

Close up of a Stack of iced lime meltaway cookies cut into square shapes

How to store meltaway cookies

I store them at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days. To freeze, place waxed paper or parchment between layers and freeze in a freezer container.

I loved how these little cookies turned out! I chose two shapes, a tree and a scalloped square. I kept the size small, about 1 1/2 ” so they would be cute little bites.

I especially liked how the pieces of lime zest looked on the little trees! So cute!

Stack of iced lime meltaway cookies cut into square shapes with one cookie broken in half to show texture

Here’s the big question….did I hold to the limit and make 6 kinds of cookies this year? Well, as I sit here writing this, I have 8 done, but you know me…I just might try to squeeze in 2 more…

Stack of lime meltaway cookies sitting on a small cake stand.

Lime Meltaway Cookies

Yield: 48 1 1/2" cookies
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 38 minutes

Lime Meltaway Cookies are buttery, tender, shortbread type of cookie that seem to melt in your mouth. They pack a citrus punch due to fresh lime juice and zest in the cookie dough as well as in the icing. 


For the cookies:

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, (1 1/2 sticks or 12 Tablespoons) softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest

For the icing:

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • pinch of salt


Make the cookies:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch and salt insuring there are no lumps. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat softened butter and confectioner's sugar, lime juice and zest until well combined.
  3. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until thoroughly combined.
  4. Dough will be a bit sticky. Divide dough in half.
  5. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface. Place half of the dough on the wrap and cover with a second sheet . Using the plastic wrap to keep the dough from sticking to your hands, form the dough into a round disk. Keeping the dough between the sheets of plastic wrap, use a rolling pin, roll dough to just under 1/2" thick.
  6. Bring the edges of the plastic up to wrap the rolled out dough. Repeat with the other half of dough.
  7. Place rolled out dough onto a flat sheet and refrigerate or freeze until firm. This will take about 30-60 minutes.
  8. Once dough is firm, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  9. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap, reserving it for subsequent rollings. Dip cookie cutters into flour before each cut, then cut desired shapes out of rolled out dough. Place cut out cookies onto an ungreased baking sheet. Brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush.
  10. Bring together scraps and reroll between plastic wrap and cut shapes, repeating until finished. Remove the other half of dough from the refrigerator and repeat the cutting process until finished. (I like to bake the first tray while I'm working on the second.)
  11. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet, then remove to cooling rack to finish cooling.

Make the icing:

  1. Mix all icing ingredients until well combined with no lumps. You can sift the sugar to prevent lumps or just stir briskly until they're all broken up and the icing is smooth. Add more lime juice if necessary to get a fluid spreading consistency. I start with 2 Tablespoons of juice and work from there.

Ice the cookies:

  1. Spread the tops of each cookie with a layer of icing. Allow icing to fully set/dry before storing/stacking.


*Leave the second half of dough in the refrigerator to chill while you're working with the first half.

*You can leave the unbaked, rolled dough in the refrigerator overnight, if you wish, and finish cutting and baking them the next day.

*Remember to zest your limes before juicing them.

*My cookie cutters were about 1 1/2". If you make larger cookies, your bake time may increase. Watch for doneness and add time as necessary.

*Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Recipe adapted from Land O' Lakes

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Sunday 26th of March 2023

These look delicious! Planning to make them for an upcoming visit from my in-laws. Question on making ahead and freezing.. if I freeze them, do they thaw out okay with the icing on them or does the icing get messy after thawing? Do you think it would be better to freeze prior to frosting and frost after thawing them?


Monday 27th of March 2023

Hi Allison, I didn't have any issues with the icing getting messed up from being frozen. The key is to let the icing fully dry before packing up for freezing. The icing dries firm so it's pretty sturdy and therfore, not messy. My icing was on the thicker side and I probably let them set out for a few hours before I froze them. You need to make sure they're really dry all the way through, not just dry on the surface but still wet underneath. I also use waxed paper between layers. Of course you could also freeze plain and ice later. If you have time, that's always a good option. I think you'll be fine either way.


Monday 23rd of January 2023

Can you substitute lemon for the lime? If so, how much? They really look pretty!


Monday 23rd of January 2023

Hi Carolyn, you can definitely sub lemon for lime. As far as quantity, it really depends on how lemony you want them. If you love a strong lemon flavor, add a little extra zest. I might go to a 1 1/2 teaspoons. Don't add any additional lemon juice to the cookie mixture though, since that would compromise the texture of the dough. If you're icing them, you're going to get that additional hit of lemon there as well. Good luck!


Tuesday 7th of December 2021

May I double this recipe or is it better to just make the single recipe twice?


Wednesday 8th of December 2021

Hi Kathy, you can definitely double without issue! No need to make the recipe twice.


Thursday 15th of July 2021

I'm wondering about adding a little coconut extract to the icing as well. Then sprinkle with coconut flakes. Do you think this would taste good?


Tuesday 31st of January 2023

@Ramona, thanks for getting back to me. I have another question. Do you sift your flour/sugar/cornstarch before measuring? Do you have these measurements in weights? Your website is lovely!!


Friday 16th of July 2021

Hey Sarah, sounds like a fun variation to me! I think it would definitely taste good! The only issue I ever have with adding coconut flakes is if I'm serving to people with an aversion to the coconut flake texture. As for me, I'm all in for anything coconut whether it's unsweetened, sweetened or big flake coconut. The good news is you can try the flakes on one and see if you like it before you commit to the whole batch. Or, you could do half the batch with and half without. You could even experiment a bit with adding coconut extract to the cookie. But lime and coconut as a flavor combo? Yum!

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