How to Make Key Lime Juice

Making your own key lime juice is easy! The reward is the taste. Having fresh key lime juice with no preservatives truly pays off in flavor.

Those people who say you can’t tell the difference are lying. Period.

If you are making any key lime recipe, like my BEST Key Lime Pie, you want freshly squeezed key lime juice because the flavor can’t be beat!

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Here’s how to make key lime juice

First, be sure you are working with real key limes.

Don’t confuse key limes with the big limes. Key limes are small and super tart. Sometimes key limes are called Mexican limes or West Indian limes.

They usually come in a bag when I buy them in the stores here in Oklahoma City.

small bag of key limes

Fair warning, sometimes they don’t have them at the store. Be sure you can find the little loves before you promise key lime pie to anyone.

Second, get some sort of manual juicer

You can squeeze them by hand. You won’t like it. Rather, I didn’t like it.

In the beginning, we used a regular Garlic Press like this one. Trust me, you’ll need the soft handles if you are going to squeeze key limes often.

We squeeze key limes OFTEN. So, after about a year and around 2,000 key limes squeezed, we switched to this Chef’n FreshForce Citrus Juicer.

I have used that juicer for YEARS on lemons and limes and even oranges. It is still in top shape and working like a champ. I just cut the fruit to fit in the cup and squeeze away!

Third, start juicing key limes

I start by slicing mine in half. Then I get my Fine Mesh Stainless Steel Strainer and lay it over the top of my Glass Measuring Cup to catch any pulp or seeds.

I squeeze all the key limes and lay the squeezed ones to the side. I’m sort of frugal, so after the squeezed ones sit a while, I run them all back through the squeezer again to get the last bit of juice that always seems to elude me on the first run.

Don’t get key lime juice in your eyes and don’t lick your fingers… OH and DON’T rub your eyes until you wash your hands. Key lime juice is very, very tart and extremely acidic.

It smells amazing though, so no one ever believes me when I tell them not to taste it. Go ahead… I’ll save the I told you so for later.

4 images demonstrating how to make fresh key lime juice. A citrus juicer, sliced key limes, key limes that have been juiced, and a measuring cup with a strainer for straining key lime juice.

That’s all there is to it. It’s so easy to make key lime juice for all of your homemade treats! I hope you’ll try it.

Easy squeezy!

Now go make a key lime pie! 

Some Frequently Asked Questions About Key Lime Juice

  1. How long does fresh squeezed key lime juice last? According to Still Tasty, about 2-3 days in the refrigerator and 3-4 months in the freezer.
  2. How do you freeze key lime juice or Can you freeze key lime juice? I pour in in an ice cube tray, freeze it like ice, and then pop out the cubes into an airtight freezer bag.
  3. Where are the key limes in the store? In the fresh citrus section, usually near the bagged lemons
  4. Where to buy key limes: At the grocery store. I find them at Aldi and Walmart Neighborhood Marker and my local store, Crest.
  5. What is a key lime juice substitute: According to the internets, 1/2 lemon juice, and 1/2 regular lime juice. But… I’m not vouching for that.

Questions or comments?

I hope that you found this helpful and can use it in some way. We are key lime lovers at this house! What’s your favorite key lime recipe? Please drop me a line or leave a comment below.

More reading on key limes

L.A. Times: Key Lime – Handle with care

Leaf TV: Difference Between Limes & Key Limes

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About Mikel Ibarra

Mikel Ibarra holds a BFA in painting, is a certified cake decorator, teaches baking and cake decorating classes, and frequently combines her passions for the sake of art. Sweet Bytes is where she shares everything she knows about the art of baking and running a baking business.