Iced lime shortbread cookies are perfect for summer because they're filled with fresh lime flavor. They're tender, buttery, and made with just five ingredients.
Shortbread cookies are some of our favorite cookies here at The Toasty Kitchen. Chocolate chip shortbread cookie dippers, brown butter shortbread cookies, and strawberry shortbread cookies are a few reader favorites.
They're tender, buttery, and delicate - perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. Since there are no eggs or leavening agents in shortbread, they don't puff up in the oven. These iced lime shortbread cookies are made with just five ingredients - butter, sugar, flour, lime, and vanilla extract.
If you love shortbread cookies and citrus desserts, these cookies are a must try. They're great any time of year, but have a flavor reminiscent of summer and warm weather.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Unsalted butter - If using salted butter, omit the salt listed in the recipe. Make sure your butter is room temperature before beginning to ensure your dough turns out even and perfectly mixed.
- Salt - Enhances the flavor of your cookies and helps balance the sweetness.
- All-purpose flour - Necessary to add stability and structure to your cookies. If you'd like to use a different type of flour, I highly recommend searching for a cookie recipe that was developed with that type of flour in mind.
- Confectioner's sugar - You'll need confectioner's sugar for the dough and the icing (it's divided into two bowls the photo above). I prefer using confectioner's sugar in my shortbread cookie recipes because it tends to be easier to work with and blends seamlessly into the dough. Shortbread dough can be a little crumbly and difficult for beginner bakers to work with (it won't look like a standard chocolate chip cookie dough), so confectioner's sugar makes it a little easier.
- Vanilla extract - Enhances the flavor of your cookie dough.
- Limes - We'll be using the zest and juice of about 1 to 2 limes for this recipe. Limes can be substituted with lemons to make lemon cookies if desired.
Tips for shortbread cookies
The most common issue I hear from readers is regarding the texture of shortbread cookies. Shortbread cookies are dense, delicate, and buttery. They don't contain eggs or leavening agents, so they don't puff up in the oven or have the chewy texture of a chocolate chip cookie.
Shortbread cookie dough will look a little crumbly once you're done mixing, but holds together when pinched between two fingers. This is normal.
Once the dough is pressed into a tube and refrigerated, the sliced cookies hold their shape before and after baking.
Since shortbread dough is made with just butter, flour, and sugar, it is extremely important to accurately measure those three ingredients.
Properly measured flour
Shortbread cookies can be more finicky than your average cookie. While you may be thinking that less ingredients = easier, this is not always the case!
Proper measuring of flour is especially important when making shortbread cookies. To properly measure flour, use a kitchen scale and the listed gram measurements. If you don't have a scale, use the spoon and level method. Give your flour a stir, gently spoon the flour into a measuring cup, then level off the top with a knife.
Scooping flour directly from a bin or bag of flour with a measuring cup compacts the flour into the cup, adding up to 25% extra flour to your cookie dough. I conducted an experiment on ways to measure flour which you can find on my post: 10 tips for baking cookies.
How does your dough look? If it's sticking to the bowl and hard to roll into a ball, you need more flour. If your dough presses easily into a ball without sticking to your hands, it's just right.
Icing your cookies
- While your cookies are baking, go ahead and mix your lime icing. All you'll need is confectioner's sugar, lime juice, and lime zest. Mix until the sugar is fully dissolved in the lime juice.
- Your icing will look thin and taste very sweet - a little goes a long way. Use a knife or spoon to gently frost the top of each cookie with a thin layer of icing.
- Allow your icing to dry and harden for several hours before storing the cookies.
Iced Lime Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup (85 g) confectioner's sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ tablespoons (35 g) lime juice
- 1 cup (113 g) confectioner's sugar
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- In a bowl, add butter and sugar. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and lime zest and stir to combine.
- In a separate bowl, sift (or whisk) together flour and salt. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix until a dough forms. Dough may look crumbly, but will hold together when pinched between two fingers.
- Shape into a long, round tube about 2 inches thick and wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Remove dough from refrigerator and unwrap. Using a sharp knife, slice dough into ¼ inch slices and place on lined baking sheet.
- Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cookies barely begin to brown around edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely to room temperature.
- While cookies are cooling, combine confectioner's sugar, lime juice, and lime zest. If too thick, add more lime juice, 1 teaspoon at a time.
- Once cookies have cooled completely, use a knife to ice each cookie with a thin layer of icing. Allow to dry at room temperature until icing has set.
- Cookies will keep for 5-7 days in a sealed container. To help keep cookies fresh, you can place a slice of bread in the container with the cookies. Replace the bread slice as needed.
- Raw cookie dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Cookie dough and baked cookies freeze well, up to 3 months in a sealed plastic container or freezer bag. Allow frozen dough to thaw for up to 10 minutes on the baking sheet before baking, or add 1-2 minutes to the baking time.
- Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking cookies, based on reader comments and questions!