Lock and Key Lime: 6 Dishes That Aren’t Pie

It’s hard to escape your reputation as a pie ingredient when one of the most famous pies in American history is named after you. No offense to the ever-delicious dessert, but the small, powerfully flavorful key lime is destined for much more than a pie tin. From macarons to marinades, here are a few of the more interesting key-lime dishes that we’ve come across.

Key Lime Macaroons

Taking inspiration from French cooking while remaining firmly rooted in American tradition, key lime macaroons offer an aesthetically pleasing, mouth-watering balance of sweet and tart flavors. In this dish, the powerfully tart flavor profile of key limes makes each bite memorable, as the inherently small size of macaroons creates a concentrated dose of flavor. 

  • Pro Tip: Key lime juice is actually yellow, so if you want a green hued cookie, add food coloring instead. 

Lime Bars

An alternate take on the classic lemon bar, key lime bars are perfect for a quick bite or simple dessert. Their portability makes them particularly good options for the eternally on-the-go college crowd too! In most cases, you can just substitute in fresh key lime juice for lemon in any recipe, but you can also add a bit of graham cracker to the crust for a nod towards key lime pie!

Tequila Key Lime Chicken Wings

Combing three of our favorite things into one holy trinity, tequila key lime chicken wings are the ultimate pub food. Naturally, the combination of lime and tequila creates a margarita-esque marinade that’s just the right balance of salty, sweet and tart. Pair with a key-lime margarita for a crowd-pleasing first course.  

Key Lime Mojito

A mojito wouldn’t be a mojito without limes. While we’re generally content to use up fresh Persian limes, we like to occasionally bust out the key limes for a more aromatic, tart mojito. It’s important to note that while key limes are juicer than other varieties, their miniature size results in a smaller yield, so you will need to use more limes to get the right amount of juice. Additionally, if you plan on including other fruits in your mojito, reach for sweeter ones like mango or strawberry for a better sweet/tart balance.

Cilantro and Key Lime Pork

While key limes are typically associated with the Florida Keys, they were originally introduced to the United States by Spanish explorers before eventually expanding into Spanish controlled Mexico. That means that the “American” lime is closely linked with Mexican ingredients, so you can substitute it into Mexican inspired-dishes with little to no effort. One of our favorite combinations, cilantro and key lime, works wonders when sautéed alongside pork chops or added to carnitas!

  • Pro Tip: Use the zest and juice of your limes for a double dose of flavor.

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream Sandwich

Just because something doesn’t come in a pie tin doesn’t mean that it can’t take inspiration from a baked good. Redefining the “key lime pie,” this dessert takes three staple ingredients from the dish (key limes, cream, and graham crackers) and transforms them into something unique yet familiar. To prepare, simply make some fresh key lime ice cream and press a scoop between two graham crackers.

  • Pro Tip: K-12 cooks take note, kids are big fans of the color and flavor of this dessert.