14 Key Lime Juice Substitutes To Try

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Are you craving a tangy, zesty key lime pie but no key lime juice? No worries, here I list down 14 key lime juice substitutes you can use. These alternatives will make your dishes tasteful and zesty. So, let’s know all about these substitutes.

Key Lime Juice

The key lime substitutes are lemon juice, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, bitter orange juice, grapefruit juice, and Persian lime juice. These alternatives may have different textures and flavor profiles but still replace key lime juice.  

Key lime juice is made from the small, tart key limes native to the Florida Keys. It has a distinct flavor, tastes sweet and sour, and has a floral aroma. Key lime juice is commonly used in desserts like key lime pie and in savory dishes like marinades and dressings.

While key lime juice may be the traditional choice for specific recipes, availability can be a concern. That’s why knowing about these essential lime juice substitutes is important. So, let’s dive into the article.

14 Key Lime Substitutes

1. Lemon Juice

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a tangy and acidic juice squeezed from lemon fruit. It is bright and adds citrusy flavors to the dishes. The acidic level of lemon juice is similar to key lime juice. 

You can use lemon juice in recipes like sauces, marinades, desserts, dressings, and cocktails. 

When using lemon juice, take one tablespoon of lemon juice for every two tablespoons of key lime juice. You can achieve a zesty, citrusy flavor in your dishes by taking proper measurements.

2. Persian Lime Juice

Persian Lime Juice

Want to add zesty flavors to your recipe? Then, you can easily substitute Persian lime juice with key lime juice. This juice has a strong citrus taste and is delicious. 

Persian limes are larger, seedless, and have thicker skin than key limes. They also have a more acidic flavor and lack the floral aroma that key limes are known for. Hence, you will find the taste a little different. But in terms of zest and citrus flavors, Persian limes are an excellent substitute for key lime juice. 

Moreover, Persian lime juice doesn’t replicate the same sweetness as key lime juice. However, it brings out the best taste in the dishes. 

To substitute Persian lime juice for key lime juice in your recipes, use one tablespoon for every 2-3 tablespoons. Give it a try and see how it can elevate your recipes.

3. Grapefruit Juice

Grapefruit Juice

Grapefruit juice is a pink-hued juice with a sour taste and hints of sweetness. It’s a vital ingredient to add to your dishes. Adding a tablespoon of grapefruit will surely bring out unique flavors if you want to make a sugar-based syrup. 

The taste of grapefruit juice is a cross between sweet orange and pomelo. 

You can easily substitute grapefruit for key lime juice as it’s sweeter and less sour. So, it will add depth of flavors to your drinks. Use grapefruit juice in your cocktails, such as margaritas or daiquiris. 

To substitute grapefruit juice for key lime juice in your recipes, use a 1:1 ratio.

4. Bitter Orange Juice

Bitter Orange Juice

If you like bittersweet orange juice, you can easily use bitter orange juice as a key lime substitute. Bitter orange is also known as Seville orange. The taste of this orange is a cross between the mandarin orange and pomelo.

This juice is acidic and has bitter-solid tones. So, it will bring out the best taste, specifically if used in cocktails. 

Plus, it’s an excellent juice to adjust the sweetness in your recipes. You can use bitter orange juice in marinades, salads, dressings, desserts, and cocktails. 

When using bitter orange juice as a substitute for key lime, keep the 1:1 ratio in mind. 

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is tangy and has a robust sour flavor. It adds a distinctive flavor to your recipes. It has a strong taste and an intense aroma, making it a versatile ingredient. You can use it in sauces, dressings, marinades, baked goods, desserts, and beverages.

If you’re looking for a sour taste in your recipe but don’t have key lime juice, you can use apple cider vinegar as a substitute. To achieve the same sourness in your dish, use ½ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for every tablespoon of key lime juice required.

6. Black Limes

Black Limes

Have you ever heard of black limes? If you haven’t, let me introduce you to this unique ingredient. Black limes, or dried limes or loomi, are a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine. 

They are made by boiling fresh limes in salted water and then drying them in the sun until they turn black and hard. Drying gives the limes a smoky, tangy flavor different from fresh lime juice.

Black limes are commonly used in stews, soups, and rice dishes and can also be ground into a powder and used as a seasoning.

When it comes to substituting with key lime juice, both have different flavors. Key lime juice has a tart, citrusy flavor that’s more acidic than black limes. Use one tablespoon of black lime juice for every tablespoon of key lime juice. 

7. Orange Juice

Orange Juice

Orange juice is delicious. It’s also a versatile ingredient that can add a sweet and tangy flavor to your recipes. Therefore, this is an excellent substitute for key lime juice. 

It can be used in various dishes, including desserts, marinades, sauces, baked goods, and beverages. When using orange juice as a substitute for key lime juice, it is essential to remember that the substitution should be made in a 1:1 ratio. 

The flavor of the orange juice depends on its freshness. There is homemade orange juice as well as bottled orange juice available to use. So, if you want a bright, refreshing taste of orange juice, use homemade orange juice.

8. Lime Extract 

Lime Extract

The lime extract is an excellent alternative to key lime juice. It has zesty, tart flavors that give your recipes a unique taste. It’s a natural product created by extracting the oil found in lime zest. 

You can use the homemade lime extract as well. You can store lime extract for up to 60 days in the fridge. The lime extract contains no added sugars, sodium, sulfites, or preservatives.

To make them, infuse lime peels in a neutral alcohol, such as vodka, for around 5-6 weeks. The homemade lime extract will be ready.

When substituting lime extract for lime juice, Use 1/2 tablespoon of lime extract instead of 1 tablespoon of key lime juice.

9. Tamarind Paste

Tamarind Paste

Tamarind paste is obtained from the pulp of the sour tamarind fruit. It has a tangy flavor, a thick texture, and a sticky consistency. Tamarind paste is mainly used in Indian and Thai cuisine. 

With its sour and sweet profile, tamarind paste can be an excellent replacement for lime juice in various dishes, such as marinades, dips, curries, and chutneys. 

Apart from being a flavorful ingredient, it has potential health benefits. It contains high levels of antioxidants, which may help protect against chronic diseases. Also, it’s a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, and iron. 

Swap two tablespoons of key lime juice with one tablespoon of tamarind paste to substitute lime juice.

10. Lime Oil

Lime Oil

Lime oil is a natural essential oil extracted from the peel of limes. Lime oil is typically produced through a cold-pressing process, where the oil is removed from the outer layer of the lime peel. It has a solid and concentrated citrusy flavor making it a popular ingredient in cooking, baking, and candy-making. 

Apart from the flavor point of view, lime oil also possesses many health benefits. It’s good for natural antiseptic, mood enhancement, and immunity boost. 

So, if you want to use lime oil instead of key lime juice in your recipe, add one drop of lime oil for every teaspoon of key lime juice. 

11. Lime Juice Powder

Lime Juice Powder

If you want to add tangy lime flavor to your recipes, look no further than lime juice powder. It’s made from lime juice, lime oil, and maltodextrin. This powder packs an intense punch of sour lime flavor that can be used in various dishes.

You can use this powder in sauces, dressings, soups, marinades, desserts, baked goods, and beverages. With just a teaspoon of powder mixed with two tablespoons of water, you can easily substitute for two tablespoons of key lime juice in any recipe.

12. Black Lime Powder

Black Lime Powder

The black lime powder has a tangy, citrus flavor, like lime juice, but with a smoky, earthy aroma. Black limes are commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine, and you can use black lime powder as an alternative to lime juice in various dishes like soups, stews, sauces, salads, meats, fish, pasta, or chicken marinades.

To make black lime powder, blanch Persian limes in salty water, then put them in ice-cold water to stop cooking. 

Next, dry the limes until they turn dark brown. You can do this by leaving them out in the sun, using an oven, or using a food dehydrator. Finally, grind the black limes using a coffee grinder or spice mill.

When using black lime powder instead of key lime juice, try mixing ½ teaspoon of black lime powder with one tablespoon of water to replace one tablespoon of key lime juice. 

13. White Wine Vinegar

White Wine Vinegar

White wine vinegar is an excellent alternative to key lime juice if you want a milder, less tangy flavor. It has a well-rounded fruity taste. White wine vinegar is made by blending white wine and vinegar, resulting in a deliciously fruity profile.

Just like apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar is high in acidic levels. It can be used instead of key lime juice in savory dishes and salad dressings. 

It’s important to note that you should avoid pairing white wine vinegar with baking soda in baking recipes, as this can significantly alter the taste.

To use white wine vinegar as a substitute for key lime juice, a ratio of 1:2 is recommended. So, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of key lime juice, you can use 1/2 tablespoon of white wine vinegar instead. 

14. White Wine

White Wine

White wine can be a great alternative if you’re looking for a less acidic option to key lime juice. It has a subtle sourness and fruity flavor. You can use it in marinades and salad dressings to add a different dimension of flavor to your dishes.

To replace the lime juice with white wine, it’s recommended to follow a 1:1 ratio. So, use one tablespoon of white wine for every tablespoon of lime juice. 

Short Recap Of The Best Key Lime Substitutes 

Here is a quick recap of the key lime substitutes. 

Best Key Lime Substitutes in Terms of Flavor and Texture –

  1. Lemon juice
  2. Persian Lime Juice
  3. Lime Extract

Best Key Lime Substitutes That Are Easily Available –

  1. Lemon Juice
  2. Orange Juice
  3. Grapefruit Juice
  4. Lime Extract

Key Lime Substitutes Should Be Least Considered –

  1. Tamarind Paste
  2. White Wine

How To Use Key Lime Substitutes In A Recipe

Key Lime Juice

14 Key Lime Substitutes To Try

The key lime substitutes are lemon juice, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, bitter orange juice, grapefruit juice, and Persian lime juice.
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  • Lemon Juice
  • Persian Lime Juice
  • Grapefruit Juice
  • Bitter Orange Juice
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Black Limes
  • Orange Juice
  • Lime Extract
  • Tamarind Paste
  • Lime Oil
  • Lime Juice Powder
  • Black Lime Powder
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • White Wine


  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
  • Use the substitute in the required amount and make the dish according to the recipe.
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If you don’t have access to key lime juice, don’t worry! There are plenty of substitutes that you can use in its place of key lime juice. In this blog, we covered various key lime juice substitutes, including lemon juice, Persian lime juice, lime extract, and even vinegar.

While each of these substitutes has its own unique flavor profile, we found that lemon juice, Persian lime juice, and lime extract were the best substitutes for key lime juice. They each have a similar tartness and acidic level to key lime juice, which makes them great key lime alternatives.

So, the next time you’re in the kitchen and find that you’re out of key lime juice, don’t fret! Just reach for one of these substitutes and you’ll be able to create delicious dishes with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What can I use as a substitute for key lime juice?

Various substitutes for key lime juice include regular lime juice, lemon juice, etc. You can also use bottled key lime juice or other citrus juices, like grapefruit or bitter orange juice.

How much of a substitute should I use instead of key lime juice?

When substituting key lime juice, use the same amount of whichever substitute you choose. For example, if a recipe calls for 1/4 cup of key lime juice, you should use 1/4 cup lemon juice.

Will the flavor be different if I use a substitute for key lime juice?

Yes, the flavor of the dish may be different. Key lime juice has a distinct and tangy flavor that is not the same as other citrus juices.

Can I use vinegar as a substitute for key lime juice?

You can use vinegar as a substitute for key lime juice. But keep a note of it as vinegar is more acidic than key lime juice; therefore, it cannot go with all recipes. It has its limitations.

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