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Key Lime Thumbprints

Sweet-tart Key lime thumbprints bring cakey and creamy together in each bite.

  • Yield: Makes about 60
Key Lime Thumbprints

Source: Martha Stewart Living, December 2008


For the Dough

  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

For the Filling

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated Key lime zest (from 5 limes), or substitute regular limes
  • 3 tablespoons fresh Key lime juice (from 12 limes), or substiute regular limes
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


  1. Make the dough: Cream butter and granulated sugar with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Add yolks and vanilla, and beat for 1 minute. Reduce speed to low, and beat in flour and salt until combined. Cover, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour (or up to 1 day).

  2. Make the filling: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk granulated sugar, flour, and eggs in a medium bowl. Stir in lime zest and juice and salt.

  3. Roll balls using 2 teaspoons dough for each. Place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. With the handle of a wooden spoon, press gently in the center of each to create an indentation. Bake for 10 minutes. Press centers if indentations lose definition. Spoon filling into centers. Bake until cookies are light brown around edges, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool on wire racks.

Cook's Note

Cookies will keep, covered, for up to 2 days. Just before serving, dust with confectioners' sugar.

Reviews (24)

  • kwinflorida 28 Apr, 2010

    This was not a great recipe. The dough cracked and the filling was runny. It definitely did not live up to the Martha Stewart brand.

  • srhdet 11 Apr, 2009

    If you follow the instructions, the cookies are too small. They do not look like the pictured cookies.
    Use about a tablespoon of dough and just use your thumb for the indentation!
    I also agree there is way too much filling, tasty though..

  • EveandOdd 23 Jan, 2009

    I ran out of white flour while in the middle of this, and ended up using half white whole wheat flour; not the best idea I've ever had, but my roommates devoured the whole batch, so it musn't have been TOO bad! I'm thinking of rolling the dough balls in graham cracker crumbs next time, for a more "key lime pie" experience.

  • EveandOdd 22 Jan, 2009

    I ran out of white flour while in the middle of this, and ended up using half white whole wheat flour; not the best idea I've ever had, but my roommates devoured the whole batch, so it musn't have been TOO bad! I'm thinking of rolling the dough balls in graham cracker crumbs next time, for a more "key lime pie" experience.

  • lindakp 21 Jan, 2009

    I would love to try these and really appreciate all of the comments. I will try cutting the recipe in half and see how that goes. I am only making them for my husband and myself, not a crowd.

  • hummingbird84 19 Jan, 2009

    These are incredible! I rolled the balls of dough in sugar before "thumbing" and backing them, which might seem excessive, but I think it adds a nice sweet crunch to the otherwise pie-crust-like dough. I would agree with others before me and say to cut out some of the butter because the dough gets really crumbly and cracks then don't hold the filling. Also, this makes an excessive amount of filling, so be aware.

  • 1Toffy 19 Jan, 2009

    Since I am not a Key lime lover, I will use my Homegrown Meyer Lemons instead, adjusting the filling as needed, and adding lemon zest to the batter. After, reading the recipe I will cut back by about 1/2 stick of butter, as too much oil in a recipe can cause crumbling of the dough, or add a couple TBLs more of flour. Sure would be nice to get a perfect recipe.....

  • jonas_brothers_fan5198 19 Jan, 2009

    This cookie seems realy good! I am going to ask my mom if she can make them and bring the recipe to work so the pationts can make that recipe and give to other people! Then the recipe will become very popular!

  • mrscouture527 19 Jan, 2009

    probably need some more practice on this... definitely WAY too much filling... and i agree with SarainSF about using 3 tsps with the measuring spoon indentation... just gonna take some time to make them pretty...

  • patcash 18 Jan, 2009

    Where are the instructions for the chocolate version?

  • mykele 18 Jan, 2009

    After reading the comments to date, I fully agree with SarainSF and
    would use the icecream scoop that gives you a TBLS of dough
    as it makes for a better base to use a measuring spoon or
    melon baller for the depression. That size also should use much
    more of the filling.

  • jwhite4 18 Jan, 2009

    I made these a few weeks ago for an event. Though they were delicious, they looked nothing like the picture, UGLY! The dough was so crumbly out of the fridge and letting it come to room temperature didn't help much. Pressing them with a spoon was a disaster, they crumbled all over the place. Making them larger, as someone recommended, might help, especially with all the leftover filling. There was WAY too much. I made the chocolate version, and we weren't impressed with looks or flavor.

  • Tenchis 18 Jan, 2009

    Thank you g5cdmslf, thank you very much

  • jeadams 18 Jan, 2009

    key limes are much smaller than regular limes. They usually come in small little bags for under $3.

  • g5cdmslf 18 Jan, 2009

    Tenchis, all-purpose flour is the normal flour you use. Bisquick is made of up flour plus other ingredients, so don't use it for this recipe.

  • Tenchis 18 Jan, 2009

    Hi there, I'm Tenchis! I'm live in Mexico and I would like to know if "all-purpose-flour" is the normal flour or if it is like the "bisquik" flour. Thank your!!

  • Queenlalisa 18 Jan, 2009

    It sure does take alot of limes!

  • euni 18 Jan, 2009

    Perhaps copoking the filling might create a thicker consistency so it would not be runny.

  • karaheald 12 Jan, 2009

    These are very delicious - however 100% agree that there was alot of leftover filling. 1/3 of the filling would have probably filled all of the cookies. Will make them again and just adjust my technique from the recommendations!

  • unordinarylife 23 Dec, 2008

    Definitely make sure to press together any cracks that form from the "thumbprint " process. The filling was extremely runny and I also had way too much left over. I suggest making a lime curd intead. However, the chocolate thumbrpints are wonderful and incredibly easy. They were worth it.

  • beckbippy 21 Dec, 2008

    The cookies are really good but we also had a lot of filling left over.

  • blueegg 19 Dec, 2008

    my son and I made these today. We did the two teaspoonful size but the woodenspoon did not work at all - we used the ball end of an ikea icecream scoop. there was a little cracking, but we just smooshed them back together. As an fyi - I had ALOT of extra filling. I made 1 1/2 batched of dough and still had enough left for a few more dozen. Martha must be making more than "thumbprints" in hers to use that much filling!!! My husband loved them...tomorrow we attempt springerle!

  • SarainSF 14 Dec, 2008


  • SarainSF 14 Dec, 2008

    I recommend making them larger (about 3 teaspoons of dough per ball) and using the back of a measuring spoon to make the indentation. Using smaller balls and smaller indentations caused more cracking and overflowing/puddling of the filling. The wider crater allows for more lime filling without spilling. My last batch was excellent...beautiful to look at, and my husband loved them!

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