How many limes do you need for 1/2 cup of juice?

To get 1/2 cup of lime juice, you’ll need around 3-4 medium sized limes. The exact number can vary a bit depending on the size and juiciness of the limes.

A Quick Estimate

As a general rule of thumb:

  • 1 medium lime yields around 1-2 tablespoons of juice
  • 1/2 cup = 8 tablespoons
  • So you’d need around 3-4 medium limes to get 1/2 cup of juice

This is just a rough estimate though – the actual amount can vary based on several factors.

Factors That Affect Lime Juice Yield

There are a few things that can affect how much juice you can get out of a lime:

  • Size – Larger limes tend to have more juice than smaller ones. A very large, juicy lime might yield 3-4 tablespoons, while a smaller one might only have 1-2 tbsp.
  • Juiciness – Some limes are juicier than others. Tree-ripened limes tend to be more juicy than commercially harvested green limes.
  • Seediness – Limes with a lot of seeds tend to have a bit less flesh and juice.
  • Temperature – Room temperature limes tend to yield more juice than cold refrigerated ones.
  • Rolling/Pressing – Rolling limes firmly on a hard surface or pressing with your palm can help break down some of the membranes and release more juice.

So when figuring out quantities, you’ll get the best results by selecting larger, juicy looking limes at room temperature, rolling them before juicing, and fully pressing/squeezing to extract all the juice.

Exact Lime Juice Yields

To give you a better idea of actual juice yields from limes, here are some more specifics:

Lime Size Juice Yield
Small (2″ diameter) 1-1 1/2 tablespoons
Medium (2.25″ diameter) 1.5-2.5 tablespoons
Large (2.5″+ diameter) 2.5-4 tablespoons

As you can see, there’s quite a range depending on the size. Very small limes may only give 1 tbsp, while very large juicy limes could potentially give 4 tbsp or even slightly more.

How Many Medium Sized Limes for 1/2 Cup of Juice?

Looking at the numbers, if you have average sized medium limes (around 2.25″ diameter), you should expect to get around 1.5-2.5 tbsp of juice from each one.

Since 1/2 cup = 8 tablespoons, you’ll need approximately:

  • 3 medium limes (at 2 tbsp each) = 6 tbsp
  • 4 medium limes (at 1.5 tbsp each) = 6 tbsp

So 3-4 medium limes should yield about 1/2 cup of juice.

Tips for Getting 1/2 Cup Lime Juice

  • Select medium or large sized limes that feel heavy for their size
  • Roll limes firmly on counter before juicing to release more juice
  • Juice limes at room temperature
  • Use a hand juicer or reamer and press firmly to extract all the juice
  • If needed, squeeze any remaining juice from pulp by hand
  • Measure the amount as you go until you reach 1/2 cup

What If You Need More or Less Than 1/2 Cup?

You can adjust the number of limes accordingly:

  • For 1/4 cup juice: 2 medium limes
  • For 3/4 cup juice: 5 medium limes
  • For 1 cup juice: 6-8 medium limes

In general, plan on each medium lime yielding around 2 tablespoons of juice. From there you can calculate how many you need.

Whole Lime Equivalents

If you need lime juice from whole, peeled limes rather than juiced, here are some guidelines:

Amount of Juice Whole Limes Needed
1/4 cup 2 medium limes
1/3 cup 3 medium limes
1/2 cup 4 medium limes
3/4 cup 6 medium limes
1 cup 7-8 medium limes

Make sure to zest the limes first if the recipe calls for zest, then peel and segment the limes for juicing. The benefit of using whole peeled limes is you get some pulp and oils that you’d miss out on by just juicing.

Tips for Juicing Lemons

Here are some tips for getting the most juice and flavor out of fresh limes:

  • Roll limes firmly under palm of hand on counter before juicing to break down membranes
  • Juice limes at room temperature – chill them after juicing if needed for recipe
  • Use a hand juicer or citrus reamer and press firmly to get all the juice out
  • Squeeze out any remaining juice from pulp by hand
  • Juice into a measuring cup to see how much juice you get as you go
  • Remove any seeds as you juice to avoid bitterness
  • If recipe calls for zest, zest limes first before juicing them
  • For maximum flavor and nutrients, use whole peeled segments

Storing and Using Leftover Lime Juice

Here are some tips if you end up with extra lime juice:

  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days
  • Freeze for longer storage – up to 6 months
  • Add to water, sparkling water, tea, or cocktails for a touch of citrus
  • Use in salad dressings, marinades, dipping sauces, and ceviche
  • Mix with olive oil and spices for a finishing drizzle
  • Add to smoothies for a bright flavor
  • Use for lime curd, lime bars, or key lime pie

Lime juice adds a bright, vibrant flavor to both sweet and savory recipes. Get the most out of fresh limes with proper juicing techniques. And when life gives you extra lime juice, put it to good use enhancing foods and beverages with its zesty citrus taste.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the number of limes needed vary so much?

There are a few factors that affect lime juice yield, like size, juiciness, seediness, etc. So actual juice amounts can range quite a bit from lime to lime. In general, larger, juicier limes will give more juice, while smaller, drier ones give less.

Do you get more juice from yellow or green limes?

Tree-ripened yellow limes generally have more juice than commercially picked green limes. But you can find juicy green limes as well. Choose limes that feel heavy for their size regardless of color.

Can I substitute bottled lime juice?

Bottled and reconstituted lime juice will work in a pinch, but won’t have the same fresh flavor as juicing your own limes. Use within a few days and store in the fridge for best quality if substituting.

How long does fresh lime juice last?

Freshly squeezed lime juice will last 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container. For longer storage, freeze lime juice in ice cube trays or freezer bags for 4-6 months.

What’s the best way to juice a lime?

For maximum juice, roll limes firmly before juicing, then use a hand juicer or citrus press. Press firmly and squeeze out any remaining juice by hand. Juice at room temperature and strain out any seeds.


When a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of lime juice, you’ll generally need around 3-4 medium sized limes. However, lime juice yields can vary quite a bit based on size, juiciness, temperature, and juicing method. For best results, select fresh, ripe limes and use proper juicing techniques to maximize the amount of juice extracted. Adjust the lime quantities as needed to achieve the desired 1/2 cup or other measured amount of juice your recipe requires.

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