How many ounces of juice is in a key lime?

Key limes are a small, round, green citrus fruit that pack a lot of flavor and juice despite their petite size. They are a very popular ingredient in desserts, marinades, and drinks. But if you’ve ever tried squeezing key limes to make a recipe, you may have wondered just how much juice you can expect to extract from them.

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at key lime juice yields—how many ounces of juice you can expect from key limes of different sizes. We’ll provide averages and ranges based on research, testing, and expert recommendations. Knowing how much juice to expect from key limes is useful whether you’re squeezing by hand at home or buying key limes in bulk for restaurant, bar, or commercial use.

Key Lime Facts

Let’s start with some background on key limes themselves:

  • Key limes (Citrus aurantifolia) are a small, round, ping pong ball-sized citrus fruit. They are typically 1-2 inches in diameter.
  • They have thin, greenish-yellow rinds and pale green juicy pulp divided into 8-10 segments.
  • Key limes originate from Southeast Asia and are now grown primarily in tropical and subtropical regions like Florida, Mexico, and Central/South America.
  • They are more tart and aromatic than conventional Persian limes.
  • Key limes commonly have seeds while Persian limes are often seedless.
  • They are used extensively in Key lime pie, margaritas, ceviche, and marinades for fish.
  • On average, key limes weigh between 1-2 ounces each.

So in summary, key limes are petite, seedy, green citrus fruits with very tart, floral, concentrated juice. Their small size makes people wonder just how much juice can be squeezed from individual fruits. Let’s take a closer look.

Key Lime Juice Yields

Like all citrus fruits, there is variability in how much juice you get from key limes. Factors like lime size, shape, seed content, and ripeness impact liquid yields. To best understand key lime juice quantities, we’ll examine:

  • Average juice yields from key limes
  • Juice yield ranges
  • Factors impacting yields
  • Yields from larger quantities

Average Juice Yield from a Key Lime

On average, 1 key lime yields approximately:

  • 1 – 1 1⁄2 tablespoons juice
  • 1⁄2 – 3⁄4 fluid ounce juice
  • 15 – 22 grams juice weight

So if you’re wondering how many tablespoons or ounces, on average, to expect from one key lime, plan on 1 to 1 1⁄2 tablespoons or 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 ounce. The actual yield you get can vary based on the size and ripeness of your limes. But in most cases, the average lime will produce about 1 tablespoon of juice.

Juice Yield Ranges

While 1 tablespoon (1⁄2 oz) is average, key lime juice yields can range wider depending on fruit variability:

  • Small key limes may produce as little as 1⁄2 tablespoon juice
  • Large, ripe key limes may produce up to 2 tablespoons juice
  • That equates to a fluid ounce range of 1⁄4 –1 oz juice per average sized lime

So your key lime juice yields can be as low as 1⁄4 ounce or as high as 1 full ounce, varying based on size, shape, seed content, and ripeness.

Factors Impacting Juice Yields

Why such variability in the amount of juice you can get from key limes? Here are some of the factors that affect the juice yield from individual limes:

  • Lime size – Larger key limes naturally contain more juice. Average limes are 1-2 inches diameter. Dwarf varieties can be smaller with less juice, while giant cultivars can be over 2 inches diameter.
  • Lime shape – Fatter, rounder key limes generally contain more juice than narrow, oblong fruits.
  • Seeds – Seedless key limes have more edible pulp and juice vs. seeded fruits.
  • Ripeness – More mature, fully ripe limes yield more juice than unripe, green fruits.
  • Growing conditions – Key limes grown in ideal tropical climates develop better with more juice than those grown in marginal environments.
  • Storage conditions – Freshly harvested limes and those stored properly retain more juice compared to limes stored for long periods or improperly.
  • Squeezing technique – Proper manual or mechanical extraction maximizes the juice you can obtain.

As you can see, there are many variables affecting how much juice you can get out of individual key limes. But overall, 1 tablespoon (1⁄2 oz) is a reasonable average expectation per lime.

Juice Yields from Larger Quantities

When working with large quantities of key limes, like for restaurant, bar, or commercial use, you can calculate expected juice yields based on average quantities per lime.

For example:

  • 10 key limes = approximately 5-10 oz juice
  • 20 key limes = approximately 10-20 oz juice
  • 1 pound (6-8 key limes) = approximately 3-6 oz juice
  • 1 kg (14-20 key limes) = approximately 7-14 oz juice

These yield ranges account for variability in fruit size, ripeness, and extraction efficiency. Actual juice quantities may be slightly more or less. But the averages provide useful guidance for production planning.

Comparing Regular vs. Key Lime Juice Yields

How do key lime juice yields compare to regular Persian limes?

On average:

  • A Persian lime yields 2-3 tablespoons juice or 1-1 1⁄2 fluid ounces.
  • A key lime yields 1-1 1⁄2 tablespoons juice or 1⁄2 – 3⁄4 ounces.

So regular Persian limes contain significantly more juice than the smaller key lime varieties – around twice as much.

This means you’ll need more key limes than Persian limes to get the same amount of juice. Or you may need to adjust recipes and portion sizes when substituting between lime types.

How to Get the Most Juice from Key Limes

To maximize the amount of juice you extract from key limes:

  • Select limes that feel heavy for their size, which indicates more juice content.
  • Choose limes with smooth, glossy peels, avoiding fruits with shriveling or wrinkling.
  • Pick limes that yield slightly when squeezed, signaling ripeness.
  • Roll limes firmly on a hard surface before slicing to rupture the juice sacs.
  • Use a citrus reamer or juicer for best extraction.
  • Ream/juice limes at room temperature, not cold from the fridge.
  • When juicing by hand, twist the reamer to press out all the pulp and liquid.
  • Remove any seeds, which can trap juice inside the fruit.
  • Strain the squeezed juice through a fine mesh sieve to remove solids.

Proper selection, storage, and extraction technique allows you to obtain the maximum potential juice from each key lime.

Key Lime Juice Substitutions

If you don’t have enough key limes or key lime juice for a recipe, here are some possible substitutions using other citrus:

  • Regular Persian lime juice – Combine equal parts juice with sugar or simple syrup to offset the less tart flavor.
  • Lemon juice – Use sparingly as lemons are more acidic. Start with half the volume of juice specified.
  • Bottled key lime juice – Ensure it’s 100% juice without added sweeteners or preservatives.
  • Other juices like yuzu, blood orange, or Meyer lemon – Add gradually as flavors can vary.

You can also replace some of the key lime juice with water to thin out another citrus juice substitute. Adjust sweetness and acidity as needed to achieve the desired key lime flavor profile.

Uses for Leftover Key Lime Juice

You’ll often end up with extra fresh-squeezed key lime juice leftover after making recipes. Avoid wasting this precious, tangy citrus juice! Here are great ways to use up leftover key lime juice:

  • Add to smoothies, lemonade, or ice tea for tartness
  • Drizzle over fresh fruit or fruit salads
  • Mix into dipping sauces for shrimp, chicken, or fish
  • Stir into batters like pancakes, muffins, or cakes
  • Blend into vinaigrettes, marinades, and salad dressings
  • Mix with herbs to make compound butter for seafood
  • Use in place of other citrus juice in recipes
  • Freeze in ice cube trays for later use

Don’t throw out that extra key lime juice – it adds amazing fresh flavor to both sweet and savory dishes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about key lime juice yields:

How many key limes make a cup of juice?

It takes approximately 8 to 12 key limes to make 1 cup of fresh juice. The exact number depends on the size and ripeness of the limes. Plan on squeezing 10 key limes per cup of juice for easier estimation.

Can you juice key limes in advance?

Yes, you can squeeze key limes up to 3 days before needed. Store the fresh juice in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Stir before using as juice can separate.

Is bottled key lime juice as good as fresh?

Bottled juice works well for convenience, but fresh-squeezed juice has a superior, more intense lime flavor. Use bottled only if fresh key limes are unavailable. Check the label for additive-free, 100% lime juice.

What is the best juicer for key limes?

Manual citrus reamers or modestly-powered electric juicers work best for key limes. Powerful, high-rpm juicers can over-pulverize the fruits’ thin peels. Avoid juicers with narrow openings that won’t fit small key limes.

How long does fresh key lime juice last?

Key lime juice will keep for 2-3 days refrigerated. For longer storage up to 2 months, freeze unused juice in ice cube trays or small containers to use as needed.


While small, key limes can produce an impressive amount of tart, aromatic juice. On average, you can expect 1-1 1/2 tablespoons or 1⁄2 – 3⁄4 fluid ounces of juice per lime. Riper, larger fruits may yield up to 1 oz juice each. Key limes have less juice than standard Persian limes, but their juice packs lots of delicious lime flavor. Follow these tips to maximize the key lime juice extraction so none goes to waste. Now that you know approximately how many ounces come from key limes, you can confidently use them in recipes for pies, margaritas, ceviche, dressings and more.

Leave a Comment