Carlota de Limón Recipe (Key Lime Icebox Cake)

Spring and Summer are the perfect time to enjoy a Carlota de Limón, a refreshing dessert that will be a hit with your family and friend. A Carlota is a very popular Mexican dessert that has French roots. It is usually eaten either frozen or chilled and is perfect for sunny days. 

Title image with photo of Carlota de Limon on a plate with a lime garnish
(Photo Credit: Flickr/Joanbrebo CC BY-NC 2.0)

Carlota de Limón is super easy to make! If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t like to spend too much time baking a dessert you’re going to love this Carlota. It uses just 5 ingredients, and there’s no baking involved! How great is that?!

This dessert is the perfect balance of tart and sweet flavors with an easy to prepare process!

History of the Carlota De Limón

It is well known that this Latin American dessert was inspired by the famous Charlotte Russe tart. The Charlotte Russe is a French dessert, created by Marie-Antonin Careme, made in a mold with ladyfingers and Bavarian cream. While this confection is known and made in the United States and Europe, a simple version consisting of layers of vanilla cookies and lemon cream has been enjoyed in Mexico and other Latin American countries since the 1800s.

How to make a Carlota de Limón

Even though this is a very simple Mexican dessert, we shouldn’t underestimate its flavor, and you can rest assured that it will impress all of your guests. To make this lime Carlota you will need vanilla flavored cookies. 

The kind that is most commonly in Venezuela and Mexico are “Galletas María”. These cookies aren’t that easy to find, so you will need to keep your eyes open in case you see them. Back in Texas, I used to buy Galletas María at Fiesta Supermarket. Since we moved to Germany, finding these cookies has become quite the challenge. However, they sometimes sell them at the local Middle Eastern supermarket among many other yummy delicacies.

Photo of calamansis (Phillipine lemons/limes)
Calamansis aka Phillipine lemons/limes
(Credit: Pexels/Marco Antonio Victorino)

Family recipe 

Here is my mother-in-law’s recipe that I am sharing with you today. Her desserts are simply amazing and this Carlota de Limón is no exception. 

My mother-in-law’s Carlota de Limón is made with layers of cookies (Galletas María) and a creamy mix made out of canned milk and lime juice. It’s usually served in a rectangle or square glass dish and then refrigerated for three hours. 

You can add as many layers as you want. I prefer three or four layers at most. I like to have big chunks of lemony ice cream and just a few cookies to add texture. Also, I like to add some seasonal berries and lime zest as decoration to add a touch of color and extra fresh flavor.

Let’s start!


Juice from 6 limes

2 cans of evaporated milk (12 oz.)

2 cans of sweetened condensed milk 

Approximately 2 packages of María cookies

Lime zest

Mixed berries to garnish (optional)


Pour the condensed milk, the heavy cream, the evaporated milk, and the lime juice into the blender. Blend for 2 minutes at low speed. The consistency must be like thick cream.

Soak the María cookies in a cup of milk for a couple seconds. Be careful here to make sure you don’t leave the cookies in the milk for too long or the cookies won’t be hard enough to become a layer of the ice cream cake. 

Place the cookies as a base then cover with some lime cream and repeat the steps until you use all the cream. The last layer must be the cream. Sprinkle with lime zest.

Let it cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours. 

Cut into pieces and decorate with fresh berries.

Share this recipe with family and friends and please let us know in the comment section how much you like it!!!! I promise that your children will love it!

photo of Carlota de Limón on plate with lime garnish
Carlota de Limón
(Photo Credit: Flickr/Joanbrebo CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Flor Bretón-García is a Venezuelan former attorney and intercultural trainer who has transited expat life since 2002. She currently lives in Germany where she works as a language and intercultural consultant. Flor shares her passion for her mother tongue, Spanish, by teaching children, young adults and executives both online and in-person. She is also an advocate for expat women empowerment, especially those who move overseas in a less privileged position. Flor began her journey as a social entrepreneur with her project Little Nómadas in 2016 and since then she has assisted many Latino families moving overseas. Flor is an international speaker and writer that enjoys traveling with her husband and three kiddos.

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