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Carlota de Limón is a Mexican icebox cake made with a creamy lime mixture. Delicious, sweet, and no baking involved. It’s a perfect dessert for any time of the year. Watch the VIDEO or follow along the step-by-step pictures below.
One time, as a kid, I came home from school. It had been a rough day, and all I wanted to do was veg in front of the TV. My grandma noticed my mood and said, “I was going to wait until after dinner, but maybe this will cheer you up.” She handed me a slice of Carlota de Limón. My grandma was the BEST!
It’s a very easy recipe. You need a lot of lime juice. In Mexico, we primarily use key limes for both savory and sweet recipes. I’m using 10 key limes. If you are using regular limes, juice about 5-6.
To a blender, add evaporated milk. This ingredient will give it a creamy texture. In the States, this is a cake. In Mexico, some people will refer to it as a “pay” or “pie.” I call GOOD!
Now time for sweetened condensed milk. Get a spoon and make sure you scrape out everything inside. Good til the last drop!
Add the lime juice. Be sure to remove any seeds that made it through the juicer holes. Those little suckers are sneaky. Even when you think there are no seeds, there’s always one.
Blend to mix well.
Taste this mixture. It should taste like key lime pie.
Next, get a large Pyrex plate. If you are making this for a fancy dinner, you can use a fancy serving plate or trifle dish. Add about ¼ cup of the lime mixture and spread evenly.
Carlota de Limón is traditionally made with Galletas Marías. I’ve been in remote towns in Upstate New York and still been able to find them in the Hispanic or Latino section. If you can’t find them, you can substitute with butter cookies or graham crackers.
Add a layer of Maria cookies on the plate over the lime mixture.
Pour more lime mixture. Enough to cover the cookies. Use your spatula to help guide out the mixture from the blender and spread evenly.
Add another layer of Maria cookies. You might need to break the cookies to cover the entire surface of the Pyrex plate.
More lime mixture. There is no baking involved in making this Mexican dessert. Perfect for entertaining!
This is another layer of Maria cookies. Create layer after layer until there are no ingredients. I used almost 2 full sleeves.
The final layer should be that of the lime mixture. That way, you can decorate the top. Cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 5 hours. You want everything to set, and the cookies to really absorb the yummy lime mixture.
Carlota de Limón is not heavy, but deliciously light and slightly sour. Some people will add berries to make it look fancy. I decorated it with thin slices of lime and lime zest.
Look at those layers! The longer the Carlota de Limón sits in the fridge, the better the cookies will absorb the lime mixture.
The Origins behind Carlota de Limón is a mystery!
Some say it was an alternation of the “charlotte russe” invented by the French chef, Marie-Antoine Carême, who named it after the wife of Zar Nicolai I.
While others say it was named after Charlotte, the wife of King George III of England and not French at all. Read more here.
Whoever the real inventor is, they left us with a recipe fit for a king.
Hope you enjoy this classic Mexican dessert!
Carlota de Limón
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- Juice of 10 key limes or 5 limes
- 2 packages Maria cookies
- Juice the limes and set aside.
- To a blender, add the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and lime juice
- Blend until smooth.
- To a large Pyrex plate or decorative dish, add about ¼ cup of the lime mixture.
- Add a layer of Maria cookies.
- Break the cookies in half to cover the areas open areas.
- Add some of the lime mixtures. About 1/2 cup.
- With your spatula, spread evenly over the cookies.
- Add another layer of the Maria cookies.
- Add some of the lime mixtures. About 1/2 cup.
- Using your spatula, spread the lime mixture.
- Continue layering until there are no more ingredients left.
- Cover and refrigerate for 5 hours.
- Decorate with lime zest, slices of lime, or fruit.
For More Mexican Desserts
Tres Leches Cake
Pan de Elote
Arroz con Leche
Fresas con Crema
Easy Mexican Spiced Cookies
20 Best Mexican Desserts
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
Okay I’m not sure this would be one of my favorite recipes, just knowing what I like and dislike, but appreciate sharing. Would make a great dessert to take to a party!
I thought it was named after “hospital la Carlota” in Montemorelos, Nuevo Leon, Mexico! That’s where my mom learned to make it when she worked at the hospital.
Well, we have names for everything in Mexico. I’m sure there’s a dish out there named after where your mom worked. lol.
Tht looks super delicious. I actually have most of the ingredients, so I’ll attempt to make this later in the week. Thanks for sharing!
Hope you try it! you”ll love it
I never thought that this is so easy to do. I need to check out limes here so I can try to make it. Can’t wait to try my very first limon/lime cake!
Easy and delicious!
making this as soon as it warms up. (Texass). i always have 2 Marias with my afternoon cuppa so have all the ingredients. thanks Maggie for another must make!
So glad you enjoyed this!
I loved the contrast of sweet and sour. Great dessert. Thanks!
Isn’t the best? glad you liked it
Delicious, Simple and yet so unique and perfect. My family to love it.
Thanks! So glad you and your family enjoyed it!
This recipe looks super delicious! I have never made this before and it looks nice and easy, so I will definitely give it a try. Thank you for sharing this recipe!
Glad you enjoyed this! Hope you try it
Loreto and Nicoletta
What a beautiful story. Are Grandmas just best ad you said, and my response is, ABSOLUTELY!❤
This is a great dessert and you have definately inspired me today!
They really are the best! Hope you try this recipe
I have tried a lot of ice box cakes but never one with flavors like this! This looks divine!!
Thanks! Hope you try this recipe
Aww, aren’t grandmas the best. And this looks incredible! I’ve never heard of it before but I clearly need to try it.
Yes they are! Hope you try this recipe
Can we use yellow lemon
Yes. Traditionally Carlota de Limon is made with key limes, but yellow lemons work just as well.
I don’t think I’d ever heard of this recipe before but this dessert like really yummy and I love that it’s no-bake as well. Thanks!
It’s easy and delicious to make. Hope you try it!
Lori | The Kitchen Whisperer
Oh this sounds perfect for the summer on those hot days when you want something cool and sweet. I’m loving the sweet and tangy combination! Thank you so much for sharing! I know what I’m making for dessert tomorrow!
So glad you enjoyed this! Hope you try it