Homemade Lime Cordial

Lime cordial in a glass bottle with a cork, limes to the side

 The Spruce Eats

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Refrigerate: 24 hrs
Total: 24 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 32 servings
Yield: 2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
20 Calories
0g Fat
5g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 32
Amount per serving
Calories 20
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 3mg 17%
Calcium 3mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 8mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Lime cordial is a drink mixer with a tart lime flavor. It's a hybrid ingredient that's sweeter than lime juice and more sour and bitter than lime syrup; it can be a substitute for either. Useful in cocktails, shots, and nonalcoholic drinks, lime cordial is as easy to make at home as any flavored simple syrup.

This lime cordial recipe is very similar in taste to the popular Rose's Sweetened Lime Juice (also labeled Rose's Lime Cordial), which is a staple in bars and often the go-to "lime juice." The homemade version has a fresher taste because it's made with fresh lime juice and it doesn't include the high fructose corn syrup, unnatural preservatives, or dyes found in Rose's. Instead, it relies on citric acid to boost the lime's natural tartness and act as a preservative. If you want a tongue-tingling level of tartness and a hint of bitterness, add the tartaric acid as well.

Lime cordial is not intended to drink on its own but is perfectly tart and sweet for mixed drinks. That can be something as simple as mixing it with soda for a refreshing drink that's also called a lime cordial or using it to make a lime and tonic. In cocktails, it's famously the essential ingredient for a gimlet, though other popular bar drinks rely on it as well.


  • 3/4 teaspoon citric acid

  • 1/2 teaspoon tartaric acid, optional

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, from about 3 large limes

  • Peel from 3 limes, cut into pieces or grated

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for lime cordial recipe gathered

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  2. In a small bowl, stir the citric acid (and tartaric acid, if using) into the sugar.

    Sugar combined with acid powders in a glass jar

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  3. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the sugar.

    Sugar being poured into boiling water in a saucepan

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  4. Stir constantly until the sugar is fully dissolved.

    Sugar syrup being stirred with a wooden spoon in the saucepan

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  5. Remove the pan from the heat, add the lime juice and peel, and stir well. Place it back on the stove, reduce the temperature, and allow to simmer for 2 minutes.

    Lime peels and lime juice added to syrup in the saucepan

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  6. Remove from heat, cover, and let rest until the cordial cools completely (about 1 hour).

    Covered saucepan with lime syrup steeping off the heat

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  7. Pour the mix into a well-sealed container and refrigerate overnight.

    Lime syrup poured into a a mason jar with a lid

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  8. Strain out the lime rinds using a fine-mesh strainer.

    Syrup being strained through a mesh strainer into a measuring cup

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  9. Pour the cordial into a clean bottle with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for another day before using it. Use it in your favorite drinks and enjoy!

    Yellow lime cordial in a glass bottle with a cork lid, limes to the side

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  • To get the maximum amount of lime juice, let the limes reach room temperature and roll the fruit with firm pressure between your hand and the cutting board before juicing.
  • You can find citric acid in many grocery stores and tartaric acid online, at homebrew and wine suppliers, or natural food stores. 
  • The citric acid extends the shelf life of the lime cordial when compared to other homemade syrups. Keep it refrigerated and use it within 4 months for the best flavor.

How to Use the Lime Cordial

  • To make a lime cordial drink, pour 1 to 2 ounces of cordial into a glass filled with ice and top with club soda or ginger ale to taste.
  • For lime and tonic, mix 1 to 1 1/2 ounces of lime cordial with about 6 ounces of tonic water.
  • Add a shot of lime cordial to a light lager. It is similar to a chelada or adding a lime wedge to your favorite Mexican beer.
  • Beyond the gimlet, lime cordial is a key ingredient in the key lime pie martini.
  • When you're in the mood for a shot, mix up a snakebite with Yukon Jack. Rose's is also the most common "lime juice" used in a cement mixer.
  • Use the lime cordial in other drink recipes that call for lime juice or lime syrup. Keep in mind that the taste is a little different than both of those ingredients. To create a balanced drink, you'll want to make adjustments to the amount of cordial you pour.

Homemade Lime Syrup

As an alternative to the lime cordial recipe, you can skip the acids and create a quick lime syrup in less than an hour. It has a similar flavor and all you need is sugar, water, and lime juice. The acids are preservatives and flavor enhancers, so you will not be missing out on much. However, adding 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid will make the flavor pop (that's why it's used in almost every soda).

  1. Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a soft boil in a saucepan.
  2. Add 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup fresh lime juice, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool before bottling and storing it in the fridge. Use it within 1 month if you don't include citric acid.