Chocolate Cookies with Cocoa Nibs and Lime

I made these cookies on a whim the other night after looking at some very fancy chocolates online made by some hip and trendy chocolatier in Paris. One of them was chocolate and lime and as I saw it I thought, “Well that seems intriguing! I do believe I’ll head to the store and pick up some limes and try that out as a cookie. And you know what? I bet it would be even better with some cocoa nibs!” After a quick stop at the market and a small rendezvous in the kitchen I tasted what had to be one the most flavorful cookies I’d ever eaten. I brought them to Elise and her parents and all agreed that this cookie is fantastic. It’s floral and dark, with a taste that reminds you of nights on the beach with friends. A perfect cookie for dipping into a chilled glass of lemonade or limeade.

For those who aren’t familiar with cocoa nibs they’re pieces of roasted, crushed up cocoa beans. They’re fragrant, dark, bitter bordering astringent and have a pure taste of raw chocolate with notes of coffee. Plus, they have a delightful crunch much like a nut. You cannot substitute chocolate chips for cocoa nibs. Do yourself a favor a buy some at the store or online; once you try them you’ll be in love, using them in everything from cookies to ice cream, to smoothies and granola.

Chocolate Cookies with Cocoa Nibs and Lime Recipe

  • Yield: Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.


  • 1 cup of butter
  • 3/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup of white granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup of cocoa nibs
  • Zest of one large lime


1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat the butter and sugars together for about two minutes at medium speed or until well incorporated and light in color. Add the egg, cream, and vanilla extract until well incorporated, about a minute. Be sure to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl halfway through.

2 Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Add to the butter mixture slowly, and beating at medium speed, stopping once all of it is incorporated (do not overmix). Fold in the cocoa nibs and lime zest.

3 Take small spoonfuls of the dough and roll into one inch sized balls and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Perfect for dipping in homemade limeade or lemonade.

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  1. Martha

    These sound interesting. Somehow I feel compelled to want to replace the lime zest with orange. Think I will make half a batch each way!

  2. Sharon

    My two favorite things, limes and chocolate! But I have a dairy allergy (butter excludind) and wonder if the cream is necessary and may be substituted for something…. (can’t have soy either).

    Not sure, I would use whatever you might normally use for baking or as a milk substitute and see how it works. If you give it a go, I encourage you to come back and let other readers know what your experience was. ~Garrett

  3. azleena

    I don’t usually have heavy cream (or any cream!) on hand, what can be substituted?

    I suppose whole milk could be just fine. ~Garrett

  4. bittermelon

    Does it matter if natural or dutch cocoa is used? The cookies look puffy, are they cakey? Or chewy?

    And, Garrett, what are cocoa nibs…ahhh, just kidding!

    I use Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder which I believe is Dutch Processed. As for texture they are somewhere between chewy and cakey. ~Garrett

  5. sharon

    re: milk/cream in the recipe. I can find a subsitute if i know why it’s needed… the peppermint bark choc. cookie recipe doesn’t have it.. What is the point of the dairy in this particular cookie? Thanks Garrett.

    Just give the cookies a bit more moisture in this case as the cocoa nibs do a good job trying to absorb some of it, otherwise the cookie can get a bit dry. It also add a bit more fat and richness to the cookie.~Garrett

  6. Kelly

    I think making these will be a wonderful way to celebrate getting done with work early. Now I just need to find someplace in Fargo, ND that sells cocoa nibs…

    Please, I find them just sitting in pristine bags on the side of the road in Fargo, ND. ;) ~Garrett

  7. Annie

    This sounds yummy. I love chocolate and crunchy things. It made me think of a chewy chocolate tangerine cookie made by Dancing Deer that I would never have thought I’d like but wish I could replicate. Sound like a job for Garrett? :)

    Annie, I have a laundry list of things to bake already, ha ha. Why not give it a go yourself? =) ~Garrett

  8. Food Lover

    I’ve heard of a 25% cocoa extract that’s like eating 10 chocolate bars at once. Would something like that work with recipes.. I heard the extract should be added to hot drinks like coffee.

    I have no idea. Never used it before. ~Garrett

  9. rose

    These were interesting and delicious…but I should probably start with the fact that I totally messed them up. I intended to half the recipe (only two of us this weekend), and then half way through I accidentally added the full amount of flour…so when I realized it and I started scooping out random amounts…but then I remembered the altitude and thought about adding some back…sigh. you see where this is going – disaster! Anyway, miracles do happen – they were yum! First time using cocoa nibs and was wondering if Garrett or anyone else knows if the nibs come in different chunk sizes…the ones I used were pretty small/fine and I think larger chunks might be better (if they exist!).
    Anyway, thanks for the post and idea to combine different/seemingly opposite ingredients – these had wonderful layers of flavor – a sophisticated cookie for sure!

  10. Chris at Lost Arts Kitchen

    I love nibs and am glad to have a new recipes to try them in. And the cheesecake idea some suggested–brillant! I’m making a cheesecake today and have key lime, nibs, and chocolate graham crackers…

    For the person who can’t use dairy, you might try coconut oil in place of the butter, but chill the dough before you roll balls with it. I substitute half the butter in my chocolate chip cookie recipe with coconut oil–the taste is heavenly, but the cookies tend to spread more if the dough isn’t thoroughly chilled when it goes into the oven. You could also skip the cream and add an extra egg yolk instead.

  11. PV

    Will this recipe scale down? I’m just really terrified of making 12 dozen cookies that are no doubt absolutely irresistible :-).

  12. mikutech

    Love this idea and will try to make them for a tex-mex bbq we are attending this w/e. Since we are neighbors, (sort of- I live in Oakland) I was wondering if you could give me advise on where to find nibs? I know Whole Foods has them but wanted to see if you know other options?
    Thank you!

    Uh, I have no clue what is in Oakland. Sorry. Just call around to your local stores. =) ~Garrett

  13. Alex

    Where can I get Cocoa Nibs? I have no idea where to get them and I MUST make this recipe!

    Call around or buy online. ~Garrett

  14. Margaret

    Wow- I just made these, and am so proud of myself for 1) holding almost completely to the recipe’s specifications and 2) not eating more than two as they came out of the oven to cool. These are so yummy! And they have the added bonus of reminding me of Lime Delicious, a chocolate cookie-crumb classic my grandma used to make- heavenly. So I think I will be sending some of these out to the fam… Thanks for the post!

  15. Kairu

    These are officially the best cookies I have ever made, and the only time I have ever starting eating the dough straight from the bowl. I used a small ice cream scoop to form the cookies, and I would eat a little bit of dough after each scoop.

  16. Mikutech

    Just wanted to thank you for this amazing recipe! I added 1/2 teaspoon of ceyanne to the mix and *OMG*…amazing! I brought the cookies to a tex/mex BBQ and everyone loved loved loved them. We also played the “guess what’s in the cookie” game and many guessed the ceyanne was ginger. The ceyanne gives it a nice spiced flavor- without being spicy! Works so well with chocolate and lime flavors.
    Thanks again for this super delicious recipe!


  17. caro

    Whole Foods sells raw cocoa nibs, can I use those or do I need to roast them first, and if so, how should I roast them?

    Just use them straight out of the bag as they have already been roasted. ~Garrett

  18. dave

    Thanks for this recipe! I have made two half batches and both turned out great, although aren’t as shiny as your photo.

    For each batch I used a whole egg instead of trying to figure out how to halve it. By the second batch I was out of cream and vanilla, so I used whole milk and substituted some of the white sugar for some vanilla sugar I had made a while ago with some nice beans. Both times the dough was wetter than I expected. Maybe as a result of the egg. I don’t know.

    This is my favorite cookie now.

  19. Karen Bowers

    I made these yesterday and they are wonderful. May be the best cookies I’ve ever made. I’ll definitely be making them again. I followed the directions exactly, except the cocoa nibs I used had a dusting of Mexican chocolate with some cayenne; added a nice touch. Thanks for the great recipe.

  20. Stacey Hughes

    I just made these and they are interesting and super tasty. this is the first time using cocoa nibs and already I am wondering what else I can put them in-delicious.

  21. Anna

    I made a double batch of these a few months ago, and they were a huge hit. I’m making another batch right now with a different cookies recipe since I didn’t have heavy cream in the house.

    I used significantly more lime zest both times- the zest of more than three limes for a single batch, which brought the taste of the lime out a bit more. So don’t shy away from more lime!

  22. Deanna

    To mikutech:

    Given how late this is coming, I don’t know that you’ll see this/need this, but:

    If you’re looking for cocoa nibs in the Bay Area, Berkeley’s Spun Sugar (on University Ave) has them in 5-lb bags for around $20 – far cheaper than anything I’ve seen online. They also sell them in smaller 1-lb or 2-lb bags, at a (small) markup.


  23. Yoko

    I tried making these tonight. I’m not sure what I did wrong (probably because I added the juice of one small lime?) but the cookies came out looking awful.

    Also, I tried to make then gluten-free by using almond flour instead of regular flour, but I have a feeling it was the lime juice (the acid maybe?) rather than the almonds that were the culprit. What do you think?


    Anytime you change the recipe you’re going to get a different end result. If the cookies don’t look like the photo it probably is because of the almond meal and lime juice. However, if you switched all the flour for almond flour then my guess is that that is your culprit, not the lime juice. You’re probably better off using a recipe that’s already gluten free and adding lime to it. ~Garrett

  24. Emily

    A very sophisticated cookie! They came together really well. Would probably be great with tea, too!

  25. Virginia

    I have made these cookies A LOT. First, I did not like the idea of the lime so I omitted it. Second, I didn’t have cocoa nibs so I roasted pecans and chopped them finely in a food processor. Third, since cocoa nibs (I imagine) are kinda nutty and deeply chocolate, I add instant espresso powder. Since there is no lime, the salt becomes a really important ingredient (I found out the hard way when I forgot to add it). When I made them again, I realized after rolling them into balls that I forgot the salt AGAIN! So, I got adventurous and decided to roll them lightly in kosher salt. BOY! Made all the difference rolling them rather than just adding the salt. These cookies are divine no matter how you make them! They are like brownie cookies. Which is why the cream is also important. If you are going to make these, use the cream! I think you will notice a difference. Thanks for a great recipe that has made for many happy mouths :)

  26. Mike

    This recipe looks unbelievable!!!! Plus it’s made with cacao nibs one of my favorite food (and one of the healthiest on the planet!)


  27. Kristi

    I just made these! They are fantastic!

    Now, is there a way to substitute the butter for something healthier?
    (I have a feeling that I will be making these again…)

    Nope, butter it is. I think when you make chocolate cookies you just best resign yourself to calories and fat. ;) ~Garrett

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