Lime Pickle Recipe

This lime pickle is a real show-piece!

Lime pickle

Homemade chunky lime pickle. Blend longer if you prefer a smoother texture.

I am so happy to have been taught this lime pickle recipe. I love lime pickle and have since I was first introduced to Indian food. It goes fantastically well with homemade naan bread, pappadams, samosas and as a side to many curries. Lime pickle is served at almost every Indian restaurant and would be greatly missed if it weren’t!

There was a time when I always had a supermarket brand name jar of lime pickle in the fridge. These days I make my own and believe me the taste is so much better. This recipe was taught to me by the chef of our local tandoori. He too used to serve those name brand pickles but now swears by this recipe.

This lime pickle recipe makes quite a lot but the pickle lasts indefinitely in a sterilised jar in a cool dark place such as a cupboard to the fridge.

Making lime pickle

Preparing the lime and garlic mixture in a glass bowl.

Making lime pickle

Squeeze the juice out of the lime mixture and refrigerate the liquid.

Making lime pickle

Steam the lime mixture until soft.

Making lime pickle.

Allow to sit in a warm place, covered for two days. You will do this twice.

5.0 from 2 reviews
An Amazing Indian Lime Pickle Recipe
Recipe type: Pickle
Cuisine: Indian
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: A Lot
  • 1kg (2 lbs) limes - stab holes in each lime and then cut into eight pieces
  • 125g (1/3 cup) salt
  • 40 cloves of garlic - smashed
  • 50g red chilli powder - or less if you don't like spicy pickles
  • 150ml (3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 30 grams (1/3 cup) white cumin seeds
  • 3 Tablespoons black mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon asafoetida
  1. Place the limes in a bowl and add the salt, whole garlic cloves and red chilli powder. Mix well coating the limes and pressing down on them as you do. Retain the juices and refrigerate and then place the juiced lime mixture into a steamer and steam for about 15 minutes until they are quite soft.
  2. Transfer the lime mixture to a glass bowl and cover with a towel. Leave in the sun or a warm place for two days. Mix every eight hours to keep the limes coated with all the other ingredients.
  3. At the end of day two, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, throw in the black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and the asafoetida. The mustard seeds will begin to pop. When they do, pour the oil mixture over the limes and stir well.
  4. Pour in the reserved lime juices too.
  5. Cover again with the towel and allow to sit in the sun or a warm place for another two days.
  6. At the end of two days scoop the lime pickle into a food processor and process to a chunky or smooth paste. Place this in a sterilised air tight container and let sit in a cool place for at least two weeks before serving.


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  1. Leone Evrenos says

    I am just making the first stage of the pickle, the limes are in the steamer. Looking forward to eating it along with my home made Indian food, particularly with my Mangalorean Prawn curry which has Kashmiri chillies in it. My mouth is watering! I will get back to you when we have tried the pickle.

    Leone U.K.

    • Dan Toombs says

      Thanks for that Leone! I hope you like the Indian pickle. I sure do. Be sure to stop back and let me know how it goes!

  2. Leone Evrenos says

    Absolutely delicious! my son eats it with just about everything. Would definitely make more!! I would also like a sweet and sour version, can you suggest how much sugar to add to the full recipe? and could brown sugar be used instead of white?

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Leone

      Thank you! I’m really glad you and your son like the recipe. I am currently experimenting with a sweet and sour version. I haven’t tasted it yet but if all turns out as planned, I will post the recipe. I used jaggery (a pure Indian sugar) for my recipe. You could use soft brown sugar but I would stay away from dark sugar as it would be over-powering.

      I will send you an email when I post the recipe.


  3. sarah lucas says

    I’m going to give this a try, quick question, do you leave the limes in a bowl, and then steam, or just pop them into the steamer , in which case don’t you lose lots of juices?

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Sally

      I think I need to revise this recipe a little.

      You want to squeeze as much of the juices out of the limes as possible with the salt. Keep the juices and then steam. If you want, you could steam them in a normal steamer or keep the limes in the same bowl with the juice and steam them in a larger pot with a lid. If you do this, be sure to put a cloth under the bowl so it doesn’t shatter.

      When the limes are quite soft – 15 minutes – follow the rest of the recip. Good luck with it and be sure to let me know how it goes. I’ve had a lot of good feedback from this recipe.

      • Zoe says

        Hi Dan,
        I’m keen to try this recipe and just wanted to clarify about the steaming! Once you’ve squeezed the juices out of the limes, do you then put the limes & garlic cloves into the steamer? I just have a metal steamer that sits over hot water in a saucepan. Once the 15 minutes are up do you add the juices back to the lime & garlic mixture to sit in the sun or wait until the end of day 2?
        Many thanks,

        • Dan Toombs says

          That’s right Zoe. Please print this recipe out as I have to remove it in the next day or so. It’s in my ebook and I can’t have a version online. Good luck with this one. I love it.

          • Zoe says

            Thanks Dan – I have whipped up my first batch and it looks great. Recipe printed too!!

  4. says

    In your list of ingredients there is no sugar, yet in your comments you say you used jaggery, how much sugar do you use in this recipe and when do you add it? as I’m really eager to make this pickle, thank you.

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Margaret

      This recipe doesn’t have any sugar in it. There is a sweet version that I would like to make but haven’t done so yet. I will probably do it in the Summer.

      Hope this helps and good luck.

  5. guy says

    Tasted a spoonful as I bottled it. Flavour fresh and excellent but a bit salty at the moment. Certainly tastes like like pickle and not lime chutney which is usually in the commercial bottles.

    I miss the caramelized flavour a bit but I suppose you cannot have it both ways either fresh or stewed, not both without a blowtorch which I might try!

  6. Ralph Wilkin says

    Opened my first batch this weekend. Great flavour. The limes really come through making it fresher that then bought stuff. The only real problem is that it doesn’t make enough. I’ll be doubling up on the next batch.

    Brought half a jar in to work today to try to convert the masses.

    • Dan Toombs says

      I hope you converted them. I know what you mean about the amount. I go through it quite quickly but not everyone does. I decided to keep it small but I do make a lot more for myself. :) Thanks for trying.

  7. Giles says

    Hi Dan, im excited about trying this recipe!! Could I change the chilli powder to fresh chillis and if so how many would I need? Also how long can I keep this pickle before it goes off?

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Giles

      I made a batch about eight months ago. It seems to get better with age. I think eight months is about as long as I would keep it though.

      You can use fresh chillies. I would use a lot but that’s just because I really like spicy food. Start adding the chilli slowly, taste and decide which is best for you. Add too much and it could be ruined. Don’t add enough and you could always add more heat later. Enjoy.

  8. Peter says

    Hi Dan
    Looking forward to trying the lime pickle. I spend a lot of time in Greece where we are averaging 34 degrees at the moment so would you still leave it in the sun or put it in the shade for the 2 days? Also do you have a recipe for aubegine pickle I have a lot of them.

    • Dan Toombs says

      Thanks Peter

      I do have a recipe for aubergine pickle but not typed yet. I’ll work on that in the next few weeks.

  9. Diana says

    Hi Dan

    I have just bought A whole box of limes for the princely sum of one pound and your recipe was the first one I clicked on to so I am very excited about trying out the lime pickle!
    Just one question, some of the limes are quite yellow. Is that good or bad?

    • Dan Toombs says

      I don’t think that should be a problem Diana but to be honest, I’ve never tried. Cut into one and see how it tastes. If it tastes like a lime I think you’ll be alright. :-)

  10. Seamus says

    Hi Dan

    I’m really intrigued by this recipe. I just have one question.

    It seems that most of the salt and chilli powder will be washed off when the juice is separated from the limes. What little remains will surely be washed off during the steaming. Is this an issue? Is it worth holding some salt and chilli back to add to the limes for their first two days of sitting?


    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Seamus

      Let me know if it’s not very clear. Thanks for your comment. The salt helps get the excess juice out of the limes before steaming. If you steamed the limes with the juices, you would lose a lot of flavour. You need to retain the juices and then add them again after the first day in the sun. The limes are usually quite salty and spicy but you can always add more to taste. I hope this helps. Dan

  11. says

    Hiya, Well I made this pickle a month or so ago, and I have to say that it is amazing, shared it around friends, and they all agree and now want the recipe to make more
    Many thanks

    • Dan Toombs says

      Thank you for trying the recipe. I’m really glad you liked it. I’m making a batch now. Almost ready.


  12. Peter Thornton says

    This lime pickle is superb. Simply the best I have made. As you say it takes a little time to make but is worth the effort.
    Thanks for the recipe

  13. Aimee Czifra says

    Do you think if would work with grapefruit I have a tree in the garden and didn’t want to make a lifetime supply of marmalade!

    • Dan Toombs says

      To be honest I don’t think it would work. That said, please give it a go! It might just taste fantastic.

  14. teri gunderson says

    Life has changed with this recipe. I live in Oaxaca, Mexico and though I love all of the food here, I do miss Indian food. I am a good cook and make many things, but my indian meals were so dull without pickle. I would beg people to bring it to me but finally I decided enough is enough. I tried a few recipes, it takes a while to test them. Then I tried your recipe. My first batch was very good. But lately the batches are even better. When the limes are cheap and the sun is strong I am now making a batch a week. A favorite snack is leftover rice, yogurt and pickle. Thanks so much

    • Dan Toombs says

      Thank you very much Teri.

      I’m really glad you like the recipe. It’s one of my favourite pickle recipes.


  15. Flossie says

    You mention this recipe and method was taught to you by the chef of a local restaurant….how about crediting the source properly….by name?

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Nancy – It should keep fine for a couple of months. I made some that lasted for seven months though I do recommend eating it sooner.


  16. Caroline says

    Last year I made the recipe for the first time and didn’t get it quite right: I didn’t understand that you push down on the limes to extract all the juice. I thought I was giving the mixture a pretty good squeeze when mixing with the salt and chili but there weren’t many juices to retain so I was wondering where I went wrong. EVEN SO the product was amazing. This year, thanks to the people who have left comments asking for clarification, I have produced a product which both looks like the photo above AND that taste amazing in the way that it is intended to taste. So I want to extend my thanks to you for this recipe and to them for taking the initiative to ask you a question BEFORE they stuffed up. I should have done the same.

    • Dan Toombs says

      Looks like a better take another look at the recipe to ensure it isn’t confusing. Thanks Caroline.


  17. Brenda Teather says

    Hi again,
    I left the juice out of the steaming process, and the taste, as someone said before, is a lot fresher. I did have to add quite a bit more oil though, maybe half as much again, and a little water, so that I could process the mixture. It was very thick, even adding the juice. I had to try it, and as before it is delicious.

    Thanks again, Brenda.

  18. Rick says

    Living in rural Thailand I do not seem to be able to buy asafoetida or white cumin seed though black is available. can I substitute the latter, and is there something else I can use instead of the asafetida?

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Rick

      There’s no substitute for asafoetida. Just leave it out. Black cumin will work fine though it is quite a lot stronger so be careful.


  19. jon says

    hi dan,
    fantasti recipe, i just love the whole process. on my second batch now, i was devistated to find my last 2 [small] jars had gone mouldy in the pantry, i did sterilize, i wonder if our climate here in central queensland has something to do with this? would keeping them in the fridge from the start allow the pickles to mature correctly? cheers.

  20. Cathy Pollitt says

    Hi Dan,
    I came across your recipe after having bought a bag of limes on a whim in Aldi (they were cheap but I had nothing planned for what to do with them….)
    I love Indian style lime pickle, and chutneys generally (good old-fashioned British ones and Indian varieties) and have recently made a batch of apricot chutney and another of apricot and fig (the latter was to use up some fresh figs before they went off) so started searching out recipes…
    I came across your recipe and another at
    Both look great, but I’m probably going to have to adjust down the ingredients as I don’t think I have 2kg of limes!!!
    I do have a pan large enough to make about 10kg of chutney though!!!
    I’m intrigued though…
    Why do you state this will only keep 8 months?
    Surely, the whole point of preserving methods (salting, pickling, chutneys, jams) is to preserve the fruit / veg ?
    I have made apple chutney in the past that has been good to eat 10 years later – admittedly, that was a very large batch making about 20 x 1litre jars plus 40 x half litre jars and I paid special attention to sterilising the jars / inverting the filled jars after filling to ensure a good seal…
    Pickles / chutneys / jams should be good to eat for ever (pretty much) until opened, then they have about a month unrefrigerated / 3 months refrigerated.
    That’s the whole point of preserving…
    Why do you suggest otherwise? Unless, of course, you don’t think it will stay in the jar that long as it will just be eaten…

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Cathy

      To be honest, my lime pickle usually lasts no longer than a week. LOL. I do have some that I made a couple of years ago and it still looks great. I do have to be careful though telling people they can keep the pickle that long just in case. I don’t want anyone blaming me for an upset stomach. :-) You are right, they should last forever if stored correctly.

      • Cathy says

        Thank you :)
        I’ve got my first ever batch started – Stage 1 on the go – took about 1 hour to prep / chop limes & the same for the garlic (for info to other first timers – that’s about 2.5 garlic heads)
        Off to get my missing ingredients (asofetida) tomorrow ready for Stage 2
        Will report back on progress – smells great at the moment :)

  21. Cathy says

    Hi, I’ve got my first batch going :)

    I slightly mis-read the instructions, so have had the limes, garlic, salt & chilli steeping for 2 days (well, a little over) without having done the steaming bit first!

    I’m just steaming now and will then let them all steep again for another 24 hrs before doing the next bit tomorrow.

    It’s probably going to come out slightly different, but I don’t see any harm can have been done :)

    I’ll report back once the whole process is complete :)

    It may just be a masterpiece – who knows? Other great recipes have been discovered from making similar mistakes!!!


  22. may says

    i made lime pickles texture is fine but pickles has a strong bitter after taste in the mouth. What could be the problem?
    Appreciate your suggestions.

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi May

      That could be down to a few things. Perhaps the limes used or the fenugreek seeds. Try adding just a little sugar to balance it out. Hope this helps as I have not had that problem so I’m just guessing.


  23. John S says

    Splendid recipe ! I’ve made a scorcher using limes from our tree. Can’t wait to match it with a Hyderabad biryani. Thanks, Dan, John, Victoria, Australia.

    • Dan Toombs says

      Thank you very much John. Really glad you liked the recipe. It will go great with the biryani.


  24. jon earnshaw says

    Hi dan

    Great ebook!

    just completed phase 1 and moving to 2 of the lime pickle tonight. Quick question – you say: When they do, pour the oil mixtures of the limes and stir well.”

    Does this mean – pour the limes into the oil, or rather pour the oil over the limes?



  25. Jenny Smuts says

    Hello Dan,

    My husband presented me with a lug box of 20 kilos of limes! We are macadamia farmers so he traded in some nuts with our neighbours – who are lime farmers.

    What a challenge. I am trying your recipe out now – we have plenty of sunshine ,but its our rainy season and it is quiet humid – I hope this won’t effect the drying period?

    I also think 50 grams of chili powder is going to be too hot so I am going to reduce it to a teaspoon. Sorry to be so whimpish! Incidentally the chilies were also grown on the farm.

    Will let you know how it progresses.


    • Dan Toombs says

      Great to hear Jenny. Good luck with the recipe and please adjust it to your own tastes. You’ll like it much more. :-)


  26. mister kerm says

    Thank-you for this fabulous recipe. I made my first batch back in August and it tasted great the first week, (I couldn’t wait!) but i have to say that after eating my last jar which has been stored for 2 months the flavours mellow and deepen and become something really special. It is SO delicious I’ve eaten it all and am today embarking on a double quantity. Perhaps if there is any left I’ll give some away at christmas if i can bear it. This is not just for eating with curry, it really makes anything with lentils or cheese sparkle, spicy or not.

    • Dan Toombs says

      Thank you very much. Really glad you like the recipe. I love it but hardly ever have time to make it. I think I’ll make another batch today.


    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Gwendolyn

      I’ve never been asked that one. Why not make another batch without any ginger and mix the two?

      Good luck

  27. Imran says

    My room mates always say to make lime pickle so searched for recipe. once someone taste my achaar/ pickle i will come back for sure…. thank u…

  28. Smita says

    Hi I am at the first stage and will let you know how it goes,I bought a large bag of limes and knew w would not get through them so went on line and you were the first one to come up so here goes

  29. Kirstie says

    Picked up some limes because they were cheap and decided on a whim to try and make a lime pickle. This recipe is great and so simple. Have just bottled 5 and a bit jars and its going to be tough to wait 2 weeks. Thank you for posting.

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