This lime flavored paleta only uses 4 ingredients! Paletas de limon are sooooo underrated in my opinion. These are so refreshing during the summer and they are delicious!
Lime is easily my favorite flavor for paletas. I LOVE limes. They have such a special place in my heart because the fresh citrusy smell reminds me soooooo much of my time in Mexico when I was really really young. They say that our sense of smell is closely linked with memory! For me, the scent of lime is associated with my time traveling through Mexico with my family.
Although the ingredient list is short, this was the hardest flavor to develop a recipe for. It took me quite a few tries to get it right. Limes do not have any flesh to blend up and freeze, like strawberry or mango. This makes it a little more difficult to formulate a water based mixture because without any flesh, fat, or stabilizers, you’ll just end up freezing 100% liquid that freezes to a solid block of ice.
The solution to this is to use stabilizers like gelatin or cellulose gum. They prevent large ice crystals from forming, and you end up with a much more desirable texture. More on this below.
What is the difference between a popsicle and a paleta?
Though similar, paletas and popsicles do have some key differences that will prove paletas are way better, in my opinion.
Popsicles are mass produced and have lots of additives and artificial flavoring. Paletas use natural ingredients like fruits and are made fresh, so they don’t require additives or preservatives to extend shelf life.
Paletas also have a rich history and are culturally important to Mexican street snacks. Nowadays, you will find plenty of brick and mortar paleta shops but it is still common to get your paletas on the street from paleteros (ice cream carts).
You only need 4 ingredients!
Limes- fresh lime juice only! Please do not use artificial lime juice- it does not taste the same. You’ll need enough limes to make 3/4 cup to 1 cup of lime juice (about 8-10 limes). The best limes are shiny, have smooth skin, and feel squishy.
Water- lime juice on its own is much too sour. You’ll need water to mellow it out.
Granulated sugar- you definitely need some sugar to sweeten the lime juice. You can add more or less to your liking, but just remember that fruits lose some flavor and sweetness when they are frozen, so add more sugar than you think you need once you taste the mixture before freezing.
Gelatin or cellulose gum- a stabilizer is 100% needed for lime paletas because unlike other fruits, limes do not have any flesh to blend up and freeze. Gelatin is the best option for this in my opinion, because it is cheap and available at any supermarket. However, I couldn’t forget about my vegan readers so another option is cellulose gum. You can purchase it from Amazon here.
Gelatin does two things to a popsicle:
this ingredient is more about the mouth-feel. It stabilizes the mixture so that it doesn’t just freeze to a solid block of ice, making it much more palateable texturally.
It prevents the paletas from dripping as they melt. The only caveat to this is that the texture of the paletas will turn jello-like if you let it sit out at room temperature for too long.
Optional: Alcohol! You can add some vodka or tequila if you want to make some boozy popsicles.
You do not need to add any kind of food coloring! I only added it this time for visual impact, but it is not necessary at all. If you really want that vibrant green color for you paletas, here are a few things you can try to avoid using toxic dyes:
Spinach- you can juice some spinach and add it to your mixture! You don’t need a lot, and it adds pretty much no flavor so it won’t change the paletas. I tried this on my first batch. It worked very well, but wasn’t as neon green and vibrant as I was looking for.
“Natural” food dye- the only way to get a really vibrant lime green color is to use food coloring. I found this Watkins Assorted Food Coloring made with 100% natural juices and spices (no artificial dyes) on Amazon. This is better than your typical food coloring with red 40 and all those other horrible ingredients, but I did find polysorbate 80 on the ingredient list. I mixed green and yellow to get a vibrant lime green color.
To make paletas, you will need a popsicle mold, popsicle sticks, and plastic bags for storing. You will also need a blender.
I recommend a silicone popsicle mold because they are easier to remove the popsicles from. The exact one I have is no longer available on Amazon, but I found a similar one that you can purchase. It also comes with the popsicle sticks and baggies. Here are all the links to purchase everything you will need for this recipe:
Paletas de Limon (Lime Popsicles)
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup fresh lime juice or 3/4 cup to make it less sour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp unflavored gelatin powder or 1/4 tsp cellulose gum
- Mix the sugar and gelatin (or cellulose gum) together until well combined.
- Bring 3 cups of water to a simmer. Do not bring to a boil. Add the sugar/gelatin and mix until dissolved. When fully dissolved, turn off the heat. Let it cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to raise the viscosity.
- Meanwhile, squeeze enough limes to make 1 cup of lime juice. Use less if you don't like it too sour (I like my lime paletas more on the sour side). Keep cool in the fridge while you wait for the base to thicken.*If you don't want any pulp, make sure you strain your lime juice. I don't mind the pulp (it's not that much), so I just left it in.
- The base is thick enough when it has a similar consistency to syrup.
- Add the lime juice and mix thoroughly. Taste to see if you need to make any adjustments.
- Optional: add food coloring to make it a lime green color. I tried doing this with natural ingredients with good (not great) results! Spinach juice works but doesn't give you the vibrant neon color that food coloring can achieve. I used some green and yellow food coloring from Sprouts that were labeled as "no artificial food dyes." It worked really well!
- Fill your silicone popsicle mold leaving just a little room at the top to expand.
- It depends on your popsicle mold, but be mindful about the popsicle stick placement when you're sticking them into the mold. You don't want to push them all the way down because it leaves very little room to hold the stick, but you also want to make sure its deep enough. Also make sure it is centered from all sides.
- Freeze for at least 8 hours. To loosen, you can place the mold into warm water for about 20 seconds, or you can use a popsicle stick and push it down the sides of the mold to loosen the paletas.
- Eat right away and try not to let them sit out at room temperature too long. These are the perfect texture when just frozen!