Since it’s officially Spring and Easter is right around the corner, I wanted to bring you an easy springtime dessert recipe for all of your celebrations. Usually my lemon bars are all of the rage, but why not lemon cookies too? Especially if they’re glazed with a lovely lemon icing.
These delicious homemade soft lemon cookies that are a combination of a soft lemon cookie and a sugar cookie. They’ve truly become a family favorite cookie around here.
The story behind these lemon cookies
These lemon cookies were inspired by my Italian orange cookies, which aren’t overly sweet, but still full of incredible citrus flavor.
These soft lemon cookies are made from scratch but are a bit different because they’re soft and chewy in the middle, but still give you slightly crispy golden brown edges like a regular sugar cookie. I tested them 5 times to get the absolute perfect lemon cookie, so I hope you love them as much as we do!
Ingredients in lemon cookies
These easy lemon cookies have the perfect chewy texture plus sweet, slightly tart flavor from both fresh lemon juice and lemon zest. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- Flour: these cookies call for regular flour. I do not recommend using any other flour other than all purpose flour.
- Baking Powder: we’re using baking powder in this recipe because we want the cookies to be both soft and chewy similar to soft sugar cookies!
- Softened butter: I prefer to use salted butter in my cookie recipes because a little more salt always adds additional flavor, however unsalted butter also works. Make sure the butter is at room temperature before you bake with it. I recommend taking it out of the fridge an hour before baking these cookies.
- Sugar: regular granulated sugar is best in this recipe.
- Egg: you’ll need one egg, and it’s best if the egg is at room temperature before you bake with it. I think these cookies would work well with a ‘flaxegg’ too if you want to make them vegan.
- Fresh lemon zest and juice: more tips on this below!
- Almond extract: a hint of almond extract brings out incredible flavor in these lemon cookies. Don’t skip it!
Tips for making lemon cookies
Here are some of my tips to make sure your lemon cookies come out perfect:
- Make sure to use parchment paper when baking: To make sure the cookies don’t stick to the pan, make sure you use parchment paper.
- Use an electric mixer: It’s best to use an electric mixer for this recipe so that you can beat the butter and sugar together until it’s nice and fluffy. I love this hand mixer or this KitchenAid mixer, which is well worth the investment!
- Make sure your butter is softened to room temperature: I recommend taking it out of the fridge an hour before baking these cookies. Do not attempt to soften your butter in the microwave–if you do this the cookies will not turn out correctly!
- Make sure your egg is at room temperature: Simply run it under warm water for a minute or two to bring the egg to room temperature before using it in the recipe.
- Do not pack your flour. Scoop your flour into the measuring cup and then level it off with the flat end of a butter knife.
- Allow cookies to completely cool before putting icing on them: If you are in a rush and want to speed up the process you can put the cookie sheet in the freezer for 10-15 minutes after baking.
- Use fresh lemon juice: make sure you use freshly squeezed lemon juice for this recipe. Do not use lemon concentrate, it’s too potent and sour.
- Don’t forget the lemon zest: the lemon zest is very important to flavoring these lemon cookies, so don’t skip it. Here’s the inexpensive zester I recommend.
How to make lemon poppyseed cookies
If you want to make these lemon poppyseed cookies, simply add 1 tablespoon poppyseeds to the dry ingredients and make as directed. Yum! You can also try my paleo lemon poppyseed cookies if you are looking for a grain free or gluten free lemon cookie.
How to store the lemon cookies
- Wait for the icing to completely harden on the cookies, then place them in a glass container in even layers. You can place parchment paper in between each cookie layer if you are concerned with cookies sticking to one another.
- Cookies will stay good for 5 days at room temperature in cooler weather. If humid, I recommend transferring cookies to the fridge in a glass container after a day or two.
- Directions for freezing these cookies can be found below.
How to freeze lemon cookies
If you want to freeze the already baked lemon cookies for later, simply wait for them to cool completely, then transfer them to a reusable freezer-safe bag or container lined with wax or parchment paper. I like to place them in a single layer to avoid any cookies breaking. Cookies will keep well for up to 2 months. Once ready to eat, simply thaw out at room temperature; I recommend glazing them after defrosting.
More lemon recipes to try:
If you make these lemon cookies, be sure to leave a comment and rate the recipe below! I’d love to hear from you and it helps encourage others to make the recipe too!
Lemon Cookies with Lovely Lemon Glaze
These gorgeous lemon cookies are soft in the middle with crispy edges, and are delicious topped with a lovely lemon glaze. Add poppy seeds to these homemade lemon cookies to easily make them lemon poppyseed cookies! Lemon lovers will LOVE these cookies.
- Dry ingredients:
- 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Optional: 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Wet ingredients
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened at room temperature (do not use melted butter)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Zest from 1 large lemon (about 2-3 teaspoons)
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- For rolling cookies:
- ¼ cup granulated sugar, for rolling cookies
- For the lemon glaze:
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, poppy seeds (optional) and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add in softened butter, sugar and lemon zest; beat on high for 2 minutes. Next add in egg and almond extract. Beat for 1 minute until well combined. (It’s SUPER important the egg is at room temperature. To achieve this, just run it under warm water for 1 minute).
Slowly add in the dry ingredients and fresh lemon juice and mix on medium low speed until well combined.
Use a medium cookie scoop to grab the dough, then use your hands to roll dough into a circle. Roll in sugar, then place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat, leaving at least 2 inches between each dough ball.
Bake for 11-14 minute or until edges are barely golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Once cookies are completely cooled, you can glaze them. Make the glaze by adding powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and almond extract in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. You may need to add in more lemon juice if it is too thick (start with a teaspoon at a time). Glaze should be somewhat thick.
Spoon about ½ tablespoon of glaze to each cookie and use a spoon to spread around. Enjoy! Makes 12 cookies.
*To make cookies dairy free: Feel free to use a vegan buttery stick, such as Earth Balance.
To make cookies gluten free: I suggest using an all purpose gluten free flour such as Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 baking flour. I also think chickpea flour or quinoa flour would work very well but you may get a different flavor.
You can also try my paleo lemon poppyseed cookies if you are looking for a grain free or gluten free lemon cookie.
To make cookies vegan: Use a flax egg (1 tablespoon flaxseed meal + 3 tablespoons water) and a softened vegan buttery stick (such as Earth Balance).
If you want to use coconut sugar in this recipe, I suggest only using it in the cookies themselves. Personally I think it overpowers the lemon flavor too much. Do NOT roll the cookies in coconut sugar; it doesn’t have the same consistency.
Freeze these cookies: wait for them to cool completely, then transfer them to a reusable freezer-safe bag or container lined with wax or parchment paper. I like to place them in a single layer to avoid any cookies breaking. Cookies will keep well for up to 2 months. Once ready to eat, simply thaw out at room temperature; I recommend glazing them after defrosting.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats