Forget those overly spiced and heavy cookies this holiday season and go for something light and bright instead, like these stunning lemon crinkle cookies!
They couldn’t be easier to make, and the zesty-sweet taste is always a hit.
Crinkle cookies – more specifically, chocolate crinkle cookies – are super popular around the holidays. They look fun, and they taste great.
And this lemon version is such a fun twist!
Not only are they light and zippy, but the color really stands out in a sea of pumpkin and gingerbread.
So, try these lemon crinkle cookies if you want something different this holiday season.
They’re so scrumptious, you’ll make the recipe in the spring and summer too!
Best Lemon Crinkle Cookies Recipe
Lemon crinkle cookies are perfect for the holidays, but honestly, they’re fabulous any time of year.
They’re deliciously soft and chewy, with an incredibly moist center. And they practically burst with citrus goodness.
And the signature crinkle top? All it takes is a dusting of powdered sugar.
- All-Purpose Flour- Flour adds structure to the cookies. Without it, they’d be a gooey mess.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda- This recipe uses both baking powder and baking soda for optimal lift. And they help perfect the texture, too.
- Salt- Salt is needed in pretty much any recipe (sweet or savory) because it enhances flavors. And believe it or not, it helps the cookies to become extra sweet.
- Granulated Sugar- Sugar is needed for sweetness (obviously). But it also adds moisture, deepens flavors, and creates a tender texture.
- You’ll want white sugar in this case because brown would add too much caramel flavor, which doesn’t pair as well with lemon.
- Butter– Without butter, your cookies won’t be as rich or as tender. Butter also contributes to the structure of the cookie.
- Eggs– Eggs do so much in baking. They help with leavening and create texture while adding moisture and flavor.
- Vanilla and Lemon Extracts – Vanilla enhances all the other flavors in the cookie, while lemon extract ensures each bite is INCREDIBLY lemony.
- Just be sure to get extract and not essence! That stuff is synthetic and tastes chemically.
- Lemon Juice and Zest– You can’t call these lemon crinkle cookies without the lemon. That said, fresh lemon is the way to go. It adds so much brightness and a bit of acidity.
- Powdered Sugar– Powdered sugar creates the crinkle effect that gives this cookie its name. Without it, they’re just lemon cookies – albeit delicious lemon cookies!
- Food Coloring– This is optional, but a drop or two will make the cookies sunny and vibrant.
How To Make Lemon Crinkle Cookies
1. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
As with pretty much every butter-based cookie, you’ll start by creaming the butter and sugar.
Creaming encourages the butter and sugar to blend together and adds air to the mix.
You’ll see after a few minutes, the color turns pale, and the mix looks fluffy and soft.
2. Add the wet ingredients.
Add the eggs one at a time and mix well between each addition.
Then, add the lemon juice and lemon zest, and mix well.
3. Add the dry ingredients.
Whisk the flour, salt, and leavening agents in a separate bowl. This ensures even distribution and prevents any lumps forming in the cookie dough.
Add the dry to the wet mixture and gently stir with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Only mix until you no longer see streaks of flour. If you over-mix, the cookies will come out tough and dry,
4. Chill the dough.
This dough is sticky, and chilling makes it easier to work with. It also stops the cookies from spreading too much in the oven.
If you put warm cookie dough straight into the oven, it’ll spread too far, and the edges will likely burn.
5. Scoop, Press, and Roll.
After about 60 minutes, use a cookie scoop (or small ice cream scoop) to portion the dough.
This ensures the cookies are all the same size and that they’ll bake evenly.
Once you’ve portioned the dough onto baking trays, very gently press the tops to flatten the cookies.
They shouldn’t be like pancakes! Just press them until the top is flat and they’re still pretty thick. Remember, they will spread in the oven.
Then, roll each cookie in powdered sugar until it’s snow-white on all sides.
Bake until the cookies look matte and are no longer glossy.
They should be barely golden on the edges and have a white cow print pattern on the top.
Tips for Perfect Lemon Crinkle Cookies
- Use room temperature ingredients. This helps everything incorporate well, so you get the best bake.
- This is true of almost every cookie recipe, but a few do call for cold butter. So be sure to always read the recipe and instructions well before starting.
- Chill the dough for at least one hour. Three hours is ideal if you have the time. Or make it the night before you need to bake them.
- Coat each round completely in powdered sugar. This is easiest in a deep bowl with tall sides, so the sugar doesn’t spill out.
- I like to add one or two cookies at a time and toss them around until they’re white.
- Remember, baking times vary depending on your oven. For that reason, you should always check the cookies about five minutes before the time is up. Similarly, if you put the sheet near the top or bottom, you may see more color than if you put the sheet in the middle.
- If possible, get an oven thermometer, so you’ll know exactly how hot your oven runs.
- Don’t overbake the cookies. They should be soft and chewy, not hard, dry, and crumbling. That means taking them out of the oven when they’re barely golden.
- Feel free to add fun extras! White chocolate chips, freeze-dried raspberries, and nuts are all great options. You could also try dark chocolate chunks.
Can I Use Other Citrus Flavors?
Absolutely! Like any other types of cookies, you can easily modify this with lime, orange, or whatever citrus flavors you like best.
Just swap out the lemon juice, zest, and extract for another flavor.
You may also want to omit or swap the food coloring to a different color. Try green for lime or orange or red for orange cookies.
How to Store and Freeze Lemon Crinkle Cookies
Lemon crinkle cookies will keep at room temp for up to 5 days, and a bit longer in the fridge. Either way, store them in an airtight container.
For baked cookies: Let them cool completely, then add them to an airtight container or freezer bag. They will last about 2 months.
For cookie dough: Instead of baking, put the portioned cookie dough tray into the freezer for an hour.
When each piece is mostly frozen, remove the tray and put the cookies in a freezer bag or airtight container. These will last about 2 months.
When you’re ready to bake, simply put them on a lined baking tray and bake from frozen. No need to thaw! Just add a few minutes to the baking time.
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