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Lemon Shortbread Cookies (+ Easy Recipe)

Lemon shortbread cookies are on the baking sheet today! And let me tell you, between the buttery cookie and kick of lemon, they’re impossible to resist.

Dipped in homemade lemon glaze, these treats tickle your taste buds with a lip-puckering tang.

And they capture the essence of summer in just one bite!

Round lemon shortbread cookies dipped in homemade lemon glaze garnished with lemon zest.
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Lemon Shortbread Cookies

This lemon shortbread cookie recipe is downright divine. 

Soft and buttery, each bite is chock-full of citrus and sunshine.

The shortbread cookies are insanely tender and melt in your mouth delicious. Even without the lemon, they’re hard to beat.

But when you drizzle over the yummy glaze, they’re beyond scrumptious. That hit of sweet and sour is just what the simple shortbread needs to come alive.

Plus, they’re super easy to make. So feel free to double the batch and stash some in the freezer for later.

Trust me, you’ll want these lemon shortbread cookies on standby. 

So why wait? Make them now!

Lemon Shortbread Cookies Ingredient: flour, blocks of butter, eggs, and lemon juice portion on a white table surface.

Ingredients

Most shortbread cookie recipes only need three ingredients: flour, sugar, and butter.

But this version adds a touch of baking powder to make them a little fluffier.

Oh, and we can’t forget about the lemon! That’s the star of the show, after all.

For the Cookies:

  • All-Purpose Flour: It provides structure and helps create a tender crumb. 
  • Unsalted Butter: It makes the cookies rich and gives them that classic shortbread texture. 
  • Powdered Sugar: For a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth experience.
  • Baking Powder: This leavening agent gives our cookies just the right amount of lift, making them light and delightful.
  • Salt: Just a pinch to balance the sweetness and enhance all the flavors in the cookie. 
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: To add a zesty kick. 

For the Glaze:

  • Melted Butter: Melted butter adds a velvety smoothness to the glaze, ensuring it drapes over the cookies like a sweet, lemony blanket.
  • Lemon Juice and Zest: Squeezed and grated directly from the fruit, lemon juice and zest pack the glaze with flavor.
  • Powdered Sugar: To contrast the tanginess of the citrus.

How to Make Lemon Shortbread Cookies

I have a full list of ingredients and steps at the bottom of the post. And you’ll find some tips below, too.

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But for now, here’s a quick overview of the method of how to make the lemon shortbread cookies with sweet lemon glaze:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Mix the dry ingredients together. This helps remove any lumps and combines the ingredients evenly.

3. Cream the butter until fluffy. Do this without the sugar until it’s smooth and lump free. Then add the sugar and lemon and beat on low to incorporate before beating for about a minute on medium speed.

4. Add the flour mixture to form the dough. Do this gradually so it doesn’t make a mess. And stop mixing when the dough starts to come together.

5. Roll and Cut. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and press it together. Then, roll it out and cut the cookies.

6. Bake for 10 minutes. They should be light brown on the bottom but the top should be pale. Cool on the trays for a few minutes then transfer them to a wire rack.

7. Make the glaze. Whisk the ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Add the powdered sugar gradually.

8. Glaze the cookies. Only when the cookies are fully cooled. Then let the glaze set for a couple of hours before serving.

Now, the best part – dig in and enjoy your homemade lemon shortbread cookies!

Bunch of lemon shortbread cookies with lemon glaze on top.

Tips for the Best Shortbread Cookies

Making lemon shortbread cookies is a breeze. And with these tips, you’ll nail it every time.

  • Get the measurements right: Accuracy matters here. So, weigh the ingredients to keep your cookies in top shape. Too much or too little flour can throw off the whole batch.
  • Zest, then juice the lemon: If you juice the lemon first, you’ll have a hard time getting the zest. So be sure to zest it first!
  • Use softened, not melted butter: For that perfect light texture, make sure your butter is soft, not melted, for the cookies. 
  • Troubleshoot the dough: If it feels too dry, a touch of egg yolk can bring it back to life. If it’s too moist, a sprinkle of flour will do the trick.
  • No cookie cutter, no problem: Roll the dough into a log, chill, slice, and bake.
  • Choose parchment over a silicone mat: Bake the cookies on parchment paper. They turn out better that way, trust me.
  • Bake one sheet at a time: Avoid uneven cooking by baking just one sheet of cookies at a time. It makes all the difference.
  • Watch the bake: Shortbread should be very pale. As soon as you see the lightest golden color on the edges, they’re ready.

Variations

The classic recipe is just the beginning.

Since shortbread is so simple, you can add all kinds of yummy extras to make them even more impressive. Such as:

  • Nuts: Mix in some chopped nuts for a bit of crunch. 
  • Citrus Cookies: Swap the lemon juice and zest for orange or lime.
  • Chocolate: Dark chocolate chunks will add a rich contrast to the cookies’ zesty flavor. 
  • Dried Fruit: They bring a different kind of sweetness and texture. Coconut would also work well.
  • Spices:  Thyme, rosemary, or lavender add a unique and aromatic twist.
  • Festive Touches: A dash of colored sprinkles on top can give the cookies a fun, festive look. 
  • Chocolate Dipping: Dip the baked cookies in dark or white chocolate for an extra touch of indulgence. This works best with the orange cookies.

Oh, and if you enjoy these lemony treats, you have to try these luscious lemon bars with shortbread crust.

Closeup of lemon shortbread cookies with lemon glaze on top.

Make Ahead Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Keep these delicious cookies in stock by doubling the recipe and storing them for later.

To make ahead, you’ve got two options:

1. Make and chill the dough:

  • Make and double-wrap the dough in discs.
  • Or, cut out the cookies and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet with parchment between layers.
  • Refrigerate for up to 48 hours.
  • Bake as instructed, but add 1 minute to the baking time.

2. Freeze the cookie dough:

  • Double-wrap the dough in discs and place it in freezer bags.
  • Or, freeze cut cookie portions on a baking tray until solid, then place them in a freezer bag with parchment between each layer.
  • Freeze cookie dough for up to 3 months.
  • To bake from frozen, simply add 5 minutes to your baking time and watch for a golden edge.

Note: This is for the cookie dough, not the glaze.

You can make the glaze ahead and keep it in an airtight container. But it’s so quick, it’s best to make it when you’re ready to serve and eat the cookies.

How to Store

What about shortbread leftovers? Well, they’re easy to store, too!

To Store: Once the glaze has fully set, keep the cookies in an airtight container in a dry place for up to 2 weeks. They’re best in single layers so the glaze doesn’t get crushed.

To Freeze: Lay baked, room-temperature cookies flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for 1-2 hours. Then, transfer them to airtight bags and freeze them for up to 6 months.

Don’t freeze glazed cookies. It won’t thaw properly.

More Cookie Recipes You’ll Adore

Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies
Fudgy Brownie Cookies
Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
Persimmon Cookies
Easy Cornflake Cookies

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Servings

24

servings
Prep time

45

minutes
Cooking time

10

minutes
Calories

313

kcal

Lemon shortbread cookies are on the baking sheet today! And let me tell you, between the buttery cookie and kick of lemon, they’re impossible to resist.

Ingredients

  • For the Cookies
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 cup powdered sugar

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • For the Glaze
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice

  • 3 cups powdered sugar

  • zest of 1 lemon (reserve some for garnish)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, beat the softened butter with an electric mixer or paddle attachment until light and creamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure it’s smooth and lump-free.
  • Add half of the powdered sugar and mix on low until incorporated. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and the lemon juice. Mix on low until blended, then turn the speed to medium for 20-30 seconds.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture and mix on low until the dough starts to come together. Stop the mixer before it becomes a smooth ball.
  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and press it together gently. (If it feels very soft, wrap and chill it for 20-30 minutes.)
  • Roll the shortbread dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Then, cut into rounds with a cookie cutter and transfer them to the baking sheets.
  • Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges are very light brown.
  • Cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • While the cookies cool, make the lemon glaze: hand-whisk the melted butter and lemon juice in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the lemon zest and whisk again.
  • Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, whisking gently by hand until smooth. Stop adding the sugar when the desired consistency is reached. (If it’s too thin, add more lemon juice or a splash of water.)
  • Dip the cold cookies in glaze, top with lemon zest, and let them set on the wire rack for 1-2 hours.
  • Serve, and enjoy!

Notes

  • Store cookies in an airtight container between layers of waxed paper.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 313kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 37.5g
  • Protein: 3.8g
  • Fat: 17.7g
  • Saturated Fat: 11.2g
  • Cholesterol: 48mg
  • Sodium: 60mg
  • Potassium: 39mg
  • Fiber: 0.6g
  • Sugar: 21.3g
  • Calcium: 8mg
  • Iron: 1mg
Lemon Shortbread Cookies

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INSANELYGOOD

Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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