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Lemon Shortbread Cookies: A Sweet and Zesty Treat

Get a recipe for delicious lemon shortbread cookies with a sweet glaze! These cookies are a perfect treat for spring celebrations and holidays.

lemon shortbread cookies

I get distracted easily. In this day and age of the internet I’m always looking up random stuff like “how long is the gestation period for a manatee?” Or, “why do dogs feet smell like corn chips?”

But don’t you really wonder? Dog paws totally smell like Fritos, I’m telling you (it’s caused by two types of bacteria).

It’s common for me to look up weird questions or topics if I get bored or just need a break from work. But sometimes they have to do with work, also.

I recently made these lemon shortbread cookies so I had to do all sorts of research on shortbread cookies haha! I made some tea cookies and almond shortbread, but it wasn’t until I made this lemon version that I looked up why they’re called shortbread.

Shortbread is believed to have originated in Scotland in the 16th century. The name “shortbread” comes from the use of a high proportion of butter, which makes the cookie crumbly or “short” in texture.

Originally, shortbread was a luxury reserved for special occasions, such as weddings and holidays, due to the expense of butter.

Later in the 18th century, these delicacies became more commonplace. And now we can make them today in our own homes.

It’s kind of cool to think that a cookie like this was once essentially “baking royalty.” Now you have to try this recipe!

lemon shortbread

These cookies are crumbly and buttery with a melt-in-your-mouth texture. The lemon is the star of the show, and goes together with the shortbread so well. Everyone is going to love them!

Before you dive into this recipe, I’ve got some tips for you on making the best (and tastiest) cookies. If you’re interested, check them out. Otherwise scroll to the bottom for the recipe.

Tips for Making Delicious Cookies

Are you looking to make the tastiest cookies ever? I’ve got some tips for you. Here’s what I always make sure to pay attention to.

Use Quality Ingredients

Use high-quality, fresh ingredients for the best cookie flavor and texture. You’ll for sure want to get fresh eggs, good quality butter, and pure vanilla extract (instead of imitation). This is especially important with cookies like this that have a simple flavor profile.

Measure Precisely

Flour is often the main dry ingredient in these cookies. Measure using the scoop-and-level method, as adding too much flour can result in dry baked goods.

Bring Cold Ingredients to Room Temp

Bring ingredients like butter, eggs, and milk to room temperature before mixing. They will incorporate better, resulting in smoother batter and soft cookies. They don’t need to be warm; slightly cool to room temp is fine.

Avoid Overmixing

Mix the batter just until ingredients are combined, or the dry disappears into the wet. Overmixing can result in tough cookies.

Chill the Dough

Chilling the dough in the fridge for the specified time (or even overnight) before baking results in cookies with better flavor and texture. It also prevents them from spreading too much during baking.

After cutting out your desired shapes, chill the on the baking sheet for about 30 minutes more. This helps maintain their shape when baked.

Rolling Thickness

Roll the dough to a consistent thickness for even baking. A thickness of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch is generally ideal.

Look for Golden Edges

Unless the recipe says otherwise, the edges of the cookies should turn a golden brown while the center remains slightly soft. This balance ensures a chewy texture without overbaking.

Cool Before Transferring

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. This helps them set and avoids them becoming too fragile and crumbling apart.

lemon shortbread recipe

Remember, practicing and experimenting will help you perfect your cookie baking skills over time. Have fun and enjoy the process of creating delicious baked goods! Here’s what you’re going to need for these lemon shortbread cookies.

Makes from 26 to 32 cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour sifted
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 – 3 teaspoons of lemon zest (depending on how lemon-y you want them to be)
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice

For the Lemon Icing

  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)                                                          
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar                   
  • More lemon zest, optional

Tips and Thoughts on This Recipe

These often taste even better a day or two after baking as the flavors continue to meld and the texture becomes slightly more soft.

Fluted cookie cutters make these really cute and very flowery! I highly recommend them. The smaller cookies were made with these sakura cookie cutters.

lemon shortbread cookies recipe

Keep these cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. They’ll last up to ten days in the refrigerator. You ca layer them with parchment paper to prevent sticking.

You can also freeze them in an airtight container for up to three months. When you bring them out of the freezer, let them rise to room temperature naturally as opposed to microwaving.

lemon shortbread cookie recipe

Don’t forget to check out our lemon curd pavlova, meringues, and loaf! Now get the printable recipe for these cookies below:

Yield: 30 cookies

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

lemon shortbread

This lemon shortbread recipe will melt in your mouth! These cookies will be a family favorite and are perfect for any time of year.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 17 minutes
Chill Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 37 minutes

Ingredients

Shortbread Cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 - 3 teaspoons of lemon zest (depending on how lemon-y you want them to be)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Lemon Icing

  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • More lemon zest, optional

Instructions

  1. Cream together the butter, lemon juice, salt, and sugar until light and fluffy.Cream together the butter, lemon juice, salt, and sugar
  2. Add in the flour and mix until just combined. Using your hands, bring the mixture together to form a dough.Dry ingredients being added to the creamed butter and sugar in a glass bowl
  3. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for around 30 minutes to an hour.Dough being wrapped in plastic wrap to go into the fridge
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.Preheating the oven
  5. Remove from the fridge, and roll out the dough on a floured surface to around 1/8 to 1/4 inches thickness. Using a cookie cutter (you can use whichever one you like), cut out your shortbread shapes. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and chill for 30 more minutes.Lemon cookies being cut out of dough
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 15 - 17 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.Lemon cookie dough on a baking sheet ready to go into the oven
  7. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl and whisk. Add more lemon juice if needed. The glaze should be similar to the consistency of honey, a bit thick.Powdered sugar and lemon being combined in a bowl
  8. Drizzle or spread some lemon icing over the cookies, and add fresh lemon zest if desired.Drizzling the lemon glaze onto the cookies

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

30

Serving Size:

1 cookie

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 126Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 12mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 0gSugar: 7gProtein: 1g

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If you enjoyed these cookies, I’d love to hear in the comments! I’d also love for you to check out the following cookie recipes:

Apple PieApricot Dark ChocolateBacon Chocolate ChipBrownie Chocolate ChipBuckeyeButterscotch Chocolate ChipButterscotch PopcornCaramel AppleChocolate Chip (Air Fryer)Chocolate Chip PuddingChocolate Chip SandwichChocolate MarshmallowChocolate Mint SandwichChocolate ThumbprintChristmas LinzerCircus AnimalCotton CandyEaster M&MFunfettiGinger MolassesHalloween M&MHeath BarLemon Blueberry ThumbprintLemon Cream CheeseNutella StuffedOatmeal Chocolate ChipPaleo ShortbreadPeppermint FrostedPeppermint PuddingPumpkin Chocolate ChipPumpkin LinzerPumpkin SugarRed Velvet ThumbprintReese’s PiecesRitz S’moresRoloSanta CookiesSnickersVanillaWhite Chocolate CranberryWhite Chocolate Snickerdoodles

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