Bright and Tangy Lemon Cookies


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As some of you may know, my partner is a huge lemon fiend. He will actively seek out any lemon dessert or treat he can to devour. There’s just one problem: he’s picky about it. He loves lemon, but specifically, he loves sour lemon. Those old-school individually-wrapped Lemonhead candies are basically his ideal lemon snack.

Lemon cookies with powdered sugar.

So, when he asked me to try out a new lemon recipe, I know I’m in for a tough critic. Lemon icing, lemon muffins, lemon cookies, lemon bars; one thing you see in every recipe is a lot of sugar. As it turns out, most people like a sweet lemon dessert, so a sour lemon treat is harder to pull off.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop, though. He affectionately calls it the “endless quest for the perfect lemon cookie.” I call it a fun diversion whenever I can’t think of something else to try to make for the weekly blog post.

In this case, I was browsing Reddit late one night looking for ideas, and I came across this recipe. Well, not this recipe specifically; I’ve made a couple of minor changes. I was pretty sure it was going to make a pretty sweet lemon cookie, especially with the dusting of powdered sugar. So, I added some lemon extract to kick up the flavor a notch, and I toned down the sugar a bit. You can add more to coat the outside, or leave it off entirely, to your tastes.

Lemon cookie ingredients

A few tips:

  • Use softened butter. Most recipes like this call for butter, and softened butter is a lot easier to mix into dough than butter fresh from the fridge. You don’t need to soften the butter if you’re using a mixer (which I am) but it helps.
  • You can add some yellow food coloring to make them brighter and more attractive. Just 2-3 drops will dye the cookies nice and yellow. Personally, neither I nor my partner much care for the color of a treat, so I usually leave food coloring out when I see it. The exception is if I’m trying to make a rainbow cake or some kind of colored frosting, though. Those can have their colors.
  • When it says chill, chill. There are two chill steps in this recipe. The first one turns a soft and gooey dough into something stiff enough to form into dough globs. The second basically freezes the dough before forming into balls to bake. This helps keep them from spreading out too much, or cooking until they dry out. If you skip one of the chilling steps, you’re going to have a mess on your hands. Just plan ahead and make sure you have the right amount of time to make them.

Overall, this recipe isn’t very hard to make, and it doesn’t make an excessive number of cookies. It’s pretty easy, all told, so I’m sure I’ll be making it again. Oh, and my partner? He approves, though they still aren’t the sour lemon he’d love in a baked good. They turn out soft, slightly tangy, and sweet with the powdered sugar. Oh well. On with the endless quest!

5 from 1 vote

Bright and Tangy Lemon Cookies

These lemon cookies are a variation on a standard soft cookie recipe, loaded with extra lemon flavor.
Servings 13 Cookies
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 13 minutes
Chill Times (Two Parts) 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 23 minutes


  • Cookie Scoop
  • Stand Mixer
  • Baking Sheet
  • Silicone Baking Mat
  • Mixing Bowl


  • 5 Tbsp Butter Softened.
  • ½ Cup White Sugar
  • 2 Lemon's Zest
  • 1 Egg
  • Tbsp Lemon Juice Fresh-squeeze is best.
  • 1 Tsp Lemon Extract
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • ¼ Tsp Salt
  • Powdered Sugar To coat the cookies when baked.


  • In your mixer's bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and lemon zest. Mix until they've creamed together.
  • Add the egg (and food coloring, if you want) and mix.
  • Add the lemon juice and lemon extract and mix further. The dough will curdle; don't worry about it.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and continue mixing until it's well incorporated.
  • Cover the dough in the mixing bowl and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and, using a cookie scoop, scoop out balls of dough. You can get anywhere from 10-14 depending on how large you want your cookies and how large your cookie scoop/spoon is.
  • Form the dough into globs and arrange on a cookie sheet. Put this in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Ensure the dough balls are as round as possible, then bake for 13 minutes. The cookies will seem under-done; that's intentional to keep them soft and moist.
  • Remove cookies from the oven and let cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar if you want, then enjoy.
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cookies, Lemon

Join the Conversation

  1. Wayne L Bond says:

    5 stars
    An excellent addition to the repertoire! These are light enough for the perfect afternoon snack!

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