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These Glazed Lemon Cookies are one of my all-time favorite cookies! The texture is melt-in-your-mouth tender and just a little crisp on the outside with a buttery lemon flavor. Then they are drizzled with a bright, sweet lemon glaze made with fresh lemon juice and zest that makes them irresistible!
Every time I make these lemon cookies I get RAVE reviews. Even from my husband who turns up his nose at lemon bars or lemon meringue pie (more for me, I say). But not these cookies. I have to fight him for these and it is always a sad day when the last one is gone.
Why this is the BEST lemon cookie recipe
This isn’t the only lemon cookie on my site. I have a lemon sugar cookie that is also delicious, but I think of it as soft and chewy. This is more tender and slightly crumbly and if I had to choose between the two, it would be this one, ever time. (But still make the others because they are really, really good too!).
The cookie itself is soft and sweet with a texture somewhere between a sugar cookie and shortbread. Bits of lemon zest fleck each cookie and the top has the slightest crackle of sugar, thanks to my method of pressing down each ball of dough with the bottom of a cup dipped in sugar just before sliding the cookies into the oven to bake.
And the glaze itself is sweet-tart perfection and made from just two ingredients – lemon (both the zest and the juice) and powdered sugar. Once it is drizzled over each cookie and has a chance to set, it takes these cookies over the top. I keep things simple by just pouring my glaze into a plastic Ziploc bag and using scissors to snip off a corner for a makeshift piping bag.
A good trick for doing this is to insert your empty bag into a cup and fold the bag over the edges so that the bag stays open and your hands are free to pour the glaze into the bag.
Then I drizzle it over the cookies set on a wire cooling rack so that any excess glaze can drip off the sides.
The recipe is pretty straight forward and you will get exactly 12 large cookies from each batch. You could make them smaller but then the ratio of glaze and chewy center and slightly crispy edge gets off. Trust me, 12 cookies from this recipe is just perfect. If you need 2 dozen or more cookies, the recipe doubles easily.
- Butter: I always use salted butter for my baking.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar is in both the cookie dough and on the bottom of a glass to press down the balls of dough before baking. You will also need some powdered sugar for the glaze.
- Lemons: You will need 2-3 lemons for these cookies. Both the juice and zest are used to give these cookies a bright, completely natural burst of lemon flavor without resorting to lemon extract.
- Egg: One egg helps bind the cookie together.
- Flour: Regular all-purpose flour works just fine in this recipe.
- Baking soda & salt: A tiny bit of baking soda and salt give the right texture and keep the cookies from being bland.
- Vanilla extract: I love the combination of lemon and vanilla. I like to use my homemade vanilla extract when I’m baking.
How to make this recipe
- Cream butter and sugar: These can be done with a hand mixer, but I typically use my stand mixer to cream the butter and sugar because they should mix on medium to medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes until creamy and light. Add the lemon zest, vanilla extract, and egg and mix again, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add flour, baking soda, and salt: Mix in the dry ingredients until combined, but try not to overwork the dough which can result in tough, dry cookies.
- Shape cookies: Divide the dough into 12 evenly-sized balls. I like to use a medium cookie scoop to do this. Roll the dough into balls between the palms of your hands and arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
- Press down: Run the bottom of a glass under water, then press into a bowl of granulated sugar. Use the glass to press down the dough to flatten out slightly until the cookies are about 1/2-inch thick, pressing the glass into the sugar between each cookie.
- Bake & glaze: Bake the cookies just until set and no longer shiny on top. Let them cool for 15 minutes or so before glazing with powdered sugar whisked together with lemon juice and lemon zest. You could dip the tops of each cookie or drizzle the glaze over the top using a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off. Let the glaze set before serving.
Yes, you can use a 1-to-1 gluten free baking flour like Bob’s Red Mill to make these and they will turn out delicious!
Yes, this glaze will eventually set up after about an hour so that the cookies can be wrapped. If you plan to stack them, I would still recommend placing a piece of parchment paper or wax paper between the layers.
Once the glaze has hardened, you can store the lemon cookies in an airtight container on the counter for 4 days. If you need to store them longer, they freeze really well!
Freeze the cookies in a single layer on a baking sheet for 2-3 hours, then transfer to a freezer-safe container for longer term storage. These cookies freeze well for about 3 months. To serve, just thaw on the counter overnight or microwave for 10-20 seconds.
- Freezing lemon cookie dough: You can actually make the dough and freeze it if you want to be able to have fresh baked lemon cookies any time. In this case, I recommend shaping and flattening the cookies, then freezing them just before baking. You can bake straight from frozen by just adding an additional minute or two to the bake time.
- Freezing lemon glaze: The glaze will freeze well too! Just store it in a resealable zip-tight bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Let it thaw on the counter and smoosh it around with your hands a bit to warm it up. You could also place the bag of glaze in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes so you can drizzle it over the cookies.
- Using other citrus: You can use this lemon cookie recipe to make glazed lime cookies instead. They are absolutely delicious! I haven’t tried oranges or grapefruit, but I’m guessing they would also work well.
- Lemon zest: Be sure to always zest your lemons before juicing them. If you don’t want the lemon zest in your glaze, go ahead and leave it out. I actually like the texture and visual interest it adds to the cookies, but the glaze is plenty lemony without it.
More Cookie Recipes You’ll Love
- The BEST Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies
- Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies
- The Best Snickerdoodle Cookies Recipe
- Soft & Chewy Molasses Cookies
- Best Fudgy Chewy Chocolate Brownie Cookies
- Best Soft & Chewy M&M Cookies
- Oatmeal Rolled Sugar Cookies
- Chocolate Cut Out Sugar Cookies
- Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
- Glazed Apple Pie Cookies
- Big, Soft Baked Peanut Butter M&M Cookies
- Honey Dandelion Shortbread Cookies
Lemon cookie base
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar, plus a little extra for cookie tops
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed using a stand or hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the egg, 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and the vanilla, and beat until creamy, another minute or two.
- Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the creamed mixture and mix on low speed until completely combined.
- Divide the dough into 12 even-sized portions. I just use a spoon to roughly divide the dough into 4 sections in the bowl, then try to scoop three equal-sized scoops from each section so that I end up with 12 cookies that are the same size. Roll each section of dough into a ball and set on the parchment-lined cookie sheet, spaced evenly apart.
- Using the bottom of a glass cup, first get it a little wet by running it under water, and then dip it in granulated sugar. Use the sugar-coated bottom of the glass to press down gently on each ball of dough, flattening it slightly until they are about 3 inches in diameter. You don't want the cookies super thin but they don't spread much when baking so pressing them down helps them bake evenly.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes or just until the cookies look set, then remove from the oven and cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- While the cookies are cooling, prepare the lemon glaze by combining the powdered sugar, lemon zest, and enough lemon juice to get a barely runny consistency. You don't want it too runny or you will just have a super thin layer of glaze on top of the cookies, but you want it a little more runny than a frosting that you would spread. I add lemon juice just until the glaze starts to just barely drizzle off my mixing spoon when I hold it up over the bowl.
- Transfer the glaze to a Ziploc bag (I find that the freezer ones work better for this than the thin, sandwich variety), seal the bag, and snip off a small corner to create a piping bag. Pipe or drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies on the wire rack in a zigzag motion, allowing some of the glaze to drip over the edges. Let the cookies stand just until the glaze is set before serving.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 335Saturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 238mgCarbohydrates: 45gSugar: 27gProtein: 3g
This recipe was originally posted on November 2, 2016. It has been updated with new photos and additional helpful information on May 27, 2021. I’m including some of the photos from the original post for comparison’s sake!
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