Here is how to make Lemon Shortbread Cookies that are buttery, lemony, and perfect for the holidays or anytime you want some cookies! You only need 4 main ingredients for these easy cookies.
You'll love how these cookies melt in the mouth and how easy they are to make! Plus there's just something about the combination of sweetness and tang that makes lemon desserts so delicious.
Get these ingredients for Lemon Shortbread Cookies:
- Butter: Use high-quality butter for a great-tasting shortbread. I love using Kerrygold butter. The butter should be softened, not melted.
- Powdered sugar: With powdered sugar, the cookies easily melt in the mouth.
- Lemon zest and juice: Zest the lemon first then squeeze out the juice. It is easier that way. A combination of lemon zest and juice adds great lemon flavor to the cookies.
- Flour: You need all-purpose or plain flour for this recipe. Self-rising flour won't work well here.
- Salt: Salt balances out the sweetness in cookies. If you use salted butter, no need to add salt.
See the recipe card below for quantities.
How To Make Lemon Shortbread Cookies
Here is how to make Lemon Shortbread Cookies in 7 easy steps:
1. Mix together the butter and sugar until well combined.
2. Add in lemon zest and juice and mix then add in flour and mix to form lemon shortbread cookie dough.
3. Roll out the cookie dough between 2 parchment papers into a quarter-inch thick and chill for one hour.
4. Cut the dough using a cookie cutter. I used a 2-inch cookie cutter I got from Amazon.
5. Place the cut-out cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
6. Bake for about 13 to 15 minutes until slightly brown around the edges.
7. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer them to a cooling rack and let them cool completely.
Hint: For crispier cookies, bake the cookies for 2 minutes more. My kids really love the crispier ones!
Tip: Sprinkle more lemon zest over the rolled-out cookie dough, cover it with parchment paper and very gently press the dough so the zest sticks to the dough.
Here are some substitutions you can make for these Lemon Shortbread Cookies. I love this cookie dough because it is so versatile.
- Citrus Shortbread Cookies - use a combination of lemon and lime zest and juice to make citrus shortbread cookies with a
- Orange Cranberry Shortbread Cookies - use orange zest and juice and chopped dried cranberries to make orange cranberry shortbread cookies.
- Lime Shortbread Cookies- use lime zest and juice to make lime shortbread cookies.
So you get the idea. You can add different flavors to your classic shortbread cookie dough. It is such a versatile cookie dough, one to have in your back pocket.
Here are various ways you can switch up the recipe:
- Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Cookies- add freshly chopped rosemary leaves to the dough. Don't overdo it though as rosemary could be overpowering.
- Lemon Thyme Shortbread Cookies - add some fresh thyme leaves to the dough.
- Lemon Curd Shortbread Cookies- shape the cookie dough into small balls, each ball formed from one tablespoon of dough. Roll the balls in granulated sugar then using your thumb, press each ball down to make an indent. Fill each indent with lemon curd. Proceed to bake the cookies.,
- Lemon Glaze - make a lemon glaze with lemon juice and powdered sugar then drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies.
Here are some expert tips for Lemon Shortbread Cookies:
- Leave the butter out on the counter for one to two hours to soften before starting the recipe.
- If you forget to leave the butter out to soften, place a medium saucepan halfway filled with water on medium heat. Bring the water to a simmer then place a medium mixing bowl or one that fits over the pot. Place the butter into the bowl, turn off the heat and let the butter sit for about 5 to 10 minutes or until it softens.
- The best way to roll out shortbread cookie dough is between two parchment papers. Since the dough is so buttery, the parchment paper prevents the dough from sticking to the rolling surface. Specific directions on how to roll the dough are in the recipe card below.
- Always, always chill shortbread cookie dough before baking. This helps solidify the dough which is important so the cookies don't turn into a greasy puddle.
- When you cut out the first set of cookies, re-roll the dough and keep it in the fridge until ready to use. This keeps the dough cold and prevents the butter from melting and the cookies from turning greasy when baking.
- If you don't have enough time to chill the rolled-out cookie dough, put it on a baking sheet and place it on a flat surface in the freezer for about 10 minutes to quickly chill. Don't leave it too long in the freezer though as it will harden quickly and the texture of the cookies might be off.
- For more sweetness and some texture, sprinkle granulated sugar over the cookies before baking.
Butter cookie contains eggs while shortbread cookies don't contain any eggs. Both cookies are similar in that they do not contain any baking powder or baking soda and they are both buttery.
Butter is best for shortbread because with butter you get the best flavor and texture.
Use room-temperature butter for shortbread. With room-temperature butter, it is easy to cream together the butter and sugar.
Use powdered sugar for shortbread because, with powdered sugar, you get shortbread cookies that easily melt in the mouth.
More Cookie Recipes You'll Love
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Lemon Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup butter softened, at room temperature
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1½ Tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt use salt if using unsalted butter
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy, or mix in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
- Add the lemon zest and juice and beat until just combined.
- Add the flour and salt (if using) and mix until all the flour is incorporated. Gather the dough so everything comes together to form a ball.
- Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper. Cover with another piece of parchment paper. Roll out to about ¼ inch thick. Place the dough together with the parchment paper on a baking sheet and place in the fridge to chill for one hour.
- As the dough chills, preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit or 180° Celsius.
- Take out the dough from the fridge, remove the top parchment paper, and cut the dough out into 2-inch circles using a 2-inch cookie cutter. You could also cut the dough out into different shapes with different cookie cutters. Re-roll the scraps of the dough and cut out more cookies.
- Place the cookies on an 11 by 13 inch baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Cover again with parchment paper, roll out and keep any leftover cookie dough in the fridge until ready to bake.) Bake in the preheated oven for about 13-15 minutes until the cookies are slightly brown around the edges and slightly firm to the touch.
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then transfer them to a cooling rack and let them cool completely.
- Cut out and bake the remaining cookie dough.
- Serve with milk, hot tea, or coffee.