Lemon Shortbread Cookies

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Here is how to make Lemon Shortbread Cookies that are buttery, lemony, and perfect for the holiday season or anytime you want the best cookies! You only need 4 main ingredients for these easy cookies.

A stack of lemon shortbread cookies.

You’ll love how these easy lemon shortbread 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. Since this recipe uses real lemons, the burst of lemon flavor is unreal!

Lemon lovers can check out my Lemon Pound Cake recipe and for more delicious cookies, check out my classic homemade shortbread cookies, easiest chocolate chip cookies, and Danish butter cookies.

Simple Ingredients

The good thing about a classic shortbread cookie recipe is that it only requires a few ingredients. You might not even need to take a trip to the grocery store! Get these ingredients ready for Lemon Shortbread Cookies:

Flour, butter, powdered sugar and lemon on a chopping board.
  • Butter: Use high-quality unsalted butter for a great-tasting shortbread. I love using Kerrygold butter. For best results, you need softened butter, not melted.
  • Powdered sugar: With powdered sugar (or confectioners’ sugar), the cookies easily melt in the mouth.
  • Fresh Lemons: For the 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. If you have small lemons, you might need a couple.
  • Flour: You need all-purpose flour (or plain flour) for this great recipe. Self-rising flour or cake 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

This is such a straightforward recipe. You don’t need a food processor to make the dough; you can make it by hand or with a mixer. Here is how to make Lemon Cookies in 7 easy steps:

Butter and sugar creamed in the bowl of a stand-mixer.

1. In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until well combined.

If mixing in a bowl of a stand mixer, use a paddle attachment.

Shortbread cookie dough in a bowl.

2. Add in lemon zest and juice and mix, then add in the dry ingredients and mix.

Wait for it to change from a crumbly texture into a formed lemon shortbread cookie dough. If using an electric mixer, start with low speed, then you can adjust it to medium speed. Avoid medium-high speed, as it will overmix the dough.

Cookie dough rolled to a quarter inch thick.

Roll it between 2 parchment papers into a quarter-inch thickness and chill for one hour. I find this easier and less messy than having to sprinkle flour on a work surface and cutting the cookies immediately. However, if you prefer to work on a lightly floured surface, go for it! Just make sure to store the dough in plastic wrap and chill it first.

2 inch cookie cutter on dough for cutting out 2-inch circle cookies.

I used my favorite cookie cutters, 2-inch cutters that I got from Amazon.

Cut-out cookie dough on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Try to use a perfectly flat baking pan because if it is warped, the cookies’ shape will be affected. If using a square pan, you will have to work in multiple batches.

Baked lemon shortbread cookies on baking sheet.

6. Bake cookies for about 13 to 15 minutes until slightly brown around the edges.

7. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes.

Then, transfer them to a wire rack and let them cool completely.

Hint: For crispier cookies, increase the baking time by 2 minutes. My kids really love the crispier ones!

Tip: Sprinkle some 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. This provides a wonderful flavor!

Lemon shortbread cookies on a plate.


Here are some substitutions you can make for this easy lemon shortbread cookie recipe. The best part about this cookie dough is its versatility.

  • Citrus Shortbread Cookies – use a combination of lemon and lime zest and juice to make citrus shortbread cookies.
  • 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.
  • Baking Extract: Although I definitely recommend fresh juice for this recipe, you can use lemon extract if needed. You can also switch it up by using different flavored extracts!

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. And once you make it for the first time, I can guarantee you will want to keep making it!


Fun fact: there are various ways you can switch up the recipe! Here are some ideas:

  • 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 – If you have extra powdered sugar, make a simple lemon glaze with lemon juice, then drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies.
Lemon Shortbread Cookies on parchment paper.

Expert Tips

Here are some expert tips for Lemon Shortbread Cookies:

  • Leave the butter out on the counter for one to two hours so you can use room temperature butter in 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 on top (it can’t be a small bowl because it needs to fit 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 mouth texture of the cookies might be off.
  • For more sweetness and some texture, sprinkle granulated sugar or lemon sugar over the cookies before baking.
  • If you need a big batch of this buttery cookie recipe, you can always double it!

Storing and Serving These Shortbread Lemon Cookies

To keep the cookies fresh, transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag once they cool. Since these cookies last for about a week, you have plenty of time to enjoy them!

Serve them with a cup of coffee or some tea. You can also serve them among other sweet treats. For instance, at a party or bake sale, place them on platters with brown sugar muffins, lemon bars, and other desserts!

Recipe FAQs

What is the difference between a butter cookie and a shortbread cookie?

Butter cookie contains eggs or egg yolk while shortbread dough doesn’t contain any eggs. Both cookies are similar in that they do not contain any baking powder or baking soda (like sugar cookies do), and they are both buttery.

Is butter or margarine better for shortbread?

Butter is best for shortbread because with butter you get the best flavor and texture.

Should butter be cold or room temperature for shortbread?

Use room-temperature butter for shortbread. With room-temperature butter, it is easy to cream together the butter and sugar.

Is powdered sugar or granulated sugar better for shortbread?

Use powdered sugar for shortbread because, with powdered sugar, you get shortbread cookies that easily melt in the mouth.

If you make this Lemon Shortbread Cookies recipe, please consider leaving a comment and a star rating below. I love hearing from you! Please connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok. And tag me when you try one of my recipes!

A stack of lemon shortbread cookies.

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

5 from 3 votes
Here is how to make Lemon Shortbread Cookies that are buttery and lemony, and perfect for the holidays or anytime you want some cookies!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 28 cookies


  • 1 cup butter softened, at room temperature
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 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.


1. Storage: Store lemon shortbread cookies in an airtight container or Ziploc bag for up to 7 days.
2. No cookie cutter? Roll the dough into a 2-inch round log. Let it chill for about 2 hours or until the dough is firm. Then using a knife, cut the dough into 1-inch thick round cookies.
3. Lemon glaze: Make a lemon glaze with lemon juice and powdered sugar then drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies.
4. More sweetness: Sprinkle granulated sugar over the cookies before baking for more sweetness and some texture.


Calories: 91kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 73mg | Potassium: 13mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 203IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Western
Calories: 91
Tried this recipe?Mention @preciouscore or tag #PreciousCore!

About Precious

Welcome to my core! I am Precious Nkeih, the recipe developer and writer right here on my blog, Precious Core. My goal is to show you insanely delicious recipes you can replicate in your kitchen. And I love to tell stories too. Hope you find recipes here that will make cooking easier for you! Check me out on YouTube at YouTube.com/PreciousKitchen.

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    1. Hi Marie, butter is best for shortbread cookies but if margarine is all you have use the same quantity of margarine in place of the butter. Hope this helps.

  1. Thank you for the recipe; I cannot wait to make it for my family for Christmas😍

    Please can I have the recipe in grams, especially for butter & flour? 🙏🏽

    1. Hi Nzunghe, thank you for pointing that out. I have updated the recipe to also show ingredients in grams. On the recipe card, if you click on “Metric” under the list of ingredients, you’ll see the measurements in grams. You will need 227 grams of butter, 60 grams of powdered sugar, and 250 grams of flour. Hope this helps.