Lemon Shortbread Cookies Recipe

Sweet, bright, and soft, these lemon shortbread cookies are perfect for spring and summer when we crave that refreshing lemon flavor! This recipe is simple to make but follow the directions carefully to ensure your dough turns out perfectly every time.

(Last Updated April 2024 with more details and info to help you make these cookies with ease).

lemon shortbread cookies recipe with lemon icing

A Quick Note

It’s no secret that I love cookies. I could cookie all day long (could you?). Which is why I have an entire course about cookies in The Baker Street Society program.

My course is designed to teach you how baking works, how to make beautiful desserts (when possible), and how to make cookies with different textures, thicknesses, and flavors.

What’s in Lemon Shortbread Cookies?

These lemon shortbread cookies are made with unsalted butter, all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and kosher salt.

The lemon icing consists of powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Overall, these cookies are simple in nature, but they really pack a punch of flavor.

Baking Essentials

Fresh Lemon Juice Vs. Bottled Lemon Juice

You know that little lemon-shaped bottle of lemon juice you can find in the produce section at the grocery store?

Don’t buy it. Or use it for anything that requires fresh lemon juice because it doesn’t taste the same! Buy real lemons for this recipe, and I promise your lemon shortbread cookies will turn out better.

Bottled lemon juice contains additives and preservatives, which means the flavor is dull and maybe slightly reminiscent of what comes from a fresh lemon. But it’s not the same a freshly squeezed lemon.

How to Make Lemon Shortbread Cookies

  1. Cream the butter, then add the sugar and zest and mix.
  2. Add the cornstarch and salt, and then mix in the flour in a few additions.
  3. Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Cut lemon shortbread cookies out and bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool completely.
  6. Make the icing by combining the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Whisk until smooth.
  7. Ice the cookies and add lemon zest as a garnish if desired.
lemon shortbread cookie recipe with lemon icing

Why You Need to Use Room-Temperature Butter

This recipe calls for room-temperature butter. Please use room-temperature butter!

It makes a difference in how the cookies mix and bake. So, even though it takes a little planning to get your butter out ahead of time, it will pay off in the long run. Especially when you’re eating your batch of perfectly lemon shortbread cookies.

Take your butter out for at least 2 hours before making this recipe. I usually take my butter out 4 hours ahead when my house is colder because it takes longer to reach room temp.

Why take the butter out far in advance? Then you know that the inside and surface of the butter are at room temperature.

And p.s. If you like these cookies, try my classic peppermint chocolate shortbread cookies. Completely delicious!

How to Store Iced Lemon Cookies

There are two ways to store these cookies. First, make the cookies and store them uniced in an airtight container for up to 4 days. If you wish to store the lemon shortbread cookies for a longer period of time before using icing them, store them in the freezer.

If you want to store the cookies once iced, allow the icing to dry and set for a couple of hours on the cookies. Then, store them in an airtight container in a single layer. Do not stack, as this almost always causes the icing to get smashed.

Can You Freeze These Cookies?

Yes, you can freeze lemon shortbread cookies. However, only freeze them uniced for up to one month in an airtight container. Then, thaw the cookies and ice them when ready to eat.

You can also freeze the cookie dough after rolling it to 1/4 inch. Freezing cookie dough is preferable to freezing baked cookies. In general, baked cookies will dry out or get a bit of freezer burn if frozen for more than a few weeks, whereas dough can stay in the freezer longer.

You can freeze the rolled dough for 2-3 months without any quality loss. When you freeze the dough, keep it between the parchment sheets you used for rolling. Then, place the dough in a big freezer bag like this. I use these bags all the time, and I reuse the bags since the dough is between parchment and doesn’t touch the bag.

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Print

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

a stack of lemon shortbread cookies. Top cookie has lemon icing and lemon zest and has a bite taken. Cookies are on a cooling rack against a white and black background

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Camille
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Chill Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 22 minutes
  • Yield: 15 cookies 1x
  • Category: cookies

Ingredients

Units Scale

For the Lemon Shortbread Cookies

  • 113 g unsalted butter, room temp (8 Tbs)
  • 58 g granulated sugar
  • 160 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (Morton’s)
  • Zest of 1 lemon

For the Lemon Icing

  • 180 g powdered sugar
  • 35 Tbs lemon juice (12 lemons)
  • More lemon zest, optional

Instructions

To Make Lemon Shortbread Cookies

  1. Cream room-temperature butter in a stand mixer until smooth.
  2. Add sugar and lemon zest to the mixer and mix on medium-low until fully combined.
  3. Add cornstarch and salt with the mixer on low.
  4. Add the flour to the mixer in 4-6 additions, mixing well between each addition until all the flour has been absorbed. The dough will start to come together but will still be crumbly. Turn the dough out onto a pastry mat or parchment paper.
  5. Bring the dough together with your hands and form into a disk. Lightly dust with flour or cover with a piece of parchment paper and roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Place rolled dough on a cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 – 60 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and remove dough from the fridge. Cut cookies with desired cookie cutter (I used a 2 1/4″ cutter), and place cookies on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment.
  7. Chill for 10-15 minutes after cutting to make sure the dough is cold before baking.
  8. Bake for 10 – 13 minutes. Bigger cookies may need a couple more minutes. Cookies should not be browned on edges but should not look doughy on top either. Overcooking will result in a really hard cookie, so watch carefully once cookies pass the 10 minute mark for baking.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

To Make the Lemon Icing

  1. Combine powdered sugar and 3 Tbs of lemon juice in a medium bowl and whisk. Add more lemon juice if needed.
  2. The glaze should be similar to the consistency of honey.
  3. Drizzle or spread the lemon icing over the cookies, and add fresh lemon zest if desired.
  4. Store at room temperature in a covered container for up to one week.
  5. Optional: Instead of using icing, dust with powdered sugar for a simpler cookie.

Notes

This is a Baker Street Society original recipe.

lemon shortbread cookies stacked on a French cooling rack

3 Comments

  1. Kirie Plante

    These are delicious and easy to cut into fun, spring shapes! I’m making them again for our family Easter gatheirng.






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