This easy lemon cookies recipe bakes up soft, chewy, and so lemony! Iced with a scrumptious lemon buttercream frosting. A real favorite!

Lemon cookies stacked on top of each other.

Today’s recipe is for lemon cookies and it’s a true collab between Allie and Jen!

Jen developed this lemon cookie recipe based on my soft and chewy sugar cookies, and she also took all these gorgeous pictures and gave me the recipe steps, expert tips, and FAQ’s. Now I’m just filling in the rest!

If you are a lemon lover, I think you are really going to love this lemon cookies recipe!

It bakes up with a bright, citrusy flavor and a soft, chewy texture. There’s also a luscious whipped lemon buttercream topping, which really takes them to a whole new level!

And Lemon Lover, if you like these, you should definitely check out these other lemon recipes too: lemon pasta, lemon pound cake, and lemon poppy seed muffins. All really lemony and perfect for you!

Lemon cookies on a plate with a text overlay

Table of Contents

Jump to Recipe

What are lemon cookies?

These are basically a soft and chewy sugar cookie with the addition of fresh-squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest.  

They’re also topped with a light and airy lemon buttercream.  So yummy!

  1. Tastes amazing: These soft, chewy cookies have a bright, zesty lemon flavor that is so cheery!
  2. Few ingredients: You’ll only need a handful of pantry staples to make them.
  3. Easy to make: They whip up in just a few minutes!
  4. Versatile: You can add in other ingredients to really tailor this lemon cookie recipe to your own personal taste.

What does this lemon cookies recipe taste like?

These cookies have a nice lemon presence that is probably the first thing you’ll notice when you take a bite.  

They’re plenty lemony without being overly tart.  And there’s a gentle sweetness that doesn’t get in the way of the lemon or the rich butter, and a hint of vanilla that really rounds everything out.  

And the icing adds a creamy sweetness that really sets off the other flavors in a beautiful way!

Ingredients

Ingredients for lemon cookies and frosting including butter, eggs, cornstarch, lemons, baking powder, vanilla, flour, milk, and sugar.

Butter: Unsalted butter is the basis of both the cookies and the icing.  I like unsalted best because it allows you full control over the salt content, regardless of what brand you’re using.  

Sugar: You’ll need granulated sugar for the cookies, as well as powdered sugar for the frosting.  Use another type of sweetener if you like.  As long as it swaps 1:1 it should work just fine.

Eggs: Large chicken eggs (or a 1:1 plant-based substitute) build the cookies’ structure and help to keep them soft. You will need 1 whole egg plus just the yolk from another. Use the leftover white to make meringue cookies!

Vanilla: Vanilla extract adds a sweet perfume that compliments the lemon flavor.

Lemon: Both freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest bring a bright, citrusy zing to the cookies and the lemon icing. Zest the lemons before squeezing them.

Flour: Flour lends structure to the cookies. Use all-purpose flour or a 1:1 substitute.

Cornstarch: I add a little bit of cornstarch to so many of my cookie recipes! It’s a powdered starch that is colorless, odorless, and flavorless. So it adds structure without toughness. It gives these cookies a softer texture while still lending strength.

Baking sodaBaking soda helps the cookies to puff up, spread, and have a tender, melt-in-your-mouth quality. Make sure you’re using baking soda, not baking powder.

Salt: Kosher salt has the cleanest, purest flavor. It doesn’t contain any bitter-tasting additives like iodine. It will balance out all the flavors and bring out all their best qualities.

Milk: You may or may not need a splash of milk to get the proper spreading consistency in your buttercream. Any kind is fine. Even a plant-based product will work.

Special equipment

How to make lemon sugar cookies

These frosted lemon cookies come together in just a few simple steps.

Step 1: Cream the butter & sugar

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Butter and sugar whipped together in a stand mixer bowl

Make sure the mixture has doubled in volume and looks almost white. This usually takes no less than 5 full minutes on medium-high speed. The lighter and fluffier your mixture is now, the softer and more tender your final cookies will come out, so don’t skimp!

Step 2: Add eggs and wet ingredients

Beat in the egg until evenly incorporated. 

Lemon cookie batter after the eggs have been added

Then stir in the additional yolk, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. 

Step 3: Add dry ingredients

Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, then add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.

Lemon cookie batter after the dry ingredients have been added

Stir these in on low speed just until barely incorporated. It’s important not to overmix once the flour’s gone in, or your cookies could come out tough.

Step 4: Shape

Using a 1.5-tablespoon cookie scoop, drop balls of cookie dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Lemon cookie batter being scooped onto a sheet pan

Flatten eat ball slightly with the palm of your hand.

Step 5: Bake

Bake the cookies until the edges are set but they are still quite soft and moist towards the centers.

Unfrosted lemon cookies on a wire cooling rack

Cool on the baking sheet or a wire rack. 

Step 6: Frost

These cookies are great as-is, but if you really want to take them to another level, spread some of this zingy lemon buttercream on top!

While the cookies are cooling, prepare the lemon frosting.

Beat the butter, powdered sugar, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and salt together until smooth and creamy.

Frosting in a bowl next to a hand mixer.

Taste for sweetness and tartness. If a thinner consistency is desired, add either 1-2 more tablespoons of lemon juice (for a stronger lemon flavor) or milk.

Spread a little bit of this frosting on top of each cookie.

Lemon cookies on a wire cooling rack.

How to serve lemon cookies

Enjoy these cookies for a snack or dessert.

They’re perfect at room temperature!

If you like, you can add some cute decorations such as colored sanding sugar, sprinkles, or little candies. You could also tint the cookie dough and/or the frosting with gel paste food coloring, to make them extra festive!

Expert tips

Leave space: These cookies spread in the oven. Make sure to leave at least 2 inches of space between each cookie when portioning out the dough.

Don’t overbake: These cookies are incredibly soft and chewy. However, if you overbake them, they’ll become more crisp. Pull them from the oven when the edges are just barely turning golden.  

Cool completely: Make sure the cookies are completely cooled before frosting. If they’re still even slightly warm, the cookies might cause the butter in the frosting to melt. While they’ll still taste delicious, they might be a bit messy. You also want to avoid moving the cookies around until they’re cool, because they’ll be very delicate while warm and could easily fall apart.

Experiment: The lemon frosting recipe is very flexible. You can add additional lemon juice and zest to increase the tangy citrus flavor, or you can use a bit of milk to thin it out without changing the flavors.

Lemon cookies stacked on top of one another.

Frequently asked questions

Can lemon cookies be made ahead?


Yes, these cookies can be made ahead of time.

They will keep in an airtight container for up to one week at room temperature, in the fridge for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for several months.

The unbaked dough can also be scooped, frozen on a sheet pan, and then transferred to a zip-top freezer bag to be baked off just a few at a time. You don’t need to thaw them first, but they may need an extra minute or so in the oven. They should keep in the freezer this way for 2 months or so.

The buttercream will last for a week or so in the fridge, but you may want to re-whip it to get it fluffy again if it starts to become compacted.

Would other flavors work?


These cookies would be delicious with fresh-squeezed orange juice and zest, lime juice and zest, or grapefruit juice and zest!

Also, think about adding in additional flavors to compliment the citrus. An unusual herb or spice (such as thyme or ginger) could be really interesting!

What is the serving size?


The serving size is one cookie. The nutritional info below is for one cookie and it includes the frosting.

Frosted lemon cookies on a plate next to a bottle of milk.

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Lemon cookies stacked on top of each other.
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Lemon Cookies

Servings: 36 cookies (approximately)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
This easy lemon cookies recipe bakes up soft, chewy, and so lemony! Iced with a scrumptious lemon buttercream frosting. A real favorite!

Ingredients

For the lemon cookies

  • 3/4 cup (170.25 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cup (266.67 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large (50 g) egg
  • 1 large (17 g) egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 1/4 cups (281.25 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (32 g) cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (6 g) grated lemon zest

For the lemon buttercream frosting

  • 3/4 cup (170.25 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups (360 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (4 g) grated lemon zest
  • 3-4 tablespoons (45 g) fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon (0.75 g) kosher salt
  • Optional: 1-2 tablespoons milk

Instructions
 

To Make the Lemon Cookies

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed until very pale and fluffy (approx. 3 to 5 minutes).
  • Add the egg, and beat on medium-high speed until incorporated (about 1 to 2 minutes).
  • Stir in the egg yolk, vanilla, and lemon juice on medium speed until combined (about 2 to 3 minutes).
  • Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, then add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. Break up any clumps of zest using a fork or clean hands.
  • Stir together on low speed until incorporated (about 1 to 2 minutes).
  • Use a 1.5-tablespoon cookie scoop to drop balls of cookie dough on the prepared baking sheets, allowing two inches in between for spreading.
  • Flatten the balls slightly with the palm of your hand.
  • Bake the cookies (one sheet at a time) in the center rack of the oven until the edges are set and just barely beginning to turn golden (approx. 8 to 12 minutes).*
  • Cool completely on the baking sheet or a wire rack.
  • Using a small spatula or butter knife, spread frosting on top of each cookie.

To Make the Lemon Buttercream Frosting

  • While the cookies are baking, prepare the frosting. Beat together the butter, sugar, zest, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and salt until smooth and creamy.
  • Taste for sweetness and tartness. If a thinner consistency is desired, add either 1-2 more tablespoons of lemon juice (for a stronger lemon flavor) or 1-2 tablespoons of milk.

Notes

*Take care not to over-bake, or the cookies will not be as soft.
Serving: 1cookie, Calories: 171kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 31mg, Sodium: 75mg, Potassium: 16mg, Fiber: 0.3g, Sugar: 17g, Vitamin A: 251IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 6mg, Iron: 0.4mg
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert, Snack
Tried this recipe?Mention @bakingamoment on Instagram or tag #bakingamoment.

Author

  • Jennifer Farley

    Hi there, I'm Jen. From 2009 to 2021, I was a full time blogger at Savory Simple, a blog dedicated to well-tested recipes and tutorials for home cooks. In 2016, I published my cookbook, The Gourmet Kitchen. I now work full time as a freelance recipe developer and food photographer from my home in Olney, MD, where I live with my husband Jeff and our 3 cats. I've written a weekly newsletter for The Washington Post's Voraciously, and I've also contributed to The Kitchn, Food52, Parade Magazine, and Better Homes & Gardens. Allie and I have been friends for years, and I'm thrilled to now be contributing to Baking a Moment!

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