Lemon Shortbread Cookies
These Lemon Shortbread Cookies will melt in your mouth! They are buttery, lemony, perfectly sweet, and have a tender texture. This lemon shortbread is inspired by my Grandma’s Shortbread Cookies recipe.
Where are my lemon lovers at? There’s something so refreshing and light about adding some lemon zest and lemon juice to desserts that is irresistible. Some favorite lemon cookies are my Lemon Crinkle Cookies, Lemon Ricotta Cookies, and my lemon curd filled Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies!
Why This Recipe Works
- Best lemon shortbread cookies recipe. Once you make these lemon shortbread cookies, you’ll see what I mean! They are buttery, sweet (but not overly sweet) and has the perfect lemon flavor.
- Lemon shortbread cookies no lemon extract. We use FRESH lemon juice for this lemon shortbread. This makes a big difference in getting a bright lemon flavor that isn’t fake.
- Make ahead or store. These buttery cookies are perfect to make ahead of time, store, or make the dough and store it before baking. They keep so well!
- Salted Butter: Butter is the building block of shortbread cookies. Due to this, we really need a high quality butter! I used the Kerrygold pure Irish butter. If you use unsalted butter, I recommend adding 1/4 tsp salt per cube of butter.
- Granulated Sugar: Massaging the lemon zest into the granulated sugar will really infuse the sugar with the citrus flavor, making the buttery lemon shortbread cookies so much better!
- Lemon Zest: You’ll need an entire 1/4 cup packed with lemon zest. This is the zest from about 6 fresh lemons. You’ll definitely get the best flavor by using fresh lemon juice.
- Flour: Use regular, all-purpose flour for these easy lemon shortbread cookies.
- Cornstarch: Making this lemon shortbread cookie recipe with cornstarch gives a flaky shortbread cookies texture. The buttery, lemony cookies will melt in your mouth!
- Combine lemon zest and sugar. Preheat your oven to 375ºF. To a medium bowl, add 1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1/4 cup fresh lemon zest. Using your fingers, rub the sugar and lemon zest together. This will help the citrus flavor infuse with the sugar.
- Combine butter and zesty sugar mixture. To a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 1 cube (1/2 cup) butter and 1/4 cup of the lemon sugar. Beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Add more butter and lemon sugar. Add another cube (1/2 cup) butter and another 1/4 cup of the lemon sugar mixture to the bowl and beat again on medium speed for another 2-3 minutes until white in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add more butter and lemon sugar. Add the 3rd cube (1/2 cup) butter to the bowl and another 1/4 cup of the lemon sugar. Beat for 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the final butter and sugar mixture. Add the final cube of butter (1/2 cup) to the bowl and the last of the lemon sugar mixture. Beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add in the flour and cornstarch. Combine 4 cups all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup cornstarch in a medium bowl and whisk. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture while mixing on low speed. Mix until combined
- Roll out the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll out the lemon shortbread dough to 1/2 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or cookie cutter, cut into your desired size and shape.
- Make the fork tines. Using a fork, poke the top of each cookie.
- Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Sprinkle the lemon shortbread cookies with some granulated sugar. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake cookies. Bake the lemon shortbread cookies for 14 minutes. Remove and let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!
No stand mixer? No problem! Use a large mixing bowl and an electric mixer. I do recommend using at least an electric mixer because you want the butter and sugar mixture to beat on a high enough speed to turn white in color.
While you can roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, I actually like to roll mine out on a sheet of parchment paper. That way I’m not unnecessarily adding more flour to the cookies, risking drying them out.
The lemon shortbread cookies are done when the edges of the cookies are just barely golden. This means JUST BARELY getting color. If they already have color, they will be crispier and crunchier.
This recipe made 34 cookies for me, but it can make more or less cookies depending on the size of cookie cutter you use.
I used a fluted biscuit cutter.
Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing
To make this lemon shortbread cookie recipe ahead of time, make the dough and instead of rolling it out, form it into a log (the side you want the cookies to be). Then wrap the cookie dough log in 2 layers of plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Remove and let thaw in the fridge overnight. Then let the shortbread dough come to room temperature to cut into cookie circles.
If you prefer rolling out the lemon shortbread cookie dough (because you want to use a cookie cutter that isn’t circular), you can just form the dough into a ball and double wrap in plastic wrap, then freeze it. You’ll just need to give the dough plenty of time to reach room temperature so it is soft enough to roll out.
Store the lemon shortbread cookies in an airtight container and cookie tin for up to 2 weeks. They just keep getting better with time!
You can also freeze the lemon shortbread cookies by letting them cool completely, then storing them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months. Remove and let thaw.
No. Sugar cookie recipes typically call for eggs, some kind of leavening agent like baking soda and/or baking powder, vanilla extract, and more. Shortbread cookies are made primarily of sugar, butter, and flour.
Yes. Wrap the cookie dough in 2 layers of plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 7 days. Remove from the fridge and let come to room temperature so you can roll it out and cut the cookies.
High quality butter! Start with a good base. You really want a high quality butter for this lemon shortbread recipe. It makes a BIG difference to spend a few extra dollars for the higher quality butter.
More Lemon Desserts
- Lemon Cupcakes
- Lemon Poppy Seed Scones
- Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
- Old Fashioned Lemon Squares Recipe
- Lemon Jello Cake
Lemon Shortbread Cookies
- 1 lb (2 cups) salted butter - use a high quality butter if possible, softened
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar - plus additional sugar for sprinkling overtop of the cookies
- 1/4 cup lemon zest - zest from about 6 large lemons
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl combine the sugar and lemon zest. Rub the sugar and zest between your fingers for a minute to help the oils release from the zest, it will also help the tang from the citrus infuse into the sugar.
- In a large bowl, or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat 1 cube (or ½ cup) of butter and ¼ cup of lemon sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Add an additional cube (1/2 cup) of butter and another ¼ cup of lemon sugar and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Add another cube (1/2 cup) of butter and another ¼ cup of lemon sugar and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until white. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Add the last cube (1/2 cup) of butter and the last ¼ cup of lemon sugar and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until white. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- In a medium bowl whisk the flour and cornstarch. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture, mix on low until combined.
- Pat or roll out the dough into ½ inch thickness. Cut into desired shape. Poke the tops with a forks tines, sprinkle with granulated sugar then transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 14 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.