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Melt-in-Your-Mouth Lemon Shortbread Cookie Recipe

These lemon shortbread cookies are a classic and are an intensely flavored buttery cookie. Keep this recipe on hand for special occasion or simple afternoon teas with friends and family. 

Lemon shortbread cookies on a plat with a cup of tea and lemon wedges beside it.

Simple yet Elegant

These cookies are made with the simplest pantry ingredients and yet they pack an elegant and flavorful punch. The frosting with bits of yellow lemon zest look fancy and yet only take a few minutes to put together. 

A Rich, Sweet Cookie

Don’t be tempted to make these lemon shortbread cookies into large cookies. They are sweet and buttery and better suited for small bites. The great thing about this is that they can go a long way on holiday buffets or at pot-lucks. 

These are rich despite the small amount of sugar in the actual cookie.

Unless you’re making these cookies for a vegan – use real butter. The flavor is simply going to be the best. 

About Lemon Shortbread Cookie Dough

When you’re mixing the dough you’re going to think you messed up the recipe because it’s a crumbly, not a smooth dough. It’s fine, just keep mixing and it will start to ball up.

The beauty of shortbread is that, unlike other dough, the more you work with it it better it gets. You don’t have to work fast or worry about overworking it like you do with other cut out cookies.

This dough works best when it’s rolled out between two sheets of wax paper or parchment paper.

Substitute Any Citrus

Have oranges on hand? Use orange juice and zest instead of lemon. In fact, these cookies will work delightfully well with any citrus you have on hand. 

For a truly lovely cookie platter consider making several different flavors (grapefruit, orange, & lemon for example).

Skip the Frosting

If a person wanted too, they could skip the frosting. The cookies are delightful on their own and will be less intensely sweet or lemony without the frosting. Unfrosted lemon shortbread cookies are great for a simple afternoon tea.

A drizzle of melted white chocolate over the tops of the cooled cookies would also be delightful instead of frosting, if desired.

Make Ahead

The lemon shortbread cookie dough could be made several days in advance and refrigerated before baking. The dough could also be frozen for up to 3 months before baking. If the dough was frozen let thaw in the refrigerator until the dough can be rolled out.

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Great Keepers

The cookies will stay fresh for up to a week at room temperature. They will keep for up to 6 months frozen. Freeze them with or without frosting.

These cookies will freeze into solid rocks so be sure to let them thaw completely before serving. 

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Yield: 24 - 2"cookies

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Lemon shortbread cookies on a plate with a cup of tea and lemon wedges on a placemat.

These lemon shortbread cookies are a twist on the classic buttery shortbread and will surely delight any lemon lover.


Lemon Shortbread Cookies

  • 1/2 Cup Salted Butter, softened
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/4 Cups Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 3 teaspoons Grated Lemon Zest

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Zest


Lemon Shortbread Cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Mix in the vanilla extract and lemon juice until combined.
  5. Add the flour and lemon zest mix until a dough forms. The dough will be crumbly.
  6. Form three balls from the dough. You will need to work the dough a bit to form the balls.
  7. Roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper or parchment paper
  8. Use cookie cutters to cut out round cookies
  9. Put the cut cookies onto the prepared cookie sheet
  10. Bake for 9-11 minutes, just until the edges are slightly browned

Lemon Glaze

  1. Mix all the ingredients together until smooth and pourable.
  2. Gently spoon the glaze over the cooled cookies.
  3. Let harden at room temperature.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 Cookie

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 45Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 17mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 3gProtein: 0g

We cannot guarantee the accuracy of these numbers. Please use as a general guideline only.

If you have an abundance of lemons, lemon shortbread cookies aren’t the only thing you can make with them. Here are over 25 other lemon ideas.

Lemon shortbread cookies on a plate with a cup of tea and lemon wedges beside it.

Thanks for sharing!

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