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Lemon Shortbread Cookies

These Lemon Shortbread Cookies are extremely easy to make. They are flavored with freshly grated lemon zest, a little bit of lemon extract for good measure, and an optional lemon glaze to boost the flavor to the next level.

Lemon Shortbread Cookies on a wooden board with lemon halves

Shortbread cookies are one of my favorite easy treats, the proof is in the extensive collection of shortbread cookie recipes you can find on the blog. Today, we’re baking up a classic lemon shortbread cookie flavor I’m sure you’ll love!

This lemon shortbread recipe is very simple. It is pretty much the same as the classic shortbread recipe but flavored mainly with freshly grated lemon zest for that refreshing zing. The lemon glaze is totally optional but highly recommended.

How to make Lemon Shortbread from scratch

Lemon shortbread cookie dough

Process photo collage for lemon shortbread

Making lemon shortbread cookie dough (Photos 1 – 6)

  1. Whisk together sugar and lemon zest to release the essential oils.
  2. Add softened butter, the sugar mixture, and the extracts to your stand mixer bowl.
  3. Beat with the paddle attachment until combined and fluffy.
  4. In another mixing bowl, whisk together flour, and salt. Add to butter mixture.
  5. Stir with the paddle attachment until the dough forms. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Roll the dough out to a 9”x6” rectangle. Cut into 9 cookies with a pizza wheel. Freeze for 15 minutes before baking at 350°F until lightly brown.

An alternate way to shape this cookie dough is by rolling it into a log, about 6” long, refrigerate at least 30 mins to an hour, then cut the dough with a sharp knife into ½” thick slices. This method will yield a dozen smaller cookies instead of 9 larger rectangular cookies.

Adding the optional lemon glaze

My original recipe for these lemon shortbread cookies did not call for lemon glaze, but it is a really easy way to add another dimension and more lemon flavor to these cookies, especially if your lemon zest doesn’t have a really strong lemon flavor and you don’t have lemon extract to compensate.

Adding lemon glaze to cookies

Adding lemon glaze to lemon shortbread

  1. Simply whisk together lemon juice, powdered sugar and lemon zest to make the lemon glaze. Dip the cookies into the glaze or drizzle it over the cooled cookies.

Using homegrown vs. store-bought lemons

I absolutely love getting a big basket of homegrown lemons from a friend’s or neighbor’s tree, perfect for making lots of lemon curd. However, I’ve noticed that zest from homegrown lemons somehow don’t have that super strong lemon flavor as compared to store-bought.

Despite that, homegrown lemons are still great for this lemon shortbread recipe, I would recommend using zest from 2 large lemons instead of 1, adding the lemon extract if you have any, and definitely dress the cookies up with lemon glaze to boost the flavor in this case. 

Lemon Shortbread Cookies on a wooden board with lemon halves

Baker’s Tips

  • Refrigerating the cookie dough before rolling and cutting is a must. This will allow the dough to firm up and make it easier to roll.
  • Further refrigerating or even freezing the cookie dough before baking will help the cookies keep their shape during baking and limit their spreading.
  • If you don’t have lemon extract, you can skip it as long as you are using enough lemon zest to flavor the cookies.

Storage

Store in an airtight container at room temperature, these cookies will last up to a week. Beyond that, the cookies will start to go stale. But they actually taste best the day after when I actually find them a little crispier than freshly baked.

Making ahead

Shortbread cookie dough freezes well and is perfect for making ahead. Make a large batch, double or triple this recipe, and cut the dough into cookies. Layer the cookies in an airtight container with parchment paper in between so they don’t stick together and freeze.

When you are ready to bake, you can bake the cookies straight from frozen. Frozen cookies will need to bake about 2 minutes longer than normal, just keep an eye on the light brown edges.

A stack of lemon shortbread on a wooden board

Handheld lemon treats

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, send me a photo, rate it and don’t forget to tag me @wildwildwhisk on Instagram. I’d love to see what’s cooking up in your kitchen. Cheers!

Lemon Shortbread Cookies on a wooden board with lemon halves

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

These Lemon Shortbread Cookies are extremely easy to make. They are flavored with freshly grated lemon zest, a little bit of lemon extract for good measure, and an optional lemon glaze to boost the flavor to the next level.
5 from 2 votes
Print Rate
Course: Cookies, Dessert
Cuisine: European, Scottish
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 9
Calories: 177kcal
Author: Trang

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 4 oz unsalted butter (room temperature, 113 g)
  • cup granulated sugar (65 g)
  • Zest of 1 - 2 lemons
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon pure lemon extract (optional, replace with vanilla extract if don’t have)
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour (142 g)
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • Extra sugar for sprinkling

Lemon glaze (optional)

  • 2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice (30 g)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (100 g)
  • Zest of ½ lemon

Instructions

  • Whisk together sugar and lemon zest to release the essential oil. Add softened butter, and the extracts to the bowl of a stand mixer along with the sugar mixture. Beat using the paddle attachment until combined and fluffy.
  • Whisk together flour and salt in a mixing bowl and add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix until a dough forms.
  • Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape into a rectangle. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • When the dough is ready, take it out of the refrigerator and roll it out into a 9”x6” rectangle. Cut into 9 cookies using a pizza wheel. Place the cookies in a container and freeze for about 15 minutes while the oven is preheating.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • When the oven is ready, place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet 1 to 2 inches apart. Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of cookies generously and bake for 15 - 20 minutes until the edges start to turn light brown.
  • Remove from the oven, let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely
  • Optional: To make the lemon glaze, whisk together lemon juice, powdered sugar, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Dip the cooled cookies into the glaze or drizzle the glaze over the top of the cookies. Set glazed cookies back on a wire rack to allow the glaze to harden.

Notes

  • An alternate way to prepare this shortbread dough is to shape it into a log, at least 6” long, refrigerate as directed then cut the dough with a sharp knife into ½” thick slices. This will yield a dozen smaller size cookies.
  • This recipe is a small batch but it can easily be doubled or tripled.
  • The lemon glaze is optional but it can give an additional boost of lemon flavor.
  • If you don’t have lemon extract, you can skip it as long as you are using enough lemon zest to flavor the cookies.
  • This cookie dough freezes well, and is perfect for making ahead. You can bake from frozen for 2 minutes longer.

Nutrition

Serving: 36g | Calories: 177kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @WildWildWhisk or tag #WildWildWhisk!

This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten’s Shortbread Cookies and Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery shortbread recipe.

Lemon shortbread pin image

This post was originally published on 9/30/2014. The post has been updated and republished on 4/30/2020 with the latest improvements, extra tips, and process photos to help you in the kitchen.

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5 Comments

  1. Joanne
    April 13, 2020 /

    5 stars
    Excellent! I cut it into holiday shapes and added a lemon glaze just to make them a little more holiday festive. I left the dough in the refrigerator overnight and it was absolutely fine. Kids couldn’t stop eating them.

    • Trang
      Author
      April 13, 2020 /

      Such a great idea to add a glaze! Thanks for the feedback, Joanne!

  2. elif
    February 18, 2020 /

    hi, could you write the butter weight as gram?

    • Trang
      Author
      February 18, 2020 /

      4 oz is 113 grams. If you come across other recipes you want to convert, I suggest using Google, it’s very easy. You can just type in the search bar “4 oz to g” and you’ll get the conversion in seconds, you won’t have to wait for an answer 🙂 I hope this helps.

  3. August 8, 2019 /

    5 stars
    I love those walkers shortbread too. I also love lemon desserts and these shortbreads are sensational.

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