These lemon shortbread cookies with lemon glaze are full of bright citrus flavor. This recipe makes the best lemon shortbread - buttery, delicate and melt in your mouth delicious. The dough is easy to handle and doesn't spread when baked so it's great for shortbread cut out cookies. A simple glaze adds extra lemon flavor.
I based the recipe for these lemon shortbread cookies off of my strawberry shortbread cookies. It's a great recipe for cutout shortbread cookies since the dough doesn't spread when baked.
This recipe uses basic ingredients that you'll find in your pantry at home, plus lemon oil, which is more than worth the effort to source (and can be purchased easily online). Both the cookies and the glaze are packed with vibrant lemon flavor from the lemon oil, lemon zest, and fresh lemon juice!
The dough comes together easily and can be rolled out immediately without needing to be chilled first. The cutout cookies only require 10 minutes of chilling time in the freezer to ensure the butter is firm before baking. This simple recipe packs a punch of citrus into these buttery, bite-sized cookies.
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- Unsalted butter - Butter should be at room temperature. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for butter to soften out of the refrigerator. Cut the butter into small cubes to quicken the process.
- Powdered sugar - Powdered sugar sweetens the shortbread dough without adding graininess.
- Lemon oil - I use lemon oil (affiliate link) in this recipe to add an extra boost of lemon flavor to the shortbread. Lemon oil is concentrated and helps achieve a powerful citrus tang. I find it much more flavorful than lemon extract.
- Lemon zest - For a single batch, you'll use one large lemon. Freshly grated lemon zest adds even more lemon flavor to the dough and a pop of color to the glazed cookies. Save the lemon after zesting; you'll need the juice for the glaze.
- Corn starch - Corn starch helps reduce gluten development and adds a light and tender texture to the cookies.
* See recipe card for full list of ingredients and quantities.
Learn how to make glazed lemon shortbread cookies! These photos provide visual cues. Detailed instructions are included in the recipe card.
Cream the butter in a mixing bowl for 30 seconds at medium speed.
Add powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, lemon oil and zest. Mix on low until ingredients are fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add cornstarch and mix on low until incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl.
Add flour and mix on low just until dough pulls together.
Gather dough into a ball and turn out onto a rectangle of parchment paper. Place an additional piece of parchment paper on top, and roll shortbread dough to a thickness of ¼ inch (0.63 centimeters).
Remove top layer of parchment. Cut out cookies using desired cookie cutter. Place 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Chill cookie cutouts in freezer for 10 minutes or refrigerator for 30 minutes. Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 minutes. Remove from oven. After 5 minutes, transfer cookies to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
To make iced lemon shortbread cookies: mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice together. Dip the top of each cooled cookie into the glaze. Place on a cooling rack. Sprinkle with additional lemon zest for decoration while glaze is still wet.
Hints: Make sure to chill your cookies 10 minutes in the freezer (or 30 minutes in the refrigerator) before baking to ensure the butter is cold. This will help the dough remain firm so the cookies keep their shape when baked.
Cornstarch - If you don't have cornstarch (or aren't able to eat it), you can substitute an equal amount of all purpose flour.
Unsalted butter - You may use salted butter in this recipe. If you use salted butter, reduce the Kosher salt to ¼ teaspoon total. Note that the quantity of salt in butter varies by brand. Many recipes call for unsalted butter in order to best control the total amount of salt.
If you'd like to try a different twist on these lemon glazed shortbread cookies, consider these alternatives:
- Lemon lavender - While the glaze is wet, sprinkle the tops with a bit of culinary grade lavender.
- Lemon poppyseed - Add 1 Tablespoon of poppy seeds to the dough when adding the lemon zest. Sprinkle additional poppy seeds onto the glaze while wet.
- Citrus shortbread - Replace the lemon zest, oil and juice with equal amounts of orange, lime or grapefruit for a varied citrus twist.
- Lemon thyme - Add 1 Tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves to the dough when adding lemon zest. Sprinkle additional thyme leaves onto the glaze while wet. (I only recommend this variation with fresh thyme, not dried.)
- Sugared, not glazed - I personally LOVE the glaze, as it's an extra opportunity to add more lemon flavor (lemon juice in the glaze and lemon zest sprinkled on top). However, if you want to omit the glaze, you can add sparkle by dusting these cookies with sanding sugar (affiliate link) prior to baking.
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Cookie cutter - To make these cookies, I use a 1 ¾ inch (1.9 centimeter) fluted round cookie cutter. You're welcome to use any shape you like.
Baking pans - I bake my cookies on half sheet baking pans (18 x 13 inches).
Microplane grater - A microplane grater is the perfect tool for zesting lemons and other citrus fruits. It is very sharp and creates finely grated peel.
Lemon oil - I use concentrated lemon oil in this recipe to add an extra boost of lemon flavor to the shortbread. It's much more flavorful than lemon extract. I recommend it!
Store: Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Once glaze has hardened, cookies can be stacked in layers.
Freeze: Freeze cookies in an airtight container or zipper sealed bag for up to 3 months.
Make ahead: You can make the lemon shortbread cookie dough up to 48 hours in advance. Keep well wrapped in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Bring dough to room temperature prior to rolling, and chill cut out cookies per instructions before baking.
The lemon glaze must be made immediately before dipping the cookies. It will form a crust if made in advance.
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Lemon Shortbread CookiesPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
Lemon Shortbread Cookies
- 113 grams (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 60 grams (½ cup) powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 grams (½ teaspoon) kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon lemon oil
- zest of ½ large lemon
- 20 grams (2 Tablespoons) corn starch
- 135 grams (1 cup + 2 Tablespoons) all purpose flour
- 120 grams (1 cup) powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed (from 1 large lemon)
- zest of ½ large lemon
Lemon Shortbread Cookies
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius, Gas Mark 2) with rack in center of oven.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter. Cream for 30 seconds at medium speed. Add powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, lemon oil and lemon zest. Mix on low until ingredients are fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.113 grams (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, 60 grams (½ cup) powdered sugar, sifted, 2 grams (½ teaspoon) kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal), ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon lemon oil, zest of ½ large lemon
- Add corn starch and mix on low. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add flour. Mix on medium-low until dough just pulls together.20 grams (2 Tablespoons) corn starch, 135 grams (1 cup + 2 Tablespoons) all purpose flour
- Gather dough into a ball and turn out onto a rectangle of parchment paper. Place an additional piece of parchment paper on top, and roll the dough to a thickness of ¼ inch (0.63 cm). Note: this is about the thickness of a standard pencil. If you don't have rolling pin rings, place pencils on each side of the dough and roll your rolling pin along them as a guide for uniform thickness.
- Cut out dough using desired cookie cutter(s). Place cookies 1 inch apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Roll scraps and cut out additional cookies as needed to make use of all dough. Chill cutouts in freezer for 10 minutes (or refrigerator for 30 minutes) prior to baking.
- Bake each sheet for 22-24 minutes, until cookies are set and just slightly golden on the foot. They should be pale. Cookies will continue to harden as they cool. Cool fully on cookie sheet prior to glazing.
- Add the powdered sugar and lemon juice to a small bowl. Whisk slowly to fully blend the ingredients while trying not to incorporate air bubbles. Dip the top of each cooled cookie into the glaze, letting the extra glaze drip back into the bowl.120 grams (1 cup) powdered sugar, sifted, 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Place glazed cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet to set. Sprinkle lemon zest on top of wet glaze. Once glaze is firm, cookies can be stacked for storage.zest of ½ large lemon
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