Lemon baked goods are my absolute favorite and these never let me down. Here’s the perfect lemon shortbread recipe!
There are so many occasions throughout the spring and summer where a lemon cookie is just the right thing to make. Anything lemon flavored is always my favorite, but lemony things always seem even more perfect for Easter, Mother’s Day, or just any time you have a gathering during the warmer months. I’ve been meaning to come up with a great lemon shortbread recipe for years, but never quite found the time for whatever reason. I can definitely say that these cookies will now be a fixture on any spring time cookie tray I put together. They just never let me down. Pair them with my Vanilla Lavender Shortbread Cookies for a really pretty springtime display.
Ingredients Needed for the Lemon Shortbread Recipe
- Plant-based butter (I use Becel sticks, you can substitute traditional butter here as well)
- Confectioner’s sugar
- All-purpose flour
And that’s really all it takes! You’ll use both the rind and the juice from the lemons, so they do a lot of the heavy lifting that you might use other ingredients for in slightly more complicated recipes and this ensures that these cookies really pack a big lemony flavour.
Preparing the Lemon Shortbread
Start out by assembling all your ingredients, softening your butter, and using a small grater to zest your lemons. To soften the butter, you can either let it sit out at room temperature for an hour or two, or you can just microwave it for about 20 seconds. The softening doesn’t need to be perfect for this recipe and you’ll find it’s very forgiving. 🙂
If you ever do have a recipe where you need your butter to be perfectly softened but not melted, and you’re short on time, try my butter in the glass trick. It works perfectly every time. I just love it.
Combine the butter and the confectioner’s sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, slowly add in your flour, a little at a time and mix until everything comes together. Add in the lemon zest, then mix until everything is evenly combined. If you find your dough is too dry and isn’t coming together into a ball, squeeze out a tablespoon or two of the juice from your lemons and add that into the dough until a nice dough ball forms.
The nice thing about this dough is that you can roll it out and start cutting your shapes immediately without it being too sticky. No need to chill it first. Bake your cooking on a silpat-lined baking sheet, then allow them to cool fully on a wire rack before finishing them off with your lemon glaze.
This side view is a testament to how fool-proof these cookies are. I served these over Easter weekend and just photographed the few that were left so I could share the recipe with you. As you can see, what was left was a random mixed bag of cookies, some thinner, maybe from the edge of the dough where I pressed too hard with the rolling pin, some thicker, but all of them beautiful. Not an over-browned cookie in sight! So even though this photo makes me cringe a little and I would normally choose my most beautiful, uniform cookies to show off when I share a recipe, this is actually a good thing. 🙂
Here’s the full printable recipe!
Lemon baked goods are my absolute favorite and these never let me down. Here's the perfect lemon shortbread recipe!
- 3/4 cup Butter or plant-based substitute, softened
- 3/4 cup Confectioner's sugar
- 1.5 cups +2 tbsp Flour
- 2 Lemons
- 1/2 cup Additional Confectioner's sugar for the glaze
Finely grate the zest off both lemons and set aside in a small dish. Slice both lemons in half, squeeze the juice into a small bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and first amount of confectioner's sugar until light and fluffy.
With the mixer running on low, slowly add in the flour and continue mixing until everything is well-combined. Add in 1 tsp of lemon juice and mix a bit more. Add in the lemon zest and continue mixing until it's well-distributed throughout the dough. If the dough still looks crumbly or too dry, add in a bit more lemon juice and mix until the dough comes together in a ball.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8" thickness and cut out with cookie cutters. Keep re-rolling and cutting more cookie shapes until all the dough is used up.
Bake the cookies on a silpat-lined baking sheet at 325° for 12 minutes, rotating your sheet halfway through. Allow the cookies to cool fully on wire racks.
When the cookies are cool, make the glaze by combining the second amount of confectioner's sugar with 3 tsp of the lemon juice. Drizzle over the cookies and allow the glaze to set.
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.