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Lemon Shortbread Cookies

These easy Lemon Shortbread cookies have a wonderful flavor and are buttery and melt in your mouth. Bake these Lemon Shortbread Cookies for the holidays or anytime!

Lemon Shortbread Cookies Recipe

Why You’ll Love These Shortbread Cookies

  • Easy to Make: These cookies take just 30 minutes to prepare and bake.
  • Make Great Gifts: Lemon Shortbread Cookies can last for a couple of weeks making them perfect gifts that even ship well to friends and family.
  • Make Ahead: The dough can be made ahead and stored in the fridge or freezer.
  • So Delicious: You’ll love these easy, crunchy and refreshing lemon shortbread cookies, especially if you’re a lemon lover, like me!
  • Perfect any time of the year: Traditionally a holiday time treat, these lemon cookies are perfect for spring or summertime when you’re looking for something refreshing and citrusy. Perfect in your kids lunchbox or as an afterschool treat!

Lemon Shortbread Cookie Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour: The flour absorbs the moisture to create a perfect dough.
  • Kosher Salt: The salt draws out all the other flavors.
  • Butter: Softened, salted butter adds the buttery cookie flavor. If you only have unsalted butter add about 1/4 teaspoon more salt.
  • Granulated Sugar: The sweetness that pairs perfectly with the lemon burst.
  • Lemon Zest: The key is to use fresh lemons for the zest and juice. I use regular lemon for this recipe but if you prefer the mellow, sweet flavor of Meyer lemons feel free to substitute but just keep in mind they won’t be as tart.
  • Vanilla extract: The vanilla extract enhances the flavor and makes them smell even better.
  • Egg yolks: The yolks soften the dough.
  • Lemon Glaze: Powdered sugar and fresh lemon juice are two simple ingredients to create a sweet and lemony drizzle.

(Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe card with exact measurements and recipe instructions.)

How to Make Lemon Shortbread Cookies

How to Make Lemon Shortbread Cookies

These cookies are incredibly easy to make. Here is a quick overview of how to make lemon shortbread cookies with the complete recipe card below.

These cookies mix together in a snap, then all you have to do is form two cylinders from the dough and refrigerate. Once the dough is nice and firm, just slice them up and bake.

  1. Beat: Beat butter, sugar, zest and vanilla until light and fluffy then add egg yolks.
  2. Mix: Mix the flour and salt then add to butter mixture.
  3. Roll into Cylinders: Divide dough in half and roll into cylinders (about a foot long) and refrigerate.
  4. Slice the Dough: Remove dough from fridge, slice into circles and place on parchment-lined baking sheets.
  5. Bake the Cookies: Bake the cookies until turn golden brown around the edges.
  6. Drizzle (optional): Drizzle on the glaze made from lemon juice and powdered sugar and you’ll be in shortbread heaven!

Lemon Shortbread Cookies Tips

  • The cookies are done baking when they start to turn slightly brown at the bottom edges. Keep in mind the cookies will continue to cook after they are removed from the oven.
  • If your dough is too dry, try adding a small amount of yolk and mix it into the dough. If your dough is too moist try adding a bit more flour and mix as well.
  • These shortbread cookies are perfect as-is or with the lemony goodness of the glaze.
Best Lemon Shortbread Cookies


Here a few ideas to try:

  • Mix in chopped nuts, dried fruit, or dark chocolate.
  • Add your favorite spice including thyme, rosemary, lavender, cinnamon or cardamom.
  • Dash colored sprinkles on top for a festive look.
  • Dip the cookies in white chocolate or dark chocolate.

Make Ahead & Storage

Lemon Shortbread Cookies are perfect for making ahead. The cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or can be frozen for up to 2 months. Simply bake and drizzle after storing.

If freezing, place in the refrigerator for two hours and then cut the cookie shapes prior to freezing. The cookies can be baked straight from the freezer, just add about 5 minutes to the bake time, while monitoring for golden brown edges.

Lemon Shortbread Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Store in a dry area.

If you love lemon desserts try these Lemon Cake Mix Cookies, Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake, or Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Bread next.

lemon shortbread

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Yield: about 24 cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 33 minutes

A delightful cookie that's perfect for the holidays, Christmas or really anytime you're in the mood for delicous lemony shortbread.


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • zest from two lemons
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  1. Beat butter, sugar, zest and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and stir just until blended.
  2. Mix together flour and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix just until blended.
  3. Divide dough in half and roll into cylinders (about a foot long). Place in refrigerator for two hours or up to five days.
  4. Preheat oven to 350F.
  5. Remove dough from fridge and unwrap. Slice into circles about 1/4 inch thick and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until just starting to turn golden brown around the edges. Remove immediately to wire racks and let cool completely.
  6. Once cookies are completely cooled, mix together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle or spread over cookies.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 179Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 59mgSodium: 122mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 1gSugar: 12gProtein: 3g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

Cookies for Kids Cancer

I originally created this cookie recipe for a bake sale drive to benefit Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. It’s a wonderful organization committed to raising funds for research to develop new and improved treatments for pediatric cancer. You can help, too, with any donation you’re able to make. And if all you want to do is just make these yummy cookies, that’s fine, too.

Kristy Bernardo
Latest posts by Kristy Bernardo (see all)


Monday 4th of July 2022

This recipe turned out great for me. I think in the past with shortbread I've been an impatient baker. But thanks to unseasonably warm weather, I wasn't required to wait long for all the ingredients came to room temp. I added chopped fresh rosemary to the cookies and the frosting which was a nice addition (I've been rosemary obsessed lately due to an abundance of rosemary shrubs). Now here it is the 4th of July and I'm toying with 'what is for dessert?' I was originally thinking shortcake with strawberries but have decided that lemon shortbread cookies will be much better! Thanks!!!

Betsy King

Friday 15th of April 2022

I made the lemon cookies and I cut them a quarter of an inch thick they are very thin they’re not fat like the pictures you show but they’re just really yummy. I like the crispiness of the thin ones I don’t know if I made them thicker if they would still be crispy or not


Saturday 19th of March 2022

Search "lemon shortbread" and you'll get a ton of recipes. I'm so glad I picked yours because they are exactly what I was looking for. The cookies are so good "naked" that we decided to forego the sweet/tart drizzle. I used two extremely large lemons which yielded more zest, but the resulting lemon flavor was exactly right.

One comment about the amount: the recipe says about 24 cookies. One twelve-inch log cut into rounds as described will make 40-48, which means lots more cookies - but I'm certainly not complaining.

Thanks for a great recipe!


Sunday 27th of February 2022

These are absolutely yum. Perfect shortbread biscuits! They are my goto recipe now for shortbread. I love the idea of egg yolk in the dough so much. This makes them melt in your mouth. You could sell these in a shop for sure. Thanks so much for this recipe.

Kristy Bernardo

Monday 7th of March 2022

Oh man, this is such a great comment, thank you! Shortbread is my weakness and these are definitely a favorite of ours. Thanks so much, Layla!

Vi Tamargo

Sunday 17th of December 2017

Thanks for sharing! Teaspoon or tablespoon when you say "t" in the recipe?

Kristy Bernardo

Monday 18th of December 2017

Hi Vi! A small "t" is teaspoon and a large "T" is a tablespoon.

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