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There’s something about Glazed Lemon Cookies that immediately puts a smile on your face.
Arizona is famous for its citrus, so I constantly see citrus baked goods everywhere. But often they lack a citrusy punch or are overly sweetened to compensate for the acidity.
So, when I went to work on this recipe, I wanted to make sure the lemon cookies weren’t too sweet and were packed with all of the lemon flavor possible. After all, lemon is one of my favorite dessert flavors, second only to chocolate.
These cookies are full of bright, beautiful lemon flavor. The lemon glaze adds a touch of sweetness, along with even more wonderful lemonyness. They’re an absolute joy to eat! And, bonus: they’re crazy quick to make and don’t require a chill time, so they’re ready to serve in no time.
I’m already ready to make these lemon cookies again!
How to Make Glazed Lemon Cookies
What is the Texture of These Glazed Lemon Cookies?
My Glazed Lemon Cookies have soft, moist interiors with a slightly crisp exterior. These cookies are somewhere between my Soft & Chewy Sugar Cookies and a shortbread in texture. The glaze adds a little sweetness and a refreshing zip of lemon flavor that I just love. You can always enjoy these without the glaze, but I love the additional bright, citrusy-sweet layer the glaze gives these cookies.
Ingredients for Glazed Lemon Sugar Cookies:
- All-purpose flour – Measured correctly! If you add too much flour, you may end up with dense, hard cookies that don’t spread.
- Baking powder – Check out my Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder article to learn about the differences between the two and how to test for freshness.
- Salt – I prefer to use fine sea salt instead of table salt, but use whichever you have on hand. Learn more about types of salt here.
- Butter – Always use unsalted butter in baking. It’s important that your butter is at a cool room temperature. If your butter is too warm, your cookies can spread and puddle. Sticks of butter should give slightly when pressed but still hold their shape, about 67°F.
- Sugar – We use regular granulated sugar in these cookies to both sweeten and create a soft texture that lasts for days. Read more about sugar science here.
- Lemon zest – To give these cookies that delicious lemony flavor! You’ll need two very large lemons to zest, or three to four medium lemons. Grab an additional lemon if you wish to decorate your finished cookies with some extra zest (not necessary, but it looks so pretty).
- Egg – One egg, at room temperature. Be sure to use a large egg, about 56 grams in-shell.
Lemon Cookie Recipe Glaze Ingredients:
- Powdered sugar – Sifted or else you’ll have a lumpy glaze.
- Lemon juice – Heating lemon juice will greatly subdue its brightness so the key to unadulterated lemon flavor is using fresh lemon juice in this glaze.
- Additional lemon zest – This is optional, but it looks beautiful when you add a little fresh lemon zest on top of your glazed cookies before serving. Plus, it adds even more flavor!
Instructions for How to Make Glazed Lemon Cookies:
- Preheat oven.
- Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, and lemon zest on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy.
- Add in the egg. Beat in egg until well combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Combine the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients. On low speed, add the flour mixture and blend until just incorporated.
- Portion out and flatten the dough balls. Using a medium spring-loaded cookie scoop, drop 1 ½-tablespoon sized balls of cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Roll each ball with your palms, then using your palm, gently flatten the dough to about 1/3-inch thick.
- Bake. Bake in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are just set and slightly golden brown at the edges. Cool cookies on their baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Make the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice until a very thick but pourable glaze forms.
- Glaze the cookies. Spoon each cooled cookie with the lemon glaze. Garnish with extra lemon zest, if desired.
Do I Need to Refrigerate This Dough Before Baking?
No! Unlike many cookie recipes, these delicious Glazed Lemon Cookies can be baked right away – no waiting required. In testing, Team HTH found no improvements in the baked, finished cookies after a 24-hour refrigerated period – so bake and enjoy right away.
If you need to prep these cookies ahead of time, however, I have tips on that below.
Can I Double This Glazed Lemon Cookie Recipe?
Sure! Just be sure to double-check all your ingredients as you go, so you don’t accidentally add too much or too little of anything. I always use weight measurements when doubling a recipe for best results.
Can I Halve This Recipe?
Halving this recipe is easy and works well, but you’ll need to also divide the egg in half. To do this, crack the egg into a small bowl and beat well. Let it settle, then measure out two tablespoons for the recipe.
Can I Make This Recipe Into Glazed Lemon Cookie Bars?
Yes, and they’re delish! Line an 8×8-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper. Press dough evenly into the pan. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden brown and the center is no longer wet. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing from parchment paper to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, use a spatula to evenly coat the cookie bars with glaze (use 2 tablespoons lemon juice + 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar for a thick glaze that sets perfectly), then garnish with extra lemon zest. Let set for 30 minutes before slicing.
Should I Bake These Lemon Cookies on Parchment Paper or a Silicone Baking Mat?
I typically prefer to use parchment paper. Read more about the comparisons, and my side-by-side experiments here!
Whatever you do, never spray your baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or grease them any other way when baking cookies. This will lead to too much browning and spread (hello, burnt cookie puddles).
I used two very large lemons to get the two tablespoons of zest needed to make these Glazed Lemon Cookies, plus an additional medium lemon to add the pretty zest to the tops. If you can only find smaller or medium-sized lemons, you will need more.
How to Get Bright, Fresh, Super Lemony Cookies:
- Don’t use bottled lemon juice: Some contain preservatives and the flavor just isn’t as fresh.
- Lemon extract?: I don’t find it necessary. The zest in the cookies and the fresh juice in the glaze provide plenty of lemony flavor.
- Food coloring?: Some recipes include yellow food coloring, but I don’t think that’s necessary here. These cookies are bright and cheerful all on their own.
- Smooth glaze: For an ultra-smooth glaze, remove the pulp by straining the lemon juice with a small fine mesh strainer.
- Helpful tools: This is the juicer I love, and this is the zester I love.
- Tip: Be sure to zest your lemons before juicing.
Can I Use A Different Citrus Instead?
Although we haven’t tried that ourselves, there’s no reason why orange, lime, or even grapefruit wouldn’t work in this recipe. Just note that it may take a little experimenting to get the flavor perfect, as other citrus fruits have differing levels of flavor, acidity, and sweetness, so it might not be a straight swap. If you give another citrus a try yourself, let us know how it goes in the comments below.
Why No Vanilla in These Cookies?
Most cookie recipes will include vanilla extract. However, I don’t find it necessary here since the punchy lemon flavor will overpower the vanilla flavor anyway. Try my Soft & Chewy Sugar Cookies if you’re looking for soft sugar cookies where vanilla is the star flavor!
Can I Make These Lemon Cookies Ahead of Time?
Yes! Although these soft lemon cookies don’t require a chill period before baking, they can definitely be prepped and portioned ahead of time. Store the dough balls in a zip-top bag or an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator before baking, cooling, and glazing. Freezing info below!
How to Store Glazed Lemon Cookies:
These Glazed Lemon Cookies store very well in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3 days. Be sure the glaze has completely dried before storing. If you live somewhere humid, you can place wax paper between each layer of cookies to prevent them from sticking to one another.
Can You Freeze Glazed Lemon Cookies?
I wouldn’t recommend freezing a baked, glazed cookie. The glaze will likely seep or get sticky and tacky after freezing and thawing. The portioned balls of dough can be stored in a zip-top bag or an airtight container for up to 2 months. Here are more tips for freezing cookie dough, and baking from frozen!
More Lemon Desserts You’ll Love:
See ALL my cookie recipes & cookie baking tips here!
For the cookies:
- 2 ¼ cups (286 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (227 grams) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest, from about 3 medium lemons
- 1 large egg, at a cool room temperature
For the glaze:
- 1 ½ cups (189 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Additional lemon zest, to garnish, if desired
- Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to beat together the butter, sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl at least once. Beat in egg until very well combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl. On low speed, add the flour mixture and blend until just incorporated. Dough will be slightly dry.
- Using a medium spring-loaded cookie scoop, drop 1 ½-tablespoon sized balls of cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Roll each ball with your palms, then using your palm, gently flatten dough to about 1/3-inch thick.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are just set and slightly golden brown at the edges. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 5 minutes and transfer to cooking racks. Cool completely.
Make the glaze:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice, a tablespoon at a time, until a very thick but pourable glaze forms. Spoon each cookie with the lemon glaze. Garnish with extra lemon zest, if desired. Let cookies sit until icing has set, at least 30 minutes. Cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
This recipe was originally published in 2011 and updated in 2023 with new photos and recipe improvements. Photos by Joanie Simon.