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Easy Lemon Cookies

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These soft and chewy lemon cookies are buttery sugar cookies filled with sweet citrus flavor. Made with real lemon zest, this easy lemon cookie recipe is ready in under an hour!

Sweet and Zesty Lemon Cookies

These lemon cookies are soft, chewy, and taste like sunshine! I’ve taken my family’s favorite easy sugar cookies and infused them with a bright burst of summer citrus. My buttery lemon cookies are filled with real lemon zest, for the perfect balance of sweet-meets-zesty. They’re also SO easy to make. There’s no chilling or cutting out the cookie dough. Just drop, bake, and enjoy! I love how these lemon cookies are packed with bold flavor yet melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Why You’ll Love This Lemon Cookie Recipe

  • Quick drop cookies. Unlike cut out sugar cookies (which we love), drop sugar cookies don’t call for chilling, shaping, or rolling out the dough. You literally “drop” the finished dough onto the baking sheet, making the whole process much faster.
  • Soft and chewy. These easy sugar cookies are irresistibly soft, chewy, and filled with lemon flavor. The texture melts in your mouth.
  • The perfect citrus dessert. I love making these lemon cookies when fresh citrus is in season. You could even make these cookies using limes or oranges, too (don’t forget to scroll for variation ideas). It’s the perfect cookie recipe for bake sales, potlucks, or Easter!
A stack of lemon sugar cookie halves.

Ingredient Notes

Along with your baking basics, there are a handful of ingredients needed to make these lemon cookies a zesty success. I’ve summarized them below, but remember to refer to the recipe card for the full ingredients list and recipe details.

  • Butter – Salted or unsalted, although if you opt for salted butter I’d recommend leaving out any added salt that comes later on in the recipe. Whichever butter you use, take it out of the fridge ahead of time to let it soften to room temperature. This lets the dough combine easily and bake evenly.
  • Sugar – I recommend granulated sugar for the most consistent results when making sugar cookies.
  • Lemon Extract – To boost the natural lemon flavor. You can use pure vanilla extract if you prefer.
  • Lemons – You’ll need the zest from real lemons (if needed, I have a handy tutorial on how to zest a lemon that you can refer to).
A lemon zester with zest, next to a zested lemon.

How to Make Lemon Cookies

Here’s how to make perfect lemon cookies in a little under an hour:

  • Combine the wet ingredients. First, cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar. Next, beat in the eggs, lemon extract, and lemon zest until combined.
  • Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together the dry ingredients separately, and then slowly beat them into the wet ingredients to form the dough.
  • Portion the dough. I like to use a cookie scoop to portion out my cookie dough. It makes it so much easier to get even-sized cookies! Afterward, roll each dough ball in sugar, and place them onto a lined baking sheet.
  • Bake. Pop those lemon cookies into the oven for 10-12 minutes. It’s OK if the cookies look a little underdone in the middle, as they’ll continue to set up while they cool on the baking sheet. After a bit, you can transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Overhead view of assorted lemon sugar cookies on a plate, surrounded by more cookies and lemons cut in half.

Recipe Tips

Since these are drop cookies, it makes the process so much easier! Here are my tips for the best lemon cookies:

  • Use a cookie scoop. Again, this is such a handy way to portion your lemon cookie dough! A large cookie scoop (3 Tbsp) yields approximately 20 cookies, while a medium cookie scoop yields about 36 cookies.
  • Use a Silpat or silicone baking sheet. Baking the cookies on a silicone surface helps to prevent spreading, and keeps the bottoms of the cookies from browning too quickly. At the very least, make sure to line your metal baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • The secret to soft and chewy cookies is to leave them slightly underbaked in the center. Take them out of the oven when the edges are crisp, but the cookies still appear a little underdone.

A tall stack of lemon cookies with a milk jug and lemons in the background.

Decorating and Variation Ideas

This lemon cookie recipe is as versatile as it is delicious and ideal for decorating! You can adapt it to make lemon-flavored sugar cookie bars or dip your cookies in colorful sprinkles for any holiday. Here are some more easy ways to decorate lemon sugar cookies:

  • Add icing. Decorate the cooled lemon cookies with sugar cookie icing or vanilla buttercream frosting (see my post on how to use piping tips). You can also color the frosting using your favorite gel dyes, and/or add a couple of drops of lemon extract or your choice of flavoring. 
  • Add a glaze. Thin out some vanilla icing and dip the tops of the cookies for a sweet glaze. You can even sprinkle extra lemon zest over top for a pretty garnish.
  • Roll in sanding sugar. Covering the cookies in colored sugar is so easy, and gives them some added sparkle and crunch. This can be especially fun for Easter cookies.
  • Add-ins. Include add-ins like white chocolate chips or make a lemony variation of sprinkle sugar cookies. Divide the dough and use add-ins in one half, and leave the other half as-is for more variety on the cookie plate!
  • Holidays. Lemon cookies are perfect for Easter! Or any other springtime or summer occasion. Decorate them with mini eggs, frosting swirls, and sprinkles.  
A lemon sugar cookie leaning against a stack of cookies.

Can I Make the Cookie Dough Ahead?

Yes! To prepare your lemon cookie dough ahead, scoop the dough into balls as directed and refrigerate the portioned cookie dough airtight for up to 2 days. I suggest taking the dough out of the fridge about 30 minutes ahead of baking, to take the chill off.

You can also freeze the sugar cookie dough for up to 2 months. Portion out the dough ahead of time (do not roll in sugar), and flash freeze on a cookie sheet for about 30 minutes. Transfer the balls of cookie dough to a freezer-friendly airtight container or Ziploc bag (removing the excess air). Thaw to room temperature before baking, and roll in granulated sugar. 

How to Store

  • To Store. Store your lemon cookies airtight on the counter for up to one week. They’ll stay fresh even when they’re frosted, and the texture won’t be affected. 
  • Freeze. Store these cookies unfrosted in an airtight container or freezer bag, and freeze them for up to 3 months. Defrost the cookies at room temperature.

More Easy Sugar Cookie Recipes

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Lemon sugar cookies on a plate with a glass of milk, lemons, and more cookies in the background.

Easy Lemon Cookies

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 11 minutes
  • Total Time: 41 minutes
  • Yield: 18-20 cookies

Description

Soft and chewy lemon cookies made with real lemon zest! This easy lemon cookie recipe is filled with bright, fresh flavors, perfect for spring baking.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups (285g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) lemon extract
  • 2 medium lemons, zested
  • 3 ½ cups (420g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silicone baking sheet.
  2. Combine the butter with the sugar and beat on medium speed until well creamed together.
  3. Add the eggs, lemon extract, and lemon zest. Mix into the butter and sugar until the eggs are well beaten.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients. Slowly add into the dough and beat on medium-low speed until well combined and dough forms.
  5. Use a large cookie scoop to portion out the dough. Roll each ball of dough in the granulated sugar then place the dough about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 350° F for 10-12 minutes. Allow cookie to cool on the baking sheet for several minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely

Notes

Storing and Freezing

  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for one week.
  • Baked cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost the cookies at room temperature.
  • Cookie dough can also be frozen. Portion out the dough ahead of time, do not roll in sugar, and flash freeze on a cookie sheet for about 30 minutes. Then transfer the balls of cookie dough to a freezer-friendly airtight container or Ziploc bag (remove excess air). Thaw to room temperature prior to baking, and roll in granulated sugar. 

Nutrition Information:
1 cookie
220
15.7 g
98.7 mg
9.9 g
31 g
0.6 g
2.7 g
43 mg
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: lemon cookies, lemon cookie recipe, lemon cookies recipe

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