This post may contain affiliate sales links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details
These soft and chewy Lemon Sugar Cookies are the perfect balance of sweet and zesty, flavored with real lemon zest. Make these easy homemade lemon cookies for bake sales, potlucks, or Easter, and watch them vanish from the plate.
Has anyone else been manifesting warmer weather these days? I’ve been baking these lemon cookies at least once a week, willing the sunshine to follow suit. I mean, these basically taste like sunshine, so it’s a close second to the real thing.
I’ve taken my family’s favorite Easy Sugar Cookies and infused them with a bright burst of summer citrus. These homemade lemon sugar cookies are the perfect balance of sweet-meets-zesty, and they’re totally irresistible.
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 soft, chewy, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
These are the BEST lemon cookies you’ll ever sink your teeth into. Here’s why:
- Quick drop cookies. Unlike Cut Out Sugar Cookies, 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 summer 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!).
Along with your baking basics like flour, eggs, and leavening, there are a handful of ingredients that are key to making these homemade lemon cookies a zesty success. I’ve summarized them below, but remember to refer to the recipe card for the full 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).
Get your butter at room temperature, and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Here’s how to make perfect lemon drop cookies:
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.
Yes. While this lemon sugar cookie dough doesn’t call for chilling, you can absolutely keep it in the fridge if you make it ahead. I like to scoop the dough into balls before refrigerating, as the chilled dough can be a lot harder to portion later on.
Wrap the prepared cookie dough airtight and refrigerate it up to 2 days in advance. 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 dough ahead of time, and thaw it completely in the fridge before you bake it. See further down in the post for tips on storing and freezing baked sugar cookies.
Recipe Tips for Success
Drop cookies make this recipe just that 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.
Decorating and Variation Ideas
Like my vanilla Sugar Cookies, this lemon cookie recipe is just as versatile 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 homemade sugar cookies:
- Icing – Decorate the cooled lemon cookies with Sugar Cookie Icing or Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (see my post How to Use and Decorate with 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.
- 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.
- 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, 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.
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.
Yes! You can 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.
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.Print
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 11 minutes
- Total Time: 41 minutes
- Yield: 18-20 cookies
Soft and chewy Lemon Sugar Cookies made with real lemon zest! These easy homemade lemon cookies are filled with bright, fresh flavors and are perfect for spring baking.
- 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 cups (420g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silicone baking sheet.
- Combine the butter with the sugar and beat on medium speed until well creamed together.
- Add the eggs, lemon extract, and lemon zest. Mix into the butter and sugar until the eggs are well beaten.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: lemon sugar cookies, lemon desserts, easy sugar cookies