Perfect melt in your mouth Lemon Cookies. If you love anything lemon then you are going to love these cookies. Light and easy to make, with a tasty lemon glaze, they are sure to satisfy any lemon lover!
When I first started thinking about recipes for my cookbook Authentic Italian Desserts, I knew I had to include a few lemon recipes. And these cookies are one of our favourites.
Italians cannot live without lemons. It’s difficult to hear of a sweet recipe from a Cake to a Pastry Cream that doesn’t include fresh lemon zest.
And these Italian Lemon Cookies are definitely not short on Lemon. These buttery shortbread type of cookie are even better with a simple lemon glaze or if you prefer a dusting of powdered sugar.
- Flour – all purpose with a strong protein percentage at least 11% protein
- Lemon – fresh lemon
- Butter – I use salted
- Powdered Sugar – also known as icing or confectioners sugar
Why is cornstarch added to a cookie recipe?
I have recently discovered that a lot of people add corn starch to cookie recipes, the reason is because it helps create a crumbly and tender texture. It is also considered to help cookies from spreading.
The difference between lemon juice and zest
I use both lemon juice and lemon zest in this recipe. Some insist that the zest has more lemon flavour than the juice. The zest is the oil of the lemon and is therefore filled with the pure lemon flavour.
The juice holds the acidic tart taste of the lemon. Just be sure to grate only the yellow part of the lemon and no white part. The white part will add only bitterness. And you don’t want that!
How to make Lemon Cookies
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, zest and salt. In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until fluffy about 2-3 minutes. Add half the dry ingredients and lemon juice and beat together.
Then with a wood spoon or spatula mix in the remaining flour until combined. Move the dough to a large piece of parchment paper and form the cookie dough into a log.
Wrap in the paper and refrigerate for an hour.
Remove the dough from the fridge, and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate again for about 20 minutes, while the oven is pre-heating.
Bake for approximately 15 minutes. Once the cookies have cooled completely, then you can top them with a little lemon glaze if desired.
These cookies are delicious anytime, the perfect dessert or even with an afternoon tea. Or why not add the recipe to your Christmas Cookie baking list.
How to keep cookies from spreading
To keep cookies from spreading it helps to chill the dough before baking and the percentage of protein in the flour is a major culprit of flat cookies. I would advise that your flour has a percentage of at least 11% or even higher if possible.
It is also a good idea to chill the dough and also the cookies while the oven is pre-heating.
How to store Lemon Cookies
If the cookies are unglazed then they should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, they will last up to 5-6 days. If glazed then they should keep stored in an airtight container, in a single layer for about 3-4 days.
If your home is warm then I would advise refrigerating in an airtight container. If the cookies are refrigerated they will last up to 7 days.
How to freeze the cookies
You can always freeze them in either a freezer bag or an airtight container, they will keep for up to 4 weeks.
I had a great time making and deciding on the perfect Italian Desserts that I thought everyone would love to try. I also shared a delicious Italian Brownie Cake / La Torta Tenerina that you also may enjoy.
But if you like anything lemon, then I think you will enjoy these Lemon Cookies, and of course I would love to know what you think. Enjoy!
More Lemon Cookie Recipes you may enjoy!
- Lemon Thumbprint Cookies
- Lemon Sugar Cookies
- Easy Lemon Drop Cookies
- Italian Lemon Stuffed Cookies
- Lemon Shortbread Cookies
Italian Lemon Cookies
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (162 grams)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch (50 grams)
- zest & juice of one lemon (approximately 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/2-1 tablespoon zest)
- 1 pinch salt
- 3/4 cup +2 tablespoons butter (softened)* (185 grams)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar (60 grams)
*I use salted butter, if you use unsalted then increase the salt to 1/4 teaspoon. Be sure to use a good quality butter, apparently this year 2022, store brand butter quality is not what it used to be. Less fat could mean a dry not so tasty cookie.
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (strained)
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (180 grams)
- 1 zest lemon
- In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, zest and salt.
- In a large bowl, beat on medium speed the butter and sugar until fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Then add half the flour and the lemon juice beat to combine. Then add the remaining flour and with a wooden spoon or spatula combine to form a dough (the dough will be a little sticky, if the dough is too sticky then add 1-2 tablespoons of flour).
- Transfer the dough to a large piece of parchment paper and roll the dough into a log approximately 1 1/2 inches (4cm) wide. Wrap the dough in the parchment paper and refrigerate for one hour.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and cut into 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) slices. Place the slices on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 320F (160C).
- Bake the cookies for 5 minutes, then raise the oven temperature to 350F (180C) and continue to bake for 9-10 minutes. The should be light gold in colour. Remove from the oven and let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies can be either dusted with powdered sugar or spread with a lemon glaze. Enjoy!
- In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, powdered sugar and zest until smooth.
Updated from August 9, 2019.
These were delicious and so easy to make! They weren’t even cooled yet before the house snuck off to the cookie sheet. My dough came out a little sticky but my butter was more than soft so I added flour, like the recipe said. Saving for future use!!!
Hi Dia, thanks so much, so glad you enjoyed them. Take care and have a great week!
Does it effect the dough to leave it in the fridge longer than an hour? Particularly overnight?
Hi Callie, no not at all, in fact cookie dough is always better left overnight in the fridge. It will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know. Take care!
I’ve never commented on a recipe before, but, I feel i must say something about this recipe as I’ve made three batches in three days. Day one batch was pretty good. Day two batch melted onto the baking sheet and crumbled like dust. Day two went straight into the trash. Day three cookies were perfect! The key is to follow the recipe exactly as written. Exactly! Although I was close day 1 and 2, I fudged and they were not good. Don’t give up on this recipe! These cookies are for an upcoming wedding shower and I will be happy to serve them. Fabulous cookie recipe!!
Hi Kaye, thanks so much, sorry the first batches didn’t work, but yes exactly as written. Take care and have a wonderful time at the wedding.
What happens to the cookies after 7 days if I don’t eat them all? Other cookies last alot longer!
Hi Jeff, if you can’t eat them all then you can freeze them for later. They will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer. 🙂
I made these for my lemon loving cousin. She loved them. Easy to make too. How can one know that flour is 11%?
Hi Pat, thanks so glad she enjoyed them, on the side of the bag it will protein amount. Take care!
Roz Hicks says
I made the Italian Lemon Cookies—first time making butter cookies—and they turned out perfectly! I’m at altitude of 4,000 ft, so I needed to adjust the leavening, oven temp and baking time (very scary) but I did it successfully. The recipients of my cookies RAVED about them. AND they are beautiful! Thank you SO MUCH for this wonderful recipe!
Hi Roz, thanks so much, so glad you liked them. And so glad they worked at high altitude. Take care and Happy New Year!
denise gianinetti says
Im at high altitude. Can you tell me what adjystments you made?
I at 6000 ft.
What is all purpose flour. I have Self raising or plain flour which should I use?
Hi Annie, all purpose flour is plain flour, make sure it has a protein count of at least 11% or your cookies could spread. Hope you like the recipe. Happy New Year.
Starting now but just want to make sure that the cookie dough uses powdered sugar and not regular sugar. I know the glaze uses powdered sugar, that makes sense. But the dough itself??
Hi Donna, yes the cookie dough is powdered sugar also. Hope you like it. Let me know. Take care!
I plan to make these soon but wanted some advice first. Since AP flour is usually just at 11% protein content could some of the AP flour be replaced with whole wheat to up the protein? Also instead of just refrigerating the dough prior to baking the cookies could it be put in the freezer?
Hi Alysha, sure you could substitute whole wheat, I wouldn’t go more than 30% of a substitution. And yes freezing is a good idea. It might take a minute or 2 extra to bake. Let me know how it goes. Take care.
Way too crumbly and yes I did use the correct flour.
Hi Lori, depending where you are flour can be different, some flour absorbs liquid/fats different then others, if it’s too crumbly add more butter, too wet, add more flour. Hope that helps. 🙂
I made this cookies exactly as the recipe said,, but after they were done, they started crumble and fall apart.
Hi Donna, you might have baked them too much, or if the dough was too dry, add more butter. Did you see the note about butter?