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
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch (50 grams total)
- 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 total)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
*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
- 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.
Deena Frantz says
I do not understand this recipe
It tells you to make a log one and a half inches wide and cut the log in half inch slices so you are telling me you can only make three cookies? Don’t understand please explain
Hi Deena, yes, the log should be 1 1/2 inches wide not long. Then make 1/2 inch slices. Hope this helps. Let me know.
Followed this recipe to the note and I have to say I was not impressed. The only thing I can think is that something must’ve been up with my lemons. These are fresh Meyer lemons I have been growing in my backyard for eight years and they are a little bit sweeter than regular lemons and much more delicious. However these cookies left the worst taste in my mouth after I are them. Based on all the other good reviews the only thing I can think is that the heat did not sit well with my Meyer lemons. Consistency was fine and they were pretty cookies but tasted horrible
Mary Ellen Arnold says
This recipe did not hold up. It melted right into the pan and followed the instructions as stated…
Hi Mary Ellen, if the cookies melted than you didn’t use a flour with a high enough protein percentage. I did mention 2x in the post. Take care!
Jan Kero says
Can these be left in the rolled state and refrigerated for a few days and then cut and baked?
Hi Jan, yes cookie dough can be refrigerated for up to 2-3 days. Hope that helps. Take care!
Jan Kero says
Thankyou. I am looking forward to making several batches for friends and neighbors later this week. I am tryingto organize all of my baking.so things will be fresh. I am anticipating enthusiastic responses. Love your recipes. Be well.
Hi Jan, thanks so much, I hope they enjoy the cookies. Have fun baking. Take care!
Love these cookies so much! I have made them about a dozen times now and they always turn out amazing. My whole family loves them and asks for them constantly. I have celiac disease, so I use a gluten free all purpose flour instead and it works perfect!
Hi Rachel, thanks so much, so glad everyone enjoys them. Glad to know they work with gluten free flour also. Take care.
Arlene Tynan says
Going to make these cookies tomorrow and since I always have trouble with rolling and slicing cookies was wondering if these could be make with a small cookie scoop?’
Hi Arlene, you could try, I think it would work, but slightly flatten them (not paper thin) with a lightly floured glass. Let me know how it goes. Take care.
Just made these cookies and they are delicious! However, they are almost too tender. (Can that be a thing?) A few of them fell apart when we picked them up from the plate. Is there something I am doing wrong.
Hi Tammara, thanks so glad you enjoyed them. Yes they are quite tender and crumbly. Although maybe if you add just a little bit more flour a couple of tablespoons that would help. Let me know.
These are delicious. I have made them twice. I’m still having trouble rolling them in a tube shape but honestly the shape doesn’t change the flavour, they are great. Thank you for the recipe.
Hi Debbie, thanks so much glad you enjoyed them. Take care, have a great weekend.
I made these today and they were a complete flop! The dough was way too sticky and they never set up at all during baking. I followed the recipe to the letter. I kept wondering if some ingredient was left out in the recipe.
Hi Pat, no nothing was left out, if the dough is too sticky add more flour. Some flours absorb wet ingredients more than others. Be sure to use a flour with at least 11% protein. Hope that helps.
Rosemary! These cookies are great. I’ve made them twice now. (By popular demand the second time.) I’m making them for my wife’s baby shower on Saturday. I have to make about 10-11 batches. Have you made larger batches? Any tips? Thanks!
Hi Martin, sorry I have been off for the past week so I missed this. I hope it worked out. I would probably have doubled the recipe but no more when making the dough. Let me know.
Good morning! I noticed there are no eggs listed in the ingredients or recipe. These look so good and I’m eager to bake them. Just wanted to check about the eggs first.
Thanks for sharing your recipe!
Hi Kate, thanks and yes that’s correct no eggs in this recipe. I hope you like it. Have a great weekend.
I loved these lemon cookies and they were a big hit at my Christmas party. I have one friend who doesn’t like lemon, so I wondered about converting to an almond flavored recipe. Do you have any suggestions for that?
Hi Amanda, thanks so much, to convert to almond cookies, I would start with a teaspoon of almond extract and maybe add 1/4 cup finely ground almonds and see how that goes. Let me know if you try it.
Mary Lovely says
My friends gave this recipe rave reviews!! The cornstarch and powdered sugar gives these luscious bites a soft Italian cookie texture. I used Meyer Lemons from my backyard tree which worked great! the lemon flavor really popped.
Hi Mary, thanks so much, so glad everyone enjoyed them. Have a great week.
Jay Dee says
Great recipe and is definitely a keeper.
Hi Jay, thanks so much, so glad you enjoyed it. Have a great weekend.
I would love to make these cookies for my daughter’s wedding. Could you tell me if the lemon icing will harden so the cookies could be transported without ruining the smooth icing look? Or share some ideas.
Hi Barb, oh that’s so nice, congratulations on your daughter’s wedding. I think if you refrigerate them the icing should harden, although if you want a real firm icing then I would say use a Royal Icing (as per this recipe -https://allthingsbread.com/easy-gingerbread-cookies/) you could probably add some lemon extract to give it a lemon flavour also. I hope that helps. Let me know how it goes.
Add a little corn syrup to the glaze and it will firm up without getting rock hard like royal icing.
Hi P, thanks that’s a great idea it also makes it shinier. 🙂