Shortbread Cookies are a must and these Lemon Shortbread are the perfect Lemon Lovers melt in your mouth Cookie. Delicious not just at Holiday Time!
I am a huge shortbread cookie lover! Never fail, every holiday season my Mom’s Shortbread Cookies would be front and centre.
And for good reason they are amazing.It was always hard to decide what were your favourite, because when you took a bite of one it instantly became your favourite until the next one came along.
- Powdered Sugar – also known as confectioners or icing sugar
- Lemon zest
- Flour – all purpose at least 11.5% protein or higher
- Powdered sugar
- Lemon juice
- Cream or milk
Why use powdered/icing sugar?
Powdered sugar will help keep the cookies soft for longer and it helps to keep the cookies from spreading while baking.
How to make Lemon Shortbread Cookies
Sift together the flour and salt.
In a large bowl with a wooden spoon mix together the butter, sugar and zest. Add the sifted flour mixture a little at a time, stirring between additions. Once the dough starts to come together move to a flat surface and knead into a compact ball.
Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate 2 hours. You can also shape the dough into a log or two, refrigerate then slice and bake.
On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut out cookies. Place cookies on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and refrigerate for about 15 minutes while the oven is pre-heating. Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C).
Bake cookies for approximately 12 minutes. Let cool completely before drizzling with glaze.
In a small bowl combine powdered sugar, lemon juice and cream, if too thin add more sugar too thick add either more lemon juice or cream.
How to Measure Flour
The correct way to measure flour is to spoon the flour into the cup measurement and level it off with the blade of a knife. The best flour to use for cut out cookies is a high protein all purpose flour, 12-14 % protein is what you are looking for.
How to make Shortbread Cookies without a cookie cutter:
With this Shortbread dough you can actually just roll the dough into a log shape, then slice it and bake on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. I would probably refrigerate the log (before cutting) for about 30 minutes. Or you can roll it out and cut with your favorite cookie cutters.
Can this Shortbread Recipe be made with a stand mixer?
If you can’t or don’t want to knead the dough by hand, then yes a stand up mixer using the paddle attachment will work just fine.
I would only knead up to a point, when the dough just starts to come together (or even better, very coarse crumb mixture) and then knead the dough by hand.
How to keep cookies from spreading
To keep the cookies from spreading it is best to beat the butter and sugar just until combined and not creamed (of course this also depends on the type of cookie), for some cookies including some icing sugar in the mixture also keeps the cookies from spreading.
And probably most important of all, is to use a higher protein flour with at least 11.5- 12% protein count.
And don’t forget to chill the dough for at least 1 hour and again the cut out cookies before baking while the oven is pre-heating. The main reason for chilling the cookie dough before baking is to solidify the fat in the cookies.
As the cookies are baking, the chilled fat in the dough will take longer to melt then room temperature dough fat. Therefore the cookies will spread less.
How to Store Shortbread Cookies
The baked cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. I sometimes store mine in the fridge because I like cold cookies. They will last up to 10 days by storing them in the fridge.
How to Freeze Shortbread Cookies
To freeze the shortbread cookies, place parchment paper in between the layers of the completely cooled cookies this prevents them from sticking together when they are in the containers for freezing, or you can also place the baked cooled cookies on a cookie sheet and freeze them, then move the frozen cookies to either airtight bags or containers. Baked Shortbread Cookies will last up to 6 months in the freezer.
How to make the Perfect Shortbread Base for Bar Cookies
There are some delicious Bar Cookies that call for a simple Shortbread Base such as Lemon Cheese Cake Bars or my personal favourites Coconut Jam Squares. All you need are three ingredients, butter, sugar and flour to make the perfect Shortbread base for a Bar Cookie.
5 Must Bake Shortbread Cookies
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without shortbread so here are another five recipes that should definitely be on your baking list! Fast, easy and melt in your mouth perfection!
- Almond Crescent Cookies
- The Best Simple Two Way Shortbread Cookies
- Easy Chocolate Chip Whipped Shortbread
- Shortbread Cookies One Dough Two Ways
- Chocolate Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies
- Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
So if Shortbread Cookies are a must on your Holiday Baking List, then I hope you give one or even all of these a try, and let me know how you like them. Enjoy!
Lemon Shortbread Cookies + 5 More Must Bake Shortbread Recipes
FOR THE SHORTBREAD
- 1 1/4 cups + 3 tablespoons all purpose flour (180 grams total)
- 1 pinch salt*
- 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons butter (softened)* (155 grams total)
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered / icing sugar (75 grams total)
- zest 1 lemon
*If you use unsalted butter then add ¼ teaspoon of salt. 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.
- 1 1/4 cups powdered / icing sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon whole / whipping cream or milk
- Sift together the flour and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl with a wooden spoon mix together the butter, sugar and zest. Add the sifted flour mixture a little at a time, stirring between additions. Once the dough starts to come together (even if you haven't added all the flour), move to a flat surface and knead into a compact ball. (If you need extra flour add one tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too crumbly add more butter, a little at a time).
- Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate 2 hours. You can also shape the dough into a log or two, refrigerate then slice and bake.
- On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut out cookies. Place cookies on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and refrigerate for about 15 – 20 minutes while the oven is pre-heating.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C).
- Bake the cookies for approximately 12 minutes. Let cool completely before drizzling with glaze. Enjoy.
- In a small bowl combine powdered sugar, lemon juice and cream, if too thin add more sugar too thick add either more lemon juice or cream.
Antonia M says
Hi. First I love all of your recipes, can’t wait to try them!
With respect to shortbread, can you tell me how to add Nutella to a recipe? Inside the dough, as well as a glaze on top.
Thanks for your help!
Hi Antonia, thanks so much, I would beat in some after you mix the butter and sugar, then add the dry ingredients. As far as glaze goes I would heat together 1/4 Nutella, 1 tablespoon of butter and maybe 1/2 tablespoon of cream, let it cool a bit and then drizzle over the cookies. I did make a Nutella Chip Shortbread which might interest you. 🙂 https://anitalianinmykitchen.com/thick-nutella-chip-shortbread-cookies/ . Take care, let me know.
I struggled with the dough not coming together. I added 2 more tablespoons butter, but was still not forming a ball. I ended up adding whipping cream to get it moist enough. Im guessing it was about 1/4 c. cream. I was drizzling it in, a bit at a time. It’s in the fridge chilling. Hopefully it will still turn out and not melt all over the pan when i bake it.
Hi Marisa, I am afraid it will spread since you added cream, I do say to gradually add the flour. It was correct to add more butter. There is a video to show how to make it. 🙂
Thank you for your response. I didn’t have a problem with spreading. They are buttery good and they held their shape. I’m sending them today to my parents to add to a gift basket. Have a Merry Christmas!
Hi Marisa, that’s good to know. I hope they enjoy them. Take care and Merry Christmas.
Wonderful recipe. I added lemon zest to the icing and loved the depth it added.
Hi Hollie, thanks so much, so glad you liked the recipe. Take care and have a great week!
A member of our family is on a low sodium diet. You mention adding salt if using unsalted butter. What would happen without added salt?
Hi Jandee, salt adds flavor so maybe a pinch with unsalted butter would be ok? Let me know. Take care!
Judy Douglas says
I just went to a wedding and they served cookies like this. I tried your recipe and it was very similar to the catering company! And a lot cheaper to make and so delicious!
Hi Judy, thanks so much, so glad you enjoyed them. Take care!
My favorite is lemon. Love easy recipes on your site..
Hi Pamela, thanks so much, glad you enjoy the recipes. Take care.
This is part of your lemon shortbread recipe:
FOR THE SHORTBREAD
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons butter (softened) (I use salted) (137.5 grams)
My calculations differ:
454 g = 2 cups butter 1/2 cup = 113.5 g
1 cup = 16 tablespoons 1 tablespoons = 14.2 g butter 3 tablespoons = 42.6 g butter
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons = 156.1 g butter
Please explain the discrepancy.
Hi Frank, this is an older recipe that I have been updating and yes your calculation are correct. Thanks Take care.
Emily G Lawless Eckelman says
Delicious ,will make multiple times.
Hi Emily thanks so much, so glad you enjoyed them. Take care.
Great recipe, thank you, from Australia!! I appreciate the gram measurements.
Hi Tarina, thanks so much, and thank you for following from Australia! Take care.
nancy bankemper says
Great consistency.. I would add more than just the lemon zest. Probably 1 or 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice. That said, they are great!!
Hi Nancy, thanks glad you liked them, and yes more lemon is never a bad idea.
Cathleen Hendrzak says
LOVE lemon shortbread cookies! We really like a tart lemon flavor so I did add lemon juice to dough and glaze. These have now become a family favorite!!
Hi Cathleen, thanks so much, so glad you enjoyed them. Happy New Year.
Christine Bateson says
Hi. Can you add lemon extract to the cookie dough to make it more lemony? If so, how much would you suggest please?
Hi Christine, I would use 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of exactly. Every teaspoon of extract is equal to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Hope that helps.
Christine Bateson says
Thank you. Will be making these tomorrow, ready for my grandsons on Christmas day
Hi Christine, thanks I hope he enjoys them. Merry Christmas.