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Lemon Shortbread Cookies - Food Gypsy

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

A light twist on a holiday classic, this recipe for Lemon Shortbread Cookies doubles, triples and multiplies as deep as ten times in a snap.  It’s a soft dough and therefore not ideal as a cut cookie, but perfect as a refrigerator cookie!  Simply roll and slice.

Lemon Shortbread Cookies - Food Gypsy

Simple Ingredients

Butter, icing sugar and flour.  There is no more classically, simple cookie than smooth, buttery shortbread.  Whether they’re sweet or savory; shortbread cookies are a fast, deliciously satisfying treat and these lemon shortbreads are sure to please.

Mixing Lemon Shortbreads - Food Gypsy Cutting Lemon Shortbreads - Food Gypsy

Mix. Roll. Chill. Slice. Sugar. Chill. Bake.

This is a classic Lemon Shortbread Cookie, with a classic approach.  Mix your dough. Form into a roll. Chill dough (minimum 30 minutes) then slice into 1/4-inch slices, roll each slice in coarse sugar and chill, for 10 minutes, THEN bake. You want your dough as cold as possible when it goes into the oven.

I always bake off a test cookie, to gage spread and timing.  This way I adjust anything needed and don’t risk the whole batch.  You have to eat that cookie. It’s a rule.

Roll it and store it - Food Gypsy

Once. Twice. Three times.

I’ve made this recipe commercially, so I can vouch for how well it holds, travels and multiplies.  Beautiful at summer weddings, lightly adorned with royal icing, it also makes a lovely Christmas cookie that’s elegant and almost effortless.

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Lemon Shortbread Cookies - Food Gypsy

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

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  • Author: Cori Horton
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 15 cookies 1x


A light twist on a holiday classic, this recipe for Lemon Shortbread Cookies doubles, triples and multiplies as deep as ten times in a snap. Those sugary edges are very popular with cookie monsters!


Units Scale
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup coarse sugar (optional)


  1. Cream together butter and icing sugar in bowl, either by hand with a wooden spoon or using an electric mixer – until smooth. Add lemon zest and vanilla and beat lightly. Then add flour and coarse salt and mix just until blended. Dough should be the texture of a course meal and bind easily together with fingertips.
  2. Transfer dough to large piece of plastic wrap and roll into a smooth log, approximately 1 ½ inches in diameter, then wrap it tightly with your plastic wrap, twisting the ends to ensure your cookie dough retains moisture then refrigerate until firm; minimum 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Pour coarse sugar into a low, shallow bowl and reserve. Remove dough from fridge, and unwrap on a clean cutting board, cut dough horizontally into 1/4-inch disks. Quickly press each cookie slice in the coarse sugar, being sure to roll the sides so it’s evenly coated. Bake off one test cookie on a parchment lined baking sheet, to test oven temperature, timing and spread (target time: 12 – 15 minutes). While your test cookie is in the oven, slice the rest of your dough and place about 1-inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet, then return tray to the fridge, and chill cookies until ready to slip immediately into the oven. (Ideally, about 10 minutes.)
  4. Bake cookies in 350°F (175°C) oven to until edges and bottom are barely golden around edges; about 12 – 15 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool.  Store Lemon Shortbread Cookies in an airtight container, away from cookie monsters!


  1. Knife Work: You should get between 12 and fifteen cookies, to gage size I often mark the mid point on my dough and score each cookie slice before I cut, for even results.
  2. Plan ahead: You can make a batch or two of Lemon Shortbread Cookies ahead of time because they store beautifully in a roll in your fridge for a week or more and this dough freezes well too! Then you can bake them quickly whenever you want.
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Cori Horton

Cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer and recipe blogger. A Cordon Bleu-trained Chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and has been sharing all things delicious - right here - since 2010.

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