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Lemon Shortbread Cookies

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Lemon shortbread cookies are a perfect buttery, tender crisp, sweet and tart lemon flavored treat  that is easy to make and even easier to eat! Drizzled with a bright lemon glaze, these are the perfect amount of sweet and tart! Perfect for lemon lovers!

Lemon shortbread cookies are a perfect buttery, crispy, sweet and tart lemon flavored treat that is easy to make and even easier to eat!
overhead view of lemon shortbread on cooling rack
lemon shortbread cookies on wire cooling rack

Shortbread cookies are buttery, tender crisp, and rich cookies that are famous for being a much loved melt in your mouth cookie. They are easy and simple to make, and yield amazing cookies everyone loves!


This version has sweet and tart lemon zest in the shortbread dough, and is topped with a lemon icing drizzle.

lemon shortbread piled in front of cooling rack

Ingredients needed:

The best part of this recipe is that you only need a few ingredients which means you can easily bake them almost anytime:

  • Unsalted Butter – the butter is important here. Get the best quality butter you can afford for the best taste and texture. It needs to be softened.
  • Powdered sugar – also known as confectioner’s sugar, you want to use this kind of sugar to help get the correct cookie texture.
  • All Purpose Flour – I have not tested this recipe with any other flour.
  • Salt
  • Lemon Zest – for the lemon flavor!
  • Vanilla extract – use a good quality pure extract for the best flavor
overhead view of lemon shortbread on cooling rack

How to make these easy shortbread cookies

This recipe is very simple to make! Here is a brief overview of the recipe to give you an idea of how it works. For the full set of directions and measurements, please make sure you scroll down to the recipe card below!

Mixing the dough.

  1. Mix the ingredients together until combined.
  2. Cover the bowl and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

Mix the dough

  1. Cream the butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla, then add in the flour and salt and mix until just combined.

Press into the pan

  1. Line an 8” square pan with parchment paper so the paper hangs over the sides.
  2. Place the dough into the prepared pan and press the dough evenly into a pan. Using a flat bottomed glass helps to get it packed tightly and evenly. It should be about 1/2″ thick.
  3. Use a toothpick or skewer to poke holes into the shortbread. You could also use a fork.

Bake

  1. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden brown.
  2. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then lift the shortbread out of the pan by the parchment paper overhang.
  3. Place the shortbread on the parchment paper onto a cutting board and use a long sharp knife to cut the shortbread into squares 1″ wide. 
  4. Allow to cool all the way before drizzling with lemon icing.
mixing shortbread and pressing into pan

How to make lemon icing

Lemon icing is super simple to make! 

Combine together powdered sugar and enough lemon juice to make it drizzly – you can use more or less lemon juice to make the icing thicker or thinner depending on your preferences.

lemon shortbread cookies on counter with slices of lemon

Recipe Tips

How to cut shortbread

It is essential to cut the shortbread when it is still hot from the oven. Let it rest about 10 minutes, and then use the parchment paper to carefully lift the shortbread out of the baking pan onto a cutting board. Use a smooth bladed knife to cut strips lengthwise, 1″ thick, then rotate the bars (by the parchment paper) to cut strips going the other way. Cut small portions because these are rich cookies.

How to keep shortbread crisp

Let the baked shortbread cool completely on a wire rack before storing. If you are drizzling with the icing, that needs to be completely dry before storing, too. Shortbread keeps best in a metal tin or glass jar with tight fitting lids. They also keep well when stored in the refrigerator. Do not store them with other chewy cookies or in a plastic container because they will not keep their crispness.

lemon shortbread on counter

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overhead view of lemon shortbread on cooling rack

Lemon Shortbread Cookies Recip

Lemon shortbread cookies are a perfect buttery, crispy, sweet and tart lemon flavored treat that is easy to make and even easier to eat!
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Cookie Recipes
Cuisine: Scottish
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 24 cookies
Calories: 72kcal
Author: Jenni – The Gingered Whisk

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 4 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Lemon Icing

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Line an 8” square pan with parchment paper so the paper hangs over the sides.
  • Cream the butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla, then add in the flour and salt and mix until just combined.
  • Place the dough into the prepared pan and press the dough evenly into a pan. Using a flat bottomed glass helps to get it packed tightly and evenly. It should be about 1/2" thick.
  • Use a toothpick or skewer to poke holes into the shortbread. You could also use a fork.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden brown.
  • Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then lift the shortbread out of the pan by the parchment paper overhang.
  • Place the shortbread on the parchment paper onto a cutting board and use a long sharp knife to cut the shortbread into squares that are 1" wide.
  • Allow to cool all the way before drizzling with lemon icing.

Lemon Icing

  • In a small bowl, combine the powdered sguar and enough lemon juice to make a drizzly icing. Adjust the level of lemon juice depending on your preferences – more lemon juice will make a thinner drizzle and less will make it thicker. Drizzle the icing over the cooled shortbread cookies.

Notes

Store these cookies in a metal or glass container with a lid on the counter for up to 5 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 72kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 23mg | Sugar: 5g

10 Comments

  1. Maryeileen says:

    I didn’t see a temperature listed for the lemon shortbread.

    1. Hi Maryeileen! The temperature can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the post! It is 350 degrees F for these cookies! Enjoy!

  2. Give me ALL the lemon desserts this summer! These cookies were amazing & are totally going in the rotation!

  3. I didn’t have enough dough! It wouldn’t cover the 9 x 9 pan. I couldn’t spread it to the last inch of the pan. The dough tasted absolutely amazing, but there just wasn’t enough of it. My cookies were half as tall as the ones seemed to bin your photos. Could you add some height predictions and guidance on how thick the dough will be in the pan? I double checked and triple checked the measurements. I just can’t figure out what I did wrong. Is 1 cup of flour really correct?

    1. Hmm.. That is interesting! I am sorry the cookies didn’t fill your pan all the way. Yes, the measurements in the recipe are correct, there is only 1 cup of flour. I pulled my recipe development testing sheet out and double checked. The dough should be about 1/2″ thick in the pan. I will add some measurement guides to help.

  4. Can the recipe be doubled and baked in a 9 x 9 pan for taller cookies? If yes, what adjustments need to be made?

    1. The cookies should be about 3/4″ thick after baking, which is a standard size for shortbread. If you would like a thicker cookie, you can double the ingredients and bake it that way, but you will need to watch the baking times to ensure the shortbread is baked all the way though.

  5. Should the baked cookies also be 1/2 inch tall? It would also be good to have that measurement in the recipe. Also, the letter e is missing from “recipe” in headline right above the actual recipe section.

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