Lemon Shortbread Cookies

A few years ago my friend and I went to Baking Arts in San Francisco to take a holiday cookie class. I have adapted their shortbread recipe for these lovely lemon cookies, a special treat any time of year. Their light lemon flavor, along with the rich buttery shortbread make these a winner with adults as well as children.

Be sure to follow the recipe closely, and be sure to use unsalted butter and a high quality vanilla and lemon extract. I have a particular fondness for Nielsen Massey vanilla, and have actually done taste comparisons with chocolate chip cookies to see if I could tell the difference between my longtime favorite and ordinary extract. I am sure you will not be surprised to hear the Nielsen Massey cookies were the winner, and in a cookie like these shortbread where there are so few ingredients, quality extracts are vital. Lucky for us, they make lemon extract as well 🙂




As I mention in the recipe, which you can find here, it is important to have your butter very soft in order to get the creamy texture you want with a low speed.


And be sure to bake the cookies long enough! If you don’t leave them in the oven until the edges (and bottoms, though that’s a lot harder to determine) are golden then they will not have the rich buttery flavor and crispness that make these cookies so delicious. As with most things in life, patience is the key.

Lemon Shortbread Cookies


  • 1 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour


  •  Preheat oven to 375°
  • Cream together the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon extract, salt, and lemon zest at low speed.
  • Add the flour all at once, and beat at the lowest speed that will still move your paddle attachment through the dough. As soon as the dough comes together and the flour is incorporated turn off your machine. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm.
  • Cut dough into two pieces and roll out between sheets of parchment paper (to prevent sticking) to about a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut cookies into circles, and bake on parchment lined baking sheets for about 15 minutes, until golden on the edges.
  • Let cool on the cookie sheet for at least 10 minutes, then move to a wire rack and cool completely. Finish with lemon glaze.


Although there are not many steps for this recipe it is important to follow them exactly. It is helpful if the butter is VERY soft, I usually leave mine out overnight, so that the butter and sugar will cream together well at a low speed. Over beating will cause the cookies to taste greasy, using too high of a speed when mixing the dough will cause air bubbles in the cookies as they bake.

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