Lemon Sugar Cookies

Lemon cookies rolled in sugar – a citrus summer cookie!
aerial view of lemon cookies on white background with lemon slices
I spent a whole week baking lemon cookies.

The first batch failed miserably. The cookies were paper thin and see through!!

The batches got better as I made small tweaks to the recipe. By the time I was happy with the recipe, I had made it 5 times – that’s about 2 dozen cookies per batch, or 120 cookies in total!

Ryan took a lot of those with him to work. He said a few coworkers asked him if we had an industrial sized oven, lol!

But I wish I did have 2 ovens!

close up shot of lemon sugar cookie in hand
I wanted these lemon sugar cookies to be soft, but chewy – this is the ultimate cookie dichotomy! Isn’t it weird how both of those characteristics can be true of a cookie at the same time?

They are chewy on the outside and soft on the inside. And they are just puffy enough! And the lemon flavor is everything you’d want it to be in a cookie.

I want to point out that I recommend chilling the cookie dough for 30-60 minutes for baking, however this step isn’t necessary.

a stack of 3 lemon cookies with lemon zest on top
Why refrigerate cookie dough before baking?

The King Arthur website explains, “Chilling cookie dough before baking solidifies the fat in the cookies. As the cookies bake, the fat in the chilled cookie dough takes longer to melt than room-temperature fat. And the longer the fat remains solid, the less cookies spread.”

Refrigerating the cookie dough will help produce cookies that are chewier and softer because they won’t spread as much.

lemon cookies on white background with lemon slices
But I get it. Sometimes I really dislike chilling dough. So here’s my suggestion – if you can fit it in, refrigerate the dough (even for 15 minutes). If not, at least refrigerate the dough between baking batches. For example, if you can fit 8 cookies on one baking sheet, bake those and put the dough in the fridge while you’re waiting.

One more tip – use a silicone baking mat! Are you using one? You can buy them on amazon! I never bake cookies without one!

For a step-by-step of how to make this lemon sugar cookie recipe, watch this short video:

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Yield: 2 dozen
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour

Lemon cookies rolled in sugar - a citrus summer cookie!


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (1 cup)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups all purpose flour (or my fav gluten free flour from King Arthur)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar, for rolling cookies


  1. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest with an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add in the lemon juice and egg, beat again to combine.
  3. Gradually add in the flour, baking soda and salt, mixing by hand with a spatula until combined.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. This step isn’t necessary, but refrigerating the dough helps to produce thicker cookies.
  5. Remove the dough from the fridge. Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Place 1/4 cup sugar in a bowl for rolling the cookies.
  6. Use a cookie scoop to form balls, rolling each ball into the sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on a silicone lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until the edges have a faint golden color.
  7. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.


This recipe turned out great using gluten free flour too! We love King Arthur Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour.

Lemon cookies rolled in sugar - a citrus summer cookie!
Lemon cookies rolled in sugar - a citrus summer cookie!
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  1. As a coworker of Ryan’s, I’m gonna give these a 9.8/10. Subtracting a 0.1 for the visible lemon zest (which for some, might be a plus for denoting exactly WHAT kind of sugar cookie they were, but it just seemed odd) and another 0.1 for the oddball humans that don’t like lemon. I’m looking at you, Justin.

  2. How long would these last in the freezer?!

  3. 3tbs of flour or three cups?

  4. Is there a substitutions for the lemon zest?   My mom doesn’t like any sort of zest  and know immediately if I use it without telling her.

    • Hi Lynn! The lemon zest is important to this recipe for flavor. Maybe try looking for a lemon cookie recipe that uses lemon pudding mix instead?

  5. Thank you for the recipe! Just made this for my family at my grandma’s house and everyone loved it! I had to substitute most of the lemon zest for more lemon juice though, ’cause I only had two lemons left. It worked pretty well, I think.
    Quick question – do you know why your sugar cookies have this interesting shape? They are not completely flat on top, but have a bit of a dip in the middle. I’ve seen it on other recipes online, but mine never do that, they are always just dome-shapped. I don’t mind exactly, just got me curious.

  6. First, I have to say that I love this cookie!! Soft, perfectly lemon and delicious. I would also like to use this recipe to make just a plain sugar cookie too. Could I just leave out the lemon zest and lemon juice and maybe add some vanilla extract?

  7. Can you make these heart-shaped? I want to make some lemon-flavored heart shaped cookies for Valentine’s Day and these look like fun, but I’m not sure whether they would work for the effect that I’m looking for.

  8. I have made these several times and everyone loves them. However, I tried today with the KA gluten free flour and they did not turn out. Totally flat after baking. Any ideas on what happened? I am certain I included the baking soda.

    • Hey Karen! I’ve made these with the KA gluten free flour before! Honestly, sometimes baking flukes happen. You used room temperature butter – not melted, right?

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