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With over 1.5 million views and counting, this lemon sugar cookies recipe is one of the most popular cookie recipes on my website, and for good reason! These soft lemon sugar cookies can be made with one bowl, are thick, chewy and easy to freeze.

lemon sugar cookies with lemon slices on white plate on blue background
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Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies

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!

lemon cookies on white plate with glass of milk on blue background

Why This Recipe is the Best

  • Common pantry ingredients
  • Great recipe for beginngers
  • Chewy & soft cookies
  • Bright, fresh, real lemon flavor

This lemon cookie recipe is 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. The fresh lemon zest really gives them a bright lemon flavor.

They are one of my favorite lemon desserts to make with whenever we have fresh lemons.

They follow similar steps as classic sugar cookies where you cream butter and white sugar together in a medium bowl. Add the remaining wet ingredients, including plenty of lemon zest. Then add in the flour mixture and use a hand mixer to gently combine.

Roll into balls and bake on parchment paper or a silicone mat. They turn out to be the best chewy lemon cookies!

  • unsalted butter – adds flavor and and tender texture
  • granulated sugar – adds sweetness, flavor and encourages browning
  • lemon zest and lemon juice – adds that fresh lemon flavor
  • egg – binds the cookies together by providing structure
  • all purpose flour – flour is necessary to build structure in cookies
  • baking soda – helps to leaven and lift the dough, affects browning and flavor
  • salt – enhances the other flavors in the cookies

Where’s the extract?

You can add in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. If you’d like a more intense lemon flavor (hello lemon lovers) add 1 teaspoon lemon extract.

I have made these cookies multiple times with King Arthur’s Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour with great success.

How to Make Lemon Cookies

  1. Cream together. In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar and lemon zest together on medium speed.

2. Mix in. Add in the fresh lemon juice and egg, beat again until smooth.

3. Dry ingredients. Gently add in the dry ingredients, mixing on low or by hand just until combined.

4. Refrigerate. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

5. Scoop. Use a cookie scoop to form dough balls, roll the balls in sugar then place on a silicone mat lined baking sheet. Bake and Cool.

lemon cookie dough balls on baking sheet with parchment paper

Time Required

  • 10 minutes to make the cookie dough
  • 30-60 minutes to chill the dough in the fridge
  • 11-13 minutes to bake the cookies
  • 15 minutes to cool the cookies

How to Store Lemon Sugar Cookies

Store lemon sugar cookies in an airtight container on the counter for up to 5 days.

lemon sugar cookies with lemon slices on white plate on blue background

Drop cookie dough balls onto a silicone mat lined baking sheet. You can place the dough balls close together since you won’t be baking them.

Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the cookies are frozen solid, about 1 hour.

Remove the baking sheet from the freezer and transfer the frozen cookie dough balls to a ziplock freezer bag. Label the bag with baking directions.

Freeze the cookie dough for up to 3 months.

To bake: remove the dough from the freezer. Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Roll the balls in sugar and bake for 13-15 minutes. Frozen cookies may need to bake for 1-2 minutes longer than non frozen cookies.

hand holding lemon sugar cookie with cookies in background

Tips for Making Lemon Sugar Cookies

  • Properly measure the all purpose flour using the spoon and sweep method.
  • Use room temperature butter for easier creaming of the butter and sugar.
  • Refrigerate the cookie dough for 30-60 minutes. I’m telling you, this helps to make the best thick & chewy cookies!
  • Use a cookie scoop to form cookie dough balls.
  • Bake cookies on a silicone baking mat.

Our lemony cookies have a chewy texture that is to die for! They complement our soft sugar cookies really well.

Lemon Cookies Recipe FAQs

Why refrigerate cookie dough?

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.

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.

How do you make cookies moist and not dry?

It’s important to properly measure the flour to ensure the cookies are moist and not dry. Follow the section How To Properly Measure Flour. Also be sure to bake the cookies for the proper amount of time. Over-baking will produce dry cookies.

Why do sugar cookies get hard?

Sugar cookies can become hard if they are over-baked. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven as soon as the cookies have set and developed a bit of color. We do not want the edges of the cookies to brown.

Should you refrigerate sugar cookie dough before baking?

This specific recipe does require that you refrigerate the cookie dough for 30-60 minutes before baking. Refrigerating the cookie dough will help produce cookies that are chewier and softer because they won’t spread as much.

What’s the difference between a sugar cookie and a regular cookie?

The main difference between a sugar cookie and a regular cookie lies in their ingredients and flavor profile. Sugar cookies are primarily made with a higher proportion of sugar and butter, resulting in a sweeter and more delicate taste. Regular cookies, on the other hand, have a more balanced combination of ingredients like sugar, butter, flour, eggs, and often include mix-ins like chocolate chips, oats, or nuts, leading to a broader range of flavors and textures.

More Dessert Recipes

4.37 from 1140 ratings

Tap stars to rate!

By: Beth
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 22 minutes
Servings: 24 cookies
With over 1.5 million views and counting, this lemon sugar cookies recipe is one of the most popular cookie recipes on my website, and for good reason! These soft lemon sugar cookies can be made with one bowl, are thick, chewy and easy to freeze.

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, 1 cup – 230 grams
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, 300 grams
  • 3 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups all purpose flour, 360 grams
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup sugar, for rolling cookies, 50 grams

Instructions 

  • In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest with an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add in the lemon juice and egg, beat again to combine.
  • Gradually add in the flour, baking soda and salt, mixing by hand with a spatula until combined.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge. Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Place 1/4 cup sugar in a bowl for rolling the cookies.
  • 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.
  • Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Video

Notes

Refrigerating the cookie dough will help produce cookies that are chewier and thicker because they won’t spread as much. 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.
This recipe turned out great using gluten free flour too! We love King Arthur Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour.

Nutrition

Calories: 184kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 74mg | Potassium: 25mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 247IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg
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About Beth

I believe that everyone should have a go-to dessert to bring to parties! With hundreds of recipes, I'll help you find yours!

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Recipe Rating




245 Comments

  1. Added blueberry to mine and I am so happy with how they came out! My first time making sugar cookies!!

  2. 5 stars
    I have made these several times and my son who is a lemon freak absolutely loves them. The last 2 times, I didn’t have time it the energy to make them. He made them and they turned out just Ike the previous batch. We (my son and I) like to make a glaze to put on them.  Juice 2 lemons and use some of the pulp and mix with powdered sugar until it is the consistency of donut glaze. When the cookies are cooled, put a glaze over the top using a small spoon to drop and spread over the cookie. If you want more glaze let it dry between layers. I usually do 2 layers of glaze. They taste like they came from a bakery! My son found some strawberry extract in the pantry and thought it might be good to add it to the some of the glaze and have strawberry/lemon cookies. I will comment to let you know how they turned out. To the ones who are concerned about the cookies coming out of the oven not flat, I take a light plastic spatula and lightly tap on top of the cookie as soon as they come out of the oven to flatten them out. They are so much easier to glaze when they are flat.

  3. 5 stars
    Loved these cookies! I made with lime zest/juice instead of lemon, and I had to beat my wet ingredients by hand rather than using a hand mixer, but both of those changes worked out fine. I was worried that the zest would give a strange texture to these cookies that I wouldn’t like, but I really didn’t even notice the zest. Just noticed the flavor, which was fabulous!

    1. After you make the dough, it needs to be refrigerated for 30-60 minutes before baking. After you bake the cookies, you don’t need to refrigerate them.

  4. 5 stars
    I made these today because I have lots of lemons.
    An easy recipe to follow and put together. They are delicious and will be made lots at this time of year

  5. 5 stars
    absolutely amazing!!! i made this recipe and everyone loved them. they were all gone within 2 hours and i’ve been getting text messages asking me to make them again!