How to Make These Easy and Delicious Lemon Shortbread Cookies

lemon shortbread cookies
I love lemons and lemon-flavored desserts. I recently made these lemon-lime cookie bars, which were a huge hit. Also, I’ve previously shared 5 of my favorite lemon recipes that I’d make again. Although I’ve made lemon cookies before, I’ve never made lemon shortbread cookies, but it’s something I’ve wanted to try. I’m such a fan of a vibrant lemon flavor and this recipe calls for so much fresh lemon juice and zest. I’ve also included a variation that’s a bit less tart if you prefer a sweeter cookie.

What is Shortbread?

Shortbread originated in Scotland and is a cookie (or called a biscuit in the UK) that is made without any leavening. Unlike most cookies, shortbread does not require baking powder or baking soda. This specific recipe actually includes cornstarch along with the other traditional shortbread ingredients. Most shortbread has a combination of sugar, butter, and flour. Shortbread is regularly served during the holidays.

How to Make Lemon Shortbread Cookies

This is the first time I’ve made shortbread. To be honest, I was a bit worried about this dough at first. It was so sticky, I added an additional 1/4 cup of flour. But, to my surprise, it worked perfectly once it was refrigerated. When you transfer the dough from the bowl to the parchment paper, you might also think it won’t work, but stick with it. Use the parchment paper to create a log shape with the dough. You will refrigerate it for an hour and then you’ll be able to slice it into perfect-sized lemon shortbread cookies.

They are so buttery and moist. They practically melt in your mouth. Most importantly, I love the bold lemon flavor. If you like lemon even half as much as I do, I highly suggest you try these lemon shortbread cookies. You won’t be disappointed.

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
zest & juice of one lemon
1 pinch salt
3/4 cup +2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar 

For the Lemon Glaze: 
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar 
1 zest lemon

For a sweeter glaze:
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar


In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, lemon zest, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy, for 3 minutes. Then add half the flour and the lemon juice and beat to combine. Add the remaining flour and mix with a spatula to combine. If the dough is too sticky, add 1-2 tablespoons of flour. It will still be rather sticky, which is why we will refrigerate the dough.

Transfer the dough to a large piece of parchment paper and roll the dough into a log that is approximately 1 1/2 inches wide. Wrap the dough in the parchment paper and refrigerate for one hour.

Pre-heat oven to 350. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut it into 1/2 inch slices. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until bottoms are light golden brown. Do not overbake.

Remove from the oven and let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

While they cool, make the lemon glaze by mixing the lemon juice and powdered sugar with a whisk until smooth. Top each cookie with a spoonful of glaze. You can top it with lemon zest if you want a tart cookie. 

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