Cookies recipe

Best Lemon Shortbread Cookies Recipe


It doesn’t get more classic and understated than shortbread, and here they have a hint of lemon to liven up the classic buttery melt-in-your-mouth cookie. These start with a standard shortcrust pastry but have a little extra richness thanks to an egg yolk. Grinding sugar or sprinkles (or both!) adds a sweet, satisfying crunch. While it may not seem like much, just a tablespoon of lemon zest infuses these cookies with lemon punch since all of a lemon’s fragrant oils live in the peel. You will need a micro-grater or other fine grater to remove the delicate zest. And don’t worry too much if a little more than a tablespoon ends up in your batter – it’s hard to overdo it when it comes to lemon zest.

What is the difference between a butter cookie and a shortbread cookie?

Although they contain similar ingredients, the ratio differs between butter cookies and shortbread. Contrary to what one might think, butter cookies contain less butter than shortbread. Butter cookies usually have eggs in the batter, while shortbread can be made with or without them.

What makes a shortbread short?

The word “short” in shortbread refers to the high proportion of butter in the dough. This high fat content results in a melt-in-your-mouth cookie that is rich and crumbly.

PS You will be separating the egg yolk and white but not using the egg white for a few hours while the dough cools. Refrigerate it in an airtight container until you are ready to use it.

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Preparation time:





Total time:





1 ea.

(2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 tsp.

(130 g.) granulated sugar

1 tbsp.

lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)

1/2 tsp.

pure vanilla extract

2 1/4 tsp.

(270 g.) all-purpose flour

2 tbsp.

sanding sugar and/or nonpareils

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  1. In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy and lighter in color, about 3 minutes. Using a flexible spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in egg yolk, lemon zest, salt and vanilla on medium speed until blended, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour on low speed until just blended, about 30 seconds.
  2. Using a spatula, scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Tap on a disc, then wrap it tightly. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
  3. Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 300°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place another large piece of parchment on a work surface. Place unwrapped dough on parchment paper, then cover with another large piece of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles and arrange them on the prepared sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart. Roll up the leftovers and cut circles from the remaining dough.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk egg white until softened and frothy, about 30 seconds. Brush the tops of the slices with egg white. Sprinkle sanding sugar or sprinkle over each.
  5. Bake, rotating pans back and forth and top to bottom halfway through baking, until cookies are firm to the touch, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on a baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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lemon shortbread cookies


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