Old Fashioned Lemon Sugar Cookies

Slightly crumbly with soft centers and crispy edges, these are a classic drop sugar cookie with zest added to the dough and sugar coating.

Lemon sugar cookies are perfect with a glass of milk after school or as an afternoon pick-me-up with a cup of coffee.

They’re easy to make, and kids love rolling them in the lemon sugar. Like all lemon recipes, they’re perfect for late winter and early spring.

A photograph of a bowl with cookie dough being mixed with an electric hand mixer, a whole lemon and a cloth with a blue floral pattern lie beside the bowl, suggesting the process of combining ingredients to form the cookie dough.

Old Fashioned Lemon Sugar Cookies

Sweet, tangy, and perfect for tea time or a delightful snack.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
chilling time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Serving Size 24 cookies

Equipment

  • Mixing Bowls
  • Baking Sheet
  • Electric Mixer
  • Cookie cutter (optional)
  • Ingredients

Ingredients 

Cookie Dough

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Lemon Sugar

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Instructions

Instructions 

  • Preheat Oven and Prepare Baking Sheet: Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Prepare Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
    a bowlof dry ingredients for making cookies all set on a marble surface with a blue patterned cloth.
  • Cream Butter and Sugar: In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Beat in the egg, followed by the lemon zest and lemon juice.
    creamed butter and sugar in floral mixing bowl
  • Combine Ingredients: Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. It may look slowly crumbly but should hold its shape when pressed together.
    A person's hand holding a clump of lemon cookie dough, with a bowl of mixed dough and a floral-patterned cloth in the background, indicating the stage of forming the dough into balls before baking.
  • Make Lemon Sugar Topping: In a small bowl, combine ½ cup sugar with 1 tablespoon lemon zest. Mix well.
    An overhead shot of a bowl containing a mixture of granulated sugar and lemon zest, ready to be used for rolling the cookie dough balls to give them a zesty, sugary coating.
  • Scoop and Roll Cookies: Using a spoon or cookie scoop, shape dough into tablespoon-sized balls. Roll each cookie in the lemon sugar topping and place on the prepared baking sheet.
    An image split in two parts: on the left, a bowl with dough balls coated in lemon sugar; on the right, a parchment-lined baking tray with spaced-out dough balls, ready to be baked, illustrating the preparation steps before the cookies go into the oven.
  • Press flat. Gently press flat with a glass.
    A hand using a glass to flatten dough balls coated with lemon sugar on a parchment paper, demonstrating the step of shaping the cookies before they are baked to achieve a uniform thickness.
  • Bake: Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden. Be careful not to overbake to ensure they stay soft.
    A close-up of baked lemon sugar cookies on a parchment-lined tray, showing the cookies' slightly cracked surfaces and golden edges, indicating they have been freshly baked and are still on the tray.

Notes

Ensure your butter and egg are at room temperature for the best texture.
Adjust the amount of lemon zest and juice according to your taste preference for a stronger or subtler lemon flavor.
Store cookies in an airtight container to keep them fresh.
Calories: 166kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 70mg | Potassium: 20mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 246IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg

These are a great simple cookie to add to your rotation. We love them in winter and early spring.

overhead view of fully baked  cookies

🥣 important tools and ingredients

This is a basic recipe that requires basic ingredients 😊.

  • Lemons. Fresh lemons are essential for this recipe’s flavor. They provide the distinctive tang and zestiness. You’ll find them in the produce section of the grocery store. You can use bottled lemon juice in a pinch. But, fresh lemons are preferable for their natural oils and robust flavor.
  • Unsalted Butter. It’s crucial for the cookie’s texture and richness. Unsalted butter is available in the dairy section. It allows you to control the salt level in the recipe. If unsalted butter is unavailable, you can use salted butter. But, you’ll need to adjust the recipe’s added salt.
  • All-Purpose Flour. This is the foundation of the cookies, giving them structure. All-purpose flour is versatile. It’s located in the baking aisle. For a gluten-free version, you can substitute a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend.
  • Parchment Paper. It prevents sticking and ensures even baking of the cookies. You can find parchment paper in the baking or kitchen supplies aisle. If you don’t have parchment paper, a greased baking sheet can also work. But, the cookies may brown more on the bottom.

I bet you have everything you need on hand already!

A photograph of ingredients for baking laid out on a marble countertop. Visible are a stick of unsalted butter, a bowl of all-purpose flour, a whole lemon, a small bowl of salt, and a bowl of sugar with a cloth featuring a blue floral pattern underneath.
  • Mixing Bowls. Essential for combining ingredients . Different sizes are helpful for separating dry and wet ingredients. Then, you mix them together.
  • Baking Sheet. Needed for baking the cookies. A rimless baking sheet is flat, so it distributes heat . It also makes it easy to remove the cookies.
  • Parchment Paper. Prevents the cookies from sticking to the baking sheet. It also makes cleanup easier and helps in achieving an even bake.
  • Electric Mixer. Crucial for creaming butter and sugar to the right consistency. It incorporates air and ensures a smooth texture, which is key for the cookie’s structure.
  • Cookie Cutter (optional). Allows for creating uniform and decorative shapes. While optional, a cookie cutter can add a fun and professional touch to your cookies.
  • Wire Rack. For cooling the cookies after baking. Cooling the cookies on a rack prevents them from becoming soggy. It also helps maintain their texture.
  • Mixing Bowls. Essential for combining ingredients . Different sizes are helpful for separating dry and wet ingredients. Then, you mix them together.
  • Baking Sheet. Needed for baking the cookies. A flat, rimless baking sheet allows for even heat distribution. It also makes it easy to remove the cookies.
  • Parchment Paper. Prevents the cookies from sticking to the baking sheet. It also makes cleanup easier and helps in achieving an even bake.
  • Electric Mixer. Crucial for creaming butter and sugar to the right consistency. It incorporates air and ensures a smooth texture, which is key for the cookie’s structure.
  • Cookie Cutter (optional). Allows for creating uniform and decorative shapes. While optional, a cookie cutter can add a fun and professional touch to your cookies.
  • Wire Rack. For cooling the cookies after baking. Cooling the cookies on a rack prevents them from becoming soggy. It also helps maintain their texture.

Let’s dive into some helpful tips. They will make sure your baking experience is as smooth and successful as your cookies will be!

✨ Tips for the best cookies

  • Room Temperature Ingredients. Ensure your butter, egg, and lemon juice are at room temperature before starting. This helps the butter cream more . It ensures the egg blends into the batter, resulting in a smoother dough.
  • Zest Before Juicing: Always zest your lemons before juicing them. Zesting a whole lemon is easier. You’ll avoid the frustration of trying to zest squeezed lemons.
  • Sifting Flour: For an even lighter texture, sift your flour before measuring it. This aerates the flour, making your cookies more tender.
  • Chilling is Key: Don’t rush the chilling step. Chilling the dough solidifies the fat. This helps stop the cookies from spreading while baking, so they keep their shape.
  • Even Baking: Rotate your baking sheet halfway through the baking time. This helps in even browning and cooking, as most ovens have hot spots.
  • Don’t Overwork the Dough: Mix the dough until combined. Overworking the dough can activate the gluten in the flour, leading to tough cookies.
  • Freshness Check: Ensure your baking powder is fresh. It loses potency over time, which can affect the rise and texture of your cookies. A simple test is to mix a little with hot water; if it bubbles , it’s good to use.
  • Cooling Completely: Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack before storing. This helps maintain their texture and prevents condensation in the storage container. Condensation can make them soggy.
  • Lemon Sugar Topping. For an extra zesty kick, let the lemon sugar mixture sit for a while before rolling the cookies in it. This allows the lemon oils to infuse the sugar more .
  • Storage for Freshness: Store the cookies in an airtight container with a slice of bread. The bread helps regulate moisture, keeping the cookies fresh and soft longer.

🥫 Storage and make ahead instructions

1. Allow the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack. This prevents condensation that could make them soggy in the storage container.

2. Place the cookies in an airtight container. Separate layers with parchment paper to prevent sticking.

3. Stored at room temperature, these cookies will keep for about 1 week.

4. For longer storage, you can freeze the baked cookies. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet to freeze individually. Then, transfer the mixture to an airtight container or freezer bag. Separate layers with parchment paper. Label with the date, and they can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Can I use bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemon juice?

If you are in a pinch, use bottled lemon juice, but for the best flavor, use fresh lemon juice. Fresh lemon juice is more aromatic and less acidic than bottled varieties.

When are the cookies baked?

When the edges turn golden, the cookies are done. They may seem a bit soft in the center, but they will firm up as they cool. Overbaking can result in hard cookies, so it’s better to err on the side of underbaking.

Can I make the dough ahead of time?

Absolutely! You can prepare the dough and keep it refrigerated for up to 3 days before baking. make sure it’s well wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.

Is there a vegan alternative for this recipe?

Yes, you can make these cookies vegan. Use plant-based butter and a flax egg instead of butter and the egg. To make a flax egg, mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water. Let it thicken for 5 minutes.

Can I make these cookies gluten-free?

Yes, you can use a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend in place of regular all-purpose flour. Just ensure that it’s a 1:1 substitute for best results.

My cookies spread too much during baking. What did I do wrong?

There are a few potential reasons for cookies spreading too much. It could be that the butter was too warm, the dough wasn’t chilled sufficiently, or too much sugar was used. Make sure to follow the recipe closely and chill the dough as directed.

How should I adjust the cooking time if I want to make smaller or larger cookies?

For smaller cookies, reduce the baking time by a few minutes; they will bake faster. For larger cookies, increase the baking time. Keep a close eye on them and adjust as needed based on their color and firmness.

❤️ More lemony desserts you’ll love

Lemon desserts are our favorites! All of these are the perfect blend of tart and fresh with sweet and buttery.

  • Imagine a delicate, buttery cookie with a dollop of bright, tangy lemon curd in the center. Lemon curd thumbprint cookies are soooo good!
  • Lemon meringue pie recipe is a classic for a reason. It has fluffy meringue topping and zesty lemon filling.
  • Lemon sour cream cookies bring a tangy twist to your cookie jar. The richness of sour cream makes each bite melt in your mouth.
  • This lemon cobbler is as easy to make as it is to love. It’s a sunny, sweet way to end any meal on a high note.

So, preheat your oven and gather your ingredients. I hope this lemony, sugary treat cheers you up on a winter day.

A photograph of a bowl with cookie dough being mixed with an electric hand mixer, a whole lemon and a cloth with a blue floral pattern lie beside the bowl, suggesting the process of combining ingredients to form the cookie dough.
Old Fashioned Lemon Sugar  Cookies
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Recipe Rating




One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    These looked SO good and tasted SO much better! Don’t question whether to try these or not! If you like a tender so sugar cookie and lemon, you’ll love these.