Easy Lemon Shortbread Cookie Recipe

When it comes to light yet satisfying cookies, you really can't go wrong with shortbread. According to Historic UK, these kinds of cookies — or biscuits, as some people call them — date back centuries to Scotland. At one time, shortbread cost a pretty penny and was considered an indulgent treat used only on important occasions. These days, you do not need a particular reason to serve shortbread cookies other than to enjoy them.

While shortbread cookies are appetizing without any additional flavor, our easy lemon shortbread cookie recipe fits the bill for a delicious treat that is yummy without being too sweet. Recipe developer Jaime Bachtell-Shelbert notes that these melt-in-your-mouth cookies, which have a hint of sweetness with a lemon flavor, crumble in your mouth. She adds that these delightful cookies pair well with hot or iced tea or coffee.

You only need to round up a few ingredients to pull this recipe together, and the good news is, you can have these cookies ready to eat within an hour.

Gather the ingredients to prepare easy lemon shortbread cookies

Shortbread cookies are known for having a much bigger butter to flour ratio than butter cookies and sugar cookies (via Taste of Home), and you will need 12 tablespoons of unsalted butter for this particular recipe. For the lemon flavor, you'll need the zest from 3 lemons and 1 to 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. You will also need 2 cups of all-purpose flour, ½ cup of sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt.

Mix the butter, sugar, lemon zest, flour, and salt

The first step to making these cookies a reality is mixing the butter, sugar, and lemon zest. Place them in a mixing bowl, and cream together with the whisk attachment until they are combined. Bachtell-Shelbert notes that when the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, she added the flour and salt to the top of the mixture and whisked it quickly with a fork to start incorporating the dry ingredients with the wet ones. 

Combine the ingredients thoroughly

Once the flour and salt are slightly blended, use the mixer to combine them completely on a low speed until the dough starts to come together. When mixed, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Bachtell-Shelbert notes, "The lemon juice not only adds flavor, but helps add moisture if the dough is too dry." If you find your dough is still too dry at this point, she recommends adding another tablespoon of juice.

Wrap the dough, and preheat the oven

Now that your dough is thoroughly combined, remove it from the bowl, and form it into a ball. Wrap it in a piece of plastic wrap, and place the wrapped dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Bachtell-Shelbert says, "It's important to chill the dough so that the butter has time to solidify, and therefore the shape of the shortbread will hold up with baking." As you wait for the mixture to chill, go ahead and preheat the oven to 350 F.

Roll and cut the dough

After the dough has chilled, remove it from the plastic wrap, and place it on a surface to roll it out. (Don't forget to add flour to the surface before rolling.) Roll out the dough until it is about ¼-inch thick. Once the dough is flat, cut it into 12 evenly-sliced shapes. Bachtell-Shelbert used a crinkle cutting tool that is often used to cut vegetables. She says she likes using it because it gives the cookies a nice, scalloped edge. However, if you don't have a crinkle cutting tool, no worries. A pizza cutter will do, or you can get creative and cut triangle or circle shapes.

Bake the cookies, and enjoy

Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 16 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn brown. Turn the cookie sheet halfway through the baking process to ensure even browning.

Once the cookies are baked, remove them from the oven, and allow to cool. If you want your cookies to be a little one the sweet side, dust them with some sugar. If you want them to be more tart, dust them with some lemon zest.

Easy Lemon Shortbread Cookie Recipe
5 from 35 ratings
Our easy lemon shortbread cookie recipe fits the bill for a delicious treat that's yummy without being too sweet.
Prep Time
Cook Time
lemon shortbread cookies
Total time: 28 minutes
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • zest from 3 lemons
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Optional Ingredients
  • sugar, for topping
  • lemon zest, for topping
  1. Place the unsalted butter, sugar, and lemon zest in the bowl of a mixer. Cream together until combined.
  2. Add the flour and salt into the mixer, and give them a quick whisk before mixing into the butter mixture.
  3. Mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Add in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. (Only add in the second tablespoon if the dough is dry or crumbly.)
  4. Remove the dough, wrap it in plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F while the dough chills.
  6. Remove the chilled dough, and turn it out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough out into a rectangle about ¼-inch thick.
  7. Slice the dough into 12 cookies as evenly as possible, and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat.
  8. Bake the shortbread cookies in the oven for 16 minutes, or until the edges just begin to brown, turning the baking sheet halfway through baking.
  9. Dust the cookies with extra sugar or lemon zest, if desired.
Calories per Serving 215
Total Fat 11.8 g
Saturated Fat 7.3 g
Trans Fat 0.5 g
Cholesterol 30.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 25.7 g
Dietary Fiber 1.0 g
Total Sugars 8.8 g
Sodium 50.8 mg
Protein 2.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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