Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies

If you like lemon, you’re going to love these cookies.

They’re soft, chewy, and packed with bold lemon flavor.

Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies - Packed with big, bold lemon flavor for all you lemon lovers! They're soft, chewy and not at all cakey!

I have over 100 different cookie recipes on my site but none for lemon cookies until now.

Partially because most lemon cookie recipes look lackluster in the lemon flavoring department, look too cakey for my liking, or look too flat and wimpy.

These cookies pack a powerful lemon punch, they’re soft and dense rather than cakey, they’re thick enough to sink your teeth into, and I love that they’re crinkly.

Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies - Packed with big, bold lemon flavor for all you lemon lovers! They're soft, chewy and not at all cakey!!

For robust lemon flavor, I used lemon three ways: extract, zest, and juice. If you wanted to intensify that, glaze them and sprinkle with zest like the Lemon Lemonies. I didn’t find it necessary but you may.

Although there’s plenty of intense lemon flavor, the cookies are sweet enough that you’ll keep going back for one more. And one more. Good thing it’s a small batch recipe that makes one dozen.

Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies - Packed with big, bold lemon flavor for all you lemon lovers! They're soft, chewy and not at all cakey!!

To keep the cookies soft and dense, there’s a tablespoon of honey in the dough. Honey is hydroscopic (attracts water) so it helps the cookies stay softer, moister, and denser without turning cakey.

I used two teaspoons of cornstarch which helps keep cookies softbatch-style soft. I’ve got 20 other cornstarch cookie recipes showcasing what a great little trick it is.

Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies - Packed with big, bold lemon flavor for all you lemon lovers! They're soft, chewy and not at all cakey!!

My daughter is a lemon fan like no one else. She eats lemon wedges like they’re orange wedges and reaches into water glasses for the lemon and helps herself.

She’s loved these and asked when I’m making them again, high approval from my little lemon connoisseur.

Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies - Packed with big, bold lemon flavor for all you lemon lovers! They're soft, chewy and not at all cakey!!

Print Recipe

Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies

The cookies pack a powerful lemon punch, they’re soft and dense rather than cakey, and they’re thick enough to sink your teeth into. For robust lemon flavor, I used lemon three ways: extract, zest, and juice. If you wanted to intensify that, glaze and sprinkle with zest like the Lemon Lemonies (linked below). Honey helps keep the cookies moist and cornstarch keeps them soft. Any lemon lover will adore the cookies.

Yield: 12 med/large cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: about 10 minutes

Total Time: 3+ hours, for dough chilling

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon lemon extract
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon honey
yellow food coloring, optional and as desired
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons lemon juice
confectioners' sugar for dusting or lemon glaze + lemon zest, optional

Directions:

  1. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and electric mixer) combine the butter, sugars, egg, lemon extract, and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, light, fluffy, and well combined, about 4 minutes.
  2. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the lemon zest, honey, optional food coloring, and beat on medium-high speed until well combined, about 2 minutes. I used 1 teaspoon gel food coloring; add drops or gel to desired shade. One teaspoon gel makes the batter quite yellow but it mellows slightly after adding the dry ingredients.
  3. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour, cornstarch, optional salt, and baking soda (keep the baking soda in a nice little mound rather than sprinkling it).
  4. Add the lemon juice directly on top of the baking soda. It will bubble and foam, which means the baking soda has been activated and this is good; if your soda doesn't bubble it's old and expired. Beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
  5. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and using a large cookie scoop, 1/4-cup measure, or your hands, form approximately 12 equal-sized mounds of dough, roll into balls, and flatten slightly.
  6. Place mounds on a large plate or tray, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, up to 5 days. Do not bake with unchilled dough because cookies will bake thinner, flatter, and be more prone to spreading.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a Silpat or spray with cooking spray. Place dough mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart (I bake 8 cookies per sheet) and bake for about 10 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just set, even if slightly undercooked, pale, and glossy in the center; don't overbake or undersides could become too browned. Cookies firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before serving. I let them cool on the baking sheet and don't use a rack.
  8. Optionally, dust with confectioners' sugar. Or, for increased lemon intensity, make the lemon glaze and then sprinkle with additional lemon zest.
  9. Cookies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.

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87 comments

  1. I like lemon! These cookies look fantastic Averie! I have never thought about a lemon cookie before but how divine are these? Must try!

  2. I prefer fruit desserts and treats to chocolate based ones and the bigger the pucker the better so these are right up my alley. I love how bright and sunny the photos are and who knew honey was hydroscopic..your posts are the best.

    • the bigger the pucker the better = love that :)

      And the factoids…I remember just enough from college biochem classes (the ones I went to LOL) that it kind of helps me here and there. Not much though b/c those classes were always at 8am and that was way too early for me :)

  3. So much to love here! 1. Cornstarch in cookies is my favorite! 2. Small batches are better, because I feel less bad when I eat ALL the cookies 3. Lemon is my favorite so I need these! Pinned!

    • Thanks for pinning and as a blogger, you can appreciate small batches I’m sure! I mean we have our blog/dessert food + the normal food we make anyway and we do that 7x a week! So small batches are appreciated for me at least :)

  4. I have never baked a lemon cookie before. All that is about to change! These look amazing. So soft! Your daughter must be thrilled.

  5. Wonderful recipe – pinned to my ‘Lemony& Delicious’ board on pinterest. And thank you for the interesting fact about honey – I never knew that!

  6. So funny – I have lemon sugar cookies scheduled for the blog next week! Love lemon desserts! These cookies look so thick and chewy – LOVE it! Pinned!

    • Can’t wait to see yours. All I need to do is see what Sally or Jessica posts on like Monday, and then I guaranteed will have a recipe in my drafts pre-scheduled for that week or the next week. It honestly happens to me at LEAST once a week :)

  7. I’ve never made lemon cookies so it’s nice to see a great recipe for them. Love the crinkly tops and beautiful color! Seeing these brings up some some memories of moving here after college. I think Archway was the only lemon cookie I ever tried and the bakery used to be here in Ft Wayne with a little outlet store.

    • Archway. Oh wow, I remember seeing those products in my college cafeteria and random gas stations in the midwest when I was growing up. Sort of like a regional Little Debbie if you will. Wow, blast from the past :)

  8. These look amazing, Averie! I love anything with lemon, just like your daughter. I also love that this is a small-batch recipe! As always, gorgeous!

    • Small batch, you know it :) As a blogger, we don’t need big batches because every day of the week we’re cooking something brand new for the blog plus what we feed our families for normal meals!

  9. Gorgeous cookies, Averie! Soft and chewy are always my favorite kind of cookie. I love that you made a lemon flavor with these. Looks absolutely perfect!

  10. I love lemon cookies, but haven’t eaten good ones in a while. These look perfectly thick and for sure with lots of flavor, since you used lemon 3 ways. And your cornstarch recommendation really helps cookies not spread and stay soft. Thanks, pinning!

  11. Oooh, I love these. It seems like whenever I see a lemon cookie recipe, it always starts with a cake mix. I’m excited to see a from-scratch recipe!

    • I know, or cake flour. Nothing wrong with cake flour but the avg woman doesn’t keep it on hand and so I wanted to make a recipe that was from scratch and EASY! :)

      And thank you for pinning!

  12. Delicious! I didn’t know corn starch created a softer cookie!

  13. I love that you used all three lemon ingredients! And I love that there are only 12 because you better believe I’d eat them all!

  14. not sure if they could be any more chewy and soft! They look and i know taste like a breath of fresh air. I love them

  15. Lemon extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest – I love that these cookies are packed with lemon flavor! These cookies look amazingly soft and chewy and I am SO glad to see a lemon recipe – summer isn’t over yet!! Pinned :)

  16. i love lemon, and I bet these would make perfect ice cream sandwiches

  17. I might have to try these with a little bit of buttercream frosting on top! Yum!

  18. I discovered lemon extract about a year ago and I was amazed how it intensifies the flavour of lemon baked goods. I could never have enough lemon!

  19. Loving the triple lemon whammy; extract, juice and zest. They even look very lemony from the pictures as well as soft and chewy. Can’t wait to give these a go!

  20. I’ll take 2 dozen! I love all the lemon in these!!

    • You are the lemon cookie queen! I had already made these when you posted your most recent lemon cookie and I was chuckling to myself that there you go again :) I love all your lemon cookies!

  21. Yum, these look amazing! Also, thanks for the tip about honey. I didn’t know that, but the info will come in handy during my kitchen experiments.

  22. I only like lemon in cookies and bars, but I really LOVE it then. Oh, and lemonade.

    I used to make Lemon Crinkle cookies, but they were always too crunchy. These look like the perfect soft texture. Love that cornstarch!

  23. Gorgeous, Avery! I’m lying in bed and still waking up but now all I want for breakfast is LEMON COOKIES!

  24. I love desserts with lemon and these cookies, i can only imagine how lemony delicious these will be!

  25. these looks great! Perfect for tailgating!

  26. I LOVE all the different ways you got lemon into these cookies. plus soft and chewy is my favorite way to eat a cookie! I can see why your daughter was obsessed with these! She’s lucky to be able to taste test all of your incredible creations!! Pinned :)

  27. My son is all into lemon anything lately, so he’ll love these. They look so soft and I’m loving the bright yellow color!

  28. I LOVE intense lemon flavored-anything. I haven’t gotten around to making your lemon bars yet (it’s on my bucket list) but soon! Although I may skip them and start with the cookies.

  29. Mmmmmm! These look so good :) I always forget how much I love light and refreshing lemon

  30. one of these days you have to post a pic of your daughter eating a lemon! heeehee I want to see her expression after taking a bite. :P

    These cookies are just another reason to love you Averie! Hope your day is going smoothly. t c

  31. Hi! The cookies look soooooo good. I was thinking about making the tomorrow. Can I use margarine instead of butter? And what can I use instead of cornstrach? I live in Spain and I can’t find it. Thank you!! :)
    PS: I love your blog!

    • I would not use margarine because it’s much more watery than butter and I don’t think that would work well in the dough. And if you don’t have cornstarch, then you can omit it. It will alter the texture slightly, but if you simply cannot get it where you live, then you can’t get it :)

  32. I am a lemon extract junkie. I’m a sucker for lemon desserts in general and lemon extract definitely intensifies things sufficiently for my liking!! :) I have a particular soft spot for lemon cookies. I no longer live in San Francisco, but the best lemon cookie I ever had was from a little cafe there. Ate one almost daily. I will *definitely* be trying these! Thank you!

  33. Seriously, lemon desserts are my favorite, love them way more than chocolate, I know, not normal. I think, well, I know that I’d eat all dozen of these cookies. And, I am so glad someone else dislikes cakey cookies!! gooey and undercooked, that’s what I want!!

  34. Yum these look amazing! Thanks for the honey tip I never knew that. Excited to try it out in some cookie recipes going forward. Pinned!

  35. Love that triple hit of lemon, these look like the perfect lemon cookies!

  36. Replace eggs with what to make vegan?

    • Haven’t tried it so not sure.

    • I was wondering how to make these vegan myself. You’d have to also replace the butter and probably the granulated sugar as most refined sugars are processed with bone char. . . . . I’m pondering the situation and will most likely give a vegan version a try. Once I decide what to use! :) Replacing the egg is easy; a flax “egg” or a chia “egg”. I’m obsessed with lemon desserts lately. I haven’t read all the comments to see if anyone else has tried a vegan lemon cookie.

    • I will be honest, there are lots of cookies that I think would be fairly easy to veganize, but…this isn’t one. It’s a runnier, looser dough because of the lemon juice and not having a real egg to truly bind the ingredients (not just add fluff/volume like a chia/flax egg would), it could be a little tricky. That said, it can be done but it may take a couple rounds to get the ratios right.

  37. I am obsessed with everything citrus (lemon and lime more specifically). These look soo delicious.

    xo Amanda
    http://theluxelion.blogspot.com

  38. Tried these today and they are good! I didn’t have any real lemons, so I didn’t use lemon zest, which I think would have made the lemon flavor more intense–but nobody seemed to be complaining around here. :) Next time I need to have my kids help me, as watching the lemon juice and baking soda bubble up would be fun for them.

    • Thanks for trying them and “watching the lemon juice and baking soda bubble up would be fun for them” = I agree! I thought the same thing when I was mixing up the dough at 2am after my daughter was in bed so that it could chill for about 6 hours before I baked and photographed them!

  39. I’m not the biggest fan of cookies, but these sort of awesome recipes make me into a total cookie monster! I tried to prepare the lemon cookies by following your instructions and the result turned out to be pretty nice! I like health-friendly lemon pastries, because everything with this fruit is rather refreshing! I’m making these treats again, hopefully they’ll be even better than the first time, maybe with 2 tbsp of honey, so they can be a little more sweet and soft :)

  40. With how many recipes your daughter has taste tested between 2 cookbooks and countless years of blogging, that’s such high praise that she asked you to make them again!! They must be the best of the best. :) My brother would totally get a kick out of them too. He loves anything lemon, and he only ever comments on my blog when I post a lemon recipe. With how much he loves soft and chewy cookies, the entire batch wouldn’t last more than 10 minutes in his apartment!

  41. I’ve been looking for a good lemon cookie recipe for a while now. Pinned!

  42. Oh I have to disagree with you, Averie :) on flax/chia eggs versus real eggs when there’s only one needed. I never expect to replicate a recipe exactly when converting it into a vegan version. I also never use white flour. I like to make healthy everything and usually “butcher” the original recipe with all my substitutions, lol. I’m up for the challenge of making your recipe a YUMMY vegan one. I’m just glad I found somewhere to begin. I’m sure it’s a yummy regular recipe. I’ll never know though :)

    • I never expect to replicate a recipe exactly when converting it into a vegan version. <--- good, because some people do, and then they're disappointed or the recipe fails and they're shocked. I've lived my entire life either vegan or vegetarian and am extremely familiar with vegan baking, which is why I said what I said, knowing this dough base that I created for the cookies and how it is when working with it. Sometimes you really don't know how a dough is going to behave until you're staring at it in your mixing bowl (as opposed to reading about it). Let's just say I think it'll be trickier than many but not impossible. Enjoy your experiments!

    • I literally went straight to my kitchen after your second reply, lol. I love fiddling with recipes and even had success turning this one into a 100% whole grain, vegan version! My first pan is out of the oven and more are baking as I write this. I didn’t use as much lemon extract or zest because I was afraid they’d be too lemony but will definitely use more next time. I’ve never done a chilled cookie dough, how easy to simply slice and bake fresh ones as they’re eaten! Thanks for the inspiration and for saying I’d have trouble doing it, lol. I’m like a bull, just wave that red flag in front of me. . . . and I have to rise up to meet the challenge! :)

  43. How necessary is the lemon extract? I have none on hand but think these would be a hit in my house!

  44. jean-francois cossette Reply

    Seriously these cookies are amazing!!! All the familly love them and habitualy they don’t like lemon. I will make this recipe often for me when i work in my truck for the week and for my two little boys. Thank you for the idea.

  45. I baked these tonight and they did not turn out soft and chewy. I let them sit in my fridge for 3 hours then baked for ten (cooled for ten on the baking sheet), but they were flat and still underbaked.  Followed your directions…Did I miss something? Let me know!! Thanks! 

  46. I was craving lemon cookies and ended up stumbling across your site.  I am so thankful, because those lemon cookies sound amazing!  I can’t wait to bake them and start browsing through all of your other recipes because just the related recipes alone have me excited for all that I’ll find here! :)

  47. cornstarch 2 teaspons or 2 tablespoons,your recipe calls fot teaspoons but your coments call for tablespoons big difference

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