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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103 comments

  1. My two year old little boy loves all things sweet we both had fun making and even more fun eating these cookies. Thank u for your blog

  2. I’ve never tried to make lemon cookies before, but this recipe looks great! Love these for the Summer!

  3. My son is in the Army and stationed in South Korea.  I baked a batch of these and sent them to him for his birthday to substitute for the Lemon Cake he loves so much (clearly a cake was not going to survive being sent that far).  He asked for more cookies and said all the other soldiers on base want another batch too! Guess I’ll be baking this weekend.  

    • Wow what an amazing story!! So glad the cookies made it all the way to South Korea and that there are requests for more cookies :) Thank you for sharing the story behind this all…so awesome to hear!

  4. I have a question about the soft lemon cookies recipe. Why do you ‘make a mound’ of baking soda on top of the flour instead of mixing the soda into the flour to distribute it evenly, as per ‘ standard’ instructions??

    (If you are concerned about the potency of your baking soda, you can (and should) test it before using it.)
    That instruction puzzles me.

  5. So, my four-year-old daughter and I just made the dough, which is currently chilling. She loved learning how to zest the lemons! However, rolling the dough into balls was a bit complicated since the dough was super sticky. I hope we didn’t do something wrong! The dough is delightful, though! We will let you know how they turn out. :)

    • In this summer heat and humidity, sometimes dough needs a touch more flour. That would have combatted the stickiness. Just a tip for you for summer baking in general. Glad you’re in the kitchen with your little girl!

  6. Thanks for the tip! My little one loves to cook. We bake at least once per week. The cookies had amazing flavor, but the consistency was off. The bottoms were golden brown and the top/middle were really doughy. Maybe that was due to the humidity and heat, as well. We are in Southwest Missouri, so it’s pretty humid right now. We will definitely be trying them again. Maybe in the winter. :)

    • Yes that’s it for sure! There’s an old grandmotherly wives tale about baking on humid days…basically don’t do it :) Sometimes it can’t be helped but if you are baking when it’s humid, you’ll need more flour. Happens for sure with bread making in the summer too. More flour and you’ll be set. Just add til it’s not sticky. No need to wait all the way until winter.

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