Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies

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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!

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!

Best Lemon Cookies EVER!

If you like lemon, you’re going to love these cookies. They’re soft, chewy, and packed with bold lemon flavor.

These easy lemon 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.

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. 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!

Ingredients in Lemon Cookies

To make this easy recipe for lemon cookies, you’ll need: 

  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Light brown sugar
  • Egg
  • Lemon extract
  • Lemon juice and zest
  • Honey 
  • Yellow food coloring (optional) 
  • All-purpose flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Salt
  • Baking soda

Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.

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!

How to Make Lemon Cookies

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!

Here’s an overview of how the soft lemon cookies are prepared:

  1. Cream together the butter, sugars, egg, and lemon extract.
  2. Add in the lemon zest, honey, and optional food coloring, followed by the dry ingredients. 
  3. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop the cookie dough into balls and chill for at least 3 hours.
  4. Once the cookie dough has chilled, bake until the edges have set and the tops are just set, even if slightly undercooked, pale, and glossy in the center.
  5. Let these lemon cookies cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired. 
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!

Recipe Tips

The yellow food coloring is totally optional. 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.

Be sure to 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 baking soda doesn’t bubble, it’s old and expired.

Don’t try to swap out the lemon juice for lemon extract or vice versa. You need both! When comparing lemon juice vs lemon extract, lemon juice has a less concentrated lemon flavor and is very acidic whereas lemon extract has a very potent lemon flavor. I like to use both for extra lemon flavor and freshness.

Recipe FAQs

Why is there honey in the lemon cookie dough?

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.

What does cornstarch do for cookies?

The 2 teaspoons of cornstarch help keep cookies softbatch-style soft. I’ve got 20 other cornstarch cookie recipes showcasing what a great little trick it is.

Can I Substitute the Cornstarch? 

No, the cornstarch is what makes the lemon cookies so soft and chewy. 

Can I Glaze the Cookies? 

If you want to glaze the tops of these chewy lemon cookies, I’d recommend making my Glazed Cream Cheese Lemon Cookies instead. They’re super thick, so they can handle a healthy drizzle of lemon glaze. 

Can I Substitute the Lemon Extract? 

No, you must use actual lemon extract to make these homemade lemon cookies. Do NOT use lemon oil and lemon extract interchangeably because oil is much more potent and intense.

Also, do NOT add extra lemon juice and omit the lemon extract. Lemon juice isn’t as strong in flavor and because it’s acidic it may alter the texture of the cookie dough. 

Do I Have to Chill the Cookie Dough? 

Yes, you MUST chill the dough for a minimum of 3 hours. Do not bake with unchilled dough because the cookies will bake thinner, flatter, and will be more prone to spreading.

Can I Double This Recipe? 

Yes, simply double all the ingredients. 

Storage Instructions

Note that these soft lemon cookies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Yes! Roll the dough into balls and freeze. You can bake them straight from frozen, no need to thaw first! 

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4.49 from 835 votes

Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies

By Averie Sunshine
These soft and chewy lemon cookies are packed with big, bold lemon flavor for all you lemon lovers! They're soft, chewy and not at all cakey!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12
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Ingredients  

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ 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

Instructions 

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Optionally, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Or, for increased lemon intensity, make the lemon glaze and then sprinkle with additional lemon zest.

Notes

  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 267kcal, Carbohydrates: 46g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 36mg, Sodium: 126mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 28g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

More Lemon Desserts: 

ALL OF MY LEMON RECIPES! 

Lemon Lemonies — Like brownies, but made with lemon and white chocolate! Dense, chewy, not cakey and packed with big, bold lemon flavor!

Three stacked Lemon Lemonies with bite taken out of one

The BEST Lemon Bars — Classic lemon bars that pack a punch of big time lemon flavor, without being too tart or too sweet!

The Best Lemon Bars The BEST Lemon Bars with one on plate

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting – Soft, fluffy, moist, very lemony cupcakes from scratch! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe for cupcakes that taste like they’re from a bakery.

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Softbatch Glazed Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies — Big, bold lemon flavor packed into super soft cookies thanks to the cream cheese!! Tangy-sweet perfection! Lemon lovers are going to adore these easy cookies!!

Stacked Softbatch Glazed Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies with bite taken out of one

Strawberry Lemonade Bars — Imagine crossing lemon bars with a strawberry pie. These easy bars taste like strawberry lemonade! Sooo good!

One Strawberry Lemonade Bar on plate

The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat) — It took years, but I finally recreated it!! Easy, no mixer, no cake mix, dangerously good, and SPOT ON!! You’re going to love this lemon pound cake recipe!

Close up of sliced The Best Lemon Loaf (Better-Than-Starbucks Copycat)

Lemon Olive Oil Cake — My new FAVORITE lemon dessert of all time!! Lemon zest, juice, extract, and Limoncello add so much AMAZING lemon flavor to this EASY, ridiculously moist no-mixer cake that’s unique and INCREDIBLE!!

Lemon Olive Oil Cake on plate with fork holding bite

Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread — This EASY, no-mixer homemade quick bread combines tangy lemon flavor with tender zucchini which keeps it so incredibly soft, tender, and moist! Topped with a simple lemon glaze, this bread is not overly sweet. 

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze — An easy buttermilk cake with big lemon flavor!! Soft, fluffy, and foolproof if you like puckering up!!

Originally posted on August 25, 2014 and reposted on June 24, 2020 with updated text.

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

Recipe Rating




Comments

    1. Thanks Queenbee for the 5 star review! Wonderful to hear they’re the best lemon cookies ever for you!

  1. 5 stars
    This lemon cookie recipe is soooo good! They’re soft and chewy and very lemony. Everyone loves them every time I make these to bring to an event or gathering of friends. Great job Averie!

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review, Gayle, and I am glad these are a hit with folks whenever you bring them or serve them to friends and family!

  2. i refrigerated the cookie dough for like two days but they still came very flat and spread like crazy. any idea why?

      1. thank you!!! i used fresh baking soda. unfortunately im not american so i dont have that flour but ill try again:)

      2. Ok I would say then just increase the amount of flour you’re using by a 3 tbsp or so to firm up the dough a bit more which will prevent spreading during baking. Best of luck!