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!!

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.

5 / 5 ()
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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


  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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193 comments on “Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies”

  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.

  7. These cookies are AWESOME. I wanted a recipe for a chewy lemon cookie that I could add white chocolate chips to and I made these. They turned out TERRIBLE…….because my lemon extract was bad. DARN. Had to throw them away. My daughter and I tried again the next day with fresh extract and they are AMAZING. I’ve never used this combination of ingredients before and it seemed a little wacky, but it’s definitely a good wacky. They come out soft and chewy and stay that way when cool. And it took a while to figure that out because we’d only make 4 at a time and finish them all before they had a chance to cool all the way off. I didn’t add the food dye but as I said, I added the white chocolate chips. They’re so good I am going online to try and find lemon extract in bulk that will be cheaper than buying it at the grocery store. We WILL be making these again. Thanks for the new ideas! Can’t wait to use them on some other recipes. :)

    • Lemon extract is one of those extracts that 1. varies widely by brand I’ve found and 2. can go bad easily. I know the exact taste you are talking about and yes, it’s awful. Glad you tried again with fresh extract and that you love these!

  8. These cookies are amazing! Thanks for posting! I am planning on trying to convert them to gluten free soon so my family can eat them as well

    • Thanks for the praise and keep me posted how it goes when you make them GF!

    • I just made them gluten free with a homemade gluten free mix (the first one that pops up on Google) and they turned out good. Only slightly grainy (although it could be the cornstarch because I taste it in the regular cookies too)

  9. Averie,
    I have been searching for something like this, but I wanted to add pomegranate seeds for Christmas. Do you think that would work?

  10. I have a good way to test your baking soda, making sure you don’t add old, ineffective soda to your cookie dough mix. Put a half teaspoon of it in a saucer or small dish, and add a few drops of vinegar. If it bubbles it’s good. This way you don’t waste any of your lemon juice and you don’t put old flat baking soda into your dough mix and ruin it. That being said I am absolutely going to make these cookies! I don’t have any lemon extract on hand but watch my dust as I head out on that 9 mile drive to the nearest grocery store to get it hahaha! I’ll let you know how the lemon-loving husband likes them. I’ve got fresh ponderosa lemons I’m using, so I’m betting I’ll be making these a lot! And thanks for the tip about the extra flour for humidity … It is almost always humid here in Florida. I always bake with the air conditioner on, even in winter! 

  11. My cookies were a total flop :( The consistency was spongy and moist. If I was making Madeleines I’d be thrilled. Don’t know what I did wrong. Maybe it was overmixed or didn’t have enough flour?

    • Hard to tell exactly what went wrong but not enough flour sounds to be the culprit. I use King Arthur brand and know it gives me better results than other brands do in baking. Also if you’re in a more humid climate and/or snow, you may need to use a bit more flour.

  12. I made these exactly as written and didn’t read the reviews.. they were very good. Now this is just personal preference but we all thought they could be a little more lemony so I did end up making the glaze (putting the glaze in a ziplock biggie, cutting off the tip and just drizzling the glaze over each cookie) Also.. the last batch I forgot to put on the oven timer and they were in the oven a min or two longer than the 10 mins suggested and the bottoms got a little light brown and crispy. I LOVED THOSE COOKIES!! the crisp bottom with the chewy cookie = DELISH! So next time I’m going to just cook them for 12 mins. I’ve never made ANYTHING lemon before and these were a HUGE HIT, I made them about an hour ago and they are already almost gone. THANK YOU!

  13. Very delicious. Made these today with a couple of changes. We didn’t have any cornstarch but did have clearjel so used that, same amount. We also used a large muscovy duck egg because, well, we have ducks and A LOT of duck eggs. So there was extra egg because they’re bigger than a chicken jumbo. Then we added white chocolate chips. We didn’t refrigerate them at all and they didn’t spread too far so that was good. Actually, they’re very lofty with a very nice texture. Also, the pan was not greased and no problem with sticking (the butter takes care of that). The kids and myself were sold. We’ll see how they go over at the family gathering tomorrow :)

  14. I just made these and they didn’t come out anything like the picture :( what have I done wrong? I followed the recipe exactly but the dough was too wet, even then it didn’t spread at all in the oven. Even when I managed to pressed them down REAL HARD (almost squashed them) then they still turned out cake like :/ could even see the bubble inside them like you see in sponge cake????

    • Sorry my bad I forgot to mentioned I used lime instead of lemon but that shouldn’t make it into something completely different like that surely? (where I am staying lemon is not an option). Could it be because I used too much lime juice? I used 2 limes which is probably equivalent to 1.5 lemon? I want it to be extra lemony but even after all that lime juice it still has a very subtle taste of lime/lemon :(

      • It sounds like you used too much liquid. It’s hard to tell exactly where you went wrong because I wasn’t there with you but yes, sounds like you used too much if the dough was too wet. I would follow the recipe exactly next time, use lemon, and the amount called for.

  15. These cookies are AMAZING!!! But I read the refrigerate part after I put them in the oven, and it tastes great. And they weren’t thin at all! So… I’m just goin with that, and I’m also very impatient, So I am not waiting 5 days for the dough to chill…

    • You don’t have to wait 5 days. You can if you want. But you definitely don’t have to, just a couple hours. Reread that part :)

      But I’m glad you loved them and they came out great without chilling.

  16. I followed the recipe exactly, making 12 patties and chilling 3+ hours. Other commenters thought humidity was the problem, but I baked on a dry Summer day in CA. After 10 minutes in the 350* oven they were nowhere near done. However, I didn’t find that out until they were cooled because I baked “until edges have set and tops are just set”. I baked on parchment lined stoneware baking sheets and cooled them on the pans. All but the edges were wet and sticky; when I moved them to a rack to decorate, they oozed through the wire. : ( Sadly, I had to throw them away.
    The edges were tasty, though!

    • stoneware baking sheets <--- That is your culprit! Things baked in/on stonewear need much longer to cook than baked on metal! That is why they weren't done after 10 minutes; had you baked longer and/or on metal everything would have been fine. In all recipes I treat baking times as estimates and guidelines and it's up to the baker to determine what's truly done in their oven, using their pans, their ingredients, their climate, etc.

  17. Your website won’t let me comment!

  18. Me and my daughter just made the batter and now we are waiting. Can’t wait! The batter didn’t seem to be lemony but I smell it. So I’m praying that after they bake they will be lemony, if not I will be adding the lemon glaze.

  19. Just wondering if I could make them smaller so that I get more cookies?!

  20. I am so happy I have found this site! I made the lemon cookies and they were excellent. I was a little shy of having the full tbs of the lemon extract, and it might have been a little old, but I will be making them again. I did make them smaller and got over two dozen—still a decent size cookie. I love baking so will be trying more of your receipes.

    Rating: 5
  21. my family and i love these! i followed the recipe exactly and they turned out absolutely perfect!!-i have a question if you’re still available to answer. what would you suggest if i wanted them more lemony? more zest would prob work. i’d be nervous about just adding more lemon juice without offsetting the liquid. more flour?thanks in advance!

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you love these! If you want more lemon flavor I would add more zest or you can try making an icing. Powdered sugar thinned out with lemon juice as necessary. I love lemon glazes/icing and feel they go a long way to really oomphing up the lemon flavor.

  22. looking for a cookie to add to a wedding cookie bar table….want a lemon cookie and this one looks perfect….might do a test run first though…..I use essential oils in my cooking and baking sometimes….and wonder about using lemon essential oil to get some good lemon flavor. I would still use the zest etc the recipe calls for but add that…..what do you think?

    • I would use lemon extract rather than essential oil, personally. Oils tend to be much stronger than extracts.

      But definitely absolutely do a trial run especially since this is going to be served at a wedding. Good luck!

  23. OMG!! These cookies were AMAZING. I am 14 yrs old and I love baking. I made these for my mom birthday. She LOVED them.They are really delicious.

    Rating: 5
  24. I made these and the bitterness from the lemon extract was way too strong, I would have used 1/2 the amount. The texture of the cookie was excellent. I will try again with less extract.

    Rating: 3
  25. These look really good, and I have fresh lemon juice and zest in the fridge, so I really want to make them! The trouble is – I don’t have lemon extract! What can I do to substitute? More zest/juice? Thanks in advance!

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