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Easy Lemon Shortbread Cookies (No Chilling Required)

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I have always liked lemon shortbread cookies. Simple, delicate – they're all about using good quality ingredients and handling them correctly.

These lemon shortbread cookies are rich and buttery, and don't require chilling or preheating the oven. Fresh lemon zest plus lemon glaze equals more yummy lemon flavor. These are fancy enough for a party, but easy enough for a treat anytime.

I use a microplane zester for zesting my lemon, and reserve the lemon juice for the glaze. If possible, use an organic lemon.

lemon shortbread cookies on white plate

Lemon Shortbread Cookies Recipe

This lemon shortbread cookie recipe is a little different than most, as it swaps chilling the dough for low heat baking. We experimented with several recipes, and this was our favorite. It yields a rich, buttery, melt in your mouth cookie.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 pound of butter, room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Cream together sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt by hand or with an electric mixer on low. Add flour to butter mixture, a little at a time. The dough should come together in a stiff ball.

Using fingers, roll out the dough into small balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Place balls about two inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Prick each cookie three times with a fork.

Bake your lemon shortbread cookies at 300 F degrees for about 50 minutes to one hour, until edges are light brown in color. Do not preheat oven, and do not let edges get dark. All you want is a hint of color.

cookies without lemon glaze, fresh out of the oven

When bake time is finished, move cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

cookies on cooling rack

To make the lemon glaze, mix together confectioner's sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle over cooled cookies. If you like a sweeter cookie, you can double the glaze recipe and dip each cookie.

Once the glaze has set, pack cookies in an airtight container for storage. Use wax paper between layers of lemon shortbread cookies to prevent sticking.

I bake on air bake pans to avoid the risk of burning, and I line them with reusable parchment paper. Stoneware would probably also work well. If you don't have a heavy pan, make sure you keep a close eye on the cookies.

Why do you put shortbread in the fridge before baking?

Most shortbread cookie recipes call for chilling the dough for 15 to 30 minutes before baking. This helps to firm up the butter so the cookies spread less during baking.

With this recipe, we start with balls, so spreading helps to shape them into round, flat cookies.

Why are my shortbread cookies chewy?

Shortbread needs a gentle touch. I had this demonstrated when my friend, Julie, visited. We both made the same lemon shortbread cookie recipe, but it tasted like two different recipes.

The butter should be soft enough to mix, but not liquid. Dough should be mixed just to come together, no more.

If you mix the dough too much, you start to develop the gluten in the flour. The butter binds with the flour instead of staying in fluffy layers. This will lead to a tough, chewy cookie.

Julie got her hot little hands in the dough and worked it like bread dough. The result was not so yummy cookies.

How long can you keep homemade shortbread?

These lemon shortbread cookies have a great shelf life, and will keep up to four weeks in an airtight container. You can also freeze them for several months.

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Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Glaze

These lemon shortbread cookies are rich and buttery, and don't require chilling or preheating the oven. Lemon zest plus lemon glaze equals more lemon flavor

  • Author: Laurie Neverman
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 36 cookies 1x
  • Category: dessert

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 pound of butter, room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions

Cream together sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt by hand or with an electric mixer on low. Add flour to butter mixture, a little at a time. The dough should come together in a stiff ball.

Using fingers, roll out the dough into small balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Place balls about two inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Prick each cookie three times with a fork.

Bake your lemon shortbread cookies at 300 F degrees for about 50 minutes to one hour, until edges are light brown in color. Do not preheat oven, and do not let edges get dark. All you want is a hint of color.

When bake time is finished, move cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

To make the lemon glaze, mix together confectioner's sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle over cooled cookies. If you like a sweeter cookie, you can double the glaze recipe and dip each cookie.

Once the glaze has set, pack cookies in an airtight container for storage. Use wax paper between layers of cookies to prevent sticking.

Keywords: cookies, shortbread

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lemon shortbread cookies

More Common Sense Home Recipes

 We have over 100 recipes on the site, all listed by category on the Recipes and Kitchen Tips page.

Some of our most popular cookie recipes include:

Raspberry Ribbon Cookies

The BEST Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Coffee Cookies

These cookies would also make a great addition to our Easter brunch menu.

We also have more recipes for lemon lovers, including:

Honey Sweetened Lemonade

Lemon Ground Cherry Jelly

Homemade Lemon Extract

Originally written in 2013, last updated 2021.

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8 Comments

  1. Hi. Great recipe! One thing though…I don’t like lemon but I just love shortbread cookies. Is there a way to make these cookies without the lemon? Can you just leave the lemon out? Or maybe substitute the lemon with vanilla extract? I was just wondering. Thanks! Have a great weekend! 🙂

  2. I found that I had to use a pretty large amount of lemon juice for this – about 1/3 to 1/2 cup. Also, I shook the cookies gently in a brown bag with some powdered sugar and that was an excellent addition. They were extremely light and delicately flavored. Very wonderful.

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