Lemon Shortbread Cookies Recipe

With their buttery flavor and crisp, crumbly texture, shortbread cookies are a classic treat which are delicious all on their own, but even better alongside a warm mug of milky tea or a steaming cup of coffee. In this recipe, brought to us by recipe developer A.J. Forget, those classic shortbread cookies are taken to new heights with an infusion of bright lemon flavor and a sweet, almond glaze. Lemon and almond are a wonderful flavor pairing, and serve here to elevate the classic shortbread cookie into something new and wonderful.

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Shortbread cookies are unique in that they have no eggs, no liquid, and no leavening agent (but be warned, just because there are no eggs doesn't mean this cookie dough is safe to eat raw). Unlike most cookies, which include at least a bit of liquid and leavener (be it baking soda or powder), shortbread instead relies on a perfect balance of butter, sugar, and flour to produce that classic crisp texture which practically melts in your mouth. Topped here with a simple glaze made from cream, powdered sugar, and almond extract, the classic indulgence takes on a new life, adding a touch of elegance and complexity to a known favorite.

Gather the lemon shortbread cookie ingredients

For this recipe you will need butter, sugar, salt, lemon zest, flour, cream, powdered sugar, and almond extract. Once you've brought those ingredients together, you are ready to begin.

Step 1: Mix the butter

Add the butter, sugar, salt, and ½ of the lemon zest to a mixing bowl. Stir well to combine.

Step 2: Make a dough

Next add the flour and mix to from a crumbly dough.

Step 3: Form a block

Pour the dough out onto a piece of foil or plastic wrap and use this to form the dough into a rectangular block.

Step 4: Chill the dough

Wrap the block of dough and store it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Step 5: Preheat the oven

While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 375 F.

Step 6: Slice the cookies

Once chilled, remove the dough and slice it into ½-inch thick cookies.

Step 7: Bake

Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to brown.

Step 8: Cool the cookies

Cool the cookies on a wire rack.

Step 9: Make the glaze

While the cookies are cooling, make the glaze by stirring together the cream, powdered sugar, and almond extract.

Step 10: Glaze the cookies

Once the cookies are cool, spread a bit of glaze on each and sprinkle over the second half of the lemon zest.

Step 11: Time to eat

Serve with milky tea as an afternoon treat, or with an espresso after a nice dinner.

How should I store leftover shortbread cookies?

If, after tea time or dessert, you find yourself with a few leftover cookies, it is important to know how to store them properly. Proper storage of leftover shortbread cookies will preserve both the flavor and texture of the baked goods you have worked so hard to create.

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To start, make sure that the cookies have fully cooled before you store them. Once cooled to room temperature, they can be placed in an airtight container and stored on the counter, in the refrigerator, or in the freezer, depending on how long you need to store them. At room temperature, shortbread cookies will keep just fine for a week or more. In the refrigerator, shortbread cookies will easily keep for twice as long. And, finally, if frozen, shortbread cookies will keep for upwards of three months. The most important steps in preserving your leftover shortbread cookies are to make sure they cool to room temperature before storage, remain in an airtight container, and avoid excess moisture. If you keep those factors in mind, you will have no trouble storing your extra cookies for as long as you need.

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What can I substitute for almond extract?

Almond and lemon are a classic flavor pairing, but there are a number of reasons why you may need to find a suitable substitution for almond extract when preparing these shortbread cookies. Nut allergies are the most likely culprit. If someone who will be eating these cookies is allergic to almonds or tree nuts, it is important to replace the almond extract with another flavor. Beyond allergies, however, almond extract can be difficult to find and some folks simply do not like the flavor. But worry not, there are plenty of options out there.

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The most popular replacement is likely one that you already have in your cabinet: vanilla extract. Vanilla extract is not only the most ubiquitous baking flavor, it also works perfectly to complement the lemon in this recipe. Almond extract is a less common flavor, providing a complex touch to the cookies, but vanilla will work just fine in a pinch. Imitation vanilla is also an option, though the flavor is slightly less complex (if you've ever heard the rumors about a sinister source for imitation vanilla, don't worry, that was debunked a long time ago).

Coconut extract is another suitable alternative. Citrus and coconut pair brilliantly, and coconut extract gives the cookies an interesting tropical twist. Like most decisions in the kitchen, there are many good options, and finding the perfect choice will likely come down to matters of personal preference as well as a bit of tinkering.

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Lemon Shortbread Cookies Recipe

5 (18 ratings)

Indulge in a sweet (and easy-to-make) afternoon treat thanks to these lemon shortbread cookies.

Prep Time
55
minutes
Cook Time
20
minutes
servings
12
Cookies
plate of lemon shortbread cookies
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon, divided
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract

Directions

  1. Add the butter, sugar, salt, and ½ of the lemon zest to a mixing bowl. Stir well to combine.
  2. Next add the flour and mix to from a crumbly dough.
  3. Pour the dough out onto a piece of foil or plastic wrap and use this to form the dough into a rectangular block.
  4. Wrap the block of dough and store it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 375 F.
  6. Once chilled, remove the dough and slice it into ½-inch thick cookies.
  7. Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to brown.
  8. Cool to cookies on a wire rack.
  9. While the cookies are cooling, make the glaze by stirring together the cream, powdered sugar, and almond extract.
  10. Once the cookies are cool, spread a bit of glaze on each and sprinkle over the second half of the lemon zest.
  11. Serve with milky tea as an afternoon treat, or with an espresso after a nice dinner.

Nutrition

Calories per Serving 293
Total Fat 17.3 g
Saturated Fat 10.7 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 46.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 33.0 g
Dietary Fiber 0.7 g
Total Sugars 18.5 g
Sodium 101.2 mg
Protein 2.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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