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These Lemon Sugar Cookies are bursting with sweet-tart flavor and perfect for spring! Crispy on the outside while completely soft and chewy on the inside, they’re rolled in lemon sugar before baking for ultimate lemon goodness.
I am on SUCH a fruit kick, guys.
For the record, this is wholly unlike me, for the most part. Summer produce is my jam (berries! hello?!) Spring stuff…historically has just been kind of OK. Between sangria and palmiers and cupcakes, so far I’m off to a good start – and that’s exactly what these lemon sugar cookies are. THE START.
I have sooo many more recipes involving fresh produce (fruit & veg!) coming your way. I hope you’ve got a farmer’s market nearby.
And they better have a beefy supply of citrus!
Soft and Chewy Lemon Sugar Cookies
Let’s talk about lemons. And lemon cookies. And a bit about lemon sugar, which is probably my new obsession ever since those palmiers a few weeks ago.
I’ve never been a huge lemon dessert person. I mean, I always saw the appeal, I just never shared the affinity. Orange and lime? Yes please, sign me up. Lemons, while most of the world is in love with them, are apparently a new love of mine. I found the bandwagon, and I’m taking it over.
These cookies started with a mason jar full of lemon sugar. Yes, simple granulated sugar rubbed with lemon zest. It stirred this mad desire for lemon desserts inside of me, and my craving for a soft, chewy sugar cookie got the lemon treatment.
And here we are – dealing with a batch of really good lemon sugar cookies. I took my leftovers to work…after eating 6 or 7 of them during their photoshoot. #NoShame.
What you do with yours is up to you.
What do you need to bake cookies?
Honestly, it depends on what kind of cookie you’re making, but the golden ratio is…
3 parts flour: 2 parts fat (butter, shortening): 1 part sugar
…with a few extras thrown in, of course.
- Eggs serve as your binding agent (what keeps the ingredients together) to give structure to the cookie.
- Leaveners (baking soda and powder) are what make your cookies puff up.
- Salt and flavored extracts are what make your cookies unique, and not just a disc of sweetened flour.
I’ll leave the science of cookies for another post. For now, you have a basic idea of what you need to have in your pantry for those late-night cookie cravings.
What is a good recipe for sugar cookies with lemon?
Any standard sugar cookie recipe can be livened up with a bit of lemon – but this one is my favorite! Soft and chewy middles with crispy edges. Perfection.
- 1. Place 1/2 cup of granulated sugar in a small bowl, then add the zest of a lemon. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers, infusing the flavor.
- 2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- 3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- 4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, sugar, and lemon zest for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add a room temperature egg and mix until incorporated. Blend in the fresh lemon juice and lemon and vanilla extracts until combined.
- 5. Gradually add flour and mix until a smooth dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes (or overnight).
- 6. Before baking, scoop a tablespoon of dough and use your hands to roll into a ball; repeat with remaining dough. Roll in lemon sugar, then place two inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Press down slightly on the balls of cookie dough, and add more lemon zest to the tops if desired.
- 7. Bake for 8-9 minutes, being sure to watch them for doneness. The centers will be soft and puffy and may look underdone, but they will continue to bake for 1 minute after removing them from the oven. Do not wait until the edges turn brown – those are overbaked and won’t be as soft and chewy! Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheets 5 minutes, then move to cooling rack.
Is lemon extract a good substitute for lemon juice? (Or vice versa?)
It can be! If you used all of your lemon juice in your afternoon tea or something, the concentrated lemon extract will absolutely do the job. Instead of the 1 tablespoon of juice that the recipe calls for, substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons extract (1/2 teaspoon per teaspoon juice).
If you’re out of extract but have plenty of fresh lemons, DO NOT add more lemon juice as it will alter the chemistry of the cookie. Zest an extra lemon and toss that in instead. The oil in the peel has more lemon flavor and is more similar to extract than the juice is.
Use these substitutions in these lemon sugar cookies, and any other lemon dessert recipe you make!
…Like maybe one of these other delicious lemon dessert recipes!
- Lemon Thyme Palmiers
- Lemon Blueberry Cake
- Raspberry Lemonade Cake
- Lemon Lime Angel Food Cupcakes
- Lemon Poppy Seed Cake (GF & vegan!)
Soft & Chewy Lemon Sugar Cookies
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar or demerara sugar
- 1 lemon zested
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest from 2 medium lemons
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
For Lemon Sugar
- Place 1/2 cup of granulated sugar in a bowl, then add the zest of a lemon. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers, infusing the flavor.
For Cookie Dough
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter for 30 seconds until smooth. Add sugar and lemon zest and cream for 2 minutes until fluffy. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. Blend in the lemon juice and extracts until combined.
- Gradually add flour and mix until a smooth dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes (or overnight).
- When ready to bake, use your hands to shape tablespoons of dough into balls. Roll in lemon sugar, then place two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Press down slightly on the balls of dough.
- Bake for 8-9 minutes, being sure to watch them for doneness. The centers will be soft and puffy and may look underdone, but they will continue to bake for 1 minute after removing them from the oven. Do not wait until the edges turn brown - those are overbaked and won't be as soft and chewy! Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheets 5 minutes, then move to cooling rack.