These sweet and easy soft lemon cookies are the perfect little cookie for a delicious treat. Full of fresh lemon zest, these are bright, yummy cookies you’ll want to make again and again!
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I think everyone who is a lemon dessert lover is a little bit particular. Lemon cookies need that perfect balance of fresh sweet and slightly tart lemon with a buttery finish to balance everything out.
Too much lemon? Your cookies may pack too much punch.
Not enough lemon taste? The cookies fall flat.
But these soft lemon cookies have just the right lemon balance. They are soft in the middle and just the right amount of chewiness.
Even my husband, the one who doesn’t love lemon in our house enjoyed these cookies. The kid is happy with most cookies and is a lemon lover like me! She loves this lemon cookie recipe.
What Ingredients Make These Soft Lemon Cookies?
Have you ever made a cookie you were expecting to be soft and it came out crunchy? This cookie recipe is designed to make soft and easy lemon cookies. These three ingredients help to give the cookie a soft and chewy texture.
- Oil- Instead of all butter, this recipe uses half oil and half butter
- Powdered sugar- this recipe also uses half granulated sugar, half powdered sugar
- Cream of tarter- also helps make a pillowy cookie
These are not a cakey cookie! They have a little more texture and crumb to them.
Try my delicious orange chocolate chip muffins for another great baking project.
Can I Swap Baking Powder In Place Of Baking Soda?
Baking soda is about four more times powerful then baking powder is. You can not swap them teaspoon for teaspoon!
This recipe is a little more acidic from the lemon flavor. It gets tricky to start swapping around baking powder and baking soda. I really don’t recommend swapping them unless you plan on making a couple trials of cookies. It can be hard to get the balance just right.
What about using lemon extract?
You can use lemon extract in this recipe, but I’ll be honest it’s not my favorite. For this recipe you can swap out all the lemon zest for 1 teaspoon of lemon extract.
Lemon extract is strong stuff, and will give your cookies a more artificial lemon taste. They’ll still be delicious, but I personally prefer using the combination of fresh lemon juice and zest for a fresher, brighter taste.
I Live At High Altitude, Can I Make This Recipe?
Hey, me too! I live 5000 feet up. But all my recipes are written for those at regular sea level.
High altitude baking is different depending on how high up you are. I’ve developed recipes that work for both regular sea level and high altitude.
If you are also at 5000 feet up, try reducing the baking soda by 1/8 of a teaspoon in this recipe and checking your cookies to see if they are done earlier. You can also reduce the granulated sugar by a tablespoon or even two.
If you live higher up then 5000 feet, you may need to adjust even a little more.
Why Does This Recipe Use Different Kinds Of Sugar?
In the batter, this recipe uses both granulated sugar and powdered sugar in the dough. By using a combination of sugar, you’re helping your cookie to have that light and fluffy mouthfeel when you take a bite.
The coarse sugar is a finishing sugar at the end of the cookie.
What Is Coarse Sugar And Why Use It?
In the recipe I mention sprinkling coarse sugar on top of the cookies at the end. This is a thicker cut type of sugar. It adds a sweet finish and just the right amount of crunch to the top of these cookies.
Turbinado sugar is my favorite for finishing cookies and muffins. It has a little more flavor as a finishing sugar and the right crunch.
I top my Homemade Blueberry (Muffin!) Bread with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar too. Yum!
But you can also use any type of coarse sugar. This includes colored sugar sprinkles, yellow always looks nice on lemon cookies.
You can also sprinkle regular granulate sugar. Granulated sugar gives the top of the cookie a little bit of sweet flavor but not the crunch. I find you need a little more granulated sugar than when using a coarse sugar, or you don’t really taste it.
Do You Need To Chill The Dough Before Baking?
Since these cookies use a combination of ingredients, they bake up puffy without spreading too much when I was testing them.
This is a very soft cookie dough, it feels a little bit more airy when you touch it. You don’t really need to spend time rolling the dough, just scoop with either a cookie scoop (for slightly bigger cookies) or a tablespoon (for slightly smaller cookies.)
If you find your cookies are spreading too much though you can chill your dough.
Pop the entire bowl of dough in the fridge for at least 15-20 minutes. This usually does the trick for most cookie doughs that are spreading too much.
What About A Lemon Glaze For The Cookies?
For me, these cookies were plenty sweet with just a sprinkling of coarse sugar on top. But if you prefer glaze you can totally do that too!
For a super simple glaze mix together:
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest OR 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Mix the ingredients together and let the cookies cool completely after baking on a wire rack. Then drizzle the glaze over your cookies.
Soft Lemon Cookies
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 Lemon zest and juice
- 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons course sugar optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In large mixing bowl, cream together softened butter, granulated sugar and powdered sugar. Then add oil, egg, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix well until combined.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
- Carefully add dry mixture to the liquid mixture, mixing until thoroughly combined and a batter forms.
- Using a cookie scoop drop dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheet about three inches apart.
- Sprinkle each cookie with coarse sugar or decorator’s sugar.
- Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool and enjoy!
- These cookies should be a softer cookie, be careful not to overbake!
- The coarse sugar on top gives these cookies a little bit of extra sweetness. You can also sprinkle regular granulate sugar, but it won't have the same crunchy top. Colored sugar style sprinkles are another great option.
- A standard cookie scoop is a tablespoon and a half. You can use a regular tablespoon to portion your dough. You will have smaller cookies (but more cookies!) Start checking them at 10-12 minutes of bake time.
- For a stronger lemon flavor, replace lemon zest with 1 teaspoon of lemon extract.
- These cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.
- Parchment paper is my favorite to use for baking cookies, and works great with these cookies. You can also use a silicone baking mat. Aluminum foil is ok, but not my favorite as the cookies are crispier.
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