Soft Lemon Sugar Cookies is a perfect cookie recipe for lemon lovers. These easy lemon cookies give a lemony spin to traditional sugar cookies you’ll love!
They are slightly chewy cookies, think a cousin to a snickerdoodle cookie in the texture. Soft, lightly chewy lemon cookies. This is a love at first bite cookie.
Recipe Ingredients Notes
Flour. Regular All Purpose flour or gluten-free measure-for-measure flour blend can be used. We use (and recommend) Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour for gluten-free baked goods.
Unsalted butter. You’ll need 1 cup (two sticks) softened. Be sure to start the recipe with room temperature butter for best results.
Cream of Tartar. This is found in the spice section of the grocery store. When used with baking soda it adds bubbles to the dough behaving like double acting baking powder in helping the cookie rise. It gives a softer texture to the cookie.
Lemon zest. This adds a light fresh lemon flavor to the sugar cookies. For a bright lemon flavor add 2 lemons worth of fresh lemon zest. We use this instead of fresh lemon juice because the oils in the skin of the lemon have such a wonderful lemon flavor. Using a lemon zester makes this easy.
Lemon extract. This is used instead of vanilla extract to give lemon flavor.
Granulated sugar. Some will be used each in the cookie dough and for rolling the cookies before baking.
Optional: food coloring. If you’d like the cookies to have a yellow color food coloring can be added.
How to make Lemon Sugar Cookies – Step-by-Step
STEP 1. Preparation
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with non-stick spray or parchment paper if it’s not already non-stick.
STEP 2. Make the cookie batter
In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until smooth and creamy (3-5 minutes)(photos 1-2). Add the eggs and lemon extract, mix well, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed (photo 2). Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar; whisk together (photo 3). Pour the flour mixture (dry ingredients) into the butter mixture (wet ingredients), add in the lemon zest, and mix until just combined (photo 4). If using food coloring, add it here. Do not overmix!
STEP 3. Scoop and Bake
Using a medium cookie scoop, or a spoon, scoop dough balls that are a little over an inch in size, this is equivalent to a heaping tablespoon. Place the cookie dough ball into the ½ cup bowl of sugar and roll it around (photo 5).
Place the dough 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat for the remaining dough (photos 6-7). NOTE: photo 6 shows dough rolled in yellow sugar and photo 7 shows dough rolled in plain granulated sugar.
Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes baking time, then allow the cookies to rest on the prepared baking sheet for 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling wire rack (photo 8).
Rolling sugar option. The chewy lemon sugar cookies are rolled in granulated sugar before baking. You can also use yellow sugar or a combination of yellow sugar and granulated sugar for a festive look.
Yellow sugar can be purchased or you can make your own. Add the sugar to a plastic bag with a drop or two of yellow food coloring. Seal and shake the bag to coat and color the sugar.
Make other citrus sugar cookies. You can use this lemon sugar cookies recipe as a guide for making orange or lime sugar cookies too. Replace the lemon extract with orange extract or lime extract. And replace the lemon zest with orange zest or lime zest. The amount of extract may vary for alternative versions.
How to Store
Once fully cooled, store in an airtight container either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They can be kept on a plate sealed with plastic wrap too.
How to Freeze
The cookies can also be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Allow them to cool completely before adding to a freezer bag or firm sided container (which helps protect from damage in a crowded freezer).
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Lemon Sugar Cookies
Lemon Sugar Cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons lemon extract
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour regular or gluten-free 1-to-1 flour blend
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Zest from 1 small lemon This gives a light lemony taste, for someone who likes a big lemon punch then do 2 lemons
- yellow food coloring OPTIONAL
Rolling sugar (pre-baking)
- ½ cup granulated sugar regular or yellow sugar can be used. See NOTES section below.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with non-stick spray or parchment paper if it’s not already non-stick.
- In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy (3-5 minutes). Add in the eggs and lemon extract, mix well. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar.
- Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, add in the lemon zest, and mix until just combined. If using food coloring add it now.Do not overmix!
- Using a medium cookie scoop, or a spoon, form dough balls that are a little over an inch in size, this is equivalent to a heaping tablespoon. Place the dough into the ½ cup bowl of sugar and roll it around. Place the dough 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.
- Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes, then allow the cookies to rest for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to a cooling rack.