If you asked my favorite flavor, the answer – hands down – would be lemon. When all the other kids at the water ice stand were getting cherry, I was the kid ordering lemon. In a roll of Starburst candy or a bag of Skittles, I pick out the lemon ones and give the rest away. Lemon in your water, ma’am? Yes. Always yes.
My fellow lemon lovers will rejoice in this simple recipe with its double shot of lemon, both in the cookie and the glaze. The fresh rosemary adds a very subtle but aromatic earthiness that smells like a Yankee candle! They’re so delicious for all of your spring celebrations like Easter, Mother’s Day and beyond!
Ingredients for Lemon Shortbread Cut Out Sugar Cookies
A super short list of simple ingredients is all you’ll need to make these lemon cookies:
- All purpose flour (or your favorite gluten free flour blend)
- Softened Butter
- Confectioner’s Sugar (i.e. powdered sugar)
- Fresh Lemon juice
- Lemon zest
- Fresh rosemary
You might be wondering, where are the eggs? The baking powder? Those ingredients are not needed for this lemon sugar cookie recipe because it’s shortbread!
WHAT IS SHORTBREAD?
Shortbread is a beautifully simple creation, typically made with very few ingredients: flour, butter, sugar (usually confectioner’s) and vanilla extract.
Unlike other cookies, shortbread does not have any leavening like baking soda or baking powder. It’s light and flaky and so perfect for the warmer seasons.
While there is a time and place for the more mainstream cookies like chocolate chip, the simplicity of shortbread is timeless.
There’s only one thing that could improve upon the already delicious shortbread, and that’s adding some lemon (duh).
How to make these Lemon Cut Out Sugar Cookies
You won’t even need to separate wet and dry ingredients to make these lemon cut-out sugar cookies. Just dump everything into a stand mixer and mix it up.
Then, form the dough into a disc, wrap it and refrigerate it for at least an hour. Then it will be ready to roll out.
How to roll out the dough
Rolling out the dough for these lemon cut-out cookies won’t be as easy as a traditional sugar cookie dough. Shortbread dough is more dry than sugar cookie dough, yet it will also want to stick to your work surface. So you’ll need a lot of flour on your work surface, and more on your rolling pin.
When you roll out the dough, don’t roll too quickly or you’ll break the dough. You’re going to want to press down with the rolling pin and slowly move it across the dough. So, it’s more of a pressing motion than a rolling one.
If you’re really struggling, add a teaspoon of water to the dough to make it a little more pliable. You may only be able to roll enough to get one or two cookies cut before having to re-roll the dough.
How to know when your cookies are done
It can be tricky to tell when sugar cookies and shortbread cookies are finished baking. We want them to remain pale in color. So watch the edges of the cookies very closely to see them turn golden brown. More golden than brown.
Since all ovens are different, I recommend setting your oven timer to the least amount of time noted in the recipe. For example, this recipe says to bake for 10-12 minutes. Start checking your cookies at the 10 minute mark. Check them every minute until you see the edges start to change color.
Remember, cookies will continue to bake on the cookie sheet for a few minutes after they come out of the oven.
MAKING THE LEMON GLAZE for these cut out cookies
The glaze for these Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Cookies is quick and easy. Two ingredients and done. It’s a simple mixture of powdered sugar and lemon juice. I like to get the thinnest stream possible to drizzle onto the cookies, so I use a piping bag with a Wilton #2 tip.
You can make it even easier and just fill a Ziploc bag with the glaze and snip the tiniest bit off the corner of the bag. The glaze will be loose at first and will set once it sits on the cookie.
Be sure to sprinkle the sparkly sugar right after the glaze so that it sticks. If you don’t have white or clear sanding sugar, using plain old Sugar in the Raw will work.
Why Refrigerate Sugar Cookie Dough?
For sugar cookies or really any cookie that you want to roll out and cut into shapes, chilled dough is much easier to work with.
This especially goes for cookie doughs like this lemon one because it is a sticky dough to begin with. A chilled dough won’t be as sticky as a dough at room temperature.
How to Store these Lemon Cut out Sugar Cookies
Store these lemony, buttery sugar cookies in a single layer in an airtight container. Stacking them will make a mess out of the lemon icing. They do not need to be refrigerated.
These Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Cookies are light, flaky and refreshing. Enjoy them with a cup of tea or some vanilla ice cream, like I do.
And if you love them, let me know! Drop a rating or leave a comment below. Happy Baking!
For More Lemony Bakes, try these:
For More Cookie Recipes, try these:
Lemon Shortbread Cut Out Sugar Cookies (Easy Recipe)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tsp. lemon zest
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary minced
- 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- coarse sanding sugar optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and rosemary and beat at medium speed another 2 minutes. Reduce to low speed and add the flour into the wet ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Form dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour.
- Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Using a rolling pin, gently press on the dough and move slowly across the dough. Roll dough until it reaches 1/4 inch thickness. If the dough starts to break, add one teaspoon of water to make it more pliable. Using 2-3 inch round cookie cutters, cut out circles in the dough and place onto prepared cookie sheets.
- Bake cookies 10-12 minutes, until they are slightly golden on top but still pale. Allow to cool on a wire rack before glazing.
- For the glaze, whisk the confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Pour the glaze into a decorator’s bag fitted with a Wilton #2 tip or into a Ziploc bag. If using a Ziploc bag, trim a tiny bit off the corner of the bag. Line cooled cookies up side by side and drizzle with the glaze in a zigzag pattern. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and allow to set for 30 minutes before serving.
Janell Scroggs says
Thanks for the shortbread recipe.
Grateful for variation with fresh rosemary for savory.
Hi Janell, I’m so glad you enjoyed the cookies! The rosemary is my favorite part 🙂