Lemon Shortbread Cookies are a tangy, sweet treat that will tantalize the taste buds of anyone who tries them!

a pile of Lemon Shortbread Cookies stacked around each other with lemon wedges on the table

Shortbread is a classic cookie. It’s butter, rich, and melts in your mouth. These lemon shortbread cookies have the perfect balance of sweet and tart, with the zing of lemon zest. They’re excellent for any occasion and will surely be loved by all!

My cookies were made in a cookie mold pan that I found at a thrift store. I don’t have a link for my exact pan, but there are several options available on amazon, from fluted cookie pans to decorative round cookie pans (paid links). If you don’t want to use a cookie pan, that’s just fine. There will be instructions on how to make them without any special equipment.

Why This Recipe Works

  • butter adds a rich, creamy texture and flavor to the cookies.
  • The light brown sugar adds sweetness and depth of flavor to the cookies without being overly sweet.
  • The lemon zest provides a fresh, tart flavor that pairs perfectly with the buttery richness of the cookies.
  • Salt balances out all the flavors in this cookie – providing just enough savory taste to enhance the other ingredients’ flavors even more!
an overhead image of a plate of lemon shortbread cookies

Ingredient Notes

butter, brown sugar, lemon zest and flour

butter: It’s best to use unsalted butter for this recipe, as salted butter varies in salt levels. If you use salted, omit the salt from the recipe.

Sugar: Light brown sugar is the ideal choice for this recipe, as it provides the perfect sweetness and depth of flavor. You can also use dark brown sugar if desired.

flour: All-purpose flour is the best for this recipe, as it produces light and delicious cookies.

Lemon Zest: Freshly grated lemon zest adds the perfect tartness to these cookies. If you’re not a fan of zest, you can also use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

salt: Kosher or table salt will work for this recipe.

Step By Step Instructions

Using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a food processor, beat the butter, lemon zest, and brown sugar vigorously until pale and fluffy. This will take about 3 minutes.

the butter, lemon zest and brown sugar creamed together in a stand mixer

Be sure to cream the butter and sugar together for at least 3 minutes – this ensures your shortbread will stay together and give you a good snap when you take a bite and melt away as you eat it.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour and salt. Add it to the butter mixture and mix until smooth, being careful not to overmix. The batter will be sandy with large clumps (when pinched between your fingers).

the cookie dough mixed together in a bowl

Grease the pan with baking spray and preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

a cookie pan sprayed with baking spray.

Using floured hands, press the mixture evenly and tightly into each pan cavity.

the dough being pressed into the cavity of a cookie pan

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until lightly golden and set.

the baked cookies in the cookie pan

Cool in the pan before removing the cookies from the pan.

two cookies removed from the pan sitting on the pan with other cookies still in the mold

To Make By Hand

Line a cookie sheet with baking paper. Transfer the dough onto a floured surface, divide it into two and shape each section into a cylinder. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, cut it into half-inch slices, and place them on a lined cookie sheet an inch apart.

4 photos showing the process of making shortbread cookies by hand

Bake the lemon shortbread cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden and set.

Erren’s Top Tips

  • Use room temperature softened butter – Butter that’s too firm won’t incorporate well into the sugar, which is key to tender shortbread.
  • Beat your butter and sugar together well –a good 3 to 4 minutes will give the best results. You can’t overmix at this stage, so beat it another minute if in doubt.
  • For the lightest lighter texturedon’t skip sifting the dry ingredients before adding them to the butter and sugar.
  • Flour your hands before working with the dough to keep it from sticking.

Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions ❄

Storage: Store Your Lemon Shortbread Cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Please note that the shortbread will start to soften the day after they are baked.

Make Ahead: The dough can be prepared ahead and stored either pressed into the pan or rolled into cylinders wrapped and kept in the fridge until ready to bake.

Freezing Instructions: The dough or baked cookies can be frozen wrapped well in the freezer for up to three months.

Other Shortbread Recipes

Whether used as a shortbread crust for pies, dipped in chocolate, or covered in caramel, we have some great recipes for you!

a pile of lemon shortbread cookies


Let’s Make
Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Buttery, melt-in-your-mouth lemon shortbread cookies that you won’t be able to resist once you try one.

Prep15 minutes

Cook10 minutes

Total25 minutes

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Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C

  • Grease a cookie mold with baking spray or line a cookie sheet with baking paper.

  • Beat the butter, lemon zest, and brown sugar together using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy (at least 3 minutes).

  • In a separate bowl, sift the flour and salt together.

  • Add the flour mixture to the butter and mix on low speed until blended.

  • Using floured hands, press the mixture into the prepared cookie mold or transfer the dough onto a floured surface, divide it into two and shape each section into a cylinder. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm.

  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator, cut it into half-inch slices, and place them on a lined cookie sheet an inch apart.

  • Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time.

  • Transfer to a cooling rack to cool in the pan.

Tips + Notes

  • Use room temperature softened butter – Butter that’s too firm won’t incorporate well into the sugar, which is key to tender shortbread.
  • Beat your butter and sugar together well –a good 3 to 4 minutes will give the best results. You can’t overmix at this stage, so beat it another minute if in doubt.
  • For the lightest lighter texturedon’t skip sifting the dry ingredients before adding them to the butter and sugar.
  • Flour your hands before working with the dough to keep it from sticking.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 171 (9{ebea9d5847bd78db73673675e8a4786d1e11955363e2960615a0efdb904da7cb})| Carbohydrates: 18g (6{ebea9d5847bd78db73673675e8a4786d1e11955363e2960615a0efdb904da7cb})| Proteins: 2g (4{ebea9d5847bd78db73673675e8a4786d1e11955363e2960615a0efdb904da7cb})| Fats: 10g (15{ebea9d5847bd78db73673675e8a4786d1e11955363e2960615a0efdb904da7cb})| Saturated Fat: 7g (44{ebea9d5847bd78db73673675e8a4786d1e11955363e2960615a0efdb904da7cb})| Polyunsaturated Fats: 0.4g| Monounsaturated Fats: 3g| Trans Fats: 0.4g| Cholesterol: 27mg (9{ebea9d5847bd78db73673675e8a4786d1e11955363e2960615a0efdb904da7cb})| Sodium: 148mg (6{ebea9d5847bd78db73673675e8a4786d1e11955363e2960615a0efdb904da7cb})| Potassium: 29mg (1{ebea9d5847bd78db73673675e8a4786d1e11955363e2960615a0efdb904da7cb})| Fibers: 0.5g (2{ebea9d5847bd78db73673675e8a4786d1e11955363e2960615a0efdb904da7cb})| Sugar: 6g (7{ebea9d5847bd78db73673675e8a4786d1e11955363e2960615a0efdb904da7cb})| Vitamin A: 315IU (6{ebea9d5847bd78db73673675e8a4786d1e11955363e2960615a0efdb904da7cb})| Vitamin C: 1mg (1{ebea9d5847bd78db73673675e8a4786d1e11955363e2960615a0efdb904da7cb})| Calcium: 11mg (1{ebea9d5847bd78db73673675e8a4786d1e11955363e2960615a0efdb904da7cb})| Iron: 1mg (6{ebea9d5847bd78db73673675e8a4786d1e11955363e2960615a0efdb904da7cb})

Nutritional Data Disclaimer

Erren’s Kitchen is written and produced for informational intentions only. We are not certified nutritionists, and the nutritional information found on this site has not been assessed or authorized by a nutritionist or the FDA. The nutritional information found in our recipes is offered as an estimate and should not be considered a guarantee or fact. The estimated data is provided as a courtesy and calculated through a third-party online nutritional calculator, spoonacular API. Although we do our best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered rough estimates. Many factors, such as brands or products purchased and the nutritional fluctuations that naturally occur in fresh produce, can alter the effectiveness of the nutritional information in any recipe. Furthermore, various online calculators provide different results depending on their particular algorithms and nutrition fact sources.
To obtain the most precise nutritional information in a provided recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the exact ingredients you are using when preparing the recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.