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These quick and easy lemon shortbread cookies are the perfect solution to satisfy your lemon craving. Made with simple ingredients, they are quick and delicious to bake anytime. Perfect for the lemon lover in your family, you'll find yourself making these over and over again.
Simply slice and bake these lemon shortbread cookies
Many classic shortbread cookie recipes have you roll out the dough carefully and use a cookie cutter to cut the cookies out. I find that too time consuming and finicky.
Instead, this recipe has you roll the dough into a log and then slice off the cookies before you bake them. It's a time saving baking hack that I started using when I first made my coffee chocolate chunk cookies, and I've never looked back.
The slice and bake method is quick and best of all, makes it easy to bake just the right amount of cookies each time.
- Want to make a cookies for a crowd, bake them all at once.
- Looking for something to satisfy a mid afternoon craving with a cup of tea, just slice and bake a a few cookies.
You can store the rest of the log in the freezer and always have shortbread dough at the ready.
- Lemon juice: Please squeeze your own. It will be brighter and fresher in the final product. Use your zester to strain the seeds.
- Lemon zest: The yellow part of the lemon packs a flavor punch. Be careful when zesting to get just the yellow skin, not the more bitter white pith. Feel free to add extra lemon zest to the recipe.
- Butter: Use the best unsalted butter you have on hand. Since these cookies have very few ingredients, you want each ingredient to shine.
How to make lemon shortbread cookies
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugars, and lemon juice, lemon zest together until light and fluffy.
Let your mixer run for 4-5 minutes on medium speed, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture has turned much lighter in color.
Then, carefully and slowly, add the flour and run the mixer on low until the flour is just incorporated.
Now, the “hard” part. Lay a piece of cling wrap down on your counter. Put half of the cookie dough onto the cling wrap and shape into a log that’s about 2 ½” in diameter. Use your hands to get it into as tight of a log as you can, and then roll up tightly in the plastic wrap. Repeat with the second half of the dough.
Put both logs in the fridge to chill for at least two hours but up to 4 days.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Then take the logs out of the fridge.
Optional step: In a small bowl, beat an egg. Then unwrap the cookie log leaving it on the plastic wrap and brush the egg wash on the entire log. Roll the egg washed log in plain sugar or lemon sugar (just zest one lemon and rub it into the sugar with your fingers. This will give an extra hint of lemon to the outside of the shortbread cookies as well).
Now (whether they cookies are rolled in lemon sure our not) carefully cut the log into ½” slices and place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 mins or until the edges are just turning golden brown. Once out of the oven let cool a few minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.
Oftentimes, lemon juice on its own will get lost in a cookie once it’s baked, but the flavor of the zest will shine through.
Another place you can punch up the lemon flavor in these shortbread cookies is in the sugar that can roll them in before baking. I like to rub the zest of a lemon in the sugar so that you end up with a lemon sugar. Again, totally optional, but definitely adds another pop of lemon to these slice and bake cookies. Another option would be to use lemon extract, but it can sometimes be overpowering or taste "fake" instead of fresh.
Yes, absolutely. Start by placing half the dough on a piece of parchment paper and covering with a second piece of parchment paper. Press down a bit and then pop into the fridge for at least 2 hours to chill. Once chilled, use a rolling pin to roll the dough to about ½" thick and use a round cookie cutter to cut out cookies. Place them on a parchment lined baking tray and bake as directed. Then re-roll the scraps until you have used up all the dough.
Lemon shortbread cookies should be neither totally crunchy or super soft. Rather they should be tender and crumble a bit in your mouth when you bit into them. Classic shortbread cookies are both buttery and tender, and "short". This is due to the high ratio of butter in the dough and the relative lack of extra liquids compared to the dry ingredients. The lack of gluten development is the reason for the perfect texture of these buttery cookies.
Other flavors that work well in shortbread cookies
I love the subtle lemon flavor in these cookies but you could easily substitute the lemon for any of the flavors below successfully:
- lime: use both the juice and the zest of the lime
- orange: use both the juice and the zest of the orange
- vanilla bean: add in 1 teaspoon good vanilla in place of the lemon juice. Scrape the inside of a vanilla bean and add to the dough in place of the lemon zest
- rosemary: add in one tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary to the dough when you add in the lemon zest
Decorating Lemon Shortbread Cookies
During the holiday season or when you are serving these for a special occasion, you may want to dress them up a bit more. For the best results, decorate them the day you will be serving them. I like to make a lemon glaze with powdered sugar and lemon juice) to drizzle it over the top.
How to store leftover cookies
These cookies store well in an airtight container on the counter for 1 week. However, since these are a family favorite, they never last that long in my home. To store longer than a week, see below for freezing instructions.
How to freeze lemon shortbread cookies
This cookie dough is forgiving and you can actually freeze the dough in a log, sliced or the cookies once they are baked.
- To freeze the cookie dough in logs: make the dough through the step where you roll the dough in plastic wrap into logs. Wrap each log an additional time in plastic wrap and pop into the freezer until you are ready to bake. Use within 2 months.
- To freeze the cookie dough sliced: make the dough and refridgerate for at least 2 hours. Then either slice the dough into rounds or roll out and use your favorite cookie cutters to cut into shapes. Then place the cut cookies onto a parchment lined baking tray and freeze. Once the dough is frozen solid you can package them separated by wax paper in airtight containers. When you are ready to bake, lay the cookies onto the baking sheets again before thawing.
- To freeze the baked cookies: Bake the cookies and let them cool completely. Then layer the cookies in a freezer safe, airtight container separating the layers with parchment or wax paper sheets. Defrost on the counter. Eat within 2 months.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
Definitely make these ahead of time. The best part of this recipe is that you can make the dough logs one day and bake them up to 5 days later.
Looking for other easy dessert recipes? Check these out!
- coffee chocolate chunk shortbread cookies
- Passover chocolate chip cookies
- peanut butter tahini cookie bars
Did you try this recipe and and love it? 😍 Let me know by leaving a comment below or 5 ⭐ rating!
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Simple Lemon Shortbread Cookie (Slice and Bake)
- 2 sticks butter
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 cups flour
- Juice of one lemon
- Zest of one lemon
Right Before Baking
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoon sugar sanding sugar, demerara or plain white will work
Making the Dough
- Cream the butter and sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest together until light and fluffy
- Add the flour and mix until just combined
- Split the dough in half and form a log with the dough (about 2.5" diameter)
- Wrap the dough log tightly in plastic wrap and refridgerate a few hours up to 5 days
Slice and Bake
- Take the cookie dough out of fridge and preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- In a small dish, beat the egg well and egg wash the roll of cookie dough
- Then sprinkle the sugar over the whole log (make sure to turn it as you go to get all sides coated)
- Slice the cookies (you should get about 15 cookies out of each log) and place on prepared baking sheet
- Bake 12-15 minutes until the edges just turn light brown
- Take out of oven and cool on cookie sheet 5-10 minutes and then cool on cooling rack the rest of the way.
Love these cookies! When I make shortbread cookies i take the dough out and place on the countertop split in half then roll into logs. I place a piece of plastic wrap and place it atop the roll the log onto the plastic - easy.
so glad you love these!
Hi, trying these today. FYI, you mention salt in the step-by-step but it is not listed in the recipe card. I’ll add a pinch but you will want to edit.
Hope you like them! Thanks for letting me know about that little mistake...ooops! I really appreciate the feedback 🙂