I don’t know about you, but I’ve been wanting to bake more and more since we’ve been stuck at home, but haven’t had the time to take on very ambitious baking projects...too little space, too many little people who need me = not enough time. However, the people (and me too) need cookies. These lemon zest slice & bake shortbread cookies are the perfect solution.
Anyone remember the coffee chocolate chunk shortbread cookie from a few months ago? This lemony shortbread cookie is its cousin from the spring. It’s got a little pucker, but is as easy (if not easier) to make when short on time and possible short on ingredients.
With just 4 simple ingredients plus one or two optional ones, you can have a zesty cookie in no time. The best part is that you can’t make these quickly. I know, that's totally the opposite of what you find around here normally, but right now, being able to do a part of something in 10 minutes and then return to them later is a real win. We’ve been getting by one minute at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time...how about you?
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What’s the best way to really taste the lemon flavor in these cookies?
The trick here is to use both lemon juice and lemon zest. 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 we going to punch up the lemon flavor in these shortbread cookies is in the sugar that we 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.
If I have the time, can I make these slice and bake cookies "fancy"?
You sure can. While shortbread cookies are traditionally a simple cookie you can easily fancy these up for any occasion. They would be great for tea time, brunch, a wedding or baby shower and perfect for a picnic.
Another idea would be to use yellow sanding sugar to roll the logs of cookie dough in before you slice and bake them.
What if I can’t get my hands on any lemons?
You can easily substitute for limes or oranges in this cookie recipe. Any citrus will do. Just remember that lemon typically has a stronger flavor, so you may need to up the amount of zest and juice you use in order to get the flavor you are looking for.
I want you to use this recipe as a base and be creative. We may be stuck at home for a while, we will always “need” cookies and this is a great simple recipe to play around with.
How do you make lemon zest shortbread cookies?
A little secret: the hardest part is rolling them into logs and slicing, just have patience
Now, that you know the hard part, here’s how simple it is to make these cookies.
Cream the butter, sugars, and lemon juice, lemon zest and lemon extract (if using it) together until light and fluffy. Let your stand mixer run 4-5 minutes on medium, scraping down the sides as needed.
Then carefully add the flour and run the mixer on low until the flour is 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 for at least two hours but up to 5 days.
When ready to bake, take the logs out of the fridge. In a small dish, 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 lemony sugar (just zest one lemon and rub it into the sugar so the oils infuse the sugar).
Now, 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.
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.
- Lemon zest shortbread cookies also freeze great at a few different stages. You can freeze the whole logs, you can freeze them sliced or you can freeze them once they are baked. Just make sure no matter at what step you freeze them, you wrap them well in plastic wrap and then put them in a zip top bag. The frozen dough keeps up to 3 months easily.
- The dough may feel crumbly, that’s okay, that’s how shortbread is supposed to be 😊.
Looking for other easy dessert recipes? Check these out!
- coffee chocolate chunk shortbread cookies
- Passover chocolate chip cookies
- peanut butter tahini cookie bars
When you try this recipe and love it 😍 let me know by leaving a comment below or 5 ⭐ rating!
Simple Lemon Zest Slice and Bake Shortbread Cookie
- 2 sticks butter
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 cups flour
- Juice of one lemon
- Zest of one lemon
Right Before Baking
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp 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.
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