Soft Lemon Sugar Cookies
Tender Lemon Sugar Cookies are simple yet irresistible, with a light lemon flavor and buttery soft texture. They’re easy to make in one bowl and use everyday ingredients.
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These cookies bear out the maxim that “simple is best.” They’re soft, chewy, sweet, buttery, and utterly crowd-pleasing. As an added bonus, they’re quick and easy to make — one bowl only! — with everyday baking ingredients, so you can whip up a batch more or less any time.
The danger is, you’ll quite possibly want to!
These particular cookies have been a family favorite ever since my son’s second birthday party, when I made a large batch and noticed him nabbing another literally every time I saw him. It’s a wonder he also had room for cake. 😉
Four years later, he inhales them still, and even my citrus-skeptic husband gives them rave reviews. I’m willing to bet they’ll be a hit with your friends and family, too.
Ingredients & Common Substitutions
You’ll just need basic baking ingredients to make a batch of these beauties:
- All-purpose flour. You can also use a combination of all-purpose and white whole wheat. I haven’t tested these cookies with a one-to-one gluten-free flour, but suspect it would work well.
- White granulated sugar. Key for the light, fluffy texture.
- Lemon. A fresh lemon is definitely best here, because you’ll want not only the fresh, just-squeezed juice, but also the zest.
- Butter, egg. I usually use unsalted butter, but salted is fine.
- Vanilla extract, salt, baking soda. I usually make these with table salt, but you could certainly use kosher or flaky sea salt, if you prefer.
Chilling the Dough
These cookies are so buttery and soft that yes, chilling the dough is crucial. It doesn’t take very long in the fridge, about 1 hour, to firm up into the perfect texture.
Tips & Tricks for the Best Lemon Sugar Cookies
- Rub sugar and zest together for maximum flavor. This is the first step, and it might seem inconsequential, but simply rubbing the lemon zest and granulated sugar between your fingers for a few seconds will infuse citrus throughout the sugar, really adding to the overall aroma and flavor.
- Use a microplane to quickly and easily zest the lemon.
- Be sure the dough is mixed together very well; scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl at least once before and while incorporating the dry ingredients. Streaks of butter will lead to misshapen puddles when the cookies bake.
- Use a cookie scoop to quickly and evenly portion out the dough.
Storage & Freezing Instructions
- Storage: These cookies keep well and stay soft and chewy if covered at room temperature for 3-4 days.
- To freeze before baking (preferred method): Make the dough as directed, scoop mounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet or plate, and place in the freezer, uncovered, for about an hour. (This will flash-freeze the dough balls so they don’t stick together and are easy to separate when you want to bake them later.) After an hour, combine the frozen cookie dough balls in an airtight container or zip-top plastic bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, place cookies directly from the freezer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake as directed, adding just 2-3 minutes to the baking time.
- To freeze after baking: Let baked cookies cool fully, then stack in an airtight container, separating individual cookies with wax paper. Defrost at room temperature as needed. These are still good, for sure, but in my opinion slightly less fresh and less convenient than freezing the balls of raw cookie dough and baking as needed.
More Quick & Easy Cookie Recipes
Cookies are the best quick and easy treat for all life’s occasions! You’ll also love these ultra-soft chocolate chip cookies, sprinkle sugar cookies, melt-in-your-mouth Amish sugar cookies, ultimate Reese’s monster cookies, and old-fashioned crisp oatmeal cookies–just to name a few!
If you try these Lemon Sugar Cookies, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.
Soft Lemon Sugar Cookies
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 large lemon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- In a stand mixer or another large bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Rub the mixture together for a minute between your fingers, so the zest incorporates into the sugar and infuses it with flavor.
- Add butter and beat on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add egg, lemon juice, and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again until well-combined.
- Sprinkle flour, baking soda, and salt over the mixture. Beat on medium-low speed just until the streaks of flour disappear. Place dough in the refrigerator to chill for about 1 hour.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Scoop the chilled dough out into mounds of about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons each and place on baking sheets. For more even cookies, roll each into a smooth ball. (This isn't necessary, just depends on what you prefer.)
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are very slightly browned and the tops are set. Let cool for 10-15 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring cookies to a wire rack. Sprinkle with extra lemon zest or sparkling sugar, if desired. Enjoy!
- Chilling: It’s important to chill this dough so the cookies don’t spread out too much while baking and maintain their soft, chewy texture.
- Lining the Pans: It’s helpful to line your baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper, both because they make clean-up easy and because they help cookies brown nicely, but not too much or too quickly, on the bottom.
- Cookie Scoop: I use this cookie scoop for this and countless other recipes.
- Storage: Cookies keep well covered at room temperature for 3-4 days.
- Recipe: Modestly adapted from Bunsen Burner Bakery.