Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies

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Photography Credit: Irvin Lin

Unlike other lemon cookies, which have just the barest hint of lemon flavor, these cookies pack quite a lemony punch, but without tasting too sour or too artificial. The secret is to use three different types of lemon flavoring in the dough: lemon zest, lemon juice and lemon extract.

Most lemon cookies also tend to be crispy and crumbly. I have anything against those cookies, but I want a cookie that I can really sink my teeth into. These soft and chewy lemon cookies are certainly that.

Soft Chewy Lemon CookiesIt seems like my friends are evenly split between chocolate lovers and lemon lovers when it comes to dessert. On one side are those folks who crave dark, rich, earthy, dense chocolate.

On the other side are those folks who desire bright and sunny lemon treats. Their eyes light up when they see lemon bars. They start salivating at the idea of lemon meringue pie.

When I mentioned these soft and chewy lemon cookies, these friends immediately clamored for the recipe. If you love lemon, this one is for you!

Soft Chewy Lemon CookiesThe secret ingredient for making these cookies soft and chewy is cream cheese. This also adds a subtle tang that works really well with the lemon flavor. Just makes sure to let the cream cheese warm to room temperature before making the cookies or it will never properly incorporate into the dough.

Because of the lemon juice, the dough will seem really sticky and hard to work with. Let the dough rest at room temperature for 15 minutes to help make it easier to work with, but also use a light touch when rolling the dough. Don’t worry if things get a little messy, you can always wash it all off later!

Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cookies

Be sure to let the cream cheese and butter warm to room temperature before making the cookies.

Resting the dough for 15 minutes before shaping the cookies makes it easier to work with.

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 3/4 cup (170g or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • Zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 cup (55g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 2 1/2 cups (350g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

To finish:

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated white sugar

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper.

2 Cream the butter and sugar: Place the softened butter, cream cheese, lemon zest, lemon extract, vanilla extract, both sugars and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment. Cream the ingredients together until the butter is light, fluffy, and clings to the side of the bowl.

Soft Chewy Lemon Cookies Soft Chewy Lemon Cookies

3 Beat in the egg and lemon juice: Add the egg and beat to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the lemon juice and mix to incorporate, about a minute. The batter will look “broken” but don’t worry about that. Again scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Soft Chewy Lemon Cookies

4 Mix in the flour: Add the flour and baking soda. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are mostly absorbed, then increase the speed for a few seconds until fully incorporated.

Soft Chewy Lemon Cookies

5 Let dough rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

6 Roll and shape the cookies: Scoop up a heaping tablespoon dough and lightly roll the dough in the palms of your hands to form a ball roughly 1 1/2 inches in diameter, about the size of a ping-pong ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with even after resting, wet your hands, dry them slightly with a paper towel, and try rolling again with damp hands. Roll the dough in the granulated white sugar and place on the baking sheet. Repeat, leaving about 2 inches between each ball.

Soft Chewy Lemon Cookies

Using the flat bottom of a glass, press down and form thick disks, about 2 inches wide. Sprinkle some extra sugar over each cookie.

Soft Chewy Lemon Cookies Soft Chewy Lemon Cookies

7 Bake 11 to 13 minutes, or until the edges of the cookie are starting to turn golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.

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Irvin Lin

Irvin Lin is an IACP award-winning photographer, food writer and recipe developer, blue-ribbon baker, public speaker and occasional social media consultant. His blog is Eat the Loveand his first cookbook is Marbled, Swirled and Layered.

More from Irvin

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Showing 4 of 12 Comments

  • Sonia

    Riquísimas! Les agregué nueces y quedaron súper. Muchas gracias!

  • Elizabeth @ Pineapples and Polka Dots

    My sister, a lemon cookie LOVER, would go crazy for these! Most lemon cookie recipes are crunchy and thin, which some people love, but these look heavenly! :)

  • Teresa Satterfield

    Made the lemon cookies today. Delicious ! Lemony, buttery goodness. This recipe goes in my collection .

  • Vicki Tunell

    I made these yesterday, they are delicious and were simple to make. I used my cookie dough scooper to make the rolling in the sugar less messy. My kids are super happy! Thanks for a great recipe.

  • Lorraine W

    I can hardly wait to make these cookies. I love anything Lemon.

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