Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies

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

Chilling the dough for an hour before shaping the cookies makes it easier to work with.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 12 minutes
  • Chilling time: 1 hour
  • Yield: about 30 cookies

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
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, from 1 medium lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups (350g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

To finish:

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

Special equipment:

Method

1 Beat the butter and sugar together: 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. Beat the ingredients together until the butter is light, fluffy, and clings to the side of the bowl.

butter and cream cheese in mixing bowl lemon cookie batter

2 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 may look “broken” but don’t worry about that. Again scrape down the sides of the bowl.

lemon cookie batter in mixing bowl

3 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.

lemon cookie batter in silver mixing bowl

4 Cover the bowl and chill the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or overnight. This makes the sticky, soft dough easier to roll out.

5 Heat the oven to 375°F: Line a baking sheet with a silicon baking mat or parchment.

6 Roll the cookies: Use a cookie scoop or a tablespoon measure to scoop up a heaping tablespoon dough. 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 chilling, 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 lemon cookies dough balls in baking sheet and in bowl of sugar

Using the flat bottom of a glass, press down and form thick disks, about 2 inches wide. If the dough starts sticking to the bottom of the glass, dip the glass in the sugar before continuing. Sprinkle some extra sugar over each cookie.

cup pressing lemon cookies into shape sugar being sprinkled on lemon cookies

7 Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookie are starting to turn golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then use a very thin spatula (like a fish spatula) to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.