Lemon Drop Cookies

Summer-time.….and the livin’ is eeeeeeassssssy. Boy, Gershwin was onto something with that song. Summertime brings a sort of laid back vibe to my kitchen. After what feels like 6 months of winter cold, we soak up as much sun as possible, making it difficult to come inside and toil away in the kitchen. Everything is simplified, easier.  One thing that doesn’t change with the summer heat, is my boys appetite for fresh cookies.

The summer heat just begs to be quenched by the citrus-y tang of lemons. I put some form of lemon into most everything, this time of year. One of my favorite summery cookies are these lemon drops. I make a cake-like sugar cookie that Hubby just loves, and they’re absolutely lovely dressed up with a bit of lemon. Lightly delicate, cakey, with a punch of brightness from the lemon–they remind me of the warm sunshine. I made these for my friend Jamie once, when I thought he could use a bit of sun. They are a bit too delicate to ship, and didn’t fare the journey in one piece, but Jamie said they were great eaten with a spoon!  No worries–these cookies are so delish that you’ll gobble them up long before you could think of shipping them with anyone.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2/3 C. butter2/3 C. shortening1 ½ C. granulated sugar2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 ½ C. all-purpose flour2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Zest of one lemon

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

2/3 C. raw (or coarse) sugar, for coating cookies

These are really simple. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheets with baking mats or parchment paper.

Cream together the butter, shortening and sugar, until it lightens in color and gets a bit fluffy. I can totally relate–I’m a bit fluffy myself.

Once the butter/shortening/sugar is creamed and fluffed and fluffed and creamed, add the first egg and stir it in until well combined. Then add the second egg. Throw in the vanilla to keep it all company. Stir that together until the egg and vanilla are all incorporated.

Take a minute and zest the whole lemon. I use a mini-grater for zesting because it is much faster than using one of those silly little zesting gadgets. Be careful to get only the yellow part, and not the bitter white pith underneath. Since I have a lot of eager child labor available, I tend to let one of my boys do this job. My third baby did the honors this time. He doesn’t really have the hand strength to zest too far.

Didn’t he do a great job?

Roll the lemon underneath your hand. Use a fair amount of pressure. The rolling helps to break up the membranes inside the lemon and to release the juicy goodness inside.

Cut the lemon in half, and juice both sides. I like to use a fork in the middle to help with the juicing process. That way I can use it to fish out the seeds when I am done. You could juice the lemon over a fine mesh strainer, but that’s just one more thing to wash when you are done. The last thing I need is more dishes to do. But hey, if you don’t mind more dirty dishes, who am I to stop you from using one?

Back to the mixer. Remember the creamed and fluffed butter/shortening/sugar with eggs and vanilla mixed in? Add the lemon juice and zest to that, and stir that around a bit.

At this point the mixture will look like it has curdled. To some degree it has, but don’t worry–it’s supposed to look that way. Lemon juice tends to have that affect on dairy products. It’ll be fine!

Put the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt into a medium sized bowl. Briefly whisk it all together, then add it to the mixer in two parts, stirring well in between each, until the dough comes together. The dough will be soft. If it seems way to soft, pop it in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.

Now, put the raw/coarse sugar in a small bowl. The key to the deliciousness of these cookies lies with the coarse sugar. (I use “Sugar in the Raw” brand.) The cookies are very light, and the coarse sugar coating gives them a nice, crunchy outer texture. It also helps to hold the cookies together. I’ve made these and rolled them in regular granulated sugar, and while they are still good, they seem a bit flat, but regular sugar would do in a pinch.

I used a small scoop to make rounded tablespoon sized balls of the cookie dough. You could use two spoons, if you don’t have a small scoop. Roll the balls of dough in the coarse sugar, being sure to coat on all sides.

Place the dough about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until edges are very lightly browned. Cool in the baking sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Lemon Drop Cookies. Even the name sounds refreshing. I hope you like these little bursts of sunshine as much as we do.

Lemon Drop Cookies


Makes 4 ½ dozen

2/3 C. butter2/3 C. shortening1 ½ C. granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 ½ C. all-purpose flour2 tsp. baking powder1 tsp. salt

Zest of one lemon

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

2/3 C. raw (or coarse) sugar, for coating cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, or baking mat.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, shortening and granulated sugar, until fluffy. Stir in vanilla, and eggs (1 at a time,) until well combined.
  3. Add lemon zest and lemon juice. The butter mixture will appear to “curdle” which is alright—it’s supposed to look this way.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk dry ingredients to combine. Gradually add dry ingredients to the butter mixture, stirring on low to combine.  Dough will be soft.
  5. Use a small cookie scoop, (or rounded tablespoonfuls) to form balls. (If it’s too soft to hold its shape, then pop the dough in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.)  Roll the balls in the raw sugar until coated on all sides. Place the sugar coated dough balls 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.
  6. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes until very lightly brown around the edges. Cool for 3 minutes on cookie sheets, then transfer from the sheets to wire racks to finish cooling.

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  1. jennifer says

    These look super yummy. i may have to try them. think I could use orange on another batch for a little different flavor?

    • says

      I’ve never tried orange, but I bet it would be great, too. You can also omit the citrus altogether and make a plain sugar cookie. They can also be frosted and decorated like the ones you see at the bakery. However, they are too soft for cutouts. Have fun with them!

  2. says

    I used to hate lemons as a kid, but I find myself growing more and more fond of them as I get older. Although I like lemon scones, I am still unsure about lemon cookies…lime, however, is pretty much amazing, so I might try these with that. I’ll get back to you on it….

  3. says

    That sounds like a nice summery cookie. I am going to have to try that one! I love the pic of your baby grating the lemon. That is one of my kids FAVORITE things to do…so these cookies are make for us!


  1. […] sold in small bottles in the spice aisle. Cream of Tartar gives a slight acidic “bite” that is desirable in some cookies; it also acts as a stabilizer when whipped into egg whites, which allows them to obtain greater […]

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