Chewy lemon sugar cookies are a bright and sugary treat the whole family will love to indulge in. Chewy sugar cookies are given a tart lemony zing with loads of fresh lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon extract.
The Best Tart Lemon Cookies Ever
If you love chewy sugar cookies and lemon pound cake - these cookies are like the perfect combination of both. They're slightly tart and have crispy edges and soft centers.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Butter. The key to a chewy cookie is butter warmed to the right temperature. You want room temperature butter that's not too soft, if you can put your finger all the way through it to the other side, throw it back in the fridge for a few minutes. If the stick doesn't bend easily when you pull down on the sides, it's too cold. If you need to make these dairy-free, you can use coconut oil, but you may end up with a slightly crispier cookie.
- Lemon zest. You'll need this for both the sugar coating and to get that tart punch of lemon in the cookie.
- Lemon extract. I use the lemon extract to get a stronger, more tart lemon flavor. If you don't have any on hand, you can still get this with more lemon zest, but you'll need at least another 1-2 tablespoons of lemon zest.
- Salt. In most cases I use coarse Kosher salt, but when I'm baking I use standard table salt because it incorporates a bit better.
Tips For the Cookie Dough
- Combine the dry ingredients first. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set them aside.
- Beat the butter and the sugar for at least 3 minutes. Beat 2 cups of butter and 1 ½ cups of sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 3-6 minutes. The idea is to have an almost whipped consistency before you begin to add the remaining ingredients.
- Beat in the remaining ingredients. With the mixer on medium-low, add the lemon juice, vanilla, and lemon extracts, until incorporated. Then add the eggs one at a time.
- Don't over-mix the flour. Reduce the speed to low and slowly pour the dry ingredients into the bowl and beat until the flour is mostly blended. Use a spatula to incorporate any remaining flour on the bottom or sides of the bowl.
- Use a cookie scoop to make even sized dough balls. I used a 4 teaspoon cookie scoop to measure out the dough before rolling into balls and coating in the lemon sugar.
Lemon Sugar Coating
The lemon sugar coating on the outside of these cookies takes the lemon flavor to the next level...it's kind of like the cherry on top of the sundae.
Grab a blender or food processor and pulse the remaining ½ a cup of sugar with 1 teaspoon of lemon zest 6 times.
Roll the dough balls in the lemon sugar and then press the dough with the back of a spoon or your thumb. Keep the cookies about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
The first time you make a cookie recipe, you'll have to tweak your cooking time to accommodate your oven, your altitude, and if your cookies were scooped larger or smaller. Here are some suggestion to end up with perfectly baked cookies:
- Bake the cookies one sheet at a time, it takes longer, but these turn out perfect when they're cooked in the very center rack of the oven.
- 10 minutes was perfect for me. Set your timer for 8 minutes and keep an eye on them until they are the right consistency. The edges should be crisp and the centers puffy and soft.
- Allow the cookies to cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Storage and Freezing
This recipe makes a ton of cookies, which is great for pot lucks, parties and bake sales, but if you're just making them for the family, you'll have more than you need.
Store these in a zip top bag in room temperature for up to 3 days before they start to get a little stale.
Freeze the cookies to keep them fresher longer. Store them in a freezer-friendly zip top bag for up to 3 months.
To thaw them, just leave them out at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Other Cookie and Bar Recipes
- Gluten-Free Almond Butter Oatmeal Cookies
- Browned Butter Pecan Blondies
- Maple Glazed Pumpkin Cookies
- Red Velvet Layered Brownies
- Chewy Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Chewy Lemon Sugar Cookies
- 1 cup butter (softened)
- 2 ¼ cups sugar (divided)
- 2 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 large eggs
- PREPARE: Preheat the oven to 350˚F and move the oven rack to the middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
- MAKE LEMON SUGAR COATING: Pulse 1 teaspoon of lemon zest with ½ cup of sugar in a food processor 6 times. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and set aside.
- COMBINE THE DRY INGREDIENTS: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- COMBINE THE WET INGREDIENTS: Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat the butter and 1 ½ cups sugar for 3-5 minutes (mixture should be light and fluffy). With the mixer on medium-low, add the vanilla, lemon extract, and 1 tablespoon lemon zest, followed by the eggs. Mix until just combined.
- FINISH THE DOUGH: With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients into the bowl and mix until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Scrape down the sides as needed and make sure the ingredients have fully combined.
- SHAPE DOUGH BALLS: Scoop about 1 tablespoon of dough at a time and roll into balls (you may need to wet your hands). Roll the balls into the lemon sugar mixture and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Gently flatten the center of ball using the bottom of a spoon or your thumb. Continue another 12 times, keeping the cookies about 2 inches apart.
- BAKE: Bake the cookies in the prepared oven for 8-10 minutes, one sheet at a time. Chill the dough between batches.
- COOL: Allow the cookies to cool for 2 minutes on the pan before transferring to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.
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