Having grown up in the bitter cold tundra of the Midwest, I had learned two important lessons from an early age—first, finding any excuse to turn on the oven is the best way to stay warm throughout the winter, and second, even if a recipe features flavors traditionally associated with summer, it can still be worth making even when it’s chilly out.
I make these glazed lemon cookies whenever I’m in the mood for light, simple sweets that take little time to make, and I’ve slowly adapted my recipe over the years from its original iteration on the blog Two Peas & Their Pod.
It’s a quick and easy recipe, and it yields approximately 3 dozen cookies—perfect for sharing with family and friends or whipping out for a last-minute party, but even better for when you’ve binge-watched one too many episodes of the Great British Bake Off and suddenly need to satiate your craving for something sweet and homemade.
To begin your cookie-making adventure, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While I wait for it to warm up, I usually line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper and set those aside—my future, hungrier self usually thanks me for making the final steps of the bake as easy and quick as possible.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk well and set aside to save for later.
In another bowl—a large bowl tends to be best for thorough mixing later on—combine the granulated sugar and lemon zest. The original recipe calls for two tablespoons of lemon zest, but I’ve found that by using whatever you can from the rind of one large lemon, it should nearly always suffice for this recipe.
Next comes my favorite step of the process! With clean hands, rub the sugar and lemon zest between your fingers and let the mixture fall back into the bowl—you’ll know you’re done with this step when the combination of the sugar and lemon becomes fragrant. The mixture will be sweet and fluffy and your kitchen should smell lovely after this step!
In the same large bowl, beat room temperature butter into the sugar and lemon zest. When the mixture becomes airy and light, add in the egg and vanilla extract and combine the two until the batter becomes smooth and lump-free.
Through trial and error, I’ve come to realize that the final product of these cookies can err on the side of becoming too dry and crumbly upon baking, so to remedy this, I’ve begun adding a second egg during this step and it’s tended to help.
Batches with two eggs tend to be chewier and softer and generally require a little extra time in the oven, but at the end of the day, it’s just a matter of personal preference and finding which variation on the recipe you like best!
Once you’ve finished the steps up to this point, use your beater to slowly incorporate the flour mixture you had previously set aside into the batter. The final product of the dough should be soft and easy to work with, and once you’re ready, measure it into tablespoons–although you can always add a little more or less depending on how large you’d like the final product to be– and drop these onto your baking sheets.
Leave a couple of inches between each ball of dough, and gently press your palm onto each to flatten them prior to popping them in the oven.
Allow each batch to sit in the oven for approximately 12-14 minutes—although any changes to the recipe may require slightly more or less time—and remove the cookies to cool when they’ve started to set and have become golden brown around the edges.
While your cookies are setting on a cooling rack, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice to make a glaze. Again, the original recipe calls for 4 teaspoons of lemon juice, but whatever you can squeeze from one large lemon is nearly always enough.
To keep the glaze as smooth as possible, it’s helpful to filter the lemon juice through a sieve or strainer before mixing it with the powdered sugar.
When each cookie has cooled completely, dip them into the lemon glaze and allow the icing to set—or eat them right away! Life is short and winter is long, so enjoy making these sweet treats on a cold night and dig in!
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice