If you’ve been following me for a while then you know that sugar cookies are the first thing I learned to bake. I have so many fun memories of decorating them with my Grandma at Christmas. She was the only one willing to listen to my very specific decorating instructions!
Until recently, I never even considered messing with an already perfect recipe. But then my friend Tasia @twosugarbugs posted a recipe for chocolate sugar cookies, and a little lightbulb went off in my head. Flavored sugar cookies? How brilliant! I started with pistachio sugar cookies. And now I’m sharing a recipe for lemon sugar cookies! Both are based on my classic recipe, with only a few modifications.
(Let me know if you’re interested in what decorating tips I used for each cookie, or if you’d like to see a blog post specifically about decorating cookies.)
This recipe yields 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on the size and shape of your cookie cutters. It also depends on how thick you roll them out. The dough should be 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick. I always eyeball it, but you can measure it if you want an exact thickness. Thicker, larger cookies will need slightly longer in the oven (7 minutes), while smaller ones will bake in 6 minutes.
You’ll know they’re done with the edges are very lightly browned. The top of the cookies should look soft, but not wet and doughy.
Always roll the dough out on a floured surface. I also recommend using a floured spatula to move the cookie cutouts onto the prepared baking sheet. Another tip is rolling the dough directly onto a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and transferring the whole sheet to the pan, but I’ve found that makes it more difficult to space the cookies out.
Chill the cookie cutouts on the baking sheet for at least 30 minutes before baking them. I don’t even preheat the oven until the cookies have been in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Don’t put more than 12 cookies on a pan, and only bake one pan at a time.
If you want even more lemon flavor, substitute all or part of the vanilla extract in the buttercream for lemon juice or lemon extract. I also recommend freezing the cookies before frosting them. They’ll be less delicate and easier to handle.
Store them in an airtight container in the freezer. They only take a few minutes to defrost and they’ll stay fresher longer. Separate layers of decorated cookies with wax paper.
Tag me @rosesandwhiskers on Instagram if you try it, and use the hashtag #rosesandwhiskers. Also, let me know in the comments if there’s another flavored sugar cookie you’d like to see! I’m thinking strawberry might be next.
Lemon Sugar Cookies
- 2 1/2 cups gluten free 1 to 1 baking flour for gluten-full, substitute all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 6 tbsp butter-flavored Crisco
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp lemon juice freshly squeezed
- zest from 1 large lemon
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup Crisco
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp whole milk
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Use a microplane or box grater to zest a large lemon. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze one half until you have at least 2 teaspoons of juice.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter, Crisco and sugar until it's light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is well-incorporated. On low speed, mix in the vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest.
- On low speed, gradually blend in the dry ingredients until just combined. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. (You can also chill the dough overnight.)
- Roll out half of the chilled dough onto a floured surface until an 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rest of the dough in the refrigerator until you're ready for it. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes and transfer them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Don't put more than 12 cookies on a pan.
- Re-roll the scraps until you've used up the dough and then roll out the remaining chilled dough.
- Chill each sheet of cookies for at least 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C), and then bake the cookies (one pan at a time) for no more than 6-7 minutes. Don't worry if they still look a little soft when you take them out of the oven. (But you don't want them to look wet and doughy.) Thicker, larger cookies will need 7 minutes, and smaller cookies will only need 6.
- Leave the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack.
- Make the frosting while the cookies are cooling. (I actually recommend freezing the cookies before decorating them.) Cream the butter and Crisco until smooth. Mix in half of the powdered sugar on low speed. Then add the milk, heavy cream, vanilla and the remaining powdered sugar. Mix on low speed until just combined, and then beat on high speed until smooth and fluffy. Double the frosting recipe if you plan on using piping tips to decorate. If you're just spreading the frosting on with a knife then this is enough.
- Decorate as desired and store in an airtight container in the freezer. Enjoy!