Lemon Lilac Sugar Cookies
These lemon sugar cookies are soft and chewy but also light and pillowy, with the perfect amount of citrus and lemon flavor. The perfect soft and chewy lemon sugar cookies that stay soft! A must make dessert for Spring or any time! This version has an extra spring like flavour boost thanks to the lilac infusion. It optional but a really nice way to use these edible blooms. They’re simple tasty cookies that take minimal effort but are irresistible, soft, chewy and taste perfectly sweetened and you only need everyday basic ingredients. Perfect for when those cookie cravings strike!
Homemade lemon sugar cookie ingredients
- All-Purpose Flour – measured and whisked
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda – the main raising ingredient
- Sea Salt – or table salt
- Unsalted Butter
- Granulated Sugar – for both the cookie dough and extra for rolling the dough balls in
- Large Egg - room temperature
- Pure Vanilla Extract – for depth of flavor
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice and Lemon Zest - these would definitely work with orange or lime juice and zest too for another citrus variation
- Fresh Lilac Blossoms - for the lilac butter (optional but delicious)
- For more intense lemon flavour lemon extract instead of vanilla, extra lemon zest, and infuse the sugar for rolling with lemon zest as well
- For lemon lavender version - use dried food grade lavender. Chop it fine with a knife to help release its oils then rub it into the sugar along with the lemon zestor whisk it through the dried ingredient. I would use 1-2 teaspoons of it - start with one and see how you like it.
How to prepare and use lilac
Lilac is one of many florals that are edible and add such a nice subtle aroma to whatever you decide to infuse them in. While they only bloom for a few short weeks, their intoxicating scent fills the air and lifts my spirits after a long Canadian winter! There are a few things to remember when preparing the lilac to use in your favourite recipe:
- Clean lilac - gently run water over your lilac blossoms or submerge into bowl of water gently agitating the blossoms to clean repeating a few times. Gently shake off any excess water then allow to fully dry - i usually allow lilac to dry over night while still keeping branches/stems in water
- Remove stems - Be sure to pluck the lilac flowers from the stem and remove all of the bitter green bits. This is a bit painstaking but as soon as you get the hang of it you get pretty good at it and fast at it.
- Enjoy- the simplest way to enjoy lilac the infusion of the flowers to make lilac sugar The sugar can then be used in recipes to add lilac flavor to baked goods. This also works with a lilac simple syrup which is just a liquid form of the same thing that’s perfect for making cocktails or glazes like in my Lilac Lemon Blackberry Pound Cake With a Lilac Glaze which I also used lilac sugar in. One of my favs though is lilac infused honey in my Buttermilk Honey Scones With Lilac it is oh so good! The sweet floral flavor of lilacs translates beautifully into an ice cream or custard base like my Easy No Churn Blackberry Ice Cream or my Creamy Lemon Possets Infused With Lilac. These cookies have yet another way of infusing their flavour. Chopping the blooms up and blending them into butter for a lilac butter.
How to make lemon sugar cookies
- Infuse the softened butter with the lilac blossoms if using (can be made a couple of days in advance then chilled until you are ready to use the butter -ensure it comes to room temperature before using in this recipe). It can be used in these cookies and any baked good you would use butter in. It’s also great slathered on warm toast or sourdough with drizzles of honey.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Infuse the sugar with the lemon zest by rubbing it in to the sugar with your fingertips
- Cream the butter and sugars. When you cream the butter and sugars, the mixture should be light and almost fluffy. The sugars will be fully incorporated into each other. Don’t skimp on this part–it can take about 2-4 minutes. You are aerating the butter and creating tiny pockets of air that will be the difference of a nice, light and chewy cookie versus a flat, dense cookie.
- Add in the lemon juice, vanilla and egg . Using a hand or standing mixer, beat to fully incorporate the egg.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and beat to incorporate. Chill dough while you preheat the oven and prepare the baking sheets at this time if desired. It can help the cookies spread less.
- Scoop the dough with a cookie scoop then roll into the remaining ½ cup of sugar. Be sure to not over handle the balls of dough as it will make the butter too warm. If the dough seems warm or too sticky place it in the fridge to chill a few minutes. Place on a cookie sheet (I typically line mine with parchment.) and bake for about 8-10 minutes. Take them out when they are just barely starting to get a light brown around the edges. Don’t over bake these. Allow to cool before enjoying.
Do you need to chill the cookie dough before baking?
I find sugar cookie dough is best when chilled to help keep any extra spreading. When I have made these lemon sugar cookies without chilling, they spread a bit more than I would have liked. I try to chill them for at least 15-30 minutes while my oven is preheating and while I am prepping my pans and lining them with parchment paper. You can make them without chilling the dough but they will spread a little more and be a thinner cookie. As long as you don’t over soften the butter and measure your flour well, you should be fine without chilling.
Note & Tips
- Make sure to cream your butter and sugar enough approx 2 min. Creaming helps give the cookies the right dense texture. But you also don’t want to over beat your butter and sugar as it will beat too much air in to your cookie dough and that could cause your cookies to flatten.
- For extra light and delicate sugar cookies, sift your dry ingredients or whisk them well to aerate.
- Do not over beat the cookie dough. Just until dry ingredients are combined
- Do not over-bake. The moment the edges look remotely golden, take the cookies out of the oven and cool.
What Makes these sugar cookies chewy?
The granulated sugar makes these ultra chewy lemon cookies. Similar to a snickerdoodle, the sugar to butter ratio (among other things) yields a nice, buttery and chewy sugar cookie.
What Makes these sugar cookies soft?
The combination of baking soda and baking powder play a key role in keeping these cookies really soft. Additionally, the egg here helps to add the right amount of moisture to the sugar cookie dough to keep them soft.
Why Did My Sugar Cookies Spread?
To prevent them from spreading into puddles, make sure your butter is a cool room temperature. Your sticks of butter should give slightly when pressed with your finger but still hold its shape.
More Lemon Desserts you will Love:
- 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (lilac butter recipe to follow)
- 2 cups lilac blossoms (optional for lilac infusion)
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 egg room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest of one large lemon
- 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup sugar for rolling cookies (add more lemon zest for extra lemony flavour)
- Infusing the butter with lilac: Cream butter in a mixer. Rough-chop the blossoms and add them to the butter and mix to incorporate them into butter. Allow the butter to sit with the blossoms as you work on the rest of the recipe. You can also make this ahead and store sealed in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Remember to bring to room temperature to soften it before baking these cookies with it.
- In a small bowl, stir together flour, bakingsoda, baking powder and salt. Set aside
- In a small bowl rub sugar and lemon zest together with fingers
- In a large bowl beat together the softened lilac butter and lemon sugar until smooth and very fluffy using an electric mixer or a bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, 2-3 min.
- Beat in egg, vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest just until combined
- Gradually add and mix in the dry ingredients until incorporated but do not over mix.
- Chill dough while you Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in sugar. Place on lined cookie sheets about 1½ inches apart. (I used a small cookie scoop that holds approx 2 teaspoons of dough)
- Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Do not over bake
- Remove from oven and allow to cool on cookie sheet on rack 2-5 minutes before removing to cool on wire racks completely.
Sugar Cookie Recipe Make Ahead and Storage
- The cookie dough can be made ahead and rolled refrigerated or frozen.
- STORE baked cookies in an airtight container.
- Baked cookies can be stored at room temperature, the fridge or the freezer.They’ll last at room temperature about 3 days, in the fridge for about 1 week and the freezer up to 3 months.
- FREEZE uncoated balls of cookie dough in a freezer safe container, tightly wrapped plastic wrap or ziplock bag. Allow them to thaw overnight in fridge or at room temperature then bake as directed below. Roll in sugar before baking.