We all know about chocolate crinkle cookies, but how about we make them lemon!? Here's how to make Lemon Crinkle Cookies that are soft and tender with a crackly sugar top. They are so light and airy, and perfect with a cup of tea. I think these cookies are a great way to welcome Springtime!
WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- Soft and tender texture - these lemon cookies have such a pleasant soft and tender texture. They are on the cakey-side, like little lemon pillows.
- Bright lemon flavor - lots of lemon zest and a touch of lemon juice in the cookie dough adds plenty of lemon flavor. Make sure to use a full tablespoon of lemon zest from about 1 lemons.
- Buttery lemon cookies - butter + lemon is a magic combination! These cookies are perfectly buttery but not heavy.
- Easy lemon cookie recipe - this is such a simple recipe and very easy to make with just a bowl and a spoon. Actually, I do not recommend using a mixer because it will over-mix the cookie dough.
- Butter - I use unsalted butter for this recipe, but salted butter works too.
- Granulated sugar - simple white sugar creates the tender texture and adds the perfect sweetness while letting the lemon flavor shine.
- Egg - you'll need two whole eggs for this recipe. The more yellow the yolks are, the more yellow your cookies will be!.
- Pure vanilla extract - vanilla is essential to enhancing the lemon flavor. I like this Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla extract.
- Salt - salt is super important in any cookie recipe. It balances the sweetness and really elevates the rich buttery, lemon taste.
- All purpose flour - regular unbleached all-purpose flour makes perfectly tender cookies in this application.
- Lemon zest - this recipe requires about 1 tablespoon of lemon zest which you can get from about two fresh lemons. Most of the lemon flavor comes from lemon zest and not the juice since the essential oils are found in the zest. Read below in my expert baking tips to find out how you can extract the most lemon flavor from the zest.
- Lemon juice - the juice mainly adds acidity which adds a tangy citrus taste.
- Icing sugar - powdered sugar is what will give the cookies the crackled appearance.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS: HOW TO MAKE LEMON CRINKLE COOKIES
- STEP 1). Infuse the sugar. Add sugar to a large bowl with the lemon zest and rub it together with your fingers or using the back of a large spoon until the sugar is fragrant and takes on a hint of yellow. This helps to release more essential oils from the zest.
- STEP 2). Mix in eggs. Add the eggs to the lemony sugar, then add the melted butter and vanilla and whisk until combined.
- STEP 3). Mix in lemon juice. Add the lemon juice and whisk until smooth; set aside.
- STEP 4). Combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- STEP 5). Combine dry and wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until you get a smooth, batter-like cookie dough. At this stage the cookie dough will look more like a batter – it will be quite soft and sticky and that's how it should be. Do not add more flour.
- STEP 6). Chill the dough. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator for 2 hours. This step ensures that the cookies will hold their shape better as they bake and will make the cookie dough easier to handle as you shape and roll.
- STEP 7). Roll the dough. Roll heaped tablespoons of dough into balls using floured hands if the dough is too sticky. Roll the balls evenly in granulated sugar and then roll them in icing sugar so they are generously coated. Place the dough balls onto your baking sheets leaving 2 inches of space between them.
- STEP 8). Bake. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the cookies are just very lightly golden on the bottom and cracked at the surface. Do not over bake them.
BAKING TIPS FOR MAKING LEMON CRINKLE COOKIES
- Infuse the sugar with lemon flavor. To get the most out of your lemons, you can rub the sugar with the lemon zest first before mixing with the liquid ingredients. The friction will release the essential oils in the yellow zest and they will coat sugar crystals to carry all of that wonderful flavor through the cookie dough!
- Do not reduce the sugar. The right amount of sugar will keep these cookies soft and tender. If you reduce the sugar, they will be dry.
- Roll the lemons under your hand on your kitchen surface to loosen the cells to release the most juice, but remember to zest the lemon before juicing!
- Measure the flour accurately. I highly recommend using a scale to measure your flour, but if you don't have one, then you should fluff your flour with a spoon and then spoon it into your measuring cup before leveling it off with a knife. Do not pack down the flour in the cup.
- Sift the dry ingredients. This is optional, but it will minimize the amount of mixing needed to combine the ingredients evenly so that you do not over-mix the dough.
- Do not over-mix. Just fold in the flour gently until well combined, but no need to mix vigorously. Just mix until no streaks of dry flour remain.
- Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least 2 hours. This really helps the flour hydrate so that there is less free moisture on the surface of the dough. It will also make the dough less sticky so it is easier to roll.
- Flour your hands to roll the dough if you find it is too sticky. Avoid the temptation to mix more flour in the dough which will make the cookies dry.
- Do not over-bake. These cookies are ready when the tops are crackled and the bottoms are just barely golden.
Can I use salted butter for lemon crinkle cookies?
I wrote this recipe with unsalted butter so you can control the salt that you add, however you can absolutely use salted butter. If you choose to use salted butter, then reduce the added salt by half to ¼ teaspoon.
Why are my crinkle cookies not crinkling?
If the dough is too wet, then it will dissolve the sugar and the crinkle will get lost. In order for a defined crinkle to form, the surface of the dough needs to be dry. If your cookies are not crinkling then there is too much free water in the dough. Here's how to fix it: measure the flour more accurately (use a scale to weigh it), refrigerate the dough for longer to let the flour hydrate, and make sure to first roll the cookie dough in regular granulated sugar first to absorb the surface moisture.
How do you get cookie crinkle?
The best way to ensure that crinkle top is to roll the cookie dough ball in granulated sugar first, and the roll in a generous coating of icing sugar.
How do you make lemon crinkle cookies stay soft?
The important thing to ensure these cookies do not become dry is to measure the flour and sugar accurately. Too much flour will certainly make these cookies dry, and too little sugar will have the same effect.
What if my cookie dough is too sticky to roll?
If your cookie dough is too sticky to roll, you can try to chill the dough for a longer period of time. Also, coat your hands in flour before rolling the dough and try not to handle it too much. If all else fails, you can add a little bit of extra flour to the recipe (about 2 tablespoons) but you do not want to add too much or the cookies will be dense and they may not spread enough to give you the crinkle look.
Can I use a different citrus?
If you want to change the flavor, you can swap lemon juice and zest for orange or lime.
Why are my crinkles flat or too thin?
If the cookies are too thin and flat, the dough was not cold enough when it went into the oven or the oven was not pre-heated to the right temperature. If the oven is too cold when the cookies go in, then the butter will slowly melt and spread the dough before the flour has a chance to gel and set the cookie structure. This will cause the cookies to spread out thinly. If you find that the dough becomes too warm after you’ve rolled them into balls, place the balls back into the fridge before coating in sugar.
If your crinkle cookies are flat, then it could also be that the leavening is off. Make sure to use only baking powder. Baking soda will cause these cookies to spread, while baking powder will help them puff upwards for a nice crackle.
How do I store lemon crinkle cookies?
You can store these cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days at room temperature. Be gentle when moving the cookies around to avoid rubbing off the powdered sugar.
Can you freeze lemon crinkle cookies?
Yes you can! To freeze them, first let them cool completely and then place them individually on a tray in the freezer. After about 2 hours, transfer them to a freezer bag, seal and keep frozen for up to 3 months.
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Lemon Crinkle Cookies
- ¾ cup 150g granulated sugar
- zest of 2 lemons
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 6 tablespoon 84g unsalted butter melted and cooled
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoon 30ml lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- 1 ¾ cups 250g all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup 100g granulated sugar for rolling the cookies before baking
- ¾ cup 90g powdered icing sugar for rolling the cookies before baking
- Add the sugar and lemon zest to a large bowl and use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar. This helps to release essential oils from the zest and infuse more lemon flavor into the cookie dough. Add the eggs, melted butter and vanilla, and whisk until combined. Add the lemon juice and whisk until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Fold the flour in gently until the ingredients are evenly incorporated. At this stage the cookie dough will look more like a batter – it will be quite soft and sticky. That's how it should be. Do not add more flour.
- Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator for 2 hours. This step ensures that the cookies will hold their shape better as they bake and will make the cookie dough easier to handle as you shape and roll.
- When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºF and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll heaped tablespoons of dough into balls using floured hands if the dough is too sticky. Roll the balls evenly in granulated sugar and then roll them in icing sugar so they are generously coated. Place the dough balls onto your baking sheets leaving 2 inches of space between them.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes until the cookies are just very lightly golden on the bottom and cracked at the surface. Do not over bake them.