Lemonade Sugar Cookies

The winters in Chicago can be pretty brutal.  But, this year we have had an unseasonally warm winter and for that, I am very thankful.  I really do not like cold weather and snow.  This past week, we have had temperatures in the 80s!!  So, I decided it was time to change the kids winter clothes from their drawers for their summer clothes.  I knew I should have waited because March weather can change in a instant.  And, of course, it did.   Now, the temperature has fallen to the 50s and 60s.  Luckily, I just put the clothes in boxes under the kids’ beds, so I can easily pull them back out.  But, I am sorry fellow Chicagoans…this cool weather is probably my fault. 😀  Next time I promise to wait to do my seasonal clothes exchange until June.

Before it got cold, I made these delicious lemonade sugar cookies because it was feeling like summer.  These are super soft and chewy sugar cookies, with a crisp bottom and a sugary crust.  The lemon tang comes from the combination of lemon juice and lemon zest.  I don’t think there is a drink much more refreshing than an ice cold glass of lemonade and this cookie captures the flavor perfectly.  So, if you are experiencing cold weather, this cookie will bring you a taste of summer.  If you already have warm weather (I’m jealous :D) then I suggest sitting outside and enjoying it with a plate of lemonade sugar cookies and of course, a tall glass of lemonade to wash them down.

Lemonade Sugar Cookies

Yield:  3 dozen

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp kosher salt

grated zest of 2 lemons  I used a microplane

8 Tbsp (4oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup canola oil or other vegetable oil

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

additional granulated sugar to roll the dough in

optional yellow coarse sanding sugar

Stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the grated lemon zest with the soft butter.  Blend until smooth and add the vegetable oil.  Add the sugar and mix to blend.  Add the eggs, scraping the sides occasionally, and mix to blend.  Add the vanilla and lemon juice.  Add the reserved dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  The dough will be fairly loose.

Chill the dough for several hours (or overnight) before forming and baking the cookies.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Roll tablespoon sized scoops of dough into round balls, roll in sugar (or sugar mixed with yellow sprinkles if desired- I like how it looks like lemon zest on the outside of the cookies), and place on parchment lined sheets.  The cookies will spread, so leave several inches between them.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the tops of the cookies feel “just firm” when gently pressed.  Somehow, mine only took about 10 minutes, so I would start checking at about 8 or 9 minutes.  The bottoms turn a light golden brown, but the tops should stay pale in color.

Source: Sweet Stuff:  Karen Barker’s American Desserts

Helpful Hints:

  • The author suggests substituting lime or orange flavorings if you prefer.  These sound delicious as well.
Leave a comment


  1. lovefoodcookfood

     /  March 26, 2012

    My husband and I love all things lemon so, I will have to have a go at making these. They look yummy. 🙂

  2. Great recipe. I don’t think I had cookies with lemon..so I should try it 🙂

  3. There is something honestly about sugar cookies that makes me smile – so soft chewy and no nonsense perfection
    Of course your ones are much better and take that smile to a grin 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  4. These look amazing, Kim. I have been eyeing some lemon cookie recipes for a few weeks now…I think I may just have to use this recipe instead!

  5. These sound wonderful! It’s so hard to find soft sugar cookies, and the lemon makes them extra special. I think I’ll be making them this weekend!

  6. Brianna

     /  March 26, 2012

    mmm, just by looking at your pictures, I can imagine the little bursts of lemon flavor in these cookies. Bookmarking these for a little preview of summer, thanks!

  7. We too had a mild winter in MN and I pulled out some summer stuff. Were back at it today with temps in the 30’s. These look great for summer though.

  8. These do look like a great way to welcome in spring! I like all kinds of cookies, but the fact that these are soft and lemony makes them extra special. Your pictures here are really inspiring-yum!. Have a great day!

  9. Isn’t that funny- we’ve been having almost the exact same weather here in New Jersey. So I guess I have you to blame for the chilly wind storm yesterday *stern look*

    These sound wonderful! Although I might wait for real summer to make them, otherwise the fates will decide I’m mocking them and make it snow in April or something. It happens.

  10. Oh, these sound fantastic! I LOVE sugar cookies and I love lemon — I’m definitely making a batch!

  11. I think I made these in record time – they were wonderful! Thanks for a great recipe!

  12. Cindy

     /  April 4, 2012

    These look fabulous. I can’t wait to try them!

  13. Cindy

     /  April 8, 2012

    OK so I tried them… fabulous!! I made the dough yesterday and let it sit in the frig overnight. I rolled them in lemon infused organic cane sugar- one of many flavors sold at a nearby specialty food store (including espresso! yum!) Baked them this morning- they seem very Easter. I can totally see this as my go-to recipe for adding other flavors when I’m in the mood for a sugar cookie. They are addictive! 🙂 Thanks for the recipe!

    • Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed them, Cindy! You are right. I think these are perfect Easter cookies. I can see myself making these again and again. The cookie is just such a great base for a variety of flavors. You are very welcome!

  14. Hi! My baby girl’s first bday party is this Saturday. I want to make a cookie and freeze them COOKED until Saturday (only 3 days from now). I won’t have time to bake them off as I’ll be icing cakes, making sandwiches, decorating, running around after my girls etc etc etc! 🙂 Do you think they’ll be ok? THANKS!

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