What are Lemon Cookies?

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  • Written By: Janis Adams
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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Lemon cookies, also called lemon tartlets or lemon tea cookies, feature the tangy and fragrant zest of a lemon as the chief flavor ingredient. Both the juice and the rind of the lemon can be used to bring flavor to the recipe of lemon cookies. A popular feature of lemon cookie, which enhances the lemon flavor, is the addition of a lemon-flavored icing. These cookies have been around for centuries and are often considered an old-fashioned treat.

One of the key flavor ingredients in lemon cookies is obviously lemon juice. The fresher the juice, the more powerful and less bitter the lemon flavor will be when used in the cookie recipe. A fresh, ripe lemon will yield approximately 3 tablespoons of juice.

Lemon cookies are often considered to be a quite rich cookie when compared to other varieties, as they traditionally have recipes that include a large quantity of butter. For this reason, they also prove to be a very tender cookie. Sweet butter, verses salted, is most often used when making these cookies.

Old-fashioned lemon cookies used baking ammonia, also known as baker's ammonia, as an ingredient in their recipes. The baker's ammonia was used as the leavening agent. Today baker's ammonia is still available, though it may be a bit difficult to find, and recipes that contain this ingredient continue to circulate and to receive rave reviews by those who make and consume them.


Another longstanding and popular way to make lemon cookies is to follow an icebox or a refrigerated recipe. This type of recipe requires the dough to be made some hours prior to baking and then necessitates refrigeration. This technique is popular with those lemon cookie recipes that contain butter, as the butter is given time to harden after it has softened during the mixing process. The refrigeration time aids in producing more uniform-size cookies that do not spread as readily as those that contain butter yet have not undergone the refrigeration process.

Lemon cookies are presented in a variety of ways. Some cookies have no icing. Other varieties have a very sweet, non-lemon flavored icing. Yet still others have a very lemony tasting icing. Another popular topping for lemon cookies is turbinado sugar, also referred to as natural brown sugar or sugar in the raw, which is sprinkled on the cookie prior to baking it.


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