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Chewy Lemon Sugar Cookies

April 18, 2011

Last week I found myself with an excuse to bake something sweet for work. I always jump at the chance to force share my baked goods with other people, mostly because it means I won’t have to eat them all myself. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make sure my pants still fit – unless it takes running, then forget it. I’ll just buy bigger pants.

We were having pizza for lunch, so I wanted to go with something a little sweet, Spring-y, and not too rich… like Lemon Sugar Cookies. You can’t go wrong with a classic. I’m super picky about sugar cookies though (and really, cookies in general). Sugar cookies need to be soft and chewy with a crunchy sugar coating. Crisp sugar cookies just will not do.

Chewy Lemon Sugar Cookies

I’m happy to report these cookies met and maybe even exceeded my picky sugar cookie expectations. They’re perfectly chewy and they stay chewy, even after being stored for a few days. They have just the right amount of sugary crunch on the outside and a bright (but not bitter or sour) lemon flavor. The secret ingredient – cream cheese – adds just a hint of tang that really complements the lemon.

Oh, and did I mention they were a big hit with everyone who ate them? I’ve been told they’re the “best ever”. You’re going to want to make these cookies!

Chewy Lemon Sugar Cookies

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Makes about 24 cookies


2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar , plus 1/3 cup for rolling
2 ounces cream cheese , cut into 8 small pieces
zest of 1 large lemon
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter , melted and still warm
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Place 1 and 1/2 cups sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl and whisk together until fragrant. Add cream cheese to sugar mixture and pour warm melted butter over top. Whisk briskly to combine (some lumps are OK). Whisk in oil. Add egg, lemon juice, milk, vanilla and lemon extract. Whisk until smooth. Fold in flour mixture with rubber spatula until incorporated and a soft dough forms.

Place remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small bowl. Using a 1 1/2 or 2 Tablespoon cookie scoop, portion out 12 dough balls per baking sheet. Roll each dough ball in your hands, then roll in sugar to coat. Space about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.

Bake 1 sheet at time at 350°F for 11-13 minutes, until set and just beginning to brown on the bottom. (They might not look done, but don’t over bake!) Cool on the baking sheet for 3-5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

  1. April 18, 2011 6:46 pm

    These look beautiful and delicious!

  2. April 18, 2011 6:46 pm

    These sound fabulous! I make a snickerdoodle with some lemon in it and I find it really offsets the sweetness nicely. I bet these lemony sugar cookies are delicious and I agree– sugar cookies need to be soft and chewy!

  3. April 18, 2011 8:57 pm

    I’m very particular sugar cookies as well, so these sound perfect. I especially like the cream cheese in them. Cream cheese makes everything better!

  4. April 18, 2011 10:33 pm

    I am SO making these for Easter weekend! What a great recipe!

  5. Hamannde permalink
    April 19, 2011 8:19 am

    I just made these! I live in Germany where the “all-purpose” flour is more like pastry flour which causes a huge problem when making cookies (they spread out super flat), so I did my best combining bread flour and pastry flour. The taste was great! I can’t wait to make these again using proper flour. :)

  6. April 19, 2011 10:48 am

    My husband won’t stop talking about these cookies, so I guess I’m going to have to make them myself! Thanks for sharing. :-)

  7. April 19, 2011 11:28 am

    Nice! These look great–and I love Cook’s Illustrated. I’m posting a recipe tomorrow for Lemon Crinkle Cookies that look really similar (visually–the recipe is quite different!). I think springtime is giving me the craving for citrus flavors or something.
    By the way, I feel exactly like you do about running–I’ll take the slightly bigger pants. =)

  8. April 19, 2011 11:47 am

    I found your blog through a comment you left on Back to the Cutting Board, and I just wanted to say hello. I’ve made lemon cookies, but your recipe looks better than the one I use, especially with the addition of cream cheese. This is going on my list of recipes to try!

  9. April 22, 2011 5:02 am

    Completely agree with you, I have to force my baking on to other people otherwise I’d be the size of a house! My husband is off to work with cupcakes for his colleagues today – can’t possibly eat everything I’ve cooked recently!

  10. April 22, 2011 12:29 pm

    I have been looking for a lemon sugar cookie like this forever! I’m the same way about sugar cookies–I don’t want them to be crispy all over, just on the outside. Next time I need to make cookies, I’ll be trying this recipe!

  11. April 26, 2011 6:12 pm

    My husband is a huge lemon fan so I know I will be making these for him soon.

  12. April 28, 2011 1:41 pm

    YUM! These look incredible. I will definitely try these out soon! This week has been peanut butter week for me so I’ve only been making peanut butter cookies, peanut butter cups, etc. on my blog. But I’d love to try some lemon cookies! And I have to agree about the running. No thank you! Buying bigger pants is the secret to a happy life :) Thanks for the great post!

  13. April 29, 2011 12:26 pm

    I love this recipe. The cookies turn out beautifully and cream cheese, awesome.

  14. April 29, 2011 10:00 pm

    what a great recipe! Thanks for sharing. :)

  15. May 2, 2011 5:02 am

    That looks so temptingly delicious!

  16. May 3, 2011 11:59 am

    Ok, so these cookies look absolutely AMAZING. I can not wait to get home and whip up a batch. Unlike you, though, I’ll probably have no self control and won’t take them to work to share…. Yum!

  17. May 3, 2011 2:27 pm

    Oh my goodness gracious! Those look stupendous! I LOVE LOVE LOVE THEM! :D

  18. May 3, 2011 3:02 pm

    Oh gosh, these look divine! I absolutely love lemon and don’t really like chocolate, so I know I would love these cookies!

  19. May 3, 2011 3:33 pm

    They look cute..and sound like yummy :) I love lemon flavoured cakes, cookies :)

  20. May 5, 2011 6:59 pm

    They look so good! I love lemon in desserts. Printing this recipe to try this weekend :)

  21. May 11, 2011 12:40 pm

    I love anything with lemon in it! These look SO good!

  22. akatwentyeight permalink
    May 13, 2011 4:49 pm

    Yum, thanks for sharing! Sugar cookies are an old favorite, but my mom’s recipe takes FOREVER and requires so much counterspace, etc. This looks like a much more manageable project.

    Happy Friday,

  23. Francine permalink
    May 13, 2011 6:25 pm

    I made these last week. They were delicious. My boyfriend and I ate the whole batch in three days. I’m making more tomorrow. Thanks!

  24. KatieH permalink
    May 14, 2011 5:39 pm

    So, something strange is going on with these cookies. I have one batch in the oven, but the other half of the batter is disappearing out of the bowl in small, finger-swipe portions. I’m making these for a graduation party I’m going to tonight and I’m afraid I’m going to be
    presenting the hostess with a plate of three cookies, and one will have a bite out of it. Thanks for the recipe!!

  25. Jen K permalink
    May 22, 2011 8:38 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve never made sugar cookies from scratch before, but I have the last pan in the oven right now and they are DELICIOUS! And they were really easy. Glad I found this!

  26. Angie permalink
    June 28, 2011 7:54 pm

    I doubled the recipe (cookies don’t live long in our house) and froze half to take to the beach with us. They froze wonderfully and were a refreshing dessert in the heat.

  27. CareBearNJ permalink
    February 13, 2014 5:27 pm

    These turned out with perfect texture. I made them a bit small to use as gifts for toddlers (mine DEVOURED his) so the recipe turned out 3 dozen. Lovely results!

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