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These vegan lemon cookies are a soft, buttery, lemon shortbread with a tangy lemon glaze. They are easy to make and all you need are 5 simple ingredients!
I make some form of shortbread cookies every year - but not just around the holidays and Christmas! My strawberry shortbread cookies are a regular staple in the summer and lemon shortbread cookies are just as perfect for year-round baking!
These vegan lemon cookies are so soft, they melt in your mouth and have just the perfect amount of natural lemon flavor! You can make them 100% vegan, or if you don’t follow a vegan diet you can even make these using regular butter and milk.
Why You'll Love These Vegan Lemon Cookies
- These shortbread cookies can be made using fun cookie cutters depending on the occasion - Christmas, Easter, baby showers, bridal showers, or just when you're craving shortbread!
- These soft lemon cookies are ready in under 30 minutes, no chill time required
- You don't need a mixer to make these cookies, and they only call for 5 ingredients! Yes - 5 ingredients and that includes the glaze!
- If you don't have cookie cutters, you can use a cup to make round cookies, or slice the dough into rectangular shapes!
- These cookies are perfectly buttery and soft without the use of any dairy ingredients, but can also be made using dairy butter and dairy milk if you aren’t following a vegan diet.
- Vegan Butter: softened vegan butter is a key ingredient in this shortbread! You can use regular butter if you are not vegan.
- Flour: this recipe uses all-purpose flour, and hasn’t been tested using other flour varieties.
- Lemon: You’ll need one large lemon for this recipe, and will be using the juice and the zest. You can add a little more zest if you’d like extra lemon flavor!
- Powdered sugar/icing sugar: be sure to use a vegan powdered sugar if following a vegan diet.
- Lemon Juice: lemon juice is used in the glaze for the cookies, and you can use the fresh juice from the lemon or even store-bought lemon juice.
Step By Step Instructions
Note: Full ingredient measurements and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this page.
STEP ONE: Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside. In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon or a mixer on low to mix butter and powdered sugar together, then add vanilla extract and lemon zest.
STEP TWO: Add in flour and mix until combined. If it seems too crumbly or dry, add another tablespoon of butter, and if it seems too wet, add a tablespoon of flour. Roll the dough into a ball and transfer to a floured surface.
STEP THREE: Roll the dough out to about ¼ inch thickness. Use your cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the dough, then transfer the cookies to the baking sheets. Refrigerate while the oven preheats to 350°F.
STEP FOUR: Bake the cookies until the edges have just begun to get a small amount of color, but they are still pale (9-11 minutes). Let cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack while you make the lemon glaze. Whisk glaze ingredients together, then drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies. Let the cookies sit until the glaze has set.
FAQs and Expert Tips
If the cookies aren’t soft, you likely over-baked them. The edges should be slightly golden brown, but the whole cookie shouldn’t be golden.
Absolutely! The dough can be refrigerated overnight and baked the next day.
Definitely! Simply use softened regular butter and regular milk in the recipe.
Yes! Adjust powdered sugar as needed when making the glaze until your desired consistency is reached. The glaze should set completely in under one hour.
Sure! I’d recommend adding a little more zest to the dough if you aren’t planning to glaze the cookies, as the glaze adds extra lemon flavor to the shortbread.
- Properly measure your flour: Too much flour will make the shortbread dough crumbly and dry instead of soft and buttery. I recommend weighing your flour with a kitchen scale or using the scoop and level method
- Don't have a cookie cutter? You can form the dough into a rectangular log and slice ¼ inch slices or use a cup to cut circles out of the dough! See video for reference!
- Depending on the size of your cookies, they may take more or less time to bake. Do not over-bake, or the cookies won't be soft!
- Wait for the cookies to cool completely before drizzling with lemon glaze, or else the glaze will just melt from the heat!
- Adjust the amount of butter and flour in the dough if needed: I recommend adding the flour in slowly. If it seems too dry or crumbly, add in a little more butter (about ½-1 tablespoon at a time).
Storage and Freezing Instructions
These lemon shortbread cookies should be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week.
You can freeze the shortbread dough for up to 2 months. Roll out the cookie dough, then cut out shapes and place them in a single layer in a parchment-lined container.
Add a piece of parchment in between each layer of cookies. The glaze takes less than 5 minutes to make, so I recommend just making it when you decide to bake the dough.
You can also freeze the baked cookies either glazed or not glazed (just wait for the glaze to set before freezing) in an airtight container, with parchment paper between the layers. I actually sometimes like to eat the cookies cold, straight out of the freezer!
More Vegan Cookies You'll Love
If you make this recipe, let me know how it went in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you! You can also tag me on Instagram or Facebook so I can check it out!
Vegan Lemon Cookies
Vegan Lemon Shortbread Cookies
- ¾ cup vegan butter, softened (or regular butter if not vegan)
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp powdered sugar (icing sugar)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1¾ cups + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1-1½ Tablespoons lemon zest (approximately one lemon)
- 2½ tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tbsp vegan butter, melted (or regular if not vegan)
- 1¼-1½ cup powdered sugar (icing sugar)
Vegan Lemon Shortbread Cookies
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside. Add butter and icing sugar to a large mixing bowl. Use a handheld mixer, standing mixer, or a wooden spoon to mix them together until smooth.
- Add in the vanilla and lemon zest, then add in the flour and mix until combined. If the dough seems too crumbly, add another Tablespoon of butter. If the dough is too soft, add one Tablespoon of flour. Roll the dough into a ball and transfer to a floured surface.
- Roll the dough out to about ¼ inch thickness. Use your cookie cutters* to cut shapes out of the dough, then transfer the cookies to the baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 350°F and refrigerate the dough while it preheats.
- Once the oven has preheated, bake the cookies (one baking sheet at a time if you are using more than one) until the edges have just slightly started to get a little bit of color, but are still pale, around 9-11 minutes. Don't over-bake! Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
- Once the cookies have cooled completely, whisk the lemon juice, melted butter, and powdered sugar together, then drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies. Leave the cookies on the rack while the glaze sets.
The calorie information provided for this recipe is an estimate. The accuracy of the calories listed is not guaranteed.
These were absolutely amazing! My daughter and I had so much fun making them together. She loved rolling and cutting them out almost as much as eating them! Such a delicious bright spot on a very rainy day.
Hi Alysha! I am so happy to hear that you loved the cookies! Such a special thing to bake together!:D Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review!
Hello, can you use a cookie press for this recipe?
Hi Marisa, I haven't tried it myself but I think that would work fine!
Can margarine be used in this recipe instead of butter?
How much Lemon extract could I use instead please?
Hi Tiggy! For the glaze, you can use about 1 teaspoon lemon extract. For the cookie dough, start with 2-3 teaspoons of lemon extract, then you can taste and add more if needed. Enjoy!
these came out perfectly! I used earth balance. perfect amount of lemon flavor.
Hi Nikki! I'm so glad to hear that! Thanks for the review 🙂
Can I use coconut oil in place of the butter or vegan butter?
Hi Theresa! I think that would work at a 1:1 ratio, although I haven't tested this recipe with coconut oil so I can't say for sure! It likely wouldn't have the classic buttery flavor of a shortbread cookie, but I'd love to hear how it goes if you try it! 🙂
Hi, Am I going crazy? I can't find the "Metric" button to convert recipe. Help!!!!
Hi Cazza! Try checking one more time, I think there was a glitch but they seem to be showing up now!
I don’t see the metric measurements. Also do you use salted or unsalted butter?
Hi Beverly! There seemed to be a glitch but the metric measurements should be showing up now 🙂 Many of the vegan butters tend to be salted already, so I use salted for these. You can also use unsalted and just add a pinch of salt into the dough. Enjoy!
I’m a huge lemon fan and these did NOT disappoint! So easy to make and the glaze on top is perfect. Can’t wait to make again.
Hi Phil! I'm so happy to hear that you loved the cookies! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review 🙂