Lemon Drop Cookies

These are delightfully soft cookies, almost like a puffy, lemon-flavored shortbread. They also have the excellent adult-friendly property of a controllable sweetness, so you can eat them very sweet or further on the tart side. Plus, yum lemon!

Makes about 55 cookies
Minimum total time from start to finish: about 4 hours, 90 minutes active
(Active time can be spread about evenly between 2 days)

Original credit to Gluten Free Cookies by Luane Kohnke.


  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter (salted is fine; softened in step 1)
  • 2-3 fresh lemons
  • About 1 cup powdered sugar, divided
  • 1¾ cups gluten free flour mix (or mix up a batch while the butter softens)
  • ½ cup corn starch
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp lemon oil or 1 tsp lemon extract or 2 packets true lemon or make slightly less lemony cookies


  • Oven
  • Refrigerator
  • At least one, preferably two, baking sheets of any kind
  • Electric mixer (a stand mixer is nice but not required)
  • Plastic wrap or a ziplock-type bag
  • Anything you can use to sift with

Optional but Helpful

  • Parchment paper


  1. Set the butter out at room temperature and let it sit out at least an hour to soften.
    Recipes are always calling for the butter to be softened in the ingredients list, which means you can’t actually make them in the time specified. So! Soften your butter here in step 1. Also, the salt content in salted butter really isn’t high enough to throw your recipes off very high. If you don’t normally keep unsalted butter around the house, take this as blanket permission to use salted butter in your baking forevermore.
  2. Zest and juice your lemons.
    Anytime while the butter softens is a great time to do this. This is a pretty flexible recipe, with the lemon content fine to adjust to your own taste. Ideally you should use at least 1 tsp lemon zest (which is about 1 small lemon) and 2 Tbsp lemon juice (about 1.5 small lemons), but adding more zest will just get you more lemon flavor, and as much as 3-4 Tbsp lemon juice is fine. Now is also a good time to make up your gluten-free flour mix, if you need to.
  3. Cream the butter and ½ cup powdered sugar.
    Creaming means mixing on high speed until the butter is light colored and fluffy (not just mixing the two together, there’s physics and chemistry going on here!). It should take about 3-4 minutes in a stand mixer or 5-6 with a hand electric mixer, usually needing to scrape down the bowl about one time.
  4. Mix the flour, corn starch, and xanthan gum in a mixing bowl or on a sheet of parchment paper or tinfoil.
    This is a good thing to do while your stand mixer is running :)
  5. Add all your lemon components to the butter and sugar and beat until combined.
    That’s the lemon zest, juice, and oil/extract/true lemon.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and beat until smooth.
    That is, beat until you see the same color and texture throughout the dough. This is a fairly stiff, dense dough, so I found I needed to scrape down the bowl a couple more times before all the ingredients were combined.
  7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or transfer the dough to a plastic bag and chill for at least 1 hour, or for as long as 2-3 days.
    If you use a plastic bag, you can wash the mixing bowl now.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F and, if you have it, line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Turn about 1 Tbsp of dough at a time into 1-inch balls and place on the cookie sheets about 1 inch apart (these don’t spread very far).
    I put about 30 balls on a sheet, which worked well and took about 10 minutes per sheet. It works well to make one sheet, put it in the oven, and then start on the second one. You can rotate the first sheet right about the time you finish making the second one, and use the remaining time to get out more powdered sugar and put it in your sifter.
  10. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, ideally rotating once.
    Start checking the cookies for done-ness around 15 minutes after putting them in the oven. Mine took about 19 minutes to finish. These are best when they have turned light brown on top.
  11. Immediately dust with powdered sugar, to taste.
    I used about ½ cup in total. The sugar will melt and form an icing-like glaze over the tops of the cookies. I let them sit on the sheets for a while, which worked fine, or you can remove them right away without issue.
  12. (Optional) For an attractive presentation, dust with powdered sugar again just before serving.
  13. Eat and enjoy!

Some Notes

  • These can easily be made in a wheated version: use 1½ cups all purpose flour instead of the gluten free flour (retain the corn starch) and omit the xanthan gum.
  • These should work fine with any citrus fruit, although I’ve only tried them with lemon so far.

The Carnage

You’ll need to wash the mixer blade(s), mixing bowl, sifter, and probably a couple of spoons. If you use parchment paper on the cookie sheets, those don’t even need a rinse!

One thought on “Lemon Drop Cookies

  1. Pingback: Lunch Today (03/19/2012) | Tinteán

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