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Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields 40 rectangular cookies or 24 cookie wedges

A hint of citrus brightens up classic shortbread cookies.


  • 12 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened; more for the pan(s)
  • 15 oz. (3-1/3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 5-3/8 oz. (1-1/3 cups) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract or paste


  • For rectangular cookies, lightly butter the bottom of a straight-sided 9×13-inch baking pan. For wedges, lightly butter two 9-1/2-inch fluted tart pans with removable bottoms.
  • Combine the flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the dough begins to form moist clumps, about 1 minute.
  • Turn the dough out into the prepared pan (if making wedges, divide the dough between the two pans). Using lightly floured fingertips, press the dough into the pan(s) to form an even layer. 
  • For rectangular cookies, use a bench knife or a paring knife to cut the dough all the way through into 40 bars. With the tines of a fork, prick each bar twice all the way through, spacing the holes evenly and on the diagonal. Lightly flour the tines as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking.
  • For wedges, cut each pan of dough all the way through to form 12 wedges. With the tines of a fork, prick the wedges three times all the way through, spacing the holes evenly over the dough.
  • Freeze the dough while the oven heats. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. 
  • Bake the dough, rotating the pan(s) halfway through, until the top(s) looks dry and golden-brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer the pan(s) to a rack. Using a paring knife or bench knife, immediately re-cut the cookies along the lines. Cool completely before removing them from the pan(s).

Make Ahead Tips

Once the dough is pressed into the pan and cut, it can be wrapped and refrigerated for 1 day or frozen for up to 1 month. If freezing the dough, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before baking.

Baked and cooled cookies can be layered between sheets of parchment or waxed paper in an airtight container and stored at room temperature for up to 4 days.


Rate or Review

Reviews (4 reviews)

  • bettycate | 05/03/2020

    I’m sure these would have been wonderful cookies, however, l read one and a half cups as one and a half sticks! Big mistake! For sake of cooks with reading problems the chef could add the words “three sticks”.

  • user-105832 | 12/24/2013

    Just took them out the oven - lovely aroma. I also used the Meyer Lemon zest and the texture is smooth. Whipped them up in a few minutes flat. Will definitely make them again. They are really yummy!

  • chefani | 03/12/2012

    These were so easy to prepare and just what I look for in a good shortbread cookie. I used Meyer Lemon zest and my book club friends loved the flavor. This is my new "go to" shortbread.

  • eyecu | 02/02/2012

    I had my girls over for movie night and this was a home run!

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