Chewy Lemon Cookies

Chewy Lemon Cookies

Lemon lovers this is the cookie recipe for you! It is full of plenty of lemon zest and juice from fresh lemons, a crisp edge and a super chewy center.  They are easy to make, have beautiful crackled tops, and are just so addictively good!

These chewy lemon sugar cookies contain simple ingredients you probably have on hand, plus one you may not- cream of tartar. What does cream of tarter do in this recipe? It gives these cookies their gorgeous cracked tops. You can leave it out but I love the crackly look on my cookies.

Chewy Lemon Cookies

Ingredients needed for Chewy Lemon Cookies:

  • All purpose flour
  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Cream of tartar
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Ground turmeric (optional, for color!)
  • Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon zest
  • Egg yolks

Chewy Lemon Cookies- Ingredients

Supplies needed for this Lemon Cookie Recipe:

  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Hand mixer or stand mixer
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Small bowl for sugar
  • Wire rack for cooling
  • Airtight container for storage

How to make the best Chewy Lemon Cookies:

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) cream together the butter, sugars, and lemon zest on medium speed. Add the egg yolks and lemon juice to the butter mixture and cream until smooth. Add the flour mixture and then mix until just combined. (The dough will seem a touch dry and crumbly so use your hands to squeeze it into a mass if needed.)

Scoop dough into balls and roll them in the sugar/lemon zest mixture. Place the cookie dough balls on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until the edges are firm and the tops have beautiful cracks. Place on a cooling rack and enjoy warm, room temperature, (or even cold!)

Chewy Lemon Cookies

Other Favorite Lemon Desserts:

Other Favorite Cookie Recipes:

Chewy Lemon Cookies

Why does this recipe use turmeric? Can I leave it out? Will I taste it?

I love using turmeric for a natural yellow food coloring. I prefer natural dyes in general and I find adding just 1/4 teaspoon to this recipe gives the cookies a golden yellow color without any turmeric flavor! If you want to leave it out you may, or you can sub regular yellow food coloring if you prefer.

Chewy Lemon Cookies

Can I use lemon extract or lemon oil in place of the real lemon juice?

I think these cookies have a really fresh and natural lemony taste, but if you want a more bold lemon flavor, you may add a 1/4 teaspoon to the butter/egg mixture.

Can I add any mix ins?

Sure! Add 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips and/or macadamia nuts for some crunch and texture.

Can I make this dough in advance and store in the fridge or freezer?

Yes! I recommend scooping and rolling the dough first, coating in sugar, and then storing the dough balls in a single layer in the fridge or freezer until ready to bake. They can go straight into the oven from the fridge without changing the baking time, but if baking from the freezer you’ll want to add a couple minutes of bake time- keep an eye on them!

Like this recipe and want another Citrus option? Try Lemon Curd Cookies!

Chewy Lemon Cookies

Chewy Lemon Cookies

Yield: about 30 cookies


  • 1/2 cup sugar (100 grams)
  • 1 cup brown sugar (200 grams)
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks, 8 oz)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2½ cups flour (312.5 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • For rolling:
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  1. In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, turmeric, cream of tartar, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter, lemon zest, and sugars until smooth and fluffy. Add the egg and lemon juice and mix together until smooth.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until well combined. (This mixture may appear dry and crumbly, if so just user your hands to smush everything into one mass.) Scoop dough into 1.5 inch balls and roll with your hands to smooth. Roll dough balls in the lemon sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until the tops are crackled and the edges are set.
  5. Cool on a wire rack. Cookies will last in room temperature for about 5 days if in an airtight container.


If you don't want to bake all the cookies at once, scoop the dough and roll the balls in sugar. Freeze them on a plate or tray and then transfer them to a ziplock back or other freezer safe container. They will last in the freezer for up to a month!

When ready to bake- let dough balls thaw slightly and add 1-2 minutes to your baking time as needed.

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. I would amend this recipe to instruct bakers to chill the dough. These cookies are delicious but come out very flat.

  2. I added extra zest and extra lemon juice, but they are not lemony . But they do have a nice chewy texture.

    1. Sorry to hear that! Next time you may like to use some lemon extract. Mine are always perfectly lemony though

    2. Sherri, I have found that some lemons are more “lemony” than others! Perhaps there is a best season to buy lemons?

    1. So sorry for the delay- you can skip the cream of tartar- it doesn’t change the taste of the cookie- just the crackly texture and look.

  3. I have tired many “good” lemon cookies recipes and have not liked any of them until now! This was is a keeper because it is amazing!!!

    1. I’d chill the balls of dough for about 10 minutes in the freezer or up to overnight!
      But I often bake them without chilling and I like them that way too.

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