Skip to Content

Crisp Lemon Thin Cookies

Lemon Thin Cookies are, as the name suggests, crisp, thin and lightly lemony. This lovely little cookie is the perfect tea-time or snack-time treat.

lemon thin cookies and a cup of tea

This is a simple little cookie. It has no nuts or chunky chips or gooey filling, and that simplicity is exactly why I worked so hard to perfect this recipe.

Like all “simple” recipes, for example Angel Food Cake, Shortbread Cookies or a perfect Creme Brulee, when a recipe is short on ingredients, the quality of the ingredients and the technique becomes even more important. With no extraneous ingredients to hide behind, this cookie all all about getting that one perfectly light and crisp bite.

How to create the perfect Lemon Thin Cookie recipe:

I started my Lemon Thin quest a few months ago as I was perusing my old recipe notebooks looking for inspiration. I started keeping these notes at my first job out of pastry school. In these binders I collected techniques and recipes from all my pastry jobs over the years. I can’t tell you how often I refer back to these books.

At the back of one book I found a folded up recipe for “Lemon Thins” that I used to make when I worked for a local caterer. I remembered liking those cookies and set out to make them for the blog.

The first step was to resize the recipe from one that made several hundred cookies to one that made several dozen. I baked a batch and was sorely disappointed to find that, although the cookies looked pretty, they didn’t have the texture that I remembered. I wanted a classic thin and crisp lemon cookie with a light open texture. The cookies I baked had a cakey, soft crumb.

I soon got sidetracked testing the recipes for my book, Easy Baking From Scratch and the Lemon Thin recipe was put on the back burner (no pun intended). So now that my book is all done, I decided to tackle this recipe again.

Click through the step-by-step process photos to see how to make Crisp Lemon Thin Cookies:

batter for lemon thin cookies

The dough for Lemon Thin cookies is really more of a batter. The soft dough will spread in the oven.

a small scooper filled with lemon cookie batter

A .75 oz scoop makes portioning cookies very easy and the the cookies bake more evenly.

scooped batter for Lemon Thin Cookies on a sheet pan

Leave at least 2″ between the cookies since they do spread quite a bit.

Experimentation leads to a great Lemon Cookie recipe:

My first thought was to adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe. I know that more sugar generally leads to a crisper cookie, so I upped the sugar a little bit.

The cookies were better than the original recipe but still not quite what I was after. Although the cookies were less cakey, the centers were still soft and chewy and the cookies were more dense than I wanted.

I reduced the eggs from 2 to 1 to reduce the amount of moisture in the dough. Less moisture means more crispness.

I also decided to add a little baking soda. Even though I wanted a flat cookie and not a puffy cookie, I wanted a light texture.

So why doesn’t the baking soda make the cookies puffy? We know that, baking soda will react with acidic lemon juice and release carbon dioxide into the batter. The carbon dioxide expands the air bubbles in the batter which should cause the cookies to rise.

But, once again, this is why baking is both a science and an art. I figured that the soft batter would not be able to hold onto the bubbles and I was right. The bubbles ended up popping and the cookies collapsed a little as they baked.

Normally we don’t want things collapsing in the oven. But I was happy to see it happen this time. The result is a cookie that has a light open crumb, but is still nice and thin.

a Lemon Thin Cookie with baking soda and one without on cooling rack

The bottom cookie is made without the baking soda. The top cookie has a more open and lighter texture from the baking soda.

I made one last test batch. I had been working with confectioner’s sugar in the recipe because, with it’s smaller crystals, confectioner’s will more readily absorb moisture in the dough. When the sugar absorbs more moisture, the cookies spread more. For this Lemon Thin Cookie recipe I wanted the cookies to spread because I wanted them to be, well, thin.

But I also know that more folks keep granulated sugar in the house than confectioner’s sugar. For convenience sake, I decided to test the recipe with granulated sugar. Right out of the oven the cookies made with the granulated sugar seemed pretty close in texture and crispness to the one’s made with confectioner’s sugar.

But I found that the cookies made with the confectioner’s sugar held on to the crisp texture longer than those made with granulated sugar. Even the next day they had a good crisp bite.

Finally, after baking about 101029102190 Lemon Thins, I had the exact texture and flavor I was after. Put on the kettle and enjoy a couple of these little beauties.

a stack of lemon thin cookies

lemon thin cookies and a cup of tea on a table

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please consider giving it a 5-star review.

lemon thin cookies

Lemon Thins

Yield: 24 cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Total Time: 24 minutes

A simple and perfect little cookie. Thin, crisp and lightly lemony.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (5 oz, 140 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz, 170 g) confectioner's sugar
  • finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (5 oz, 140g) all purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (see note).
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl. Add the lemon juice and lemon extract mix until well combined. Add the egg and mix until well combined. Scrape the bowl. Add the salt, baking soda and flour and mix until incorporated.
  3. Use a .75 oz scoop or a tablespoon to scoop the cookies onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2" between the cookies. They will spread as they bake so make sure to leave enough room.
  4. Bake until the edges are golden brown and the middle of the cookies are set, about 8-10 minutes.
  5. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
  6. Store at room temperature in a covered container.

Notes

Parchment paper is the best surface for these cookies to have just the right thickness and texture.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

You might also like:

espresso heath chunk cookies

Espresso Heath Cookies

oatmeal cookies maple glaze

Oat Maple Cookies

linzer cookie valentines

Linzer Cookies

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookie

PB&J Cookie

brown butter almond madeleine

Brown Butter Madeleines

Tips for Angel Food Cake success: Use fresh whites, not pasteurized. Frozen fresh whites are fine. Don't whip on high speed. dont add sugar until soft peak clean bowl and whisk, no grease Fold with a spatula just until combined. Don't overfold Use a tube pan Don't grease the pan Cool upside down Don't over bake. The cake should not pull away from the sides of the pan.
Angel Food Cake - An Essential Recipe
← Read Last Post
peach & pecan streusel coffee cake
Peach & Pecan Streusel Coffee Cake
Read Next Post →

CliffS

Sunday 28th of February 2021

My bake time was at least 12 minutes at 350. One cookie sheet with 12 cookies took over 14 minutes! And with my small scoop, I had 36 3-inch cookies from one recipe. I didn't have lemon extract, so I added 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

Robert

Sunday 28th of February 2021

If you like lemon, but don't want it to yell at you (the way lemon bars do) and if you like sweet, but not overwhelmingly so, these cookies are a delight. They are delicious and the texture is a wonderful mix of soft and crunchy. Tech question: Would it make them crunchier to replace (maybe) ¼ of the flour with rice flour?

Eileen Gray

Sunday 28th of February 2021

Hi Robert, not sure. If you try it let me know how it works out.

Anita

Friday 26th of February 2021

Best lemon cookies ever!! 5 stars for sure

Laurie

Tuesday 9th of February 2021

I just made these crispy cookies and would like them to stay crispy. I live in Florida and baked goods do not stay crispy for long. I store them in a glass container with an air tight lid. Do you have any other suggestions to keep them crispy? Thanks.

Eileen Gray

Tuesday 9th of February 2021

Storing them in a closed container should help. Also, using confectioner's sugar in the batter helps the cookies stay crisp longer. As a last resort you could reheat them briefly in the oven and then let them cool to recrisp them.

Kenny

Wednesday 27th of January 2021

I made these and the flavor is delicious and they are very crisp. If I make them again, I’ll consider chilling my dough slightly before scooping the cookies. When I made them last night, the dough was so soft sticky that it didn’t come out of the scoop easily.