A few years back at one of our family gatherings, my Mama brought out a plate of these little, pale yellow cookies. They almost looked like unbaked sugar cookies. I really didn’t think anything of them. And then my husband had one, ran over to me and told me I had to go grab one immediately. I made my way over to the plate, grabbed one, took a bite, and was completely blown away.
They had a bright, sweet lemon flavor and the most incredibly chewy and smooth texture. The outside of these unassuming cookies didn’t do them justice at all, because they were, without a doubt, one of the best cookies I’ve ever had. And then I proceeded to camp out by the dessert table and eat my weight in these cookies.
Meet lemon drop cookies.
I know, they really don’t look like much. I think it’s probably a defense mechanism. If they looked as incredibly tasty as they are, you’d never get them out of the kitchen. They’re in disguise. And hidden under that disguise is pure cookie magic.
Every time I’ve brought these lemon drop cookies somewhere, they’ve garnered the same reaction that I had the first time I tried them. At first appearance, people think they’re boring little sugar cookies, and then after a bite, people are over-the-moon, stumbling over themselves to get the recipe!
How do I make lemon drop cookies?
- Rub the lemon zest into the sugar until it is fragrant.
- Cream the butter with the lemon sugar in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer on medium speed.
- Add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix until combined. It may look curdled because of the lemon juice’s acidity, but I promise it will come together!
- Add the dry ingredients and mix until the dough forms a ball. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Use a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon measuring spoon to portion out balls of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake 8-10 minutes—watch closely so they aren’t overbaked!
- Allow to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Toss the cooled cookies in powdered sugar. Enjoy!
Help, my lemon cookies are too crispy!
Like all chewy cookie recipes, the absolute key to getting the texture right is closely monitoring your cooking time. As a matter of principle, I underbake all my cookie by 3-4 minutes less than what the recipes call for. These you have to watch like hawk. You want them to just be slightly (like, barely) browned on the bottom, and a beautiful pale yellow color on top. I wouldn’t leave the kitchen while these are baking, because 30-60 seconds in the oven too long, and your delicious, chewy cookies are instead delicious, crunchy cookies.
You’ll be tempted to leave them longer because they seem just so liquidy and gooey, but I promise, as they cool, they’ll solidify. You want to err on the side of raw cookies on these guys. You want them to be jiggly enough that it’s a little hard to wiggle them onto a spatula to take them off the tray.
Trust me, no one will be upset if the middle of their cookie is a bit more like cookie dough that a cooked cookie.
Help, the cookies spread too much!
Another key to getting the perfect chewy cookie: cool cookie sheets. When you’ve taken your first batch of cookies out of the oven and transferred them to a cooling rack, don’t immediately go and place raw cookie dough on the hot cookie sheet. Instead, either wait 10-15 minutes for the cookie sheet to cool (or have a second cookie sheet that is cooling while your other one is the oven), or quickly run the sheet under cold water and dry it.
A warm cookie sheet starts the butter melting in cookies before they ever hit the oven, which means you’ll end up with a liquid mess of cookie instead of a perfect pillow of lemonness. Trust me on this one.
Will these lemon crinkle cookies work with other citrus fruits?
I haven’t tried veering away from the lemon flavor, but I’m sure this cookie could be equally incredible with other citrus flavors. Orange zest and juice, plus maybe a tiny pinch of ground cloves would make for a delicious, holiday-flavored cookie. And some key lime zest and juice would make for a cookie that is almost like a hand-held key lime pie! Or put lemon and lime in them and they could be Sprite/7Up cookies. Yum.