Lemon Crinkle Cookies
These easy Lemon Crinkle Cookies are full of fresh lemon zest for a bright flavor, plus a hint of cardamom for spice. They’re one of my favorite Christmas cookies but they also work beautifully for spring and Easter. They’re ready in less than 25 minutes, no chilling required!
Crinkle cookies are one of my absolute favorite treats for the holidays, and these Lemon Crinkles are one of my oldest recipes and most beloved cookies.
While Chocolate Crinkle Cookies may be the most popular of all crinkle cookies, I like this lemon version the most. These lemon cookies somehow manage to be both “different” and familiar at the same time, and I always like a good twist on a classic.
The texture here is still the same as other crinkles, with a slightly crisp edge and a delicate balance of chewy and soft in the middle. But the flavor is different! The lemon and cardamom are magical together. It’s the perfect dessert for lemon lovers.
Tips for Best Results
Coat very thoroughly in confectioner’s sugar – In order to get that snow capped, cracked look at the end, you need to roll the lemon crinkle cookie balls very generously in the confectioner’s sugar. It will look like an obscene amount, but a lot of it gets absorbed into the cookie.
Use fresh lemon zest – For bright lemon flavor, we add lots of fresh lemon zest to the dough instead of lemon extract. This gives the cookie a more natural fresh lemon flavor.
Use good butter – Different brands make wildly different tasting butters. Some don’t taste like much of anything, while others have incredibly rich flavor. My favorite is Kerrygold, but Plugra and Vermont Creamery also make great butter. If you look up butter taste tests online, you’ll see that they are definitely not all equal.
Step by Step Overview:
As an overview, we will combine the spiced dry ingredients with the wet until a dough forms, then portion it into balls, roll in confectioner’s sugar, and bake! There’s no chilling required for this recipe.
Additionally, you may make this recipe with a hand mixer, or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. I find it easier to use the hand mixer.
Assemble the Dry Ingredients
Combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, fresh lemon zest, ground cardamom, and salt. Minimal ingredients, but quite fragrant!
Using zest instead of fresh lemon juice gives us all the wonderful citrus aroma we want, without the sourness and acidity.
The Lemon Zest: Feel free to try other citrus zest here, like orange, lime, grapefruit, or even meyer lemons, which are described as a cross between regular lemons and oranges.
The Cardamom: Feel free to swap in an equal amount of ground cinnamon, or 1/4 tsp of ground cloves.
Start the Wet Ingredients
Cream together softened unsalted butter and granulated sugar using medium speed until fluffy, like this:
Add two eggs and a splash of vanilla extract, and mix until incorporated:
Combine Dry and Wet to Make a Dough
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix gently until a cookie dough forms:
Make sure to only mix to the point where the flour just disappears and the dough is cohesive. Take care not to overmix.
Shape and Roll the Balls
Use a medium cookie scoop (affiliate) to portion out equal scoops of the dough, then roll each scoop into a ball between the palms of your hands.
Then roll the ball in confectioner’s sugar:
If it looks like there’s an obscene amount of confectioner’s sugar on the cookie dough ball, that’s perfect. Most of it will get absorbed during baking, so you want a lot on there.
Bake the cookies for 13 minutes in a 350F preheated oven, ideally on baking sheets covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat, until the cookies flatten out a little bit and the tops crinkle:
To ensure properly chewy cookies with a soft texture, make sure not to overbake these.
When you pull the tray out of the oven, the cracks in the cookies should glisten slightly and look a little underbaked, as if they need an extra minute. But since carryover cooking will continue to cook the dough further as everything cools, that’s the right time to pull the baking tray.
Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack before storing.
How to Serve
Lemon Crinkle Cookies are best enjoyed warm, but they will stay deliciously moist for a couple days. I like to serve them on a platter with other kinds of cookies, like Shortbread Cookies, Simple Sugar Cookies, and Orange Cranberry Biscotti.
If you like chocolate more than lemon, these Chocolate Crinkle Cookies are basically the same cookie, but in chocolate form. My Peanut Butter Cookies also have a similar crisp on the outside, soft in the middle texture.
Check out all my Cookie Recipes in my recipe index. Happy baking!
Recipe Tips and FAQ:
These cookies will keep for a few days at room temperature, stored in an airtight container, but not much longer since there are no preservatives. These freeze pretty well, and I recommend that if you don’t plan to finish them within a few days.
Yes, in an airtight container for up to 3 months. I tend to freeze them after they’ve already been baked and cooled, but you could also freeze the raw dough balls, then roll into confectioner’s sugar right before baking. Add a few extra minutes to baking time if you bake straight from frozen. To thaw fully baked cookies, let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.
You can absolutely use any type of citrus zest here. Orange is wonderful, and you can also do lime or grapefruit.
Cardamom is a wonderful spice and I think it’s worth seeking out here. But you can also play around with ground cloves (1/4 tsp) and ground cinnamon (1 tsp).
Yes, feel free to double or triple the batch, but make sure to use multiple cookie sheets so you don’t crowd the cookies during baking.
Lemon Crinkle Cookies
- 10 ounces all-purpose flour, by weight (2 cups, measured)
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, cardamom, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Set aside.
- Using a hand mixer, cream together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until fluffy and combined.
- Mix in the eggs and vanilla extract until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix on low speed until the flour is incorporated.
- Use a medium 1.5tbsp cookie scoop to portion out cookies, then roll the portioned dough into small balls, using the palms of your hands.
- Place the confectioner’s sugar in a bowl, and roll the cookie dough balls in the confectioner’s sugar, coating generously. Place the balls on a sheet pan about 2 inches apart, 12 per half sheet pan.
- Bake the cookies for 13 minutes, until the surface of the cookies have crinkled and the cookies have flattened slightly. The cookies will not be browned. Cool the cookies on a wire rack and serve.
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
Post updated in March 2021. Originally published November 2017.