Iced Lemon Cookies Recipe

Alexandra Penfold

As a small child I loved lemon cookies, especially Anginetti, the Italian, rainbow sprinkle-bedecked, pillowy lemon cookies that made appearances at holiday parties with my mother's family. And I loved the frilly edged Archway Frosty Lemon cookies that my dad's mom used to buy.

These cookies are a hybrid of a classic Italian and a classic American treat. They're soft and chewy like a really good sugar cookie, but with more than a hint of pucker from lemon juice, zest, and extract. Best of all they're easy to make and perfect for holiday giving and sharing.

Recipe Facts

Active: 20 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Makes: 20 cookies

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  • For the Cookies:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons zest from one lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • For the Icing:
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from one lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • Rainbow sprinkles, for garnish


  1. Move oven rack to the center position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

  3. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugar, beating on medium speed, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until just combined. Mix in flour mixture, beating until combined, then add zest, vanilla, and lemon extract, beating until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate dough to chill for 1 hour.

  4. Scoop heaping tablespoonfuls of chilled dough and roll into a ball with your hands. Place on the prepared baking sheets leaving a couple inches in between the cookies to allow for spread. Bake until the cookies are set and the edges are golden brown, about 13-15 minutes. Cool the cookies on the pan for 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  5. In a medium bowl whisk together confectioners sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Place wire racks over parchment lined baking sheets (you can reuse the parchment paper from baking the cookies) Dip the tops of the cooled cookies in the icing then return to a wire rack to allow them to dry. Top with sprinkles, if desired. Let dry completely before serving, about 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Special equipment

electric hand mixer or stand mixer, parchment paper, baking sheets