These Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies will melt in your mouth and are the perfect blend of bright lemon and fragrant basil. These easy to make, buttery cookies are perfect for tea time, holidays or a special afternoon treat! Top with a sprinkle of sugar for a sparkling finish that no one will be able to resist!
Lemon Shortbread Cookies Recipe
These easy cookies are guaranteed to brighten up your day with their light and bright lemon flavor. I love lemon and basil together (make sure to try my Basil Lemon Drop!) and these cookies are no exception. You’re going to love this classic shortbread cookie, with it’s melt in your mouth texture and added flavor from the vibrant lemon zest and fresh basil.
The combination of lemon and basil is so refreshing and irresistible and just perfect for spring and summer entertaining. It’s also the perfect treat to make during the winter months when you’re craving a bit of sunshine. These scrumptious shortbread cookies are the perfect balance between sweet and savory! The perfect tea time treat or as a tasty addition to your cookie platter any time of year.
Not a fan of basil? Swap in fresh mint for a fun and tasty variation on this easy shortbread recipe!
Why You’ll Love These Cookies
- No Chilling. These cookies are super simple to make and require no chilling time. Simple whip the dough together and then bake!
- Customizable. These cookies can be cut into any shape you desire or simple cut into squares with a knife for added simplicity. Swap out lemon zest for orange zest or basil for mint and you’ve got a whole new cookie!
- Pretty As A Picture. These cookies are so sophisticated and elegant but take hardly any effort. They look lovely on a cookie tray or as an addition to a dessert table.
These delightful Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies are cookie perfection! The perfect blend of bright and light lemon with fragrant, fresh basil is so refreshing. As always, you can find the full printable recipe with complete instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need…
- powdered sugar – Granulated sugar can also be used in this recipe! I use granulated sugar most often when making shortbread but the powdered sugar is slightly easier to incorporate. The powdered sugar creates a wonderfully tender crumb.
- lemon zest – Depending on how lemony you want the cookies, add more or less zest.
- fresh basil – The basil should be finely minced so you get just a bit of basil flavor in each bite.
- all purpose flour – Make sure to spoon and level your flour so you don’t get too much flour. Too much flour will result in a dough that doesn’t come together and will make your cookies overly dry.
- salted butter – For this recipe, toss your butter in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour and then grate before combining with the other ingredients. This ensures that the butter is evenly incorporated into the dough. frozen
- lemon juice – Adds moisture as well as flavor to the cookies.
- water – Just a tablespoon or two to add just enough moisture for the dough to come together into a cohesive ball.
- coarse sugar or raw sugar – The cookies can be sprinkled with coarse sugar before baking for a sparkly finish.
- lemon zest – Add more lemon flavor and bright color with a sprinkle of lemon zest.
- basil – Serve alongside these cookies as a garnish for a lovely contrast in color.
How To Make Lemon Shortbread Cookies
- Prep. Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line one or two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Flavor Sugar. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the powdered sugar, lemon zest, and minced basil. Beat the mixture for two minutes, or until the sugar is fragrant. Add the all-purpose flour to the bowl and whisk until fully combined.
- Add Butter and Liquid. Grate the frozen butter and add it to the mixing bowl. Beat on low speed until the butter is evenly distributed and combined. Switch to the dough hook. Incorporate the lemon juice into the dough. Gradually add water, 1 to 2 teaspoons at a time, until a soft dough forms.
- Cut. Transfer the dough to one of the prepared baking sheets. Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the dough. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a thickness of about ¼ inch. Using 2 to 3-inch cookie cutters, cut out the cookies. I find it helpful to dip the cookie cutters into flour or powdered sugar to keep the dough from sticking. Place the cookies on the other baking sheet, ensuring there is about a 1-inch space between each cookie.
- Bake. Lightly sprinkle each cookie with coarse or raw sugar. Bake the cookies for 12-17 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Let the cookies cool completely before storing or enjoying. Garnish with additional lemon zest and fresh basil, if desired.
If at any point you find the dough sticking (to the rolling pin, parchment paper or cutters), place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before continuing on with the recipe.
These cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. The cookies are really best within two days of baking.
To freeze, wrap the cookies in plastic wrap, then again in foil and place in a freezer safe, airtight bag or container for up to 3 months. Let cookies come to room temperature before enjoying.
Variations To Try
- Swap orange zest and juice or even lime zest and juice for the lemon zest and juice in this recipe.
- Try different herbs! Mint is an obvious choice but other herbs can be used as well.
- Use different shaped cookie cutters or just cut into squares with a knife.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! Just add a pinch of salt to the recipe.
They sure can. Let cool completely and then wrap in plastic wrap and foil and place in a freezer safe, airtight container for up to 3 months.
We love these cookies with basil but mint is another favorite choice. Any herb you like will work in this recipe.
Nope! This recipe makes the perfect Lemon Shortbread Cookies with the basil is omitted from the recipe.
Trish’s Tips and Tricks
- Make sure your butter is frozen to get that delicious crumbly shortbread texture we all know and love.
- Add only as much liquid as is needed for the dough to form. The dough should be crumbly but still hold together.
- If the dough becomes difficult to handle or has become warmed through delay or simply warmer temperatures, place dough in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling out. Likewise, after rolling out the first time, if the dough seems to be sticking to the cookie cutters, parchment paper or rolling pin, simply gather it up and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes before re-rolling.
- Dip your cookie cutters in powdered sugar or flour before cutting to ensure they don’t stick to the dough.
- Chill the cookie dough for about 15 to 30 minutes before cutting out the cookies to make them even easier to handle and to ensure they don’t spread when baking.
- Avoid over handling the dough or it will warm too much. You may need to chill if it gets warm.
- Remove the cookies when the edges are just golden brown, do not over bake.
More Favorite Lemon Desserts
How To Make Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies
Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons fresh basil minced
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 16 tablespoons salted butter frozen
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 to 2 tablespoons water
- coarse sugar or raw sugar
- lemon zest
- fresh basil
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and line one or two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the powdered sugar, basil and lemon zest. Beat together for two minutes or until the sugar is fragrant.
- Whisk in the flour until combined.
- Grate the frozen butter and transfer to the mixing bowl. Beat in on low speed until evenly distributed and combined with the dry mixture.
- Use the dough hook to incorporate the lemon juice and then gradually add water, 1 to 2 teaspoons at a time, until a soft dough forms. (If you don't have a dough hook, beat in on low speed.)
- Transfer dough to one of the prepared baking sheets and place another piece of parchment paper on top. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about ¼ inch thick.
- Use 2 to 3 inch cookie cookers to cut out cookies. Place the cookies on the other baking sheet, making sure to leave cookies about one inch apart.
- Sprinkle each cookie lightly with coarse sugar and bake for 12-17 minutes or just until the edges are golden brown.
- Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. Let cookies cool completely before storing or enjoying.
- Garnish with additional lemon zest and fresh basil, if desired.