Try these glazed Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Meyer lemons to add delicate lemon flavor. It's the perfect balance of lemony, buttery delight in every bite!
Wintertime doesn’t have to be dull and dreary. Not when there are lemons about. That bright sunshine-y color and bold flavor drives away the winter blahs.
Buttery homemade shortbread cookies are easy enough to make with just four ingredients: butter, sugar, salt, and flour. Add in a lemon, and now you’re really talking about brightening your day. The tart acidic component lemons bring balances out the buttery richness in the shortbread.
But wait, there’s more…you have a choice in the type of lemons you can use, especially this time of the year. I’m talking about Meyer lemons.
What are Meyer lemons?
I remember as a girl my aunt had a lemon tree in her yard, and we would make lemonade from the fruit. I could never understand why that lemonade tasted less tart than I was used to. Turns out, that was a Meyer lemon tree.
According to that great purveyor of knowledge, Wikipedia, Meyer lemons are a cousin to regular lemons, just sweeter and less acidic. Brought to the US from China in the early 20th century, these lemons bring a more nuanced flavor than their usual counterparts…think lemon tartness tempered with floral and bergamot notes.
While regular lemons are available year-round, Meyer lemons only show up in the US from mid Winter to early Spring. When I see them in the market, I toss 2 or 3 into my shopping bag to use in baking.
Baking with Meyer lemons
You can substitute Meyer lemons for regular lemons in your recipes calling for lemons and vice versa. Just remember to adjust for the sweetness and acidity when making changes.
One little Meyer lemon produces about three tablespoons of juice and one teaspoon of zest, plenty for your lemon shortbread recipe.
What you need
- Butter: The heart of shortbread, butter adds richness and flavor. Use the best butter you can find as the taste will be at the forefront
- Sugar: The sweetness has to come from somewhere!
- Meyer lemon juice & zest: Using a Meyer lemon adds a delicate and floral tartness to the shortbread and the glaze
- Salt: Used to balance all that sweetness
- Flour: Adds structure to the cookies
- Powdered Sugar: Adds structure and sweetness to the glaze
How to make lemon shortbread
When I mentioned above that lemons can be added to a shortbread cookie recipe, I wanted to know if I needed to adjust the sugar in my recipe. After all, I wanted that lemon flavor to be front and center.
Meyer lemons are sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons, so maybe I didn't need to adjust as much?
I looked at two recipes for lemon shortbread cookies that used Meyer lemons, Keep It Sweet Desserts’ Easy Meyer Lemon Shortbread Cookies and The Curious Frugal’s Meyer Lemon Shortbread Cookies. They both had more than double the sugar than my basic homemade shortbread cookie recipe for the same amount of flour and butter. My recipe was fine as is.
My Lemon Shortbread recipe uses the same amount of sugar and butter as in my homemade shortbread recipe, and has a sweet lemon glaze that highlights the lemons' influence. Using Meyer lemons makes the lemon flavor more delicate. That way, buttery shortbread goodness is still prominent, yet hints of lemon pop up. Score!
Instead of making shortbread bar cookies like normal, change it up by portioning the shortbread dough into two-tablespoon sized balls, then flatten them with a crosshatch pattern to catch the glaze.
Shortbread cookies have a lot of butter compared to other types of cookies. Since we're not baking them in bars, chilling the dough will help firm up that butter prior to baking. You won’t end up with cookie puddles all over your baking pan. You’re welcome.
Add a lemon glaze to your shortbread
Adding a lemon glaze to your lemon shortbread recipe ups the flavor punch, and gives a pretty shine to these cookies. And who doesn't love glaze?
Using Meyer lemons lend a delicate flavor to these buttery lemon shortbread cookies, both in the dough and in the glaze. If you want that sharper tang, by all means use regular lemons.
Either way, you’ll love how well these lemons and butter will complement each other, and that’s certain to brighten your day!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
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Lemon Shortbread Cookies
For the cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (8 oz, 227g)
- ½ cup granulated sugar, (3-1/2 oz, 100g)
- 1 tsp lemon zest, from 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour, (9 oz, 255g)
For the glaze
- 1-2 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice
- ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted, plus more as needed (2 oz, 56g)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a hand mixer), cream the butter, sugar, and zest together until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the lemon juice and salt. Add in the flour and mix until just combined.
- Portion out cookies into two tablespoon balls using a medium cookie scoop. Flatten the cookies with a crosshatch pattern with a fork, then chill the cookies in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before baking.
- Bake for 20-23 minutes or until the cookies' edges are lightly browned.
- Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking pan, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl. Mix two tablespoons of juice with the powdered sugar in a small bowl, adding more juice or powdered sugar as needed to achieve a drizzling consistency.
- When the cookies are completely cooled, move them back to a cooled baking pan. Drizzle the cookies with the glaze and let set for 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!