Lemon lovers, rejoice -- these crisp, delicate cookies are made with lots of juice and zest for a delightful tang; poppy seeds add crunch.

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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring lemon juice to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook until reduced by half. Add 1 stick butter; stir until melted.

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  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream remaining stick butter and 1 cup sugar on medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix in egg and lemonbutter. Mix until pale, about 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla and 2 teaspoons zest. Mix in flour mixture and poppy seeds.

  • Stir together remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons zest. Roll spoonfuls of dough into 1 1/2-inch balls; roll them in sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Press each with the flat end of a glass dipped in sugar mixture until 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with seeds.

  • Bake until just browned around bottom edges, 10 to 11 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Reviews (53)

176 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 42
  • 4 star values: 66
  • 3 star values: 42
  • 2 star values: 20
  • 1 star values: 6
Rating: 5 stars
06/30/2018
This is a wonderful recipe. It makes lemon cookies with a perfect degree of tartness. I don't think the recipe is terribly complicated, but to make sure that the cookies come out just right be sure that you boil the lemon juice until it is reduced by half. You can even measure after boiling to be sure you have 1/8 cup before you add the stick of butter to it. Be sure to add the butter (just one stick of it) to the hot lemon juice, it will cool the lemon juice as well as melt the butter. Also be sure to mix it for 3 minutes (use a timer) in a mixer after you add the lemon butter and egg to the other stick of butter and cup of sugar.
Rating: Unrated
08/03/2017
Chilling dough is a must. It is very soft and difficult to handle. The parchment paper also is essential as without it, it is difficult to remove the cookies from the pan; because of the melted sugar adhering to the pan as it cools. Love the flavor, have made them several times, keep going back to this lemon cookie recipe. Martha should update the recipe directions however. The sugar should be marked 'separate'.
Rating: 5 stars
05/13/2017
These are by far my favorite cookie. Light crisp and lemony. Chill cookie dough for at least 2 hours and use parchment paper on cookie sheet. You WILL be pleased.
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Rating: Unrated
01/15/2015
I've made these cookies twice and love them. It's not a throw-everything-in-the-bowl-and-stir sort of recipe, but it was worth the extra bit of effort. The lemon flavor asserts itself with without knocking me over, and the cookies stay moist and chewey but not wet and gooey.
Rating: Unrated
04/20/2014
Disaster! Did anyone at Martha Stewart actually make these cookies BEFORE publishing the recipe? I am a skilled baker and these cookies fell apart, couldn't get them off the cookie sheet in one piece. My instincts told me they were going to stick, but I like to follow recipes exactly the first time. I will never make these again and I will never use a Martha Stewart recipe again. Clearly there is no test kitchen.
Rating: Unrated
03/27/2014
I failed making these cookies. I should have read the reviews before i made them. First of all, I put 1 1/2 cups of sugar in the mix instead of 1 cup. Apparently, I can't read. Secondly, I should have cooled the dough in the fridge to firm up as told in previous reviews . Next time i would leave out rolling balls in sugar mix. What a mess! Parchment paper was a grand idea. I will try again.
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Rating: 4 stars
11/05/2013
These have a great consistency. They're crisp outside, but still a little chewy and moist on the inside. The lemon flavor doesn't smack you across the face, but it does keep you coming back for more.
Rating: Unrated
08/19/2013
Oy, never making these cookies again. Huge disappointment! Taste/flavor is mediocre, and I used Meyer lemons and real butter. In addition to the recipe instructions, I had to: (1) let the butter/reduced lemon juice mixture cool to room temperature before using, (2) chill the dough overnight-it looks like thick batter until chilled, (3) bake on parchment paper-nothing else lets you get the cookie off the pan without breaking it, (4) let the cookie cool on the pan/paper to avoid it breaking.
Rating: 5 stars
06/25/2013
Love lemon??? Love cookies? These are amazing!!!! Best cookies ever, hands down. Lemony zing, poppy seed crunch, crispy cookies with a soft center. They have a delicate taste yet are so simple to make! Thank you for the beautiful cookie recipe...they really are beautiful.
Rating: Unrated
06/01/2013
I made these cookies tonight and was a bit worried after reading some of the reviews. I followed the recipe exactly and test baked a cookie ( without chilling the dough). They came out perfect.....very good flavor will certainly make these again :-)
Rating: Unrated
12/20/2012
I made these cookies today and before I started I read the reviews, what I learned was to put the cookie dough in the fridge for and hour or 2 before rolling in to balls. It worked perfectly and the cookies are FABULOUS.
Rating: Unrated
10/20/2012
This recipe rocked! The cookies were great with a nice lemon flavor, and I can hardly stop eating them. Beaglemother, I agree with you that a step or two was missing, and thank you for the tip on using parchment, that helped.
Rating: Unrated
12/13/2011
If it wasn't for the fantastic flavor of this cookie, I would have given up on this recipe ages ago. I've probably made it 30 times (I run an American cookie stall at a farmers market in England) each time trying to tweak it to get the consistancy right, and I have finally figured out what goes wrong with this recipe - the butter amount given is wrong. Reduce the recipe to half a stick melted with the lemon juice and half a stick beaten with the sugar and it will turn out perfectly!
Rating: 1 stars
04/15/2011
I give up on cookie recipes from here. Steps are left out, important info missing, & ingredients are missed. Recently I needed cookies for that day's event. I made these & realized there was no way they would form into balls w/out overnight in fridge so had to scurry & bake a tested cookie recipe. Despite having 2 sticks of butter in this recipe I thought the pan wouldn't need silpat/parchment-ha! The few that made it off the sheet in 1 piece shattered in people's hands. No more for me.
Rating: Unrated
03/18/2011
but cookies are not supposed to be chewy as opposed to fluffy?
Rating: Unrated
03/09/2011
I should have read some some your comments before making these cookies. They look unappetizing however taste fantastic. I will try again and see if I can get the fluffiness a cookie should have.
Rating: Unrated
12/11/2010
Third, you MUST chill the dough. It will indeed be dough, if you follow those two previous rules (no need to add more flour--you'll come up with a tough cookie if you do), but it's a soft dough and needs chilling, preferably overnight. And while that's going on, add the lemon zest to the sugar, put it in a jar, shake it, and let IT sit overnight as well. Very intense lemon sugar for a lemony cookie. I made mine with Meyer lemon juice--that's nice, too.
Rating: Unrated
12/11/2010
I think I found out what is causing some of the problems with this recipe. First, you MUST add the lemon butter when it is COOL--if it is warm, it will melt the rest of the butter you creamed with the sugar. Use the buttercream trick and add the cooled lemon butter slowly down the side of the mixing bowl as the paddle is running. Second, it says to whip it for a full 3 minutes. Do it. It should be thick and fluffy, like buttercream frosting, when you're done.
Rating: Unrated
12/09/2010
I made these about a year ago from the New Classics cookbook and made them again this year, I realized both times that there just isn't enough flour in these cookies. I would recommend using 3 cups of flour instead of just two, or else you'll get a globby mess of dough that won't bake correctly. I don't think the editors and/or recipe testers caught this mistake.
Rating: Unrated
11/12/2010
Synopen, Since you put your comment in in June, I doubt you will see this but I have to jump in and ask what is so bad about using 1 cup of the sugar in the cookie and roll the cookies in the other half cup of sugar. If you cut one cup out that would leave you with only a half cup of sugar and that has to be used for the rolling....didn't you put any sugar in the cookie dough at all???? Just wondering. Mykele
Rating: Unrated
07/30/2010
Very good. I found though they baked quickly so easily burned, and the lemon flavor comes out better if they are a bit chilled.
Rating: Unrated
07/25/2010
Delicious lemony fresh taste, perfectly crispy. Pure delight!
Rating: Unrated
06/16/2010
lovely! i reduced sugar by a whole cup (since u roll them in sugar afterwards it seemed way too much) and butter by half. refrigirated for 30 mins. it was pretty simple and the result is fantastic!crunchy and light!
Rating: Unrated
06/06/2010
These are phenomenal! It's unusual to get that tartness in a cookie. Reducing the lemon juice is a brilliant idea that would work in many other citrus recipes. The dough absolutely MUST be chilled, though. With the melted butter, it's more like batter than dough. I did spread part of the unchilled dough in small pan to make bars as an experiment. They were tasty, but too tender and crumbly.
Rating: Unrated
05/17/2010
BOY... DO THESE LOOK DELICIOUS!!! I WILL TRY THESE AS SOON AS I AM DONE WITH MY LEMON CAKE! HEAVEN!!!! THANKS AGAIN!!
Rating: Unrated
05/16/2010
I don't know what I possibly did wrong...I bake all of the time and these were a disaster. They tasted great, but the dough was so liquidy that it wouldn't roll. I wish I had read these comments beforehand and tried putting it in the fridge for awhile. I will attempt them again because I want them to come out right!
Rating: Unrated
05/16/2010
If you like lemon and enjoy crispy-light cookies, then this is a recipe you will enjoy.
Rating: Unrated
05/15/2010
This taste just like sugar cookies. Great lemon taste and I like the slightly crunchy texture.
Rating: Unrated
05/15/2010
These are delicious. I altered a little bit, 1/2 butter 1/2 butter flavored shortening. I mixed the poppy seeds with 1 cup sugar and used only a couple of tablespoons sugar for the topping with a sprinkle of poppy seeds. They are nice and lemony, and are crisp. Perfect for serving with ice cream or sorbet.
Rating: Unrated
05/15/2010
by far the best lemon cookies
Rating: Unrated
03/09/2010
These are my favorite cookies ever. Because of the lemon juice, this cookie dough is wetter than a typical cookie dough. Chilling the dough in refrigerator for a couple hours makes it a lot easier to work with.
Rating: Unrated
03/09/2010
I just tried these using key limes as well as lemons, great idea! It was great to try these as cookies besides from a boring loaf. Im also going to try it as a cake for Easter http://www.fourgreensteps.com/community/recipes/desserts-a-goodies-/lemon-poppy-seed-cakes
Rating: Unrated
10/07/2009
I just made these a second time, but used key limes instead of lemons. Chilling the dough before rolling them worked out well. I also mixed poppy seeds in with the sugar and zest before rolling, rather than sprinkling them on.
Rating: Unrated
03/05/2009
I just made these about 5 hours ago. They were delicious! I followed the recipe exactly, and it was perfect. Will be making again.. Soon!
Rating: Unrated
03/05/2009
I just made these about 5 hours ago, and they were absolutely delicious! I did everything exact to the recipe and it was perfect. Will be making again.. Soon!
Rating: Unrated
02/20/2009
I made these using Seville oranges instead of lemons, and they turned out beautifully! The dough was a little on the soft wide for rolling, but I managed. Next time I think I'll refrigerate the dough before rolling. I might try using less of the butter to mix with the orange juice, and creaming more of it with the sugar. I think that would help with the rolling issue.
Rating: Unrated
02/20/2009
I made these using Seville oranges instead of lemons, and they turned out beautifully! The dough was a little on the soft wide for rolling, but I managed. Next time I think I'll refrigerate the dough before rolling. I might try using less of the butter to mix with the orange juice, and creaming more of it with the sugar. I think that would help with the rolling issue.
Rating: Unrated
11/26/2008
i gad the same issue with the consistency not being stiff enough to actually roll into balls. and then i made them too thin and they just crumbled. the last 8 i made- i made smaller and thicker and they came off the sheet without crumbling...my boys enjoyed the crumbles! these taste divine!
Rating: Unrated
11/22/2008
These were delicious and I got many great comments. I read the reviews and so I put my in the fridge before I worked with the dough.
Rating: Unrated
11/20/2008
I made the exact recipe, the cookies came out good. I only got 20 cookies though, I must have made them too big.
Rating: Unrated
11/18/2008
(my comment wasn't all visible). and baking powder to make it workable. When the dough was in the soft consistency, you could have probably used a cookie press. The flavor was right on. Great cookie.
Rating: Unrated
11/18/2008
I had a problem with the dough consistency. It was way too soft, I had to add more flour
Rating: Unrated
11/18/2008
Is the dough a consistency that they can be put in a cookie press to make as a pretty Christmas cookie?
Rating: Unrated
11/17/2008
I made them exactly as stated in the recipe, and they look exactly like the cookies pictured. No food coloring needed. The dough was nice and thick so no chilling and it was easy to handle. Rave reviews. Light, with a nice balance of lemon and sweetness. I love to bake and did not find these difficult or too involved.
Rating: Unrated
11/16/2008
The flavor was excellent, but they feel apart too easily, And I would refrigerate the dough before I tried working with it. I don't think I'll use this one again.
Rating: Unrated
11/16/2008
The flavor is wonderful but my cookies did not look like these. I think someone forgot to mention yellow food coloring. I also had to chill dough. Will make again because the flavor is great.
Rating: Unrated
11/14/2008
These were very good. My tea group asked for the recipe. I had to refridgerate the batter first. It was too soft to shape and roll in the sugar. Maybe I didn't reduce the lemon juice enough? Loved the layers of lemon flavor.
Rating: Unrated
11/13/2008
i love this with my fave ice cream to top it!!
Rating: Unrated
11/12/2008
A very light fresh cookie. Definately one of my favorite lemon flavored cookies. Thanks Martha.
Rating: Unrated
11/11/2008
can these be frozen after baking?
Rating: Unrated
11/11/2008
A favorite recipe in our family!
Rating: Unrated
11/11/2008
Wonderful recipe! I was searching for a tasty easy to wrap cookie to hand out to a university film crew and I think this is it! I think I might drizzle a chocolate squiggle onto them.
Rating: Unrated
10/26/2008
Though these are a bit time consuming, the results are outstanding! If you like a strong lemon flavor, these are for you. Delicious!