lemon cookies with cranberry lemon glaze
lemon cookies with cranberry lemon glaze

Fresh Lemon Cookies with Lemon Cranberry Glaze

Serves 24 cookies / Prep time: 15 minutes / Cook time: 10 minutes
These are buttery and fresh lemon cookies with a vibrant lemon-cranberry glaze! No chilling required. Just pillowy, chewy pure lemon cookies!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes
Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email

 This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Recipe Rundown

These sugar cookies have a fresh lemon flavor mellowed by butter, dipped in a sweet and sour icing that pops with fresh lemon and cranberry. The no-chill lemon zested dough bakes up pillowy soft with a slight chew.

fresh lemon cookies with lemon cranberry glaze

These are rare gems that must be made to be tasted.

lemon cookie buttery texture with lemon cranberry glaze


  • What Makes These Lemon Cookies Pure of Heart
  • Step-by-Step: How to Make Fresh Lemon Cookies
  • Lemon Cookies: Frequently Asked Questions
  • Lemon Cookie Recipe Troubleshooting
  • Favorite Things that Make a Bakery Quality Lemon Cookie
lemon zest over cranberry lemon glazed lemon sugar cookie


In sunny Arizona, where I’m from, lemons abound from Fall to Winter—around the time cranberries hit the stores. Since I will forever pair lemons and cranberries with cool weather and a need for brightness, these little drops of sunshine are winter cookies.

I’ve always been attracted to the icing part of a sugar cookie, but I’ve always been disappointed by the experience. Overly sweet and full of artificial ingredients, they promise one thing and deliver another. I can’t help but wonder why we don’t just use natural ingredients as topping instead. While I love the way a glaze catches the light, piping icing feels like busy work. I’d much rather dunk my cookies, invert, and call it a day.

Sigh. Thankfully, these cookies have nothing to hide.

For the glaze, we are using real fruit: lemon and cranberries. No gimmicks, just pure flavors and colors that accentuate the cookie itself. In place of sprinkles, lemon zest adds pizzazz.

Turns out, you can make proud lemon cookies that are fun and practical to make.

Step-by-Step: How to Make FRESH LEMON COOKIES

What I love about this recipe is that it’s a break from all those heavy sweet indulgences. It stands out by being different. Plus, it’s so easy, it can be made on a whim, on a weeknight, but impresses everyone.

spooning and leveling flour

Spoon and level your flour.

leveling flour in measuring cup with knife

For the Lemon Sugar Cookie Dough

ingredients for lemon sugar cookie dough and lemon cranberry glaze

You need 9 ingredients to make the dough:

  • all-purpose flour: be sure to spoon your flour into your measuring cup; to level, run the back of a knife over the top to get rid of excess
  • baking powder: allows the ingredients to rise and become airy
  • baking soda: plays a key role in producing a chewy texture
  • fine sea salt: you can’t have a great-tasting cookie without salt!
  • unsalted butter: you can achieve the right texture by simply placing the wrapped sticks in the hem of your pants against your skin. After 15-minutes, the butter will be soft but not overly so.
  • granulated sugar: adds a light sweetness and ensures a moist cookie
  • vanilla extract: be sure to use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor
  • lemon (zested then juiced): Promises a flavorful cookie. Use a microplane and only remove the yellow (avoid the white pith). Zest over parchment, fold and dump. After zesting, cut the lemon in half and squeeze out the juice.
  • 1 large egg: Equals roughly 1/4 cup and should be room temperature so it blends easily into the creamed butter-sugar mixture

Here’s the roadmap on how they come together:

  1. Mix your dry ingredients together.
  2. Beat your butter and sugar: Get it nice and fluffy and creamy.
  3. Add Egg, Vanilla, Lemon Juice and Zest. Mix it just barely in (seriously, don’t beat that egg too hard!).
  4. Mix in flour mixture: your dry ingredients (from step 1)
  5. Bake Cookies: Scoop ’em into balls and bake — but please, please do not overbake. You want them to be just-done for that soft melty deliciousness.

For perfectly uniform cookies, dip your scoop in warm water to clean after each and every scoop of cookie dough.

For the Lemon Cranberry Glaze (Icing)

You need 3 ingredients to make the glaze:

  • lemon: 1 large lemon will give you 2 tablespoons of juice. Be sure to use fresh and avoid lemon concentrate.
  • cranberries: can be fresh or frozen
  • powdered sugar: ensures a sweet flavor and that the icing will set
fresh cranberries simmered until soft in pot
cranberries in strainer

The glaze can be made while the cookies are baking.

  1. Simmer the cranberries in lemon juice. Strain. Combine the juice with sifted powdered sugar to form a smooth glaze.
  2. Dip cookies in glaze and invert. Top with lemon zest if you’re extra (we are). The glaze will harden as it sits.
lemon cookie being dipped in bowl of lemon cranberry glaze

Lemon Cookies: Frequently Asked Questions

What if I want to make these in Spring or Summer?

You don’t have to use cranberries. The spirit of this recipe is natural color+flavor using in-season fruit. You could replace the cranberries in this recipe 1:1 with strawberries for an equally good color-flavor combo.

What if I don’t have a cookie scoop?

You can use a rounded tablespoon to achieve roughly equally sized dough balls.

Can I use orange juice and zest instead?

Yes. Orange and cranberry taste very good together.

How do I store these iced lemon cookies?

Store covered at room temperature for up to 5 days. Wrap very well and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.

How do I make these ahead of time?

Make the dough up to 2 days ahead and store the dough wrapped in the fridge. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Scoop and bake according to the recipe.

Can I make these cookies gluten-free?

Yes. I recommend a starch-based baking blend such as Cup4Cup or King Arthur Measure for Measure Flour.

How do I double this recipe?

As a general rule when doubling anything baked, you should double all ingredients accept salt. Keep the salt quantity the same as the original recipe.

How do I adjust for high-altitude baking?

Since baked goods can leaven and flatten more quickly at 3,000+ ft elevation, I recommend increasing your oven temp to 400 degrees and reducing bake time by a few minutes. For more information on high-altitude baking, this resource is great.

Does this recipe work for convection settings?

Yes! Convection causes more heat to circulate around the cookies. To adjust for this, I recommend reducing the oven temperature to 350 degrees to avoid over-baking.

lemon cookies glazed with lemon icing on cooling rack with lemon zest

Lemon Cookie Recipe Troubleshooting

Let’s review the 3 most important technical details 1) Creaming the butter at the right temperature, 2) Adding the right amount of flour, and 3) Not baking for too long.

Flat cookies – If your cookies flatten, I would suspect that your butter was too warm and you weren’t able to get enough air whipped in during the creaming method.

Why didn’t my cookies spread? – It’s easy to add too much flour if you just scoop right out of the flour bag–that compacted flour can add up to 25% more flour than the recipe calls for. When baking, give your flour a stir to lighten it, then spoon into a dry measuring cup. Don’t forget to level off with a knife. You can also scale and weigh your flour for 100% accuracy. See the video in this post for reference on the correct consistency.

Lemon flavor – If you want more lemon flavor in the cookie itself, I suggest adding up to 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract to the dough.

Favorite Things that Make a Bakery Quality Lemon Cookie

I’d like to really slow down with you and talk about the tools that I use all the time and why I love them.

Thanks for being here. Apron time!

lemon cookies with lemon glaze with cranberries


Serves 24 cookies / Prep time: 15 minutes / Cook time: 10 minutes
These are buttery and fresh lemon cookies with a vibrant lemon-cranberry glaze! No chilling required. Just pillowy, chewy pure lemon cookies!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cookies, cranberry, lemon
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 24 cookies
Calories: 151kcal
Author: Chef Sara Furcini


  • Mixing bowls
  • Electric Mixer
  • Small Cookie Scoop (a 1-T scoop makes identical 2-inch cookies)
  • parchment paper
  • Baking Sheets
  • Cooling Racks


Lemon Cookie Ingredients:

  • 3 cups 360 g all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup 2 sticks, 226 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ¼ cups 250 g granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest from 1 large lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 large egg room temperature

Cranberry Lemon Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup powdered sugar


  • Whisk dry ingredients together. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar. In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium-low, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add Egg, Vanilla, Lemon Juice and Zest. Add egg to butter-sugar mixture and beat on medium speed just to combine. Add vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Just mix to combine. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
  • Mix in flour mixture. Add flour mixture and mix at medium-low speed just until combined and no streaks of flour remain.
  • Bake cookies. Using a cookie scoop, or tablespoon to portion dough into 1 ½ inch balls. Place on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake until the edges look done, but the center appears soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
  • Make glaze. Juice lemon until you have 2 tablespoons of juice. Combine the juice and 1 cup cranberries in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. When the cranberries burst, about 3 minutes, strain over a bowl. Press down with a spatula to push as much cranberry sauce through as possible (scrape along the bottom of the strainer, too). Discard the contents of the strainer. Sift 1 cup powdered sugar into the cranberry lemon sauce and whisk until smooth and well incorporated. The glaze should be bright pink-red and glossy.
  • Dip cookies in glaze. Dip each warm cookie, top down, into the glaze. Allow any excess glaze to drip off before inverting and returning to the rack (add lemon zest, if you like). Cool completely, the glaze will harden as it sits.



Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 151kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 76mg | Potassium: 50mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 250IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg

Photography by Adam Rahman

Still have lemons and cranberries to use up?

One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our collection of dessert recipes. Check it out!

More Recipes

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x