Dec 21 2010

Lemon Tea Cookies

Published by at 6:00 am under Dessert,Holiday,Spring,Winter

Lemon Tea Cookies

Happy Winter Solstice!!!

For years now, my mom has made these dainty little lemon cookies every Christmas. We call them girl cookies, because in my family, we’re the only ones who eat them!

They’re a nice addition to a holiday cookie platter. Bite-sized and refreshing, they are the perfect little treat with a cup of hot tea.

Even better yet, they are a slice-and-bake cookie, so there’s no rolling of dough, and you can bake them off as you like. For an alternative to frosting, simply toss baked cookies in confectioners’ sugar.

Lemon Tea Cookies

for the cookies
¾ cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ¼ cup flour
½ cup cornstarch
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

for the frosting
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
¼ cup unsalted cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice

for the cookies
Cream butter, lemon zest and juice until fluffy. In separate bowl, sift dry ingredients and mix into butter on low speed.

Divide in half. Shape each half into an 8×1 inch log and roll in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Cut into ¼ inch rounds. Bake at 350 F for 12 minutes. Cool and frost.

for the frosting
On low speed, mix the cold butter with electric mixer (use paddle attachment for a stand mixer) until smooth. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar until blended. Beat in the lemon zest and juice.

66 responses so far

66 Responses to “Lemon Tea Cookies”

  1. Victoria (District Chocoholic)on 21 Dec 2010 at 7:04 am

    My mom used to make something similar around Christmastime, but her frosting was milk-based and made a big mess :D. I like your approach better.

  2. Saraon 21 Dec 2010 at 9:10 am

    It doesn’t matter what kind of frosting we use in my family – my mom and I both can create a big mess in the kitchen!

  3. Fashion & Food « True to Styleon 17 Aug 2011 at 5:06 pm

    […] found the below recipe for Lemon Tea Cookies on the blog My Madison Bistro, but I have renamed them Liz Lemon […]

  4. Teresaon 18 Dec 2011 at 4:01 pm

    These looked so good, but they crumbled when I took them off the cookies sheet and the cookies tasted like they needed a lot more sugar than what the recipe called for. I was so disappointed because my family loves lemon.

  5. cindyon 20 Dec 2011 at 3:33 am

    Love these……it was an OMG moment….wonderfully good…

  6. Saraon 21 Dec 2011 at 10:38 am

    Teresa, I’m sorry to hear the cookies didn’t turn out for you. I haven’t had the crumbling issue with this recipe, but I have experienced it with other recipes, and I know how frustrating it can be.

    Cindy, I’m happy to hear you like them – they are a holiday staple in my family, and I can’t imagine Christmas without them.

  7. Mon 05 Jan 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Making these! They are “chillin” in the fridge now. :) They sound and look sooo delicious, thank you for the recipe!

  8. Mon 05 Jan 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Just made the frosting… it tastes like… butter. lol maybe more lemon juice?

  9. Mon 05 Jan 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Mine crumbled, couldn’t even pick them up. What went wrong? :(

  10. Karenon 06 Feb 2012 at 7:04 pm

    @M – I’ve had the same problem with similar recipes (haven’t tried this one yet, but it’s on my list!). I’ve found the problem is usually with the flour measurement when using a volume measure rather than measuring by weight. It’s easy to end up with too much flour or cornstarch, which makes the cookies fall apart once baked. I use a spoon to scoop flour/cornstarch into my measuring cup and then level it off (don’t pack or shake it down!) – this usually gives me the right amount. Hope that helps!

  11. Jessikaon 19 Feb 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Just made these. LOVE love LOVE them!! I’m gonna get another batch going now. The first batch won’t last long :)

  12. ~Nancyon 09 Mar 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I’m so sad that these cookies didn’t turn out. I was sooo looking forward to eating these… they ended up spreading out like pancakes and crumbled :(. What happened?

  13. Emilyon 17 Mar 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Is this recipe missing egg or something? Mine completely crumbled too! I love everything about these cookies too…the icing is amazing! I’m going to play around with the recipe a little.

  14. Virginiaon 02 Apr 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Love these little lemon shortbread cookies. I followed the recipe and they worked perfectly. I didn’t have any more lemon zest for the icing so I just added an extra half-teaspoon of lemon juice and that worked great. Perfect little cookie for our Easter picnic on Sunday (if they last that long!).

  15. Jeanneon 04 Apr 2012 at 9:20 am

    Made these this morning and they came out beautifully. We’re huge lemon fans and I didn’t think the batter tasted very lemony, so I added a bit extra–first I doubled the juice and the zest, but even that did not seem like enough, so I put in the juice from one big lemon and the zest from that lemon and then some extract, and finally a few packets of “true lemon” because I was concerned that I might be adding too much extra liquid. Since I wanted something like a lemon cooler cookie, I used the powdered sugar on warm cookies. They were not crumbly at all and they are delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

  16. Robynon 09 Apr 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Had the same problem where the cookies kept falling apart. If you frost the cookies right away and put them in the fridge, it will keep the cookie from crumbling – and the cold temperature actually makes the cookies taste even more light and refreshing. Something to try as an alternative! Regardless, they are pretty delicious cookies!

  17. sue in CAon 10 Jun 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Scrumptious … and my hubby would be ALL over these in a nano-second! And he will be doubly delighted that there is NO added sodium…YAY.

  18. Christinaon 14 Jun 2012 at 9:12 am

    I, too, had issues with the crumbling of the cookies. I discovered that if you remove them from the cookie sheet as soon as you take them out, without waiting for them to cool, that it helps. Other than that, I really liked these cookies–they were very light and yummy, although next time I would add more sugar and lemon flavoring to them.

  19. Cindyon 22 Aug 2012 at 8:47 pm

    I have made these and I agree they do crumble pretty easily, but I baked them on my pampered chef cookie sheet then let them cool a bit on that. Then instead of frosting them I just dusted with powdered sugar..twice.. Awesome! They are great frozen or at room temp with a cup of tea!

  20. NICE FOOD, Lemon tea cookieson 13 Oct 2012 at 3:33 am

    […] Via: My Madison Bistro […]

  21. Leaon 18 Oct 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I just made these and had to throw them in the trash. I followed the recipe to a T and when I baked them, they went completely flat and I couldn’t even scoop them up, they were a mass of crumbs. I put them on parchment paper for my second and third pans and the same thing happened. I used both the Pampered Chef stone as well as the Pampered Chef metal pan. What went wrong?

    Very disappointed!!

  22. Lígiaon 20 Nov 2012 at 9:14 pm

    I got them right at the first time!
    The only thing I didn’t understand s that they weren’t so white as they are in the picture. they look a little yellow, but not from too much oven, is really the dough color. what can i do to make it more white?

  23. Trinaon 07 Dec 2012 at 11:09 am


    Mine too were crumbly, but delicious. After much Googling, I think I figured out why we are all having issues. We are drying them out by cooking them too long. The powder sugar sucks up any moisture they may have easily, so we have to be careful. As soon as you pull them out of the oven, transfer off the pan and to a cooling rack. My personal mistake was baking them on convection bake, and not taking into account that I needed to decrease the baking time for that. Then I let them cool right on the pan when I could have easily slid the parchment paper onto the counter or a cooling rack. I can’t wait to try these again. They were easy to make, and they taste is amazing!

  24. Maryon 09 Dec 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Just made the cookies for the first time. They are delicious! They are light and flaky with a hint of lemon.

  25. Tiffanyon 26 Dec 2012 at 12:57 am

    When you say flour do you mean all purpose, self rising, or cake flour?

  26. Rhiannonon 28 Dec 2012 at 11:33 pm

    I have had problems with cookies crumbling as well, and it seems to be a problems with the recipes calling for cornstarch. I’m not sure why?? I have yet to give this recipe a try. Planning to pin it on Pinterest to try in the future.

  27. […] you even realize they’re gone.  That’s sort of a plus and a minus.  The recipe is HERE for both cookie and icing.  It calls for lemon zest, but we only had oranges, so I used that. […]

  28. Mandion 30 Jan 2013 at 11:24 pm

    I have been craving a tea cookie and found this recipe on Pinterest. They were perfect! In reading the other reviews about them being too crumbly, I would suggest checking the temp on your oven and making sure that you’re not overbaking them. My oven cooks hot, so I decreased the temp to 325 F and baked 12 minutes on an insulated pan lined with parchment paper and they were perfectly flaky without crumbling. Make sure they are still slightly soft when you take them out and leave them on the sheet to cool.

  29. lisaon 26 Feb 2013 at 2:10 pm

    If the cookies are crumbling, you’ve most likely used a little bit too much cornstarch. Cornstarch lightens the density of the cookie, and if you use too much, they will crumble.

  30. Tiffanyon 02 Mar 2013 at 9:26 am

    I made these for the first time and they turned out perfect in consistency. I have yet to frost them but I may just do powdered sugar. I cooked them on an airbake cookie sheet for 12 min on the first batch, and 11 min each after that (because the pan was hot. I transferred them right away to the cooling rack. They have a nice shortbread flavor. Mine are not as white as the picture either but I’m not that concerned. Thank you for a great recipe!

  31. Kaleaon 02 May 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Wow! These are so good! I just made a batch for my daughter’s birthday tea party. I had a taste and they seem to have just the right amount of lemon flavour. The icing is perfectly sweet. I baked them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and as soon as they came out of the oven I slid the paper onto some cooling racks. They turned out beautiful. Thanks for the recipe!

  32. Kaleaon 02 May 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Oh, I forgot to mention that I did substitute the cornstarch with arrowroot starch/flour.

  33. […] White Chocolate Bread Pudding   Day 2: Barbecue Beef Sandwiches   Day 3: Mini Tomato Sandwiches Lemon Tea Cookies Fruit   Day 4: […]

  34. Sarahon 09 May 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I just made these cookies. I think I am pretty late to the party! BUT, I have to tell you that since I had a bunch of fresh limes in my kitchen asking me to do something with them….I decided to use them instead of lemons in these cookies. They are so very yummy! They are perfect little shortbread cookies on their own…but with the lime zest and lime juice… My cuppa this afternoon is going to feel like it’s a tea party! Thanks for sharing your mom’s recipe.

  35. Yetzyon 11 May 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks for this recipie are so delicious.

  36. Yetzyon 11 May 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks for this recipie are so delicious and easy

  37. charleneon 17 May 2013 at 4:57 pm

    I read the recipe and all the comments.
    I have problems with citrus foods (sigh)
    What other flavors could you make with this?

  38. Deniseon 27 May 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Sooo… will they be ok if I don’t chill them for 2 hours. I only have an hour….

  39. Tammyon 27 May 2013 at 8:46 pm

    On the issue of crumbling, thought I’d mention: I’ve had a problem with crumbling and/or melting of cookies with similar ingredients. I have found the issue is the confectioner’s sugar. Some sugars are made from beet sugar, some are cane sugar. Make sure you use one made with cane sugar (like C&H). Your icing will turn out better, too. Also, the crumbling may be less if you let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

  40. Galeon 05 Jun 2013 at 8:02 pm

    Perfect little lemon cookie! I didn’t have two hours to chill so placed in freezer for 30 minutes…sliced beautifully! Thanks for a very light, yummy cookie!

  41. Maxineon 09 Jun 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Hope to try these this week. Have made similar, but the recipe called for all cornstarch (in martha stewarts’s cookie book). You would need to get used to the taste, but the celiac guests I made them for (gluten-free) said they were delish. I too am allergic to citrus, try pineapple, or use an almond extract (I use artificial- we have nut allergies, too)

  42. Emilyon 09 Jun 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Just tried these. We like them! We added some blueberries and lemon zest to the top to give them a little something more. Thanks for the recipe!

  43. LILIANAon 18 Jun 2013 at 8:56 am


  44. paolaon 29 Jun 2013 at 6:31 am

    amo i dolci al limone, molto buoni, se vuoi visitare il mio blog ti lascio il link

  45. […] Frosted Lemon Tea Cookies […]

  46. SERENA HEALD HOLDERon 14 Jul 2013 at 11:59 pm

    After reading all the comments I think I will pass on making these until someone answers all the questions about the crumbling and going flat. Normally we love lemon sweets of any kind and I’d love to try these. Advice from the experts, please!

  47. joanneon 15 Aug 2013 at 3:46 pm

    they have to be mixed quite well to avoid the crumly dough also dont cook them as hot or as long…but mainly mix the dough long enough for it to form

  48. Heatheron 29 Aug 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Maybe I missed this but could someone please tell me how many this makes?? Thanks

  49. Bonnieon 09 Sep 2013 at 4:17 am

    Short breads can be difficult. However, when I make these it won’t matter so much if they crumble. I’ll just take the crumbs and make them into a pie crust and make a lemon meringue pie!

  50. Rachelon 15 Oct 2013 at 4:29 pm

    I froze my dough instead of refrigerate :(
    Hope they still turn out

  51. Pattyon 04 Dec 2013 at 7:38 pm

    I just made these for the first time and they are fabulous. No crumbling issues whatsoever and with the exception of using salted vs unsalted butter (didn’t have any and was too lazy to go the store), followed the recipe instructions exactly. They look very similar to the picture but my frosting is more yellow. I think I will probably add just a tad more zest to the cookie mix next time only because I love lemon so much and think I would like a little extra kick but the frosting is exquisite and so refreshing. Warning: they are extremely addictive and easily pop into your mouth without warning!

  52. […] start, that my cookies must be white. That left only two recipes on my list. It was something like Lemon Tea Cookies from the My Madison Bistro blog, or the beautiful Snowball Cookies from my favorite Cooking Classy […]

  53. Mariamon 15 Dec 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Amazing. I followed your recipe exactly, and it came out perfectttt. Everyone loved it and the cookies were gone before you know it. I couldn’t do the frosting right, I dont know where I made a mistake. Thanks again for the recipe!! :)

  54. Lauraon 18 Dec 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Just made these for the first time after pinning a year ago… The finished product is soooo tasty! (Although I have to admit we were nervous after tasting the dough). I took the easy route and dusted in powdered sugar instead of frosting each one. This one’s a keeper!

  55. Andreaon 28 Dec 2013 at 5:06 pm

    These turned out well! The frosting is a little buttery, but not to the point that it ruins the overall taste. I almost burned them though because they didn’t look brown even though they were done. I also followed the advice of others and removed them immediately from the pan so they wouldn’t overcook. They crumbled in your mouth but not on the sheet.

  56. Dianeon 18 Jan 2014 at 11:17 pm

    I too was worried about the crumbling before I decided to go ahead and try. I did not follow the recipe exactly. I added just an little extra butter (about a pat size and and extra teaspoon of lemon juice) because the dough looked a little too dry before I rolled it up. I cooked them on the rack in the center of the oven for 12 min. They came out great! They are delicate and deliciously melt in your mouth.

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  58. Veronikaon 13 Nov 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Does this make about 2 to 2.5 dozen cookies?

  59. kathygoogon 15 Nov 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Veronika ~ I think if each roll is about 8″ long & you cut each slice 1/4″ thick, each log should yield approx 30 cookies ~ So 2 logs would make about 60 cookies, which is approx 5 dozen. I printed these to add to my cookie list, but trying to decide whether to dye one log green, the other red OR just color the frosting red & green.

  60. Veronikaon 19 Nov 2014 at 10:08 pm

    Thanks Kathy – I was thinking it might be fun to add yellow dye and make a smiley stencil on them.

  61. Laceyon 09 Dec 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Just finished these little cuties. So melt in your mouth good! Thanks!

  62. Lemon Tea Cookieson 20 Dec 2014 at 1:52 pm

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  63. Anya Zon 08 Jan 2015 at 7:35 pm

    Yummy! In the frosting instead of lemon juice we put in some rasberry lemonade concentrate. Next time I make them I will put more lemon juice in the cookies and beat the frosting for a bit longer. Other than that they were great!

  64. Maureenon 16 Jan 2015 at 5:26 am

    My new favourite cookies! I’ve made at least three batches for different occations since I first found the recipe before Christmas. My first batch turned out pretty crumbly, but I’m a novice baker so I usually don’t count out getting things right the first time around. I followed another commenters suggestion and was much more careful about measuring the ingredients and converted to weight measurements and they turned out perfect. Also here in Thailand only can get limes and they’re wonderful with lime instead of lemon. Adding a little fresh lime zest on top of the icing offsets the sweetness a touch and gives a nice addiction of colour. Thank you!!

  65. Shaylynnon 05 Aug 2015 at 3:44 pm

    I found this recipie and served it at a party years ago- I have had dozens of requests to produce these cookies again, but I couldn’t find this recipie! Well- I found it! I can’t wait to make them again- these cookies are so addicting!!!

  66. Mimion 29 Nov 2015 at 6:03 pm

    I am from old school baking. Baking, unlike cooking/chef creations, requires accuracy & a few important steps. Flour really needs sifting prior measuring – then gently add to your measure cup….level off. Dry ingredients should be put thru a sift, with flour put in first, (after original sifting) followed by leavening(s), spices – then sifted. Not only does this process lighten up everything, but gets any possible hard lumps out. (discard them, or smash into powder).
    Weight measuring is wonderful if you have a scale. If not, revert to the sifting & measuring. Hopefully, those tips will help someone – Good baking! :)

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