Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies Recipe

Cookies Seasonal

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

January 13, 2023

Every January I get a hankering for all things lemon. Cakes, cookies, tarts, muffins….you name it, I crave it.  It […]

Every January I get a hankering for all things lemon. Cakes, cookies, tarts, muffins….you name it, I crave it.  It helps that my Meyer lemon trees are bursting with bright and juicy lemons. It’s the perfect time of year to bake up lots of goodies loaded with fresh-off-the-tree citrus flavor, like these easy and delicious Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies. If you love lemons, don’t waste any time making this Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Cake. And these Meyer Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust are a sure fire cure for the winter blues.

close up of lemon poppy seed cookies topped with lemon zest

I have a feeling these lemon poppy seed cookies will be a fast favorite too. They’re perfectly crispy on the outside, deliciously tender on the inside, and bursting with fresh lemon flavor. One bite and you’ll wonder where these luscious lemony cookies have been all of your life.

Lemon lovers….this one’s for you!

What makes these cookies so good?

These lemon and poppy seed cookies will leave you craving one after another until you’ve simply lost count. Here’s a few reasons why you love these cookies:

  • Light and refreshing flavor. These cookies pack a punch of bright, tangy flavor. Not too sweet, not too tart.
  • Easy to make with simple ingredients and a hand mixer. You can make these cookies in just 20 minutes from start to finish!
  • No chilling required. Perfect for a last minute dessert or quick cookie fix!
  • Delicious soft and chewy texture. Chewy edges and soft centers make these cookies a real crowd pleaser. Pro-tip: double the batch. They won’t last long!
  • Stay fresh for days. These cookies stay soft and chewy for days. And they freeze beautifully!
lemon poppy seed cookies drizzled with lemon glaze and lemon zest

Ingredients

If you could bottle up sunshine and stuff it into a cookie, this would be it! These cookies are easy to make with just a handful of basic ingredients and they’re just as delicious the next day as they are fresh from the oven. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Egg
  • Lemon zest
  • Vanilla
  • Baking powder + baking soda
  • Salt
  • Poppy seeds
ingredients for lemon poppy seed cookies

How to make lemon poppy seed cookies

STEP 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

STEP 2: Add the granulated sugar to a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon zest to the sugar and use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar. This releases the oils into the sugar and enhances the lemon flavor. Try this tip with all of your lemon baked goods!

zesting a large lemon and using hands to massage it into granulated sugar

STEP 3: Add the brown sugar and room temperature butter to the sugar and lemon zest. Using a hand mixer on medium high speed, cream the butter and sugars together for 2 to 3 minutes until creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

STEP 4: Add the egg and vanilla, mixing on low speed to combined well.

STEP 5: Add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture in two additions. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Do not over mix.

how to make lemon poppy seed cookie dough using hand mixer

STEP 6: Add the poppy seeds to the cookie dough and mix on low speed with the hand mixer or use a large spatula to fold together. Do not over mix the dough.

mixing poppy seeds into cookie dough

STEP 7: Use a medium cookie scoop to portion the dough into 12 equal size balls. Place 6 balls on each prepared cookie sheet about 2 to 3 inches apart. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes. The cookies are done when the edges are set and the tops are still pale and slightly puffy. Remember, the cookies will continue to bake as they cool so remove them from the oven when they are still slightly under baked for the best texture.

STEP 8: Cool the cookies completely. If adding the glaze, be sure the cookies are cool to the touch. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of sifted powdered sugar with 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or milk. Add more sugar to thicken the glaze, more juice or milk to make it thinner. Once you’ve reached the desired consistency, drizzle the glaze over the top of the cooled cookies. You can also dunk the tops of the cookies in the glaze so they are fully covered. Sprinkle with extra poppy seeds for added crunch.

scoops of lemon poppy seed cookie dough on parchment lined baking sheet

Tips for the best lemon cookies

I made these cookies over and over (and over) again to get them juuussst right. Follow these tips and tricks for the perfect poppy seed cookies.

Rub the zest and sugar together. Use your hands to massage the lemon zest into the granulated sugar. This releases the oils from the zest into the sugar and intensifies the lemon flavor.

Use room temperature butter. For best results, make sure your butter (and egg!) is at room temperature before mixing the dough. Room temperature butter and eggs incorporate more easily with the other ingredients which results in a soft, tender cookie. If using salted butter, omit 1/4 teaspoon of salt from the recipe.

Use Meyer lemons for the best flavor. Meyer lemons deliver the best flavor in baked goods so it’s worth the extra trip to the store {or your neighbors lemon tree}. wink, wink. Any lemon will do for this recipe but Meyer lemons are a bit sweeter and more aromatic than regular lemons. They have more sugar and less acid so they deliver a milder flavor in cookies, cakes and tarts and breads.

Do not over bake. No one likes a dry, brittle cookie. For the best texture, remove the cookies from the oven when they look slightly under baked. As they cool, the cookies will continue to bake from the residual heat from the pan. Be sure to cool the cookies completely before adding the glaze.

close up of lemon poppy seed cookie drizzled with glaze on parchment paper

How to store cookies

I have a lot of lemon lovers in my house so these cookies were long gone before I even had a chance to put them in the cookie jar. But if you happen to have a few cookies leftover, store them tightly at room temperature for up to 4 days. I like to store the cookies without the added glaze on top. Keep glazed cookies tightly covered in the refrigerator.

To freeze the cookies once baked, cool the cookies completely and then place them in a large freezer bag. Store flat in the freezer for up to 2 months. Defrost at room temperature or heat them in a 300°F oven for 5 minutes before serving.

To freeze the cookie dough, portion the dough into 12 equal scoops and then place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for about an hour or until the dough is firm. Transfer the cookie dough balls to a large plastic freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months.

Bake the cookies in a preheated oven directly from the freezer, keeping in mind that you may need to add a minute or two of baking time.

stack of lemon and poppy seed cookies with bite taken out of top cookie

Happy cookie making, friends!

If you love lemon desserts, try these easy and delicious recipes:

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Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies Recipe

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

  • Author: Heather Mubarak
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

If you could bottle up sunshine and stuff it in a cookie, this would be it! These soft and chewy lemon poppy seed cookies are made in 20 minutes from start to finish!!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from about 1 large lemon)
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add the granulated sugar and lemon zest. Use your hands to massage the zest into the sugar for about 20 seconds.
  3. Add the brown sugar and butter to the bowl and use a hand mixer (or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) to mix on medium high speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix again for 20 seconds to combine.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture. Mix on low speed until just combined. Do not overmix.
  7. Add the poppy seeds and mix to combine, again being careful not to overmix.
  8. Use a medium size cookie scoop to divide the dough into 12 equal balls. Place 6 cookie dough balls on each prepared cookie sheet, leaving 2-3 inches between each ball.
  9. Bake the cookies one sheet at at time in the center rack of the oven for 9 to 10 minutes. The edges should be set and the bottoms just beginning to turn a golden brown. The tops will be pale and slightly puffy. As the cookies cool, the tops will deflate slightly.
  10. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool on the cookie sheet for 15 minutes before carefully transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. To make the glaze, whisk together the sifted powdered sugar and lemon juice or milk until smooth. If too thin, add more powdered sugar. If too thick, add more lemon juice or milk. Once the desired consistency is reached, drizzle the glaze over the top of the cooled cookies. Sprinkle with more poppy seeds for added crunch. 

Notes

For the best flavor, use Meyer lemons.
Store cookies tightly covered at room temperature for up to 4 days.

To freeze the dough, place the cookie dough balls on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for one hour until the dough is firm. Transfer the dough balls to a large freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Bake directly from the freezer, adding a minute or two to the baking time.

Keywords: lemon poppy seed cookies, soft and chewy lemon poppy seed cookies, lemon cookies

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