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super lemony cookies or bar recipes?

Hello Chowhounds, my BH loves lemony sweets. I am hoping you can share a great holiday cookie or bar that wows you with lemon flavour. We aren't crazy about most lemon recipes because they tend to be too sweet and not enought lemony tartness.

Have a great holiday season! Heylids

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  1. My daughter is a great fan of good lemony cookies. I make them for her frequently.
    Make your favorite sugar cookie with a couple of tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (depending on the number of cookies the recipe makes) as part of the wet ingredients and top with this glaze:

    1 Tbsp cream cheese, softened
    2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
    1 cup confectioner’s sugar (or less according to taste)
    If you add the sugar a little at a time you can adjust the tartness very easily.

    1. This Pillsbury lemon bar recipe is a favorite among my lemon-loving friends. They're most definitely lemony if you make the glaze (I've seen other versions that call for just dusting with powdered sugar).


      1. I don't have it with me, but in Alice Medrich's new cookie book, she talks about a super lemony bar that she makes that she claims is too lemony (if that's possible) for some people.

        3 Replies
        1. re: roxlet

          This is Medrich's Very Tangy Lemon Bars, from Pure Dessert: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/...

          The only change to the recipe in the cookie book, as far as I can tell, is that in that the crust is made with 7 tablespoons butter, rather than 8.

            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              I also LOVE Medrich's lemon bars. They are magnif as is her lemon curd tart with the shortbreadesque crust.

          1. This is my mother-in-law's lemon bar recipe. I find it very lemony as is, but you can also add grated lemon zest to boost it even more.

            Lemon Bars

            - Shortbread Base

            1/2 cup butter COLD
            1/2 cup sifted icing sugar
            1 cup sifted flour

            Cut cold butter into little pieces, about 1/4 inch squares. DO NOT MELT BUTTER.

            In a medium bowl, mix icing sugar and sifted flour together thoroughly. Add butter cubes to dry ingredients and rub everything together with your fingers to blend. (Don't worry if it's not 100% blended)

            Dump mixture into 8"X8" pan and pat down so it's flat and as even as possible.

            Bake for 20 min. at 350F and remove from oven.

            - Lemon Filling

            2 eggs
            1 cup granulated sugar
            1/2 tsp. baking powder
            2 tbsp. flour
            3 tbsp. lemon juice

            Beat all filling ingredients together with a whisk.

            When shortbread base is out of oven, pour filling over it.

            Return to oven and bake for another 20 min. at 350F.

            Once cool, sprinkle w/icing sugar (optional).

            5 Replies
            1. re: kpzoo

              Excuse the ignorance, but...

              Is 'icing sugar" and "confectioner's sugar" the same thing?

              1. re: al b. darned

                Yes, they are exactly the same thing. Also sometimes known as "powdered sugar," apparently.


              2. re: kpzoo

                what if I pulverized granulated sugar ?

                1. re: scunge

                  Whatever you call the type of sugar you would normally make cake icing/frosting with is the kind that's normally used in this recipe. I've never tried it, but I found a site that says you can combine "1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon corn starch in blender until powdery" - as the equivalent for 1 c. icing/powdered sugar. I'm sure a food processor would work too.

                  Good luck - let me know if you try it!

              3. Not sure this is what you are looking for, but it is very lemony. It is a bar with a pecan pie like filling with coconut topped with a very lemony icing. We cut them in very small squares to serve. I allso posted this on the running Christmas cookie thread.

                Word of Mouth Lemon Coconut Bars

                1 1/2 cups flour
                3 tablespoons white sugar
                1/4 teaspoon salt
                1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

                3 eggs
                1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
                3/4 cup pecan
                3/4 cup coconut
                1/2 teaspoon vanilla

                2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
                4 to 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
                Grated zest of 3 lemons or to taste

                1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

                2. Make crust: In a medium bowl combine flour , white sugar, and salt . Process the butter into this mixture using a pastry blender or fork until it resembles coarse meal. Pat the mixture into an ungreased 13 x 9 x 2 pan (lining bottom with parchment, while not necessary, makes for easier removal.). Bake 15 minutes. Take out to cool.

                3. Make filling: In a mixing bowl beat eggs and brown sugar till frothy. Stir in pecans, coconut and vanilla. Pour mixture onto the crust and and bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees until firm. (You do not want a soggy middle.)

                4. After, baking remove from oven. While still slightly warm make glaze: In a small bowl combine confectioner's sugar, lemon juice and zest and pour on top of slightly warm bars.

                5. Let cool completely and cut into 1 x 1 inch bars.

                4 Replies
                  1. re: TrishUntrapped

                    Trish, no starch at all in the filling? it's a straight egg base?

                      1. re: TrishUntrapped

                        wow. how interesting! thanks :) i'm thinking it would be pretty awesome with lime too.

                  2. I am a big fan of tart lemon desserts. The lemon cream tart from Dorie Greenspan's BFMHTY is almost too tart for me. It is the only thing that has reached that borderline.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Becca Porter

                      +1 for Dorie Greenspan's Lemon Cream Tart. It's fantastic.

                      1. re: lesliedm3

                        I made the filling from this recipe for a New Year's Day party and piped it into pre-made phyllo mini-tart shells. They were a huge hit. The filling is SO delicious and really melts in your mouth, although I wouldn't say it's TOO tart. I thought the butter really balanced it nicely. I will make this again for sure.

                    2. heylids, I notice from your profile that you are in Toronto so there is no use me telling you to get some fresh, local lemons. However, it is lemon season in many parts of the world and the new fresh lemons have more pungent oils than those stored for long periods of time. When you are buying lemons, run your fingernail across the skin. If you produce fragrant oil, you have a much better chance of getting a flavorful lemon which will produce a superior lemon-y cookie. By all means, include the zest (whether called for or not) which will increase the lemon-y factor.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Sherri

                        Sherri, thank you for the lemon purchasing tip! I noticed that some lemons have a thicker outer skin and some thinner. I always try to find the thinner skinned one's, thinking they will produce more juice....what do you think?

                      2. These are a favorite in our house (it's just about time to start making them, my children have reminded me). They're an adaptation of Ina Garten's recipe and are super tart and delicious.


                        6 Replies
                        1. re: jencounter

                          Thank you for reminding me about these; I add a little lemon zest to the cookie part too.

                          not a cookie or bar, but for lemon lovers I make a pie which has whole lemons sliced up in the filling; Ruth Reichl calls it "ever pucker pie".

                          1. re: jencounter

                            Jencounter, this recipe sounds fabulous! I will definitely make them later this week. Will let you know how they turn out.

                            1. re: jencounter

                              I make a version of the Barefoot Contessa recipe too. It's very good!

                                1. re: sugarcube

                                  If you check out the Alice Medrich recipe linked above, it has essentially the same ratio of eggs, lemon juice, and sugar, though less flour (the Medrich recipe is smaller, for an 8x8-inch pan, so the Ina Garten recipe has twice the amounts). Medrich has a note about reducing the sugar if you use Meyer lemons, so you could probably apply those instructions to the one on smittenkitchen.

                                  Medrich recipe (see note at top): http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/...

                              1. I would try using lemon juice instead of lime juice in the cook's illutrated key lime bars recipe, reproduced in this guy's blog:
                                Be sure to use animal crackers (ie not shortbread cookies w/lard) - i Made them once this way and it was a huge mistake...

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: roseye

                                  The CI recipe for key lime bars is DELICIOUS - I will probably try it with lemon at some point as well. That said, I love the lemon bar recipe from the Joy of Cooking - I just double the lemon juice and add some zest for extra zip.

                                  1. re: roseye

                                    shortbread cookies with LARD? not butter?

                                    1. re: magiesmom

                                      I had bought some boxed shorbread something or other from Peak Freans...and, yes, they used lard in the ingredients.....total disaster...animal crackers worked just great!!

                                  2. Martha Stewart's Creamy Lemon Squares are delicious and super lemony. The filling has sweetened condensed milk and lots of lemon juice. I can eat half a recipe myself!

                                    1. For cookies, I highly recommend Carole Walters iced lemon cookies and Dorie Greenspan's lemon sables (from Baking: From My Home to Yours.)

                                      Glazed Lemon Cookies
                                      (from Carole Walter's Great Cookies)

                                      1 3/4 c flour
                                      1 c cake flour
                                      1 tsp cream of tartar
                                      1/2 tsp baking soda
                                      1/2 tsp salt
                                      1 c unsalted butter, slightly firm
                                      2 Tbs lemon zest
                                      1 1/2 c sugar
                                      4 large egg yolks
                                      1/4 c lemon juice
                                      1 tsp vanilla

                                      2 c strained confectioners' sugar
                                      2-3 Tbs hot lemon juice, plus extra if needed
                                      1 Tbs light corn syrup
                                      pinch of salt

                                      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

                                      Sift the flour, cake flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt together three times. Set aside.

                                      In a large bowl, mix together the butter and lemon zest on medium-low til creamy and lighter in color, about 2 min. Add the sugar and mix for another 1-2 min. Then add the egg yolks, mixing for up to a minute, then add in the lemon juice and vanilla. On low speed, add the dry ingredients in three parts, mixing til just blended. Put dough in a clean bowl, cover, and let chill for 60 min.

                                      The original recipe makes just 16 big cookies, but instead I formed the dough into 1 Tbs-sized balls, put them on parchment-lined cookie sheets, evenly spaced, and then flatten them somewhat with the palm of my hand. Bake for 12-15 min., and then start checking for doneness; the edges of the cookies should be lightly brown. When done, remove the cookies from the oven and let stand for about 5 min. and then transfer to wire racks set over wax or parchment paper. Glaze the cookies while still warm.

                                      For the glaze: Put the confectioners' sugar in a bowl and add the lemon juice, corn syrup and salt. Whisk together until smooth. Add extra lemon juice to thin, but you want the glaze to pour from a spoon in a steady stream. Using a small spoon, spread the glaze thinly over the surface of the entire cookie and then let air-dry til the surface has set.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                        Chocolatechipkt, this exactly the ones I decided to make. I have them rolled and in the freeze, will be baking some tomorrow, I increased the lemon juice slightly. I am wondering why the corn syrup in the icing sugar. I have never added corn syrup and was wondering what it does for the icing......will let everyone know how they turn out....thank you all heylids

                                        1. re: heylids

                                          I could be wrong, but I suspect it's to keep the icing a bit more pliable, vs. fully hard.

                                          1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                            Thank you all for the great suggestions and recipes. I decided to make the Glazed Lemon Cookies from Carole Walter's Great Cookies. Recipe provided by Jencounter.
                                            Wow...OMG...Are they ever good. I added slightly more of the lemon juice in the recipe but other then that I followed as written. If anyone wants a lemony cookie this is it. I made a huge tray of approx. 15-16 different cookies and everyone loved these lemon delights. I will be trying some other lemon squares and will follow up with the results. Once again thank you all for your assistances, and Jencount...great suggestion..
                                            Happy Holiday's to All...heylids

                                      2. Looks like you already have lots of good recipes...

                                        But, you could also do what I do: don't just use lemon zest and freshly squeezed lemon juice, also add a touch of organic lemon extract/flavor. It makes for such a stronger lemon taste!

                                        And, you can always cut back on the sugar...

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: MinkeyMonkey

                                          minkeymonkey, that is an excellent suggestion. I have used organic lemon oil in a lemon cake and it definitely bumps up the lemony flavour. I forgot about the oil, so didn't include it, will try remembering the next time I make these cookies and I will definitely be making them again, they really are good!

                                        2. Sky's the limit with lemon bars. Here's my recipe for a lunchbox style cookie;
                                          2 1/4 c. flour, 1 c. butter, 1 c. light brown sugar, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, zest and reduced juice of 2 lemons, 1/4 tsp. fresh nutmeg, 1 c. walnut pieces 375deg./12 min
                                          The lemon juice needs to be reduced carefully, as it can scorch- you should end up with about one tsp.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: oldunc

                                            Oldunc, thanks for the recipe. Do you just mix all the ingred. together and then bake at 375*?
                                            Do you have to reduce the lemon juice, what would happen if just added juice to recipe as is?
                                            Also, I have only seen lemon bars with a crust then the lemon topping, this seems just like a cookie dough baked flat....is that right? Looking forward to baking these....