These lemon poppy seed shortbread cookies with lemon icing have plenty of bright citrus flavor and a great buttery texture.

lemon poppy seed shortbread cookies

This recipe was originally created for Go Bold With Butter.

If you’re looking for a cookie that’s not only delicious and easy, but also a little more sophisticated, then these lemon poppy seed shortbread cookies are just the cookie for you!

Plus, if you love lemon desserts (like I do), you have to try these cookies! They’re very lemony, with an additional subtle flavor and crunch from the poppy seeds. Lemon + poppy seeds is a classic combination for good reason.

What is a shortbread cookie?

Shortbread cookies are typically a combination of roughly 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter and 3-4 parts flour. There are no eggs or leaveners like baking powder or baking soda. I’ve added lemon zest, vanilla, and poppy seeds for flavor.

The higher fat content from the butter makes these cookies very rich and tender. Shortbread cookies have a distinct delicious buttery taste you’re going to love and crave!

ingredients for lemon poppy seed shortbread cookies

Ingredients you’ll need

Let’s get baking, shall we? Here’s what you’ll need to get started (full recipe below):

  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Fresh lemons
  • Vanilla extract
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Poppy seeds
  • Powdered sugar

lemon poppy seed shortbread cookie dough in mixing bowl, and chilled and cut into rounds

How to make lemon shortbread cookies

  1. Prepare the cookie dough. These cookies are made using the creaming method, where you beat the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy, then add vanilla, and finally the dry ingredients. Beating the butter and sugar with lemon zest helps intensify the lemon flavor in these cookies.
  2. Shape and chill. Shape the cookie dough into a log, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour until firm.
  3. Slice and bake. Slice the cookie dough into ½-inch rounds, then bake on parchment lined sheet pans at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.
  4. Drizzle with icing. Whisk powdered sugar and lemon juice together to make a thick but pourable icing, then drizzle small amounts over cooled cookies. Let the icing set up for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Then, enjoy!

Note: The icing will not completely harden so these cookies aren’t stackable. They’re still completely delicious without the icing though, if that works better for you!

lemon poppy seed shortbread cookies and lemon icing

Shortbread cookie tips

  • Butter is perhaps the most important ingredient in these cookies, because there’s so much of it. Using quality butter will yield better flavor in these cookies. This is a recipe to splurge on!
  • Start with butter that is slightly soft at room temperature but not at all melted. Pull butter out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before mixing this cookie dough.
  • Be sure to measure flour correctly! All of my recipes are tested using the spoon and level method (more info through that link).
  • Use plastic wrap to shape the cookie dough log as you’re wrapping it. Less mess!
  • Shortbread is the perfect make-ahead-cookie! Shortbread cookie dough can be stored in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer for a few months or more if wrapped well (I always double wrap when freezing). Baked cookies can also be stored at room temperature for a week or more, or frozen for about a month.

lemon poppy seed shortbread cookies stacked together

More lemon desserts

If you love these lemon poppy seed shortbread cookies, try one of these desserts next:

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lemon poppy seed shortbread cookies stacked together

Lemon Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies

Servings: 36 cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
These lemon poppy seed shortbread cookies with lemon icing have plenty of bright citrus flavor and a great buttery texture.


  • 1 cup unsalted butter , softened to room temperature (2 sticks, 226 grams)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (240 grams)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Lemon Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar (113 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest on high until light and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla.
  • Add the flour, salt, and poppy seeds and mix until it comes together into a stiff dough.
  • Shape the dough into a log 2-3 inches in diameter and cover with plastic wrap (use the plastic wrap to help you shape it). Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 5 days.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F and line sheet pans with parchment paper.
  • Slice cookie dough into ½-inch thick slices and place on sheet pans a few inches apart.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, just until bottoms start browning (you can test a few cookies to find the exact time for your oven). If you bake cookies until edges also start browning, they will be more crisp.
  • Let cool on a sheet pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle a small amount over the cooled cookies and let glaze set up for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Calories: 96kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 14mg, Sodium: 33mg, Potassium: 11mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 158IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 5mg, Iron: 1mg
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert
Author: Annalise Sandberg
Have you tried this recipe?I’d love to hear about it! Leave a rating and review below, or take a photo and tag it on Instagram @completelydelicious with #completelydelicious.