Italian Lemon Cookies


There’s nothing more fun than baking cookies with your kids, and this is a great recipe to start with. Italian lemon cookies are simple, fun, and delicious. 

Image shows three iced Italian lemon cookies on a white table. Behind them sits a tall glass of milk, and a plate of more cookies.

I am a lover of chewy cookies like old-fashioned molasses cookies, and especially chocolate chip cookies – like, is there really anything better? 

But even I can’t deny that these cakey Italian Lemon Cookies have stolen my heart. 

These cookies taste like sunshine – you will absolutely love the sweet and tangy combo of a sweet aromatic cookie topped with a pungent lemon glaze. 

I try to bake with the seasons, and while most citrus fruit is traditionally considered “in season” in the winter, these are also great summer cookies because of their light, tangy flavor. After all, we do consider lemonade to be a summer drink, so why should cookies be any different? This is a great recipe to use with your frozen lemon juice.

What I really love about these is the lemon glaze. There are lots of disappointing cookie icings out there, which makes this one extra special. It really does pack a lot of flavor, AND it stays nice and soft while being thick enough to actually make its presence known. 

Photo, taken from above, shows about 10 iced Italian lemon cookies on a parchment paper on a table. A wedge of lemon sits nearby.

Tips for Making Delicious Italian Lemon Cookies

  • Make them gluten-free or not. There seems to be quite a variation in specific recipes for these cookies, so to make them gluten-free, I read a lot of recipes and pulled elements from each one that would work best with gluten-free flour. However, they’re still fantastic with traditional wheat as well.  In fact, I have used the same ratios in this recipe, swapping out the gluten-free flour for wheat, and it works perfectly. 
  • You’re supposed to roll the dough into a log and shape it into a sort of knot to make the cookie shape. I used to do that, but it got old and I eventually started just making slightly flattened balls. No one seemed to know the difference, and it’s a lot easier. 
  • A lot of recipes use lemon extract, but I use lemon juice and zest. I like not only the aroma of the zest but the slight tanginess the juice gives the dough. 
  • And speaking of tanginess, don’t even think about skipping the glaze! It’s so good! Butter, lemon juice, and powdered sugar. That’s it!
Image shows a wooden cutting board on a table, with a cooling rack holding a half dozen Italian Lemon Cookies on it. Next to the board sits a wedge of lemon.

 Italian Lemon Cookies

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These refreshing and delicious Italian Lemon Cookies are the perfect summer treat. They’re also pretty darn good any other time of year too. 

  • Author: Elise
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cookies 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Diet: Gluten Free


  • 6 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups flour (high quality gluten-free flour mix, or all purpose)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder

For the icing:

  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/12 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • Lemon zest or sprinkles (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350º
  2. In a large bowl beat butter, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest with an electric mixer until well incorporated
  3. Beat in eggs
  4. In a separate bowl, stir flour and baking powder together
  5. Add to butter mixture, and stir until just mixed
  6. Cover dough and refrigerate for an hour
  7. To form knots, roll a walnut sized piece of dough into a 5” long log and spiral into a circle. If I’m feeling lazy, I just make balls and flatten them slightly – nobody really notices once they’re iced. 
  8. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 15-16 minutes until the edges start to turn golden brown
  9. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack

For the icing: 

  1. Melt butter over low heat.
  2. Add lemon juice and stir in powdered sugar. 
  3. You should have a glaze that you can drizzle while it’s warm. If icing is too thick, add a drop of water at a time until you reach the right consistency. If it’s too thin, add a little extra powdered sugar (humidity in the air, or the difference in measuring cup/spoon sizes can make a difference in your consistency!)
  4. Dip each cookie top into icing, or drizzle icing over cookies with a spoon. 
  5. Top with lemon zest or sprinkles if desired.
  6. Enjoy!

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