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Soft Lemon Cookies

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Soft lemon cookies are loaded with cream cheese and fresh lemon. They are pillowy and delicious with the right balance of sweet and tangy citrus.

hand holding lemon cookie with white glaze on top.

If you are a fan of bright lemon treats, these cakey lemon cookies are for you. They are simple and soft and oh so good.

Using cream cheese in place of some of the butter in cookies helps to make them so soft. These cookies have a texture that is almost a cross between cakey and fudgy.

Somehow they are both airy and almost a little bit dense. The lemony glaze pulls it all together and adds another hit of lemon.

Pile of pillowy lemon cookies topped with white icing and sprinkles.

I was introduced to a similar recipes for lemon cookies by a co-worker’s sister. During an all day holiday cooking baking extravaganza, she made really yummy lemon cookies that we fell in love with.

I took that idea and put in even more cream cheese to make them even more soft and luscious. The results were amazing if I do say so myself.

The texture is similar to sour cream drop cookies. But these have a little bit more chew.

Tips for Making Great Cookies

Make sure your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature before starting. This will make combining the two a whole lot easier.

Having the dairy good and soft helps to prevent chunks in your batter. Then add the sugar and beat on medium for a couple of minutes to make sure it is light and fluffy.

Adding the eggs one at a time also helps them to incorporate easier. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl along the way to make sure everything is getting included.

This recipe is best with fresh lemons. The zest adds big flavor and juicing the fruit is pretty easy.

However, if you have to use bottled lemon juice that will work too. If you do, I would suggest adding a teaspoon or two of lemon extract to make up for the lack of zest.

The dough will be a little bit sticky, even after it has chilled. That’s okay and is part of what will give you that soft texture later.

Using a cookie scoop makes portioning the sticky dough a lot easier. Plus then your cookies are all the same size and will bake evenly.

I used a medium cookie scoop which is about 2 Tablespoons. You can make them smaller or larger, just adjust the bake time accordingly.

Hand holding iced lemon cookie with a bite taken out showing soft airy interior.

The cookies should look set when they are baked, but they shouldn’t take on much color. You want them to stay soft with just a bit of denser fudgieness in the center.

When the cookies have cooled, drizzle on a quick powdered sugar glaze. I used mostly lemon juice and a splash of milk to make the glaze to give another lemony boost.

More Soft Cookie Recipes

Sweetened condensed milk cookies are soft and simple. The addition of that can sweet liquid gold gives them that little something extra special. You are going to love them!

Spiced molasses cookies are warm, sweet and spicy. They are also soft and chewy. They are sure to be a hit on your holiday cookie tray!

If soft chocolate cookies with a light not too sweet finish are what you are after, chocolate sour cream cookies are for you. Dress them up with a little frosting for an extra special treat.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a review in the recipe card below!

hand holding lemon cookie with white glaze on top.

Soft Lemon Cookies

Servings: 54 Medium Cookies
Author: Carlee
Super soft lemon cookies are loaded with cream cheese and fresh lemon. They are pillowy and delicious with the right balance of sweet and tangy citrus.
4.83 from 41 ratings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 13 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 28 minutes



  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 8 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • zest from 2 lemons
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour


  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice


  • Cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth.
    ½ cup butter, 8 oz. cream cheese
  • Add sugar and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
    2 cups granulated sugar
  • Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Then stir in vanilla and lemon zest.
    2 large eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, zest from 2 lemons
  • Pour in lemon juice, mixing until combined.
    ½ cup lemon juice
  • In a medium bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix until uniform. The dough will be a bit sticky.
    2 Tablespoons cornstarch, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 5 cups all-purpose flour, ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Cover mixer bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  • Use a medium cookie scoop to portion out about 2 Tablespoons of dough, leaving two inches between the mounds of dough on the cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes or until set. They shouldn't take on much color.
  • Cool on the pan for 2 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and lemon juice. Adjust consistency as needed, then spoon over cookies. Allow to set before stacking.
    2 cups powdered sugar, 1 Tablespoon milk, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice



Serving: 1cookieCalories: 122kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 2gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 58mgSugar: 12g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating


Thursday 18th of May 2023

Made these today, to be honest I was not impressed!! In fact I actually stopped making them and threw them away! Wasted a lot of time and ingredients was not a good cookie at all way to much flour in my opinion did not flatten out at all. They were soft but tasted bad won’t be making them again…


Friday 19th of May 2023

I am sorry you didn't like them. They really aren't supposed to flatten, they stay round and cakey almost like a whoopie pie. As for the flavor, they should have been bright and lemony.


Thursday 18th of May 2023

Made these today hope they turn out thanks for the recipe!!


Saturday 24th of December 2022

Tried to make these tonight for Santa and something went really wrong. They were so dry and didn’t spread. Is 5 cups of flour correct? When I tasted them all I tasted was flour. I love Lemon cookies and really wanted this recipe to work. I may try again with less flour.


Sunday 25th of December 2022

Hmmm. That's really strange. It's hard to imagine what could have happened, but 5 cups is correct to go with a stick of butter and brick of cream cheese. Between them and the eggs that should be plenty to moisten the flour, if anything the dough is usually a little soft. I wish I could help more.


Thursday 4th of August 2022

Is there something I could sub for the cornstarch?


Thursday 4th of August 2022

You can use additional flour instead. The cookies won't be quite as cakey, but should still be plenty soft.

Karen Griffith

Sunday 31st of July 2022

This looks so great and I’m Heading to the grocery store now to get the ingredients I don’t have to make them. My question is can they be frozen and still be soft and delicious after defrosted?


Sunday 31st of July 2022

They will still be soft, but the glaze might get a little bit sticky.