I’m kind of a lemonhead. I have a real weakness for it, plus I think it’s the perfect flavor, savory or sweet. So when I was considering my ideal cookie platter, I knew it had to include lemon iced cookies.
These simple sugar cookies include plenty of lemon zest, but it’s the lemon icing that really give them zing. You can easily turn these into vanilla sugar cookies by omitting the lemon zest and juice in the cookies and replacing it with 2 tsp of vanilla extract, and using milk instead of lemon juice in the icing (but I honestly don’t know why you would even consider that!).
Cut these into stars, or any other holiday shape you like: Christmas trees, snowflakes, Santas, stockings, just to name a few. Just make sure the dough is chilled before you start rolling and cutting or the shapes will be hard to transfer to the baking sheet.
I like to keep the icing white and sprinkle it with a little sparkle sugar before the icing dries, but you can also divide the icing and add a little food coloring to make a rainbow of colors. Set out your favorite sprinkles and make a party of it!
Recipe: Lemon Iced Sugar Cookie Stars
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 14 tbsp butter, cut into chunks, at cool room temperature
- 3 tbsp cream cheese
- 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4–6 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- Sparkle sugar, for decorating
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter one piece at a time while the mixer is on low, then continue to beat until the mixture looks crumbly, about 1 minute. Add the cream cheese, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and mix on low until the mixture looks wet and crumbly but holds together when pressed with your fingers.
- Transfer the dough to a large zippered plastic bag and press it together into a disk. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Position two racks evenly in the oven. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll out the dough into a round about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 3 1/2-inch star-shaped cookie cutters (or the cutters of your choice), cut out as many shapes as possible, spacing them slightly apart. Repeat with the 2nd dough disk. Press the scraps together into a disk and chill for 20 minutes before re-rolling and cutting the remaining dough. Repeat until all the dough is used up.
- Bake the cookies until lightly golden brown, rotating the baking sheets around about halfway through, about 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the icing, in a bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and 1 tbsp of the lemon juice until the mixture is smooth. Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl, add 1 tbsp lemon juice, and whisk until smooth and no lumps remain, adding the more juice as needed until the glaze is thin enough to spread easily. Spread the icing on the cookies, sprinkle with the sparkle sugar, and let sit until the icing sets.