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Gluten Free Lemon Drop Shortbread Cookies

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These small batch gluten free lemon cookies are a cross between shortbread and a butter cookie.  Almond flour and powdered sugar make the cookies exceptionally tender.  While fresh lemon juice and zest provide a zingy flavor in the cookies and icing.

A short stack of glazed lemon drop shortbread cookies with a bite out of one.

Gluten Free Glazed Lemon Cookies

With the love I have for the pecan snowball cookies, I had to make another cookie using the same melt-in-your-mouth texture.  The base of these gluten free lemon drop cookies is the same, with the added vibrancy of lemon juice and zest.

The small batch recipe yields 12 pop-in-your-mouth cookies that are finished with a bright lemon glaze.  What’s even better (if that’s possible!), is that these cookies can easily span the seasons.  Imagine adding these to your Easter dessert table, or sending them in your Christmas cookie boxes, or pairing them at summertime with a refreshing glass of blueberry lemonade!

Why You’ll Love These Cookies

I’m a fan of any cookie that features a glaze.  It’s like two desserts in one.  Just check out my soft apple cookies with caramel icing or the chocolate dipped sugar cookie bites.  Better yet, the raspberry and lemon cookie sandwiches which yell summer!  

But, for all the reasons I love these cookies, I think you will find some more:

  • Easy – Most of the time to make these cookies comes from letting the dough chill and hydrate.  
  • Remarkably Tender – It bears repeating, but these cookies have such a soft texture, yet they are firm and crumbly.  Much like the lemon shortbread cookies.
  • Limited Ingredients – 8 ingredients and that includes the gluten free flours I like to use in my gluten free desserts.
  • Bright and Zesty – Any time lemon is added to a recipe, you can expect it to be vibrant.  Much like the mini lemon cakes or gluten free lemon loaf.
  • Small Batch – As a small batch cookie recipe, this one yields 12 cookies.  And the 12 cookies are perfectly sized to not feel bad about devouring 3 in a row!
A neat stack of lemon gluten free shortbread cookies with a lemon glaze.

What You Need To Make Gluten Free Lemon Drop Cookies

Ingredients

  • Almond Flour – I recommend blanched almond flour because it is ground superfine and without the almond skins.  The almond flour provides protein and structure to the cookies.
  • Arrowroot Flour – Also called arrowroot starch, the arrowroot helps with the soft texture of the cookies.  You can substitute with tapioca flour.
  • Salt – Every cook (and every bake!) needs salt to balance and enhance flavors.
  • Unsalted Butter – Room temperature and unsalted since we are adding our own salt. 
  • Powdered Sugar – The powdered sugar acts as the sweetener and it also lends to the tender texture.
  • Vanilla Extract – For a little extra flavor.
  • Lemons – Fresh lemons for the cookies and icing.  We use the juice and zest from the lemons, therefore I recommend organic lemons.
  • Milk or Water – To make the glaze.  Whichever you prefer!

Baking Equipment

  • Mixing Bowls
  • Hand Held Mixer – You can use your hand mixer, but the stand mixer will also work for these lemon cookies.  See the notes in the recipes for the special small batch mixing bowl I use with my stand mixer.
  • Baking Sheet with Parchment Paper

Lemon Glaze For Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies

Do you have to use the glaze on the lemon cookies?  I suppose not.  But why would you not?!  The glaze adds another texture, sweetness, and most importantly – a lemon kick.

To make the lemon glaze, it is really quite simple.  Simple in that you only need a few ingredients, and simple in that you can adjust it to make it your own.

  • I make my glaze with part lemon juice and part milk.  Although, if you really want to drive home the lemon zing in these gluten free cookies, use all lemon juice.
  • The glaze consistency I prefer is similar to a sugar cookie icing.  A little thicker, but you can certainly add more liquid to yours if you like a drippy glaze.
  • Powdered sugar is really the only sweetener option.  That I’ve tested.  I have tried to make my own powdered sugar by grinding cane sugar and cornstarch, but I haven’t been pleased with the results.  Besides, we use powdered sugar in the cookies, so it makes the ingredient list easy.  And to be fair – I have little to no experience with sugar-free powdered sugars.
Ingredients for a lemon glaze in small glass bowls arranged on a table.

Tips For Making A Small Batch Of Gluten Free Lemon Cookies

  • Bring the butter to room temperature – It will make mixing the butter and sugar together vastly easier.
  • Careful on how much lemon juice you put into the cookie dough – Add as much lemon juice to your glaze.  But if you want to dial up the lemon in the cookies, go for more zest.  Otherwise too much liquid will change the texture outcome of the lemon cookies.
  • Keep mixing the dough – It may seem like a dough will never form as your mixing, but the butter does eventually moisten it into a dough!
  • Chill the dough – This helps to firm the butter back up.  Plus, chilling gives the dough time to hydrate and the flavors to permeate and develop.
  • Keep the cookies small – These gluten free cookies achieve the best texture if they are kept small.  Otherwise, the center may take too long to bake, while the exterior is getting too crispy.  Remember that the cookies are hybrid butter cookie and shortbread. 
  • Use a tablespoon measuring spoon to portion the dough – This helps to portion easy and keeps you from guessing how big each cookie is!
  • Cool the cookies completely before icing – We don’t want the icing to melt right off!
Close up of a glazed gluten free lemon drop shortbread cookie on a wire cooling rack.

FAQ’s: Gluten Free Lemon Cookies

Can this recipe be doubled?

I have not tested it, but I think doubling the recipe will be fine.

Will a gluten free 1 to 1 flour work instead of the almond flour?

I have not tested it, so I can’t say for certain how the cookies will turn out. I will say that I find the 1 to 1 blends to be much drier than my almond flour blends.

Can I make the cookies larger?

I’m sure you can, just expect the centers to be a little more doughy. The small cookie will yield a tender cookie all the way through.

Do I have to use fresh lemons? Can I just use bottle lemon juice and no zest?

Sure. However the zest is what really makes the lemon flavor pronounced.

I’d like to try a sugar-free powdered sugar. Will something like powdered erythritol work?

Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t have experience with sugar free sweeteners and can’t speak to how they behave in baked goods. But if you try it, let us know!

How long will the cookies last?

The cookies should stay tender for up to 3 days.

How do I store leftover cookies?

Leftover cookies store great at room temperature in a cookie jar or Ziploc bag.

Lemon glazed lemon shortbread cookies arranged in stacks on a table with lemons.
Lemon glazed lemon shortbread cookies arranged in stacks on a table with lemons.
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5 from 1 review

Gluten Free Lemon Drop Shortbread Cookies

Yield: 12 Cookies
GF
These small batch gluten free lemon cookies are a cross between shortbread and a butter cookie.  Almond flour and powdered sugar make the cookies exceptionally tender.  While fresh lemon juice and zest provide a zingy flavor in the cookies and icing.
Prep15 minutes
Cook15 minutes
Chill30 minutes
Total1 hour

Ingredients
 

  • 2 small lemons (zest from both, juice from one)

Lemon Drop Shortbread Cookies

  • 3/4 cup, plus 1 teaspoon blanched almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (the entire small lemon)

Lemon Glaze

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • pinch salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice (see recipe instructions)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons milk, any kind (see recipe instructions)

Instructions

Lemon Drop Shortbread Cookies

  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot flour, and salt.
    3/4 cup, plus 1 teaspoon blanched almond flour, 3 tablespoons arrowroot flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • In a medium mixing bowl using a hand held mixer, or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest and beat until incorporated. Notesee the Notes below for using the stand mixer.
    3 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • In increments, sprinkle the dry ingredients over the butter mixture and beat on low speed until all of the flour has been added. Once all the flour is added, turn the speed up to medium and beat until all the flour is incorporated, no dry streaks remain, and a moistened dough forms. NoteThe dough will seem dry as you're adding and mixing in the flour, but continue to mix and a dough will form.
  • Cover the dough and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
  • Using a tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop and roll into a ball 12 cookies. Place on the baking sheet at least 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, or until the edges turn light golden brown.
  • Cool the cookies on the baking sheet set on a wire cooling rack for 5 minutes. Then transfer the cookies to the wire rack to cool completely.

Lemon Glaze

  • Add the powdered sugar, salt, and lemon zest to a small mixing bowl. Depending on the size of your lemon, you may need to zest the whole lemon to get 2 teaspoons.
    1/4 cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, pinch salt
  • You have the option to make the glaze with all lemon juice, or half lemon juice half milk (or water). If making with all lemon juice – start with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and add more to reach your desired glaze consistency. If making with half lemon juice half milk – start with 1 teaspoon lemon juice and add milk (or water) to reach your desired consistency.
    1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 to 2 teaspoons milk, any kind
  • Mix until well incorporated and smooth.
  • Drizzle or spoon the glaze on top of the cooled cookies. Let the cookies sit for about 5 to 10 minutes for the glaze to set. Enjoy!
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RECIPE NOTES

  • Serving Size – This recipe is intended to be a small batch, and only tested as a small batch.  However, this recipe can easily be doubled if needed.
  • Stand Mixer – You can use your tilt head stand mixer and the standard attachments with a small 3 quart mixing bowl.  The small mixing bowl is more effective for small batch recipes.  Otherwise, the regular size mixing bowl may not mix the butter effectively (it will just smear it along the side of the bowl!)
  • Cookie Size – The cookies are intended to be small so they get the proper bake all the way through.  Any larger than a 1 tablespoon cookie, and the centers may be soft.
  • Chill The Dough – Because of the butter, the cookie dough does need time in the refrigerator to allow it to chill and firm.  Otherwise, the cookies may spread/melt when baked.
  • Lemons – I like to use organic lemons and they are naturally small.  To get 2 teaspoons of zest, you will probably need the whole lemon.  The amount of lemon zest and juice used in the cookies and the glaze is entirely up to you – add more or less based on your preference.  Careful not to add too much lemon juice to the cookie dough, or it will alter the texture.  
  • Ingredient Substitutions – I have only tested the recipe as written.  However, you can swap arrowroot with tapioca flour.
  • Storing/Leftovers – The cookies will stay tender up to 3 days.  Store at room temperature in a cookie jar or Ziploc bag.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich

NUTRITION ESTIMATES

Calories: 146kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 50mg | Potassium: 29mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 107IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutrition information is calculated by a third-party and should only be considered an estimate and not a guarantee.
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about the author ...

I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!

I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch gluten free and traditional desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you! Click here to learn more about me!

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