Lemon & Thyme Shortbread Cookies

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Classic lemon shortbread cookies made with lemon and thyme and granulated sugar for a crisp, buttery cookie! Add a little lemon frosting and sea salt to the cookie for a melt in your mouth dessert! 

Shortbread cookies are buttery, soft but still have little crip to them. They’re perfect for tea and if you want a cookie the isn’t too sweet. They can be made all year long with different variations. Dipping them in chocolate, adding a frosting, different citrus extracts.

Also try our amazing Rosemary Shortbread Cookies with Brown Sugar. They’re so good! Also check out all of our best lemon recipes too!

Shortbread Cookie with a little lemon frosting and a sprig of thyme.

You can truly use this base recipe and then alter for a fun alternative! For these shortbread cookies we used lemon and fresh thyme and they’re absolutely delicious!

Lemon cookies with lemon frosting and lemon zest.

How to Make Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter – The recipe calls for salt so unsalted butter is best.
  • Granulated sugar – Love the texture this sugar gives the cookie.
  • Vanilla & lemon extract – Both extracts add a lot of flavor.
  • All purpose flour – Works as a stabilizer to hold the cookies together and also helps them rise.
  • Salt
  • Fresh thyme – Creates an earthy and natural flavor and pairs well with lemon.
Bit taken out of a shortbread cookie with lemon.

Directions

  • Infuse the sugar if you’re using an herb by rubbing the herb in the granulated sugar. Then discard the herb. You’ll be left with a sugar that smells amazing!
  • Beat the butter and sugar until combined.
  • Add in the extracts, flour and salt and beat on low speed until it all comes together.
  • Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes until dough is cold.
  • Roll the dough out about 1/2-1″ thick and use a round cookie cutter to cut a shape.
  • Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 1-15 minutes until slightly golden brown.
shortbread cookies on a cooling rack
Lemon shortbread cookie with lemon frosting.

We added a little lemon frosting to the top of our cookies with thyme and pink sea salt.

The frosting is simple to make and can be made while the cookies bake. It adds so much flavor and beauty to the cookie!

two Shortbread Cookies on a white plate with frosting

Ingredients

  • Butter – Salted will work for this.
  • Powdered sugar – Perfect for making smooth icings.
  • Lemon zest
  • Lemon juice – Fresh squeezed
Spatula spreading frosting on a  Cookie.

Directions

  • While the cookies bake, make the frosting! Beat the butter and powdered sugar on high.
  • Add in the lemon juice and zest and beat until smooth.
  • Set aside until the cookies are ready to frost.
  • Add a tiny thyme spring on top!
frosting in a small bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a shortbread cookie and a sugar cookie?

The biggest difference is the ingredients. Sugar cookies tend to have less butter and the recipe uses eggs, milk and other ingredients making it a soft, sweeter cookie.

Shortbread is typically made with just flour, sugar and butter. We add extract to ours, but it’s always a simple recipe for a more biscuit, buttery type of cookie. Perfect for tea and coffee!

How do you know when a shortbread cookie is cooked?

The cookies are usually done baking once they begin to turn a light golden brown. I like to take mine out a few seconds before this happens or right when I see the edge of the cookie turn light brown.

If it’s dark brown, you have cooked them too long.

Do you have to refrigerate shortbread dough?

We recommend refrigerating the dough as it makes for a better cookie. You can also freeze the dough for up to 3 months.

Just remember to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before you roll it out.

What type of sugar should I use to make shortbread cookies?

We use granulated sugar for shortbread cookies. It’s common to use confectioners sugar (powdered sugar) but after making several versions and testing sugars, granulated sugar wins!

It just makes a better, buttery cookie and taste more like traditional shortbread.

Lemon shortbread cookies with frosting and zest

When to Serve Shortbread Cookies

These cookies are great for summer gatherings, baby showers, tea parties or garden parties. They are the perfect, summery cookie recipe filled with lemon flavor.

Shortbread Cookies with loom frosting and a sprig of thyme.

Mini Heart Sugar Cookies 

The Best Lemon Bar Recipe

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Loaded Peanut Butter Cookies 

Shortbread Crumble Bars

Shortbread Cookie with Edible Flowers

The Best Peanut Butter Cookies

Add a little lemon frosting, thyme, lemon zest and a dash pink sea salt to the cookie. Aren’t they so pretty?!

We hope you enjoy these cookies and if you make them please leave a review and comment or tag us as on social (@sugarandcharm) as we love seeing what you make!

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Lemon + Thyme Shortbread Cookies

Classic Shortbread Cookies made with lemon and thyme and granulated sugar for a crisp, buttery cookie! Add a little lemon frosting and sea salt to the cookie for a melt in your mouth dessert! 
4.48 from 17 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 16 Cookies
Calories: 454kcal
Author: Eden

Ingredients

Shortbread Cookies

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, must be room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme

Lemon Frosting

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/8 cup fresh lemon juice

Instructions

Instructions

  • In a bowl, using your fingers rub the thyme in the sugar relaxing the oils from he thyme to fragrance the sugar. This process with infuse the sugar with the thyme scent and a little flavor.
  • In an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until combined.
  • Add in the vanilla and lemon extract.
  • Add in the flour and salt and blend on low until incorporated.
  • Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes so it’s cold, but not too hard to roll out.
  • Add the dough on a flour surface and roll out about 1/2-1″ thick. Use a cookie cutter, round or flower shape to cut the shapes.
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper to bake the cookies on.
  • Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes until cookies are just about to turn golden brown. I like to take them out before they turn gold.

Lemon Frosting

  • While the cookies bake, make the frosting! Beat the butter and powdered sugar on high.
  • Add in the lemon juice and zest and beat until smooth.
  • Set aside until the cookies are ready to frost.
  • Add a tiny thyme spring on top!

Notes

You can use any shape for the cutout cookies.
Do not overcook the cookies!
Add a dash of sea salt on the top for even more yumminess!
Make sure butter is always room temperature and soft.

Nutrition

Calories: 454kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 76mg | Sodium: 141mg | Potassium: 40mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 896IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg
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