Birthday Lemon Sugar Cookies

Who doesn't love a stack of freshly baked cookies on their birthday? (Or any day?)

These are an easy, fast, and yummy cookie to whip up for any occasion - but make sure to have rainbow sprinkles on hand if it's someone's birthday!

My sister Sophie loves lemony desserts (I'm in total agreement with her). Last weekend I had a few hours before hopping on a train to Rhode Island to see her on her birthday and I wanted to make a sweet lemony treat to mark the occasion. All of my go-to lemon desserts (lemon bars, lemon chiffon pie, lemon white chocolate fudge) took too long to prep, bake, or set; plus, I wasn't confident of their staying power on a train ride.

So, Google to the rescue, where I found this quick and easy recipe for glazed lemon sugar cookies. I upped the lemon flavor a bit by adding lemon extract to the cookie dough, and by making the glaze with lemon juice instead of water.

These cookies are delightful left naked, but the lemon glaze and sprinkles make them tarter and cheerier!

A few notes:

  • If you are wary of a tart flavor, leave the extract out, as in the original recipe.
  • These cookies spread - a lot! I imagine if you freeze the dough balls first they would spread a bit less, but I was short on time. Don't worry, they are still a delicious, if thin, cookie.
  • Because they spread, make sure to leave plenty of space - at least 2 inches - between dough balls on the cookie sheet.

Birthday or not, I bet you can find an excuse to make these this weekend!

Birthday Lemon Sugar Cookies
makes 24 cookies
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla 
  • 1/4 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest 
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice 
  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar for rolling 

  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Rainbow nonpareils (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and a little fluffy. Add vanilla, lemon extract, egg, lemon zest, and lemon juice, beating until combined.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing just until combined. Refrigerate dough for ~15 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a cookie scoop (I used a #100 scoop), scoop 1" dough balls onto the baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart. Coat each ball in the powdered sugar, then roll with your hands to make the sugar stick and create a more even ball.

If you have time, freeze dough for 15 minutes or so; this will keep the cookies a bit thicker by preventing them from spreading too quickly.

Bake cookies at 350F for 10-11 minutes, until they do not appear wet on top. Let cool completely on a wire rack before glazing.

Whisk lemon juice and powdered sugar together in a bowl. Add more liquid or sugar to reach a thick, but drizzle-able consistency.

Using a piping bag or zip-loc with the corner cut off, drizzle glaze over cookies, working a few at a time so you can quickly add sprinkles if you choose. (I like to make the glaze as thick as possible so it hardens quickly.)