Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

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It’s lemon season! Our tree in the backyard produces an abundance of lemons, so get ready for all the lemon recipes, my friends. And these lemon poppy seed cookies are the very tip top of my list.

Each bite has the perfect balance of zesty lemon flavor and the subtle crunch of poppy seeds, all wrapped up in a soft, melt-in-your-mouth cookie. They’re like a refreshing lemonade, but in dessert form. They’re utterly irresistible and 100% guaranteed to brighten your day.

Lemon cookies laying on a baking sheet with a lemon from a tree.

The Ingredients You’ll Need For These Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

  • Sugar: Sweetens the cookies.
  • Lemon zest: Infuses the cookies with fresh, tangy lemon flavor.
  • Unsalted butter: Adds moisture, richness, and flavor to the cookies.
  • Brown sugar: Adds structure and richness to the cookies. You can use either light or dark for this recipe.
  • Egg: Binds the cookies and adds structure and flavor.
  • Vanilla extract: Enhances and balances out the lemon flavor of the cookies. Avoid using imitation vanilla.
  • Fresh-squeezed lemon juice: Adds moisture and a bright, tangy lemon flavor.
  • All-purpose flour: Provides structure and texture for the cookies.
  • Baking soda: For that perfect rise.
  • Sea salt: Enhances the flavors in the cookies.
  • Poppy seeds: For that signature speckled look and nutty flavor.
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Making Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

  1. Preheat and Prep: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Lemon Sugar: In a large bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Get your hands in there and really work the zest into the sugar – this helps release the oil from the lemon.
Sugar and lemon zest in a glass bowl.
Sugar, brown sugar, and a stick of butter in a glass bowl.
  1. Creaming: Add the butter and brown sugar to the bowl with the lemon sugar mixture. And with an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy for 2 ish minutes.
  2. Moisture: Now, add the egg, vanilla extract, and lemon juice to the bowl. Mix everything together for another minute until it’s just combined. Be careful not to overmix – we want light and fluffy cookies, not tough ones.
Creamed butter and sugar in a glass bowl.
Creamed butter and sugar with an egg and vanilla extract added to a glass bowl.
  1. Dry Ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Then, gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. You want the dough to be crumbly but still holding together.
A bowl of flower with a whisk sitting in it.
Flour on top of creamed butter and sugar in a glass bowl.
  1. Poppy Seeds: Gently fold in the poppy seeds until they’re evenly distributed throughout the dough. Mix it just until the dough comes together.
  2. Scoop and Bake: Using a 3 tablespoon cookie scoop, drop dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them out to allow for spreading. You should get about 6 cookies per half-sheet pan. Then, pop them in the oven and bake for 10-11 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through for even baking. You’ll know they’re done when the edges are just starting to turn a light golden brown and the cookies have puffed up slightly.
Poppy seeds added to a bowl of mixed cookie dough.
Cookie dough balls on a baking sheet with a cookie scoop and a bowl of dough sitting next to them.
  1. Cool and Glaze: Once baked, let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for a several minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. While they’re cooling, whip up the glaze by whisking the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and a pinch of sea salt together. Then, just drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies and sprinkle with extra poppy seeds or lemon zest for a gorgeous finishing touch.
  • Be sure to check out the full ingredient list and recipe instructions below.
Frosted lemon poppy seed cookies laying on a baking sheet.

Tips To Ensure Baking Success

  • Fresh Ingredients: Whenever possible, use fresh ingredients – especially when it comes to lemons. Fresh lemon zest and juice will give your cookies that vibrant, citrusy flavor that’s simply unbeatable.
  • Don’t Overmix: When mixing the dough, be gentle and avoid overmixing. This will ensure your cookies stay soft and tender, rather than tough and chewy.
  • Watch the Oven: Keep a close eye on your cookies as they bake. Every oven is different, so you want to make sure you pull them out just as they start to turn golden brown around the edges for that perfect texture. The cookies will puff up and start to crack around the edges when they’re done. As they cool, the tops will fall and create crinkles.
  • Storage: If you somehow manage to have leftovers (which is a rare occurrence in my house, ha!), store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Trust me, though – they’re so delicious, they probably won’t last that long. For freezing instructions, see the FAQ below.

Overrun with lemons? Make these Lemon Meringue Cookies too—they’re delcious!

Glazed lemon poppy seed cookies on a baking sheet.

Questions About This Recipe

I recommend fresh lemon juice for its vibrant flavor and acidity, but bottled lemon juice can substituted in a pinch. Keep in mind that bottled lemon juice may lack the same brightness and freshness as freshly squeezed lemon juice and you may need to adjust the quantity to get the same lemony flavor.

Absolutely! Here are a few ideas:

  1. White Chocolate: Chop high-quality white chocolate into small chunks and gently fold them into the cookie dough after adding the poppy seeds. The creamy sweetness of white chocolate will complement the tangy lemon and add a creamy touch to the cookies.
  2. Nuts: Chop your favorite nuts, such as almonds, pecans, or walnuts, and fold them into the dough along with the poppy seeds. Nuts will add a satisfying crunch and nutty flavor to the cookies, enhancing their overall texture and taste.
  3. Dried Fruit: Chop dried fruit like cranberries, apricots, or cherries into small pieces and mix them into the dough before adding the poppy seeds. Dried fruit will add bursts of sweetness and chewiness to the cookies.

Yes to both!

Freezing Cookie Dough:

  1. After preparing the cookie dough according to the recipe, portion it into individual cookie-sized balls using a cookie scoop or spoon.
  2. Place the cookie dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure they are not touching each other.
  3. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze the cookie dough balls until they are firm, usually for about 1-2 hours.
  4. Once frozen, transfer the cookie dough balls to a resealable plastic bag or airtight container. Label the container with the date and type of cookie dough.
  5. The frozen cookie dough can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.

To Bake Frozen Cookie Dough:

  1. When ready to bake, preheat the oven according to the recipe instructions.
  2. Place the desired number of frozen cookie dough balls on a lined baking sheet, leaving space between each cookie for spreading.
  3. Bake the cookies according to the recipe instructions below, adding a couple of extra minutes to the baking time if needed.

Freezing Baked Cookies:

  1. Allow the baked cookies to cool completely to room temperature.
  2. Place the cooled cookies in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze the cookies until they are firm, usually for about 1-2 hours.
  4. Once frozen, transfer the cookies to a resealable plastic bag or airtight container, placing parchment paper between layers to prevent sticking.
  5. Label the container with the date and type of cookies.
  6. The frozen baked cookies can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.

To Thaw Frozen Cookies:

  1. Remove the desired number of frozen cookies from the freezer and let them thaw at room temperature for about 15-30 minutes.
  2. Alternatively, you can reheat the cookies in a preheated oven at 300°F (150°C) for 5-10 minutes until warmed through.
  1. For Sweeter Glaze: Increase the amount of powdered sugar in the glaze. Start by adding an extra tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired level of sweetness. You can also add a small amount of honey or maple syrup to the glaze for natural sweetness, adjusting the quantity to taste.
  2. For Tarter Glaze: Increase the amount of lemon juice in the glaze. Add an extra tablespoon of lemon juice at a time until you achieve the desired level of tartness. You can also add a splash of lemon extract for an extra burst of lemon flavor without adding additional acidity.
Lemon poppy seed cookies on a baking sheet with a lemon and a blue napkin next to them.

Now, grab yourself a tall glass of milk and a hand full of these zesty lemon poppy seed cookies, and dig in. With their vibrant lemon flavor, subtle poppy seed crunch, and light and fluffy texture, you’ll find pure joy in each and every bite. Enjoy, and happy lemon season my friends!

Lemon poppy seed cookies laying on a baking sheet with a lemon.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

By: Kristine Underwood
These lemon poppy seed cookies have the perfect balance of zesty lemon flavor and subtle poppy seed crunch, all wrapped up in a soft, melt-in-your-mouth cookie. They're utterly irresistible and 100% guaranteed to brighten your day.
4.88 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Sweets & Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 15 cookies
Calories 176 kcal

ingredients
  

For the cookies

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 TBS lemon zest (one large lemon)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TBS lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
  • 2 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 TBS poppy seeds

For the glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 TBS lemon juice (fresh squeezed, may substitute milk)
  • Pinch sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

For the cookies

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, add sugar and lemon zest and work together using your fingers to release the oil from the lemon zest.
    3/4 cup sugar, 1 TBS lemon zest
  • Add the butter and brown sugar to the bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugars together for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
    1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Add the egg, vanilla extract, and lemon juice and mix for an additional minute until just combined. You don't want to whip it.
    1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 TBS lemon juice
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and sea salt.
    2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Add flour to wet ingredients and mix until crumbly, but flour still shows.
  • Using a spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the poppy seeds until the there are only a few streaks of flour remaining. Avoid over-mixing.
    1 TBS poppy seeds
  • Using a 3 tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop dough onto lined baking sheets, six per half baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10-11 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through to ensure even baking.
  • Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for several minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the glaze

  • While cookies are cooling, whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and pinch of salt. If the glaze is too thick, add milk or lemon juice. If it's too thin, add more powdered sugar.
    1 cup powdered sugar, 2-3 TBS lemon juice, Pinch sea salt
  • Drizzle glaze over the top of the cookies. Sprinkle additional poppy seeds or lemon zest over the glaze.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 cookieCalories: 176kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 2gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 121mgPotassium: 37mgFiber: 1gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 206IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 19mgIron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating




12 Comments

  1. I loved these cookies, they taste amazing and are very lemony, which is exactly what I was looking for! 10/105 stars

    1. Thank you so much, Shelley! That’s what was going for. I’m so glad you loved the cookies!

  2. I made a batch of these cookies yesterday and they were delicious! Perfect for spring with that fresh lemon flavor5 stars

    1. Hi Tayler! Yay, thank you so much! So glad the cookies were yummy!

  3. These cookies are a great texture, soft, but a little crispy. Very good.5 stars

    1. Thank you so much Suja! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the cookies – they’re one of my faves!

  4. Yummy! Lemon poppyseed is a favorite muffin flavor in our house but now that I can make it as a cookie, my family are going for crazy for them.5 stars

    1. Hi Andrea! Here too, we love all the lemon things. Glad to hear the cookies didn’t disappoint your lemon lovers!

  5. These are simply amazing – as soon as I saw you post this, I knew I had to try them. I am so glad because they are really delicious. Thanks!5 stars

    1. Aw thank you so much, Donalyn! I’m really glad you enjoyed the cookies too – they’re one of my faves!

  6. These were so tasty! I loved the way the poppy seeds accented the lemon in the cookies.5 stars

    1. Thank you so much, Chenee! I’m so glad you enjoyed the cookies. 🙂