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Italian Lemon Cookies

Christmas wouldn't be the same without my grandmother's cookies. A plate full of these light and zesty cookies is divine!—Elisabeth Miller, Broadview Heights, Ohio
  • Total Time
    Prep: 30 min. + chilling Bake: 15 min./batch
  • Makes
    3 dozen


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature, separated
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Colored sugar


  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and lemon zest. Gradually beat in flour. Refrigerate, covered, 1 hour or until firm enough to shape.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Shape level tablespoons of dough into 6-in. ropes. Shape each rope into an “S”, then coil each end until it touches the center. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Whisk egg whites; brush over cookies. Sprinkle with colored sugar.
  • Bake until bottoms are brown, 12-14 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.
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Average Rating:
  • K
    Dec 20, 2020

    This is a recipe for lemon shortbread. Flavor is that of shortbread with just enough lemon to notice. I would consider almost doubling the lemon zest next time. Shortbread dough isn’t easy to work into this shape unless it’s the right temperature, if too cold then the ropes break on bending them, if too warm then they don’t hold their shape. One tablespoon rolled to 6 inches also does not create a thick rope as shown in the photo, you need more dough for that. With the time consuming nature of the rolling and shaping, I found myself wondering why I didn’t just roll and cut the dough as with standard shortbread. I get that it’s a special cookie but not worth the time it takes, only to find out that the minor inconsistencies in your thicknesses and shapes cause the cookies to bake unevenly, with some spots browning before others are adequately baked. I ran out of yellow sugar midway through and used the tiniest yellow nonpareils for the last batch, this turned out to give a nice crunchy contrast to the melty shortbread texture, I’d recommend this as a suitable substitute.

  • Sylvia
    Feb 19, 2019

    Am very pleased with this recipe the whole family enjoyed them. Making the S-shape was really easy, will be making these cookies all the time now.

  • Connie
    Dec 13, 2018

    Very disappointed! Pulled up Italian cookies to make for the first time! And saw this recipe, looked good. Bought all the ingredients and it was a failure! I then added more flour thinking it was that and nope! Ok, now I have to find another recipe to make. Won’t share this site!

  • tlcodi
    Oct 16, 2018

    No comment left