Recipe for Lemon Buttermilk Cookies

By Maria Lichty

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lemon buttermilk cookies

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We go through a lotof milk at our house. Josh loves skim milk. He can really down it! We always keep a couple of gallons in our extra refrigerator. Luckily, it has been on sale lately:) I also like to keep buttermilk on hand for baking. I don’t go through it as fast though. It seems like I am always hurrying to use it before it expires.

The other day I realized I had a carton of buttermilk that was on the verge of being even more sour:) So I decided to get out my mixer and whip up some Lemon Buttermilk Cookies. I have never made buttermilk cookies before, I usually make scones, biscuits, etc. I was excited to try a cookie!

The cookies were very soft and tender, more of a cake texture than a cookie. I am glad I added a lot of lemon zest to the dough and glaze. The lemon flavor was quite nice. They reminded me of Giada’s

Lemon Ricotta cookies that I have made! If you have made those and loved them, you will love these too! They are both REALLY good! I will be making these again, a sweet way to use up that buttermilk!

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Lemon Buttermilk Cookies

These light and fluffy lemon cookies with sweet glaze are delightful!
4.27 from 15 votes



  • Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, zest, baking soda, and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter briefly, until creamy. Add the sugar, and beat until pale and fluffy. Add the egg, and beat well to mix. Add the vanilla, and beat briefly again. Mix in the flour mixture and the buttermilk in batches at low speed, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  • Drop the dough by level tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 ½ inches between each cookie. Bake, 1 shet at a time, for about 11 minutes per batch. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 1 minute; then transfer them to a wire rack.
  • For the glaze, whisk together the sifted confectioners sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla. I also added in lemon zest. Brush or spoon the glaze onto the warm cookies. Allow cookies to sit on the rack until the glaze is set.

Have you tried this recipe?

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I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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4.27 from 15 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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  1. We go through a lot of milk (mostly making yogurt), and almond milk at our house! And isn’t it wonderful when it’s on sale??

    I’ve heard you can make buttermilk with the leftover weigh when making greek yogurt but I have never tried … maybe I should … because the looks of those lemon buttermilk cookies have got me wanting some! ; )

    They sound absolutely delicious!!

  2. I just bought some buttermilk with no particular purpose in mind; just figured I’d bake some stuff and use it for pancakes and such. I am totally using some of it to make these cookies — they look delicious!

  3. They look so delicious!!!!! Funny, you had a surplus of buttermilk and I found myself without some. Instead of running to the store I put a lemon juice in milk. Who knew. I will have to try these cuz you know I love Giada’s!!!!!!

  4. Just so happens I have extra buttermilk in the fridge justwaiting on me. Guess what Im up to later. Maria.. these look awesome! Thanks for the idea!

  5. YUM!! those look amazing!

    I got my black and white cups at Target. They come in a dish set, but I think they are being clearanced out… so maybe you can get the set super cheap???

  6. oh I was afraid to come over here and see these little gems! I know I would love these as I am a HUGE fan of buttermilk in baked goods.

  7. Lesley-I have never made yogurt, I want to try!


    Rosa-I am addicted too:)

    Cathy-I hope you try these with your buttermilk!

    LiveLoveEat-These are very similar to the ricotta cookies, which we know are so good!

    Donna-Let me know if you try these!

    Barbara-I love these lemon cookies! They are very light.

    Shari-They were good:)

    Sabrina-I will have to look for those, thanks for the info. They are too cute!

  8. These cookies look so delicious! I’m a huge fan of buttermilk, and am always glad to see it in a recipe. In my view the expiration date on buttermilk is sort of a guideline; I’ve never had a problem using slightly expired buttermilk, but then again, I’ve never had this cookie recipe to use it up with!!

  9. Oh how delicious! I made your lemon drop cookies not too long ago, which were WONDERFUL, now I’m going to have to try these too!

  10. lemon cookies are just so refreshing. It’s amazing what a little lemon zest can do to add some punch!

  11. Oh those look so perfect! I love the glaze on top! And you totally sold me… soft and tender! I love cookies with cake textures! I can’t wait to make these!

  12. n.o.e-I am weird about things going bad. I always throw things out if they are somewhat questionable:)

    Jenny-Thanks! I hope you have a great day too!

    Kristen-Make sure you add a lot of extra zest for a strong lemon flavor!

    Teresa-I am glad you liked the lemon drop cookies, I love all lemon cookies:)

    Peggy-The veggies and polenta are good!

    Stephchows-I always add tons of extra zest!

    Teanna-The cookies are very soft and the glaze is a nice finish!

  13. Buttermilk seems to make everything better…and it’s good for ya too!

    This cookies would be lovely with tea.

  14. I’ve never tried to impart buttermilk flavor into cookies…and most certainly not on a glaze! This is a very interesting recipe and I am quite likely to try this sometime. Thanks for the post 🙂

  15. I always enjoy the tang of lemon glazed cookies. Perfect with a cup of tea! I love that cake stand, now that is darling.

  16. OMG these are right up my alley! So glad you commented on my blog about your pink stand (which is beautiful, btw) because I now have a new “must make” cookie. Thanks 🙂

  17. Bridget and Em-I just got the cake stand, for a good price too! I love finding bargains!

    Peter-Will have to make some tea next time around.

    A and N-I thought the buttermilk might taste to “sour” for a cookie, but I loved the flavor and texture!

  18. Ooo, I just have to make these. They look so delicious. I also have some buttermilk on the verge of going “sour,” if buttermilk can do so. And I’ve been looking for the perfect recipe to use it all up. These look like they take the cake, er, cookie. Man, they look soft and delicate and melt-in-your-mouth good! Can’t wait to try them!

  19. I have a weakness for cookies of any kind. Those look wondeful. Another cookie to add to my to try pile that is stacking up!!!

  20. Another fabulous baked good. I really enjoy lemon flavored desserts and know I would enjoy these. I have to make a dessert for the little bbq we may be having this weekend. I will def be searching all of your amazing desserts 🙂

  21. I love lemon cookies! I always keep my buttermilk a few weeks past the expiration date – it’s sour anyway so no need to throw it out!

  22. These look delightful! I like that they’re cakey.. it seems suiting for this cookie.

    Using buttermilk in a cookie is a fabulous idea! I bet they were delicious.

  23. Aw these look so elegant and pretty. I can imagine these being the perfect cookie for a bridal or baby shower.

  24. I love the idea of buttermilk in a cookie – I bet these are so moist and there would be no way I could eat just one!!

  25. I too am a HUGE skim milk drinker!
    A tip on the buttermilk…they sell dried buttermilk in the baking section. And I have yet to find a difference between it and the liquid type. And it lasts a year if you store it in the fridge.

  26. YUM! They sound fantastic! I always seem to have extra buttermilk after a biscuits and gravy day… Hmmm… cookies would be a great way to use it up!

  27. These sure look great! Just thought I would stop by and tell you that the TV thing went well. We didn’t get to cover everything we wanted, but it was good and they put a link to the Hive on their site. I’ve gotten a few emails already! Thanks again so much for all your support!

  28. You have made me hungry. I LOVE the looks of these cookies. I have never made lemon cookies but I am now! Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  29. Ooh these are nice cookies. I do love baking with buttermilk and try to remind myself to sub it in when milk is called for. It adds such richness!

  30. Okay, these cookies are light and so good. I like them because they were not heavy feeling.

    Oh, I made your coconut oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. They are great, but they are a little too rich for me. Tonight we are going to try your parmesan potato pancake. I am excited. I will tell you how we like them.

  31. Leslie-I didn’t know about dried buttermilk, thanks for the great tip!

    PheMom-You did awesome today!! Thanks for mentioning The Hive, I hope you are relaxing now!

    Robin Sue-I love baking with buttermilk too!

    Emily-Sorry the cookies were too rich, we like things rich:) Let me know how the pancake goes! Enjoy!

  32. I love a good lemon cookie, I need to try buttermilk in a batch–it’s an awesome baking ingredient. My hubby also LOVES milk lol.

  33. yum!! i love lemon flavors! these look amazing with that icing. and the buttermilk cookies don’t sound half bad, either 🙂 i totally want some right now!!

  34. A great ecipe for using up that buttermilk. A problem I seem to always have when I buy it. These look as pretty as a springtime blossem! Perfect for a tea party.

  35. what delightful cookies!
    fact: my uncle (a dairy farmer who often drinks milk straight from the cow) calls skim milk “white water”… 🙂

  36. I know exactly what you mean about buttermilk. I have some on its way out right now….can’t we buy small ones of low or non-fat?

  37. We get through an awful lot of milk too. I’m not really a breakfast eater, but I always like a glass of milk, after my morning cuppa tea, of course. Your lemon cookies look great, but I love anything lemony.

  38. WOW, those look amazing! I, too, am always trying to use up my buttermilk. Love those lemon ricotta biscuits from Giada, too. So can’t wait to try this!! Glad we connected on Twitter.

  39. These are so soft and light! I just made a batch and really like them. So glad you added extra lemon because the flavor really isn’t too strong still. Thanks for sharing!

  40. I made these last night and took them to my class with me..everyone wants the recipe..they are so yummy!

  41. I have made Giada’s lemon ricotta cookies, and I know I would love these lemon buttermilk cookies. I don’t usually like cake-like cookies, but these are an exception.

  42. I made your strawberry cake last weekend, had a ton of buttermilk leftover. This weekend, it was these cookies and banana buttermilk muffins. All delicious! 🙂

  43. These look fantastic. Buttermilk and milk can be frozen if they can’t be used up in time. Thawed milk works perfectly in baking and cooking.

  44. The texture of my dough — and thus, the baked cookies — is too doughy. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  45. I am an avid buttermilk fan for baking..first time for cookies though. And what  refreshing, tasting cookies these turned out to be. Ran out of lemon zest when it came time to make glaze, so substituted lemon juice for the worked Easy peasy recipe.

  46. 5 stars
    What an excellent recipe! I have a lot of goats milk on hand since I’ve been milking one of my girls. Over a quart a day! Plus I make homemade butter and have leftover buttermilk. I ‘ve been looking for a good use of buttermilk and these cookies are delicious!

  47. 5 stars
    I made your recipe because I had to use buttermilk in another recipe, had 1/2 carton left. OMG!!! Melt in your mouth when warm (delicious cold too)!! My husband hit the nail on the head when he said the sweetness was just right!! I was wondering if you could make a batch up and freeze them for later use?

  48. 1 star
    I don’t know what went wrong. I followed the recipe exactly to a T. I even used unbleached APF like the recipe called for. I didn’t over bake them, but they came out either too dry or too doughy. I’ve made lemon cookies before with a boxed cake mix and they were so much better! And I don’t understand how you can make lemon cookies and glaze without any lemon juice or extract and only a couple of tsps. of zest for the whole recipe! I added real lemon juice to the glaze which made it a lot better. Too bad the cookies were terrible.

  49. 5 stars
    My husband loved these! I made the following edits: full stick of butter, zest of 3 lemons, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt, 1tsp vanilla extract. I baked for 12 mins and should have gone 2 more minutes. Great flavor and texture!