This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

These easy lemon coconut drop shortbread cookies are like snowball cookies but with glaze instead of a confectioners’ sugar coating. They’re buttery and light with a tender, yet crumbly shortbread-style texture. Top with smooth lemon glaze plus a garnish of coconut or sprinkles to make a beautiful two-bite cookie!

lemon coconut shortbread drop cookies with glaze and sprinkles on top

This recipe is part of my annual Christmas cookie countdown called Sally’s Cookie Palooza. Every year since 2013, I work on a handful of new Christmas cookie recipes and publish the 10 best ones for readers to enjoy! You can browse dozens of recipes on the Sally’s Cookie Palooza page.

I always love some fresh flavor on my holiday cookie trays, so let’s add lemon & coconut!

What are Lemon Coconut Drop Shortbread Cookies?

Today’s cookies are like wedge shortbread cookies without the cake pan, like snowball cookies without the powdered sugar coating, like pistachio drop cookies without the nuts, cranberry spice cookies but with lemon and coconut, and like butter cookies without the piping tip. They’re also like the coconut lime shortbread recipe in my cookbook but without the cookie cutters. SO MANY THINGS!

“Lemon coconut drop shortbread cookies” sounded better than “shortbread snowless nut-free lemon coconut butter drop cookies” so that’s what we’re going with!

glazed lemon coconut drop shortbread-style cookies with coconut on top

Why You’ll Love These Lemon Coconut Shortbread Cookies

  • so easy! 1 bowl, 8 ingredient dough
  • short dough chilling time– just 30 minutes
  • another egg-free baking recipe
  • not overly sweet
  • exceptionally flavorful & buttery
  • can garnish the glaze with coconut, sprinkles, and/or lemon zest
  • crumbly, yet tender texture

Plus, the glaze eventually sets which means your little lemon cookies are convenient to gift, stack, store, and transport!

Key Ingredients in These Easy Cookies

  1. Butter: The stand-out ingredient in most cookie recipes, butter supplies today’s lemon coconut cookies with exceptional flavor and a whipped shortbread-like texture. Make sure it’s properly softened to room temperature before beginning.
  2. Confectioners’ Sugar: Use confectioners’ sugar in both the cookie dough and lemon glaze. I love using confectioners’ sugar in shortbread-style cookie recipes because it keeps the cookies tender and light. You’ll notice I use granulated sugar in these shortbread-style raspberry almond thumbprints, this pecan shortbread, and these cherry almond shortbread cookies. Granulated sugar helps those cookies spread a little more. In today’s recipe, you want more of a drop shape like our pistachio cookies.
  3. Coconut Extract: We use shredded coconut in the cookie dough and if you really want the coconut flavor to stand out, use coconut extract as well. It’s the same reason we add coconut extract to this coconut cake recipe– you just want that extra punch of coconut flavor. Coconut extract is pretty common in most major grocery stores.
  4. Lemon Juice & Zest: I tested today’s dough with varying amounts of lemon juice. 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice wasn’t enough and 2 Tablespoons left a tart and almost unpleasing flavor. 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice is perfect and you’ll also add 1 teaspoon of lemon zest. Use lemon juice in the glaze as well.
  5. Sweetened Shredded Coconut: Use sweetened shredded coconut because it’s moister than unsweetened and that makes a big difference in the cookie’s flavor, moisture, and texture. Knowing the texture and flavor will change, you can use unsweetened coconut flakes if that’s all you have. If you have a food processor, pulse the coconut a few times to break the shreds down before mixing into the cookie dough. I recommend this in my coconut macaroons recipe, too. Smaller pieces of coconut keep the cookie dough balls compact and leave a more desirable texture in the baked cookies. If you don’t have a food processor, just give the coconut a quick chop with a sharp knife.

A few more ingredients: You also need all-purpose flour, vanilla extract, salt, plus a little milk for the lemon glaze.

pulsed coconut plus other dough ingredients including butter, flour, and lemon
lemon coconut shortbread dough in glass bowl
lemon coconut cookie dough balls on lined baking sheet
lemon coconut drop cookies on lined baking sheet

3 Success Tips for Lemon Coconut Shortbread Cookies

  1. Crumbly Dough: Like many shortbread-style cookie recipes, the dough can appear dry and crumbly at first. (This is definitely the case with pecan shortbread!) Keep beating it together with your mixer and eventually the dough will combine. Don’t give up!
  2. Chill for Just 30 Minutes: You could definitely roll the cookie dough into balls and bake immediately after the dough comes together, but the dough will be sticky and the cookies will spread more than intended. Make things easier by covering and chilling the dough for just 30 minutes as you preheat the oven.
  3. Use Milk in Glaze: The glaze needs liquid and I tested it using all lemon juice. It was certainly tasty, but paired with the mildly sweet cookies– the whole cookie tasted too tart and borderline bitter. So, use lemon juice along with 1 Tablespoon of milk in the glaze. The entire cookie will be lightly sweet with pleasant lemon flavor.

Can I Skip The Glaze? Absolutely. Feel free to leave plain or coat in confectioners’ sugar like snowball cookies. See recipe note below.

Here are the rainbow sprinkles I used on the pictured cookies. Aren’t they pretty? They don’t have a strange flavor/aroma like some naturally colored sprinkles do. I’m a fan!

lemon glaze on lemon coconut drop cookies

glazed lemon coconut drop cookies on cooling rack
glazed lemon coconut shortbread drop cookies

By the way, if you’re looking for a flatter non-shortbread cookie with these flavors, try these coconut lime cookies and replace the lime juice + zest with lemon. Or if you are looking for a pure lemon cookie with no coconut or competing flavors, try my lemon crinkle cookies.

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
glazed lemon coconut drop shortbread-style cookies with coconut on top

Lemon Coconut Drop Shortbread Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 3 dozen 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These easy shortbread-style lemon coconut drop cookies are like buttery snowball cookies but with glaze instead of a confectioners’ sugar coating. There’s only 30 minutes of cookie dough chilling needed which makes this a quick cookie recipe.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup (80gsweetened shredded coconut*
  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 230gunsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (90gconfectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281gall-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 cup (120gconfectioners’ sugar (or more, as needed)
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) milk
  • optional for garnish: shredded coconut, sprinkles, and/or lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Optional but recommended: Pulse the coconut shreds in a food processor or chop them up with a sharp knife so they are finer. Smaller pieces make a more desirable texture in the baked cookies. Set aside for next step.
  2. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, coconut extract, and lemon zest and then beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine. Add the lemon juice, salt, coconut, and flour and beat on medium speed until combined. The dough may not come together at first, but keep mixing until it does. The cookie dough will be thick.
  3. Cover the cookie dough tightly and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and up to 3 days. (If chilling for 2+ hours, let the cookie dough sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling into balls. The cookie dough will be very stiff after being in the refrigerator that long.)
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  5. Roll the cookie dough into balls, about 1 Tablespoon of dough each, and place dough balls 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. If the cookie dough is too crumbly, keep rolling and working it with your hands. The warmth of your hands will help bring it together.
  6. Bake the cookies until lightly browned around the bottom edges, about 14-15 minutes.
  7. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack. Make sure cookies are cool to the touch before dipping in icing.
  8. Make the glaze: Whisk all of the glaze ingredients together in a medium bowl. If desired, add more confectioners’ sugar to thicken or more milk to thin out. Dip cookies in icing or drizzle on top. If desired, garnish with coconut, sprinkles, and/or lemon zest. If coated lightly, the icing will set after 2 hours.
  9. Cover leftover iced cookies tightly and store at room temperature for 1 day or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Cookies without icing can sit covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can prepare and chill the cookie dough for up to 3 days. See step 3. Freeze baked cookies with or without icing for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature. You can also freeze the cookie dough or cookie dough balls for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before baking.
  2. Sweetened Shredded Coconut: Use sweetened shredded coconut because it’s moister than unsweetened and that makes a big difference in the cookie’s flavor, moisture, and texture. Knowing the texture and flavor will change, you can use unsweetened coconut flakes if that’s all you have. Give them a rough chop or pulse in the food processor as instructed in step 1.
  3. Can I Leave Out the Coconut? Yes. Skip the shredded coconut and leave out the coconut extract. No other changes to the recipe needed.
  4. Can I Coat in Confectioners’ Sugar Instead? Yes. Feel free to skip the glaze. Pour 1 and 1/4 cups (about 150g) confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl. Allow the baked cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, and then very gently roll them in the confectioners’ sugar to coat completely. Place the cookies on wire racks to cool completely. Once completely cooled, roll in confectioners’ sugar again.
  5. Can I Use Another Citrus? Yes. Replace lemon juice and zest with lime or orange.

Keywords: lemon coconut drop shortbread cookies

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Oh my, these look and sound divine! I’m a huge fan of all things lemon. I can’t wait to make these!

    When you say “zest,” do you mean the super-thin, long’ish strips from an actual zester, or the grated kind from a micro-grater (like you’d use for nutmeg or parmesan)? I’m assuming the grated, finer type, but I’m never sure what the sharer means.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Robynne! Your assumption is correct – the finer type is what you want. Hope you love these cookies!

  2. Hi Sally, these look amazing! I’m wondering if they would ship well, if I omit the glaze and roll in icing sugar instead?

    Thanks!

    1. Absolutely! I’ve shipped similar cookies that are rolled in confectioners’ sugar with no issue.

  3. Thank you for sharing this absolutely delicious-sounding recipe. I can’t wait to make them!!

      1. Hi Sally!
        Would coconut milk or almond milk work for the glaze as well?

        Thanks!

  4. Hello, can I use gluten free flour in place of the regular flour, and if so, are the measurements the same?
    Thank you!

  5. Another fantastic cookie! The only change I made was more lemon juice in the frosting for more lemonilicious taste. The only problem I see is self control. Wish me luck!

  6. These are SO good and SO easy to make. I love lemon, I love coconut – so these were perfect. I don’t know if I was being stingy but I had enough glaze after dipping all my cookies for a whole other batch. Next time I’ll make double the amount of cookies (they’re so good so no worries there) and the same amount of glaze to see where that gets me. Thanks for the recipe!! Definitely a go-to from now on.

  7. These were a hit with my coconut loving husband. I didn’t have any coconut extract so I substituted almond extract. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. I love lemon but my family won’t eat coconut , maybe a silly question but can you omit the coconut and just make a lemon shortbread cookie ?

    1. Yes! With the dry ingredients as detailed in step two of the recipe.

    1. Absolutely. You can also freeze the cookie dough or cookie dough balls for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before baking.

      1. Thanks so much! This will be my cookie exchange recipe choice this this year!

  9. I can’t seem to find coconut extract anywhere but Amazon, but I need to make these sooner than I can get it shipped. What other flavoring extract do you recommend? Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Megan, almond extract would be delicious or you can leave it out entirely. There’s enough lemon flavor.

  10. You are right about the sweetened versus unsweetened coconut. I only had the unsweetened so had to use it. I love the flavour and texture of this cookie but they were dry when baked. My bad…‍♀️

  11. Made these yesterday and really wanted to put them in a bowl and eat them like popcorn. I bake for a living and these are the best thing I’ve made. My only complaint is that they’re so dangerous. I had to hide them from me. Thank you for always putting such great recipes and books out.

  12. I love coconut and I love lemon and k never thought to put these two together before. This was a hit! It’s not as sweet as I thought it would be and I love that. It’s super easy to put together, practically melts in your mouth and definitely don’t skip the glaze!! Yum!!

  13. These defiantly our are favorite cookies, tried them for the first time, they are awesome ! Thank you Sally for another wonderful cookie recipe ,Merry Christmas

  14. These are a nice light shortbread that’s not as heavily buttery as many shortbread cookies are, but I was really looking forward to the lemon flavor and didn’t find it was what I hoped for. I followed the recipe and made the glaze sprinkling coconut on top, but would’ve liked a more of a lemony flavor. Maybe the flavor will be set in the next day.

  15. These cookies are delicious! Definitely will add to my Christmas cookie repertoire. I doubled the amount of lemon juice and zest in the recipe because I love LEMON! Once again, the instructions were perfect! Thanks Sally and a Happy Holiday to you and yours!

  16. I’ve made these three times already- twice with lemon and once with orange. They are outstanding and look so festive with Christmas sprinkles! I didn’t have coconut extract so I used all vanilla. They have a very delicate texture and taste. Delicious- a real winner!

  17. These are SO GOOD! I usually don’t comment on Sally’s recipes bc they are all great but these are above her normal greatness!! I followed the notes and omitted the coconut. The cookies are buttery and delicate BUT still stay together they don’t crumble like a lot of these types of cookies. Sally nailed the ratios. Luckily I doubled the recipe bc I have already “quality control” sampled at least 10!

      1. The flavor is outstanding. The cookies were very very crumbly though (yes I weigh ingredients), which was disappointing. I made try a smidge less flour next time around.

  18. These cookies were fantastic! The dough came together so easily and the combination of the lemon & coconut flavors was delicious. The combination of the tart fruit flavor with the coconut reminded me of Sally’s Pineapple Coconut Cake that was published earlier this year (which is my absolute favorite!) but in cookie form. Thank you so much for another wonderful recipe!

  19. I made these for a Christmas cookie tin and they were delicious! Perfect balance of tart and sweet, coconut and lemon.

  20. Hey, can you use coconut flour in this recipe? Either in place of the regular flour or in place of shredded coconut?

    1. Hi Maham, we haven’t tested either so we are unsure what the result would be with coconut flour.

  21. Thank you for this amazing recipie Sally! I made these delicious cookies because I wanted a lighter tasting dessert after a heavy Christmas Eve dinner. They were a HUGE hit, even with my grandfather who almost never likes sweets. He said they were the best cookies he’d ever had, and he took all the leftovers! I followed the recipie exactly. Not only were they delicious, but they were easy to make.

  22. These cookies are amazing! I made them today as a pre-Valentine / Valentine’s Day treat. Following Sally’s tips, I substituted lime juice, lime zest for the lemon and almond extract for the coconut extract since those are the items I had on hand. We prefer less sweet cookies, but I also wanted them to be pretty, so I slightly flattened them and sprinkled a little clear sanding sugar on top before baking. They baked beautifully with just that little sparkle for some extra flare. Next time, I think I will add some chopped fresh basil to the dough — I love lemon-basil and lime-basil combinations. Where would I be without Sally’s recipes?!

  23. If I only have unsweetened coconut, any tips to try to maintain the cookie’s moisture/texture?

    1. Hi Caroline, sweetened shredded coconut is moister than unsweetened and that makes a big difference in the cookie’s flavor, moisture, and texture. Knowing the texture and flavor will change, you can use unsweetened coconut flakes if that’s all you have without any changes.

  24. I made these just as explained and they came out flat(more like a typical cookie). They were still really good with a delicate texture. I had rave reviews. This recipe is a keeper despite the shape difficulty.

Leave a Review!

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.