Lemon Ginger Cookies

These lemon ginger cookies are made with crystallized ginger, a little ground ginger and allspice, plus plenty of lemon zest. Citrus and spice make a balanced and refreshing duo, especially if you’re craving a lemon cookie with more depth of flavor. Each cookie is soft and chewy in the centers with irresistibly crisp edges. Lemon glaze adds a finishing touch.

lemon cookies with candied ginger and lemon glaze on top

I didn’t think I’d love a lemon cookie quite as much as I loved these. Ginger’s spicy heat and lemon’s bright flavor complement each other so well. It’s like the perfect marriage that fits so many seasons of the year, but if you ask me, the sparkly crystallized ginger and lemon glaze on top seems especially fitting on a holiday cookie platter.


Tell Me About These Lemon Ginger Cookies

  • Flavor: Can we call these spa cookies? The aroma and flavor reminded me of sipping warm tea with cucumbers on my eyes at a tranquil spa. In reality, we have a pleasantly spiced and zippy lemon cookie on our (probably unmanicured) hands.
  • Texture: I appreciated the texture just as much as the flavor. The cookies are very soft and chewy in the centers with crisp edges. Though I adapted the recipe from my drop sugar cookies, this version browns nicely around the edges which cools to a slight crunch. (Likely the switch to baking soda and addition of lemon juice and crystallized ginger, more on that below.)
  • Ease: Preparing this cookie dough is pretty uneventful. Sure, the excitement for lemon cookies is always thrilling but the process is standard. Besides a mixer, there’s no special tools or equipment involved.
  • Time: After you make the dough, roll into balls as best you can, then chill them for 1 hour in the refrigerator. Between making the cookie dough, rolling, chilling, and baking, this recipe takes around 2 hours total.

lemon and candied ginger cookies

Are You Familiar with Crystallized Ginger?

Crystallized ginger is a key ingredient in this cookie recipe, though you could certainly leave it out if needed or desired. (See recipe note.) You can find it at most grocery stores– it’s usually in the produce aisle but could also be found in the natural foods section or even by the dried fruit. Crystallized ginger is peeled and cut fresh ginger root that’s been cooked in simple syrup and dried out. Each little chunk has a crunchy sugar coating with a soft and chewy center, similar to a gumdrop candy. It’s tangy, spicy, and sweet.

  • You need 1/4 cup very finely minced crystallized ginger. It’s potent, so we’ll use only 2 Tablespoons in the dough. Each cookie dough ball will take a light dip into the rest.

candied ginger in small white bowl and candied ginger diced on cutting board


Have you tried my drop sugar cookies before? This recipe is adapted from it. In my recipe testing, I added lemon zest, lemon juice, and the spices. Since I added liquid (lemon juice), I increased the flour. The cookies tasted like little lemon cakes. They were very tasty, but I wanted more of that chewy-crisp texture. Since we now have lemon (an acid) in the dough, I swapped baking powder for a smaller amount of baking soda. The edges browned and crisped beautifully. I appreciate the detailed, yet easy-to-understand way Serious Eats explains things: baking soda raises a cookie dough’s pH, creating an alkaline dough.

Renowned pastry chef Stella Parks tells us:

“This weakens gluten, keeps cookies tender, and even speeds the Maillard reaction so that deeper flavors and colors develop in a shorter amount of time.”

Baking: a delicious science.


Overview: How to Make Lemon Ginger Cookies

The full written recipe is below, but let me walk you through a couple things before you get started. You need 11 ingredients for these lemon ginger cookies: flour, baking soda, ground ginger, ground allspice, salt, butter, sugar, egg, lemon, vanilla extract, and crystallized ginger. The combination of ground ginger and allspice gave these a pleasant spice flavor. Allspice is a common spice found in the spice aisle– it tastes like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. See recipe note if you don’t have it or can’t find it.

Like I mentioned above, preparing the cookie dough is easy. Proper room temperature butter is imperative and chilling the cookie dough is another non-negotiable. These lemon cookies are very buttery and the colder the cookie dough, the less they’ll over-spread. The cookie dough can get a little hard after time in the refrigerator, so I recommend rolling the dough into balls before chilling.

After the cookies cool, drizzle with a little lemon glaze. The lemon glaze sets, so these “spa cookies” 😉 are easily stackable, packable, and convenient to travel, transfer, gift, etc!

lemon cookie dough

side by side photo of plain lemon cookies and lemon cookies with glaze on top

lemon ginger cookies on white plate

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lemon cookies with candied ginger and lemon glaze on top

Lemon Ginger Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes (includes chilling)
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 30 cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These soft and chewy lemon ginger cookies are flavored with warm spices, crystallized ginger, and plenty of lemon zest. Review recipe notes before beginning.


Ingredients

  • 1 and 2/3 cups (209gall-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115gunsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150ggranulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped/minced crystallized ginger, divided

Lemon Glaze

  • 3/4 cup (90gconfectioners’ sugar (or more, as needed)
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (23ml) fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, allspice, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until creamed, about 1 minute. Add the egg, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Beat in 2 Tablespoons of chopped crystallized ginger. Dough will be thick and sticky. Scoop small sections of dough (about 1 scant Tablespoon of dough each) and roll into balls. Very lightly dip the tops of each into remaining crystallized ginger. (You don’t want too much– just a few pieces.) Place dough balls onto a large plate or lined baking sheet.
  4. Cover and chill the cookie dough balls in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (and up to 4 days).
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  6. Arrange chilled cookie dough balls 3 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. The centers will look very soft.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Make the glaze: Whisk the glaze ingredients together. If desired, add more confectioners’ sugar to thicken or more juice to thin out. The thicker the glaze, the whiter (and less translucent) it will be. Drizzle on cooled cookies. Icing will set after about 1 hour, so these are convenient to store and transport.
  9. Cookies without glaze stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. Cookies with glaze stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can make the cookie dough, roll into balls, and chill the dough balls in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. (See note about cookie dough chilling.) Cookie dough balls, with or without crystallized ginger topping, freeze well for up to 3 months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute, no need to thaw. Click here for my tips and tricks on freezing cookie dough. Baked cookies freeze well for up to 3 months.
  2. Dough Chilling: Chilling the cookie dough is imperative. These cookies are very buttery and the colder the cookie dough, the less your cookies will over-spread. The cookie dough can get a little hard after 2 hours in the refrigerator, so I recommend rolling the dough into balls before chilling. Here are all of my tips to prevent cookies from over-spreading.
  3. Crystallized Ginger: You can find crystallized ginger at most grocery stores– it’s usually in the produce aisle but could also be found in the natural foods section or even by the dried fruit. You can use finely chopped/minced fresh ginger root instead, but make sure you reduce down to 1 Tablespoon in the cookie dough. Do not dip the cookie dough balls in it like we do with crystallized ginger because it will burn. If you don’t have either crystallized ginger or fresh ginger root, increase the ground ginger to 1 teaspoon.
  4. Ground Allspice: Allspice is a common spice found in the spice aisle. If you don’t have or can’t find it, use 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg in its place.
  5. Lemon: 1 medium lemon is enough for this recipe. You should get 1 Tablespoon of zest from 1 medium lemon, plus enough juice for both the dough and glaze.
  6. Plain Lemon Cookies: Feel free to leave out the ground ginger, allspice, and crystallized ginger for plain lemon cookies.

Keywords: lemon cookies, spice cookies

70 Comments

  1. These cookies are so delicious. I made ice cream sandwich. Wow! Will make again. I didn’t put the glaze because my husband is diabetic. I wish I can find recipes that my husband can eat. Thanks Sally.

  2. I loved this recipe’s flavors, but my cookies came out a little dry and freezing them before hand just made them bake into hard dry balls (which I made amazing cake balls with). The cookies simply didn’t melt. I am newish to baking and am trying to become better.
    I copied the recipe by hand and followed it to the T, even opening up the web page to double check along the way. Is elevation a concern?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Andrea, thank you so much for giving these a try! Yes, elevation can change the way your baked goods come out. Some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

      1. I’m having trouble rolling the dough into balls. The dough is very sticky and thick. Mine is more like the consistency of thick batter. Is it supposed to be like this? As far as I checked I added the correct quantities of all the ingredients.

  3. Absolutely delicious cookies! I swapped in lime juice and zest (2-3 limes) for the lemon because I’ve been craving a ginger-lime combo, and it was just delightful – like a tropical getaway in a cookie. I also sprinkled some zest on top of the icing on about half the cookies for an even greater zing. They are a *little* drier than I was hoping, but I think that’s due to baking at high altitude (I didn’t make any adjustments, but I likely will next time). I am definitely saving this recipe for future use. Thank you!!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Sounds like an amazing flavor combo — thank you for sharing, Lizzie! If it’s helpful for you while baking at high altitude, we know some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

  4. I’ve made these twice within a week. So, so good. My new favorite cookie.

  5. Hi Sally, this recipe as written looks wonderful, but I just want the lemon flavor for Easter cookies. If I leave out the ginger, allspice, and crystallized ginger, will the recipe produce a cookie with a lot of lemon flavor, or does it require adjustments to account for the elimination of the other ingredients?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Pam, you can absolutely make these as plain lemon cookies — see recipe notes for details.

  6. These cookies, like everything else I have made from this site, are amazing. I’m prepping an Instagram post too but wanted to comment here as well; they will be a nice surprise go-to tucked away besides all of the usual favorite peanut butter, chocolate, cookie dough and blondie standards. What a refreshingly delicious cookie. I noticed that another commenter spoke of swapping the lime for the lemon and I will DEFINITELY be giving that a try on the next round of these! Thanks for another incredible recipe, Sally & team.

  7. Hi Sally, I baked this recipe for Easter minus the spices and crystallized ginger based on your note for Plain Lemon Cookies. I baked two different batches and the cookies were dry both times. My oven temperature is true and I confirm this with an oven thermometer. I followed the directions exactly and the cookies were properly browned at the minimum time listed in the recipe of 11 minutes and then removed from the oven, cooled for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, and then put on a cooling rack. I iced them as directed. I do not live at a high altitude.

    This is the first time I haven’t had a fabulous result with one of your recipes. Since it was designed to incorporate the ginger, which adds moisture, I’m wondering if the recipe needs to be slightly adapted for a plain cookie and would like to know your thoughts about this. Thank you.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Pam, So sorry that the plain cookies turned out dry for you. We hadn’t noticed that when testing the recipe without the ginger. How did they spread? Were they particularly thick? If you want to try the cookies again, see if adding an additional Tablespoon of lemon juice or even butter helps. Always spoon and level the flour or weigh it, as opposed to scooping.

  8. I usually don’t comment on recipes that I try out, but with this one, I have to! I adapted it to be gluten and vegan-friendly and it turned out fantastic!! By substituting gluten-free flour, vegan-friendly sugar, plant butter, and a flax egg I was able to create something truly amazing and truly yummy. I also tried the Lime Ginger Coconut variation which turned out incredible as well, adding toasted coconut on top of the frosting. I think they are my favorite. Sweet and tangy all at once! Thank you so much for the recipe, it will be repeated often.

  9. Hi, thank you for your site. I star to bake last year and everybody have only good thing to say about the products that I have create. I said to everyone how good you are at explaing and your site instruction. I am asking another thing , I am trying to do candy peel, the recipe say 120 *F for two hours. But my automatic oven drop only to 200*F . What can I do with this temperature problem?

    1. Hi Angie, I’m so glad you are finding the site and recipes helpful! For your question, I’m really unsure but with anything I’ve baked slow and low– just set your oven to 200°F and reduce the bake time.

  10. I’m short on time. Could these be made into cookie bars?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jame, We haven’t tested these cookies as bars but they should work. I’m unsure of the bake time your would need. Let us know if you try it!

  11. Have you tried to make these cookies with gluten free products?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cheryl, We haven’t tested these cookies with gluten free flour but let us know if you give it a try!

  12. Amanda Myles says:

    Oh my WORD! SO delicious! I just made this and want to eat the whole tray! Thank you for sharing!

  13. The Grocery Bag says:

    I like the different styles of cookies which you shared with us I like cookies but lemon and ginger cookies are really unique and I definitely follow your steps.Thnk you

  14. Made these tonight, and they baked beautifully! They’re a bit mild for my preference though. If I wanted to add more lemon zest and ground ginger, should I substitute something out or just add with the dry ingredients? (and if you’re not sure, I’ll just try it out and report back!)

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Christine, you should be able to simply add a bit more zest and ground ginger to the dough — let us know how it turns out for you!

  15. Good morning Sally,
    Since I am choosing to make this recipe without the ground ginger, ground allspice and crystallized ginger would you recommend adding more lemon zest and lemon juice to give it a stronger lemon flavour/taste?

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jessica, Feel free to leave out the ground ginger, allspice, and crystallized ginger for plain lemon cookies!

  16. Hello Sally,
    I had made your cookies with just lemon.
    They are chilling in the fridge as I plan on baking them Wednesday.
    I just read more in-depth your chilling method and you recommended pre rolling the dough prior to chilling.
    I didn’t end up doing that so when I’m ready to bake them do you suggest I let the dough sit out at room temperature for a certain amount of time before rolling the cookie dough into balls?
    If so how long do you recommend I leave the dough out of the fridge so that I’m able to have an easier time trying to roll the cookie dough into balls?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jessica, the exact time will vary, but try about 10-15 minutes at room temperature before you try to scoop and roll. The dough should warm up pretty quickly, especially as you begin rolling with your hands. Hope you enjoy the cookies!

  17. This recipe makes about 15 cookies. The only way you would get 30 out of it is if you made miniature cookies, like the size of a vanilla wafer. Besides that they were pretty good and I followed directions as printed. A double batch yielded 30 average normal sized cookies.

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