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.
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.
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.
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!
More Flavorful Cookie Recipes
- Brown Butter Sugar Cookies
- Gingerbread Cookies
- Cinnamon Brown Sugar Stamped Cookies
- Maple Brown Sugar Cookies
- Pistachio Drop Cookies
These soft and chewy lemon ginger cookies are flavored with warm spices, crystallized ginger, and plenty of lemon zest. Review recipe notes before beginning.
- 1 and 2/3 cups (215g) all-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 (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated 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
- 3/4 cup (90g) confectioners’ sugar (or more, as needed)
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (23ml) fresh lemon juice
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, allspice, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cover and chill the cookie dough balls in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (and up to 4 days).
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ground Allspice: Allspice is a common spice found in the spice aisle– it’s a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. 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.
- 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.
- Plain Lemon Cookies: Feel free to leave out the ground ginger, allspice, and crystallized ginger for plain lemon cookies.
Keywords: lemon cookies, spice cookies