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 (215gall-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– 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.
  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. Donna L Savage says:

    Thank you so much! I’m heading out this morning to shop for the ingredients and will definitely make these!!

    1. Happy baking, Donna! Feel free to report back and let me know how they turn out for you 🙂

  2. OMG, Sally! There are just two of us and we are not going to visit anyone over the holiday. I can’t make all of these fabulous cookies. How will I ever choose!? LOL

    1. So many choices 😉 hope you find some new favorites!

  3. I love anything with lemon and to add ginger! They’ll be fantastic! I’m new to your blog but have really enjoyed it…..especially the Christmas count down….
    I’m making the following for my 3 sons: the thumprint cookie with apricot jam, the red velvet cookie for my chocolate lover, and this ginger lemon cookie….probably a double batch, a batch for us, and then the boys. We meet in January every year to celebrate Christmas…… I wish you and your family a lovely holiday.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a sweet note, Laura. I’m thrilled to hear that you’ve been enjoying my recipes, and your baking list sounds absolutely perfect. I hope you and your family enjoy the cookies and have a wonderful holiday season!

  4. Love this recipe. I’ve been looking for just the right lemon cookie to make. This is it! Thank you.

    1. Hope this recipe is a hit for you, Joyce!

  5. Hi Sally, about how long can I leave the cookies in the refrigerator if I make them and need them the next day. All I needed to know but overall They smell amazing!

    1. Hi Lila! See that last step. 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.

      Hope you love them.

  6. Hey Sally, thanks for this recipe! Just one small note —- in the paragraph about allspice above I think you accidentally left out the words “tastes like” (cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves). As I am sure you know, but some of your readers may not, allspice is a dried berry from a West Indies tree.

    1. Thank you so much for catching that– my proofreading eyes fooled me this morning 😉

  7. Hi Sally, So I saw your swiss buttercream recipe SO GOOD!!! But I wanted to know if you know how to make bakery frosting because that one recipe is hard to find for me but I wanted to ask you if you knew how to make it because you are like SO AMAZING at baking I wanted to see if you could get back to me. Also, these cookies were so good I loved them.

    1. Hi Wendy, I would say that the Swiss meringue buttercream frosting is closest to a bakery style frosting. But if you want something a little sweeter, try this vanilla buttercream (American style).

  8. May I ask what brand of powdered sugar do you use? I am not a fan of certain powdered sugars. Thank you! Happy Holidays

    1. Hi Kathleen! I use and love Domino brand powdered/confectioners’ sugar.

    2. Some confectioners sugars, especially organic ones, have tapioca, which can clump, whereas Domino uses cornstarch. Like Sally, I’m a Domino girl.

  9. Sally, I just wanted to say thank you for the cookie palooza. I am downscaling my holiday baking (just temporarily b/c of less in person Christmas stuff), but I’ve enjoyed this for years and it was still fun to go to my inbox everyday to find a new cookie recipe. I really appreciate you take the time to come with cookies that have a variety of flavors, shapes, colors, etc. Having a nice mix of things is what makes it fun and it feels more creative. I am definitely taking notes and we may still make a few batches to keep at home and for Santa, of course 😉
    Crystalized ginger is also one of my favorite secret ingredients. It has made my gingersnaps a big hit for years.

    1. Hi Jill, I can’t thank you enough for your kindness. I really appreciate you taking the time to write and let me know how much you enjoy all these cookie recipes even if you won’t be baking most of them. Creating and photographing all of these was especially hard this year (hard year for everyone!) but I’m thrilled with the variety of cookies as well. Anyway, thank you so much. Means a lot.

  10. Dear Sally :
    I just want to say THANK YOU for all you do for us . ANY recipe that i have ever used of yours has always come out perfectly due to your diligence and testing of recipes .
    Which is how I knew my oven had a problem when I baked your chocolate chip cookies last week. What happened? These are not the thick, puffy, beautiful chocolate chip cookies that i have baked in the past ??!!
    I must have made a mistake.
    So I re-read your recipe and checked the oven temperature . Everything was correctly followed ! Then i realized: My oven needed to be looked at.
    Sure enough — I needed a new igniter which also affects the temp.
    See — I knew it couldn’t be your recipe ! hahah
    MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY !

    1. We rely so much on our ovens, don’t we? Glad to hear that you figured out the issue. Thank you for the well wishes and Merry Christmas to you as well!

  11. Wonderful cookies to eat while enjoying g a cup of tea. Delicious and different yummy.

    1. laurabel johanas says:

      hi sally
      I wanted to ask if there are any tips to your sugar cookie recipe my dough keeps cracking?:( any tips!

      1. Hi Laurabel, it sounds like you may have too much flour in your sugar cookie dough if it’s cracking. Did you spoon and level to measure?

  12. Thank you for another great recipe, Sally! I so appreciate all the tips that you include in your recipes. I made these today and they are delicious! I like the idea of adding a fresher and lighter tasting cookie to my holiday cookie tray- and this cookie fits in perfectly. I added a capful of ginger syrup to the lemon glaze for a bit more pop- so yummy. Happiest and healthiest holidays to you and yours!

    1. Thank you for the kind note, Pam. I really appreciate it! I agree, this recipe certainly adds a different element to a holiday cookie tray. I’m so glad it was a hit for you!

  13. What I wouldn’t give for a recipie that wasn’t preceded by a novel length history lesson. While I like the recipie it seems these days everyone needs to tell us the history of the ingredients and how to make water.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. Larger scale websites with multiple authors may be more what you’re looking for such as Allrecipes or Food Network. If you find a recipe on my blog you want to try, the Jump to Recipe button at the top of each page is helpful.

    2. As Sally says below, if you don’t want the commentary just jump to the recipe itself. Nobody’s making you read the intro! Her answer is quite tactful, I must say. Those of us who follow certain websites enjoy reading about what’s going on with the creator. Everyone else can skip what they don’t want!

      1. I actually find Sally’s commentary to be the best – it usually contains extra info, tips/pictures about the recipe itself, with photos of stages of the baking process which I appreciate for tricky recipes! I don’t particularly like it when it’s a long story about your childhood on a farm though ahah.

        But tactful answer indeed.

  14. This does seem spa-like. 🙂
    I love crystallized ginger. I buy mine from Penzeys and like to top pumpkin muffins with it as well.

  15. Sally,

    I always have uncrystallized ginger on hand. Would I be able to use that?
    Thank you.
    Judy

    1. Hi Judy, that should be just fine to use as a substitution. If it’s regular fresh ginger root, see recipe note about that substitution.

      1. Thank you Sally. Making them today! Merry Christmas!

  16. Made these today and they were very good. Not too sweet and a very nice texture complemented by the tang of the lemon icing.
    Somehow I only got 18 cookies out of the batter, but they were an excellent 18!

  17. This looks great, Sally! I don’t have allspice and only have cinnamon–could I use only cinnamon in this recipe? If so, how much should I use?

    1. Hi Erica, you can use 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon in place of the 1/2 teaspoon of allspice. Enjoy!

  18. To make these even more lemony, try Dorie Greenspan’s trick of adding the lemon zest to the sugar and rubbing it between your fingers to release the oils. Now that I know Sally is a fan, I’ll share another bit of wisdom from Stella Parks–if you’re going to give the dough a longer rest in the fridge or freeze it, add the baking soda to the sugar and cream it with the butter. Coating the baking soda with the fat will keep it from releasing carbon dioxide until the cookies are in the oven.

  19. These look delish! I love this flavor combination and hope to add this recipe to my Christmas baking list. I love all your scone recipes and think this flavor combination would make a great scone! Hope you might consider it sometime. Thanks and Happy Holidays!

  20. These are so great!! Sweet, but not overpoweringly so. Very addictive- I need to walk away so I don’t eat the whole batch right now!! I will say, I have no idea how the recipe yields 32 cookies. I could only get 15 using the specified cookie scoop! Maybe I overfilled the scoop. Regardless! I will definitely be making these again and upping the ginger a little! Thank you so much for this recipe! Everything of yours I have tried has been amazing- you are my go-to place when looking for something to bake!

  21. On an unrelated note, any inside info about when Sallys Cookie Addiction will be back in stock on Amazon? Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Janel, We heard from the publisher about this. Due to high demand and Covid restrictions (limited shipping and receiving staff as well as longer processing due to safety concerns and regulations), books are currently out of stock through many channels. They did tell us they would have Sally’s Cookie Addiction back in stock later this month. We apologize for any inconvenience. I recommend checking any local book retailers to see if they have some copies. Fingers crossed things are back in stock ASAP!

  22. Monica Grabham says:

    This recipe sounds great. I made my own crystalized ginger for the first time and plan to use it here. I’m wondering about cutting back the ginger since mine is SO fresh and quite strong. I do wish the finished cookies would keep longer as I give away cookie tins and it will take at least a week to deliver them all (tougher this year).

    1. Hi Monica, I recommend reducing to 1 Tbsp in the dough. You may want to leave it off as a topping if it’s so strong, but that’s up to you!

  23. Man these are a huge hit! I made them kind of just for variety as a cookie tray compliment but WOW they really stuck out as a star of the show! Such a special flavor! Festive, unique, pretty. Thanks Sally, I’ll be making this recipe several times between now and the New Year.

    1. Thank you for the positive feedback Janel, I’m really glad you enjoyed these! What a perfect addition to your cookie tray.

  24. Catherine Hillan says:

    Can make it with orange instead lemon with sugar my body can’t handle it .

    1. Absolutely. Just swap lemon juice and zest for orange.

  25. My new favorite cookie! Made these today and they are fantastic! Even the hubby liked them and he doesn’t care for ginger. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thrilled that these were an all-around hit, Diane!

  26. Can’t wait to try this recipe as I love lemon and ginger!
    (BTW, allspice is actually its own thing—the berry of Pimenta dioica—and it has the flavors of a combo of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove!)

  27. Hi Sally! I love your recipes. I made these cookies and mine barely spread at all; when they cooled the tops stayed rounded. The dough balls had chilled in the fridge for a few days. Any ideas what could have happened?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Katie, When cookies aren’t spreading, it usually means that there’s too much dry ingredient (flour) soaking up all the liquid. Make sure you are properly measuring your flour. When measuring flour, use the spoon & level method. Do not scoop the flour out of the container/bag. Doing so leaves you with excess flour in the cookie dough. If you’re in the middle of baking a batch and the cookies still aren’t spreading, remove them from the oven, and use a spoon to slightly flatten them out before returning them to the oven.

  28. These cookies are so delicious! They are soft like a sugar cookie with a hint of ginger and lemon–it’s not overpowering. Just delightful. Will be adding these to my regular rotation.

    1. Glad to hear this recipe will be a keeper for you, Lisa – thank you!

  29. I love this flavour combination! Next time I will add a bit more ginger and lemon zest I think, for more of the flavour

  30. Erin in Queens says:

    Sally! Another perfect recipe! Thank you so much- these have skyrocketed to the top of my list. And my husband who “doesn’t like lemon cookies” had already asked me to make more!
    Merry Christmas!

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