Lemon Cheesecake Cookies (Soft-Baked)

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Lemon Cheesecake Cookies are thick, soft, and chewy with a cheesecake-like texture and a simple lemon glaze.

The ultimate BEST EVER Lemon Cheesecake soft-baked cookies! via chelseasmessyapron.com

Lemon-flavored cheesecake cookies that are soft and chewy with a simple lemon glaze. via chelseasmessyapron.com

Lemon Cheesecake Cookies

These aren’t your typical cookies, but they may just become your new favorite dessert! If you like cheesecake, lemon, and thick, chewy cookies you are going to go crazy for Lemon Cheesecake Cookies!

They taste like a miniature cheesecake in cookie form and are so different from your typical chewy chocolate chip cookies or peanut butter cookies.

While I believe every second of effort is worth it for these cookies, they do take a bit more time than your average cookie recipe. It’s important for the cream cheese and butter to get to room temperature before starting, and then, these cookies need some chilling time before baking. Plan on a good three hours from start to finish for these treats, even though most of that time is hands off.

Process shots for Lemon Cheesecake Cookies: cream butter and sugar; beat in cream cheese; add vanilla, lemon, lemon juice, zest and egg; mix until smooth; combine dry ingredients; add to the wet ingredients; mix until just combined; use a tablespoon to measure out cookie dough.

Lemon pudding mix

These cookies use dry, unprepared lemon pudding mix–not an entire mix, but just 2 tablespoons of it. This pudding mix is important for flavor, consistency, and softness of the cookies, so I don’t recommend leaving it out.

If you aren’t familiar with lemon pudding mix, here’s a picture of the box. Not lemon Jell-o®, and not vanilla pudding mix, these lemon cheesecake cookies need lemon instant pudding and pie filling mix.

What is lemon extract?

Not to be confused with lemon juice, lemon extract is a flavor enhancer (just like vanilla extract) that gives these cookies an intense citrusy lemon flavor. We use lemon extract to pack in as much lemon flavor as possible without messing up the consistency (like lemon juice would) of these cookies.

While there is also lemon juice and lemon zest in the dough, I found these lemon cheesecake cookies still needed a little more lemon flavor so that’s why we add the extract. 

Lemon extract can usually be found near other baking extracts and spices in the grocery store; I recommend using a pure lemon extract.

Process shots: Add cookie dough balls to the tray; bake; mix glaze together; drizzle glaze over cooled cookies.

Lemon Cheesecake Cookie tips

  • Use room-temperature ingredients. It’s really important that the cream cheese, butter, and egg are at room temperature. You don’t want to melt the butter or cream cheese or these cookies won’t set up and bake properly. Leave cold ingredients out for 45 minutes to an hour, or use some of these tricks to bring them to room temperature quicker.
  • Slightly under-bake the cookies. If Lemon Cheesecake Cookies are baked even a minute too long, the taste and texture will be off. They turn into biscuit-like cookies without a lot of flavor. By keeping them slightly under-baked, they will remain soft and have a texture similar to cheesecake. Not sure if they’re done? Check out the photo below showing a baked cookie right out of the oven; it should be set and the top no longer glossy or gooey looking.
  • Measure 1 tablespoon cookie dough balls. If the unbaked dough balls are too large, the cookie’s flavor and texture will be off. Measure the size of cookie dough balls by adding the dough to a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon and leveling it off. Use this dough to roll into a ball. (These cookies are actually really small! They may look larger in these photos, but that’s because I have a macro (closeup) camera lens.
  • Allow the cookies to cool completely. Most cookies are the best right out of the oven, but these ones are not. They really are best when they are completely cool and finished “setting up” which they do as they cool (similar to cheesecake). Wait for these cookies to thoroughly cool before serving.
  • When measuring dry ingredients, spoon and level the measurements or weigh them for accurate measurements. If you scoop a measuring cup into a bag of flour you will pack in too much flour (drier/less flavorful cookies).

A stack of three Lemon Cheesecake Cookies with a bite taken out of the top cookie.

QUICK TIP

When zesting the lemon, be careful to avoid the white part directly under the yellow peel. This is called the pith of a lemon and is very bitter. 

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Lemon Cheesecake Cookies

0 from 0 votes
Lemon Cheesecake Cookies are thick, soft, and chewy with a cheesecake-like texture and a simple lemon glaze.
Print Recipe

Lemon Cheesecake Cookies

0 from 0 votes
Lemon Cheesecake Cookies are thick, soft, and chewy with a cheesecake-like texture and a simple lemon glaze.
Course Dessert, Snack, Vegetarian
Cuisine American
Keyword lemon cheesecake cookies
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Getting ingredients to room temperature and dough chilling 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 24 cookies
Calories 99kcal

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 3/4 cup (142g) white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons; 56.8g) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces (112g) full-fat cream cheese (I don't recommend reduced-fat or Neufchâtel)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 and 1/4 cup (146g) white, all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons lemon-flavored pudding and pie filling mix (See Note 1)

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup (59g) powdered sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  • 1 HOUR IN ADVANCE: Set out the butter, cream cheese, and egg to get to room temperature. Make sure these ingredients are all at room temperature before starting. Don't melt any of these ingredients in the microwave or the texture will be off. (See Note 2)
  • CREAM BUTTER AND SUGAR: In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy. (Alternatively, cream together in a stand mixer).
  • REMAINING WET INGREDIENTS: Add in the cream cheese and continue to beat until the batter is completely smooth. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract, lemon extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest. When zesting the lemon, be careful to avoid the white part of the lemon; this is called the pith and is very bitter; just get the very outside yellow part.
  • DRY INGREDIENTS: In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cornstarch, and pudding mix. Stir together and then add to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined, being careful to not over-mix (to avoid dense cookies).
  • CHILL: Cover the dough tightly and chill for 45 minutes.
  • MEASURE COOKIE DOUGH BALLS: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon, measure in the cookie dough to just fill up the measuring spoon (not heaping; these are small cookie balls). Place cookies 2 inches apart on a parchment or Silpat- lined baking sheet. I bake 8-10 at a time.
  • BAKE: Bake at 350 degrees F for 9-11 minutes (10 minutes is perfect in my oven) and then remove from the oven. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Be very careful to not over-bake these cookies as they go from a thick soft cheesecake texture to a biscuit-like texture very quickly.
  • GLAZE: Once cooled, prepare the glaze by whisking together the lemon juice and powdered sugar. Add the lemon juice just until a thick glaze can come together. Spoon the glaze over the cookies and allow to set.
  • STORAGE: Store cookies in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. These cookies don't freeze or thaw very well.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: If you aren't familiar with lemon pudding mix, here's a picture of the box. Not lemon Jell-o® and not vanilla pudding mix, these lemon cheesecake cookies need the lemon instant pudding & pie filling mix. Do not prepare the pudding mix; just use the dry powder.
Note 2: Don't have time for these ingredients to get to room temperature? Use some of these tricks to bring them to room temperature quicker.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 24cookies | Calories: 99kcal | Carbohydrates: 14.7g | Protein: 1.3g | Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 17.6mg | Sodium: 18.3mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 8.9g

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11 Comments

  1. Yummm…these look totally droolworthy! I’m such a fan of lemon desserts, but haven’t traditionally liked lemon cookies too much (I think I’ve had a few too many non-descript, dry lemon cookies) – these, however, look super moist and delicious. What a great idea to make a cheesecake-inspired cookie!

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