Lemon Poppyseed Cookies

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Lemon Poppyseed Cookies have a vibrant, intense lemon flavor with a subtle crackle and crunch from the poppyseeds. These bakery-style cookies are coated in a sweet lemon glaze that melts beautifully into the cookie.

Try our original sugar-cookie-esque Lemon Cookies here! Or check out our entire collection of cookie recipes.

Overhead image of the Lemon Poppyseed Cookies on a plate

Lemon Poppyseed Cookies Recipe

The combination of lemon and poppyseeds is an all-time favorite for me. I’ve combined the two into Lemon Poppyseed MuffinsLemon Poppyseed Bread, and even Lemon Poppyseed Broccoli Salad! So, it was about time these two ingredients made their way into my favorite type of dessert — a cookie. And truly these cookies are unbeatable!

These sugar cookies scream summer — they’re fresh, vibrant, and tangy with just the right amount of lemon to make you pucker up. Each bite has a welcome subtle crunch from the poppyseeds and the sweet lemon glaze finishes everything off perfectly!

Process shots-- images of the butter, sugar, and lemon zest being creamed together

How To Make Lemon Poppyseed Cookies…

…with perfect texture and a strong lemon flavor.

Getting the perfect amount of lemon without messing up the texture of the cookies can be tricky. Adding extra liquid (from lemon juice) into cookie dough will yield thin, crisp cookies–which isn’t what we are after with this recipe.

There are two secrets to a strong lemon flavor while keeping the cookies thick and chewy:

  • Lemon zest. Unlike a lot of recipes that use both the zest and juice of lemons, we only use the zest here. The zest packs a huge punch of flavor without adding liquid. There is a lot of zest –and it’s all needed here! See “quick tip” below.
  • 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 of these cookies (like lemon juice would). Lemon extract can usually be found near other baking extracts and spices in the grocery store; I recommend using a pure lemon extract.

QUICK TIP

When zesting the lemon, avoid the white pith of the lemon — this is very bitter. Using a microplane (like this one) zest only the very outside yellow part of the lemon for this recipe. 

Process shots of Lemon Poppyseed Cookies-- images of the eggs, vanilla, lemon extract, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt being creamed together

How Do You Bake With Poppyseeds?

While you can grind poppyseeds or soak them beforehand, neither is necessary for this cookie recipe. Simply pull the poppyseeds out of the spice container, measure, and mix them into the dough! No prep beforehand is required.

QUICK TIP

Most grocery stores sell poppyseeds in the spice aisle; another place to check is the baking aisle.

Process shots of Lemon Poppyseed Cookies-- images of the flour being added and the dough balls being rolled and baked

Lemon Poppyseed Cookies Tips

  • Use room-temperature ingredients. It’s really important that the butter and eggs are at room temperature to cream 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 underbake the cookies. By keeping these cookies slightly underbaked, they will remain soft and chewy with a vibrant flavor (cookies lose flavor when overbaked). Visual cues for doneness: cookies should be set and the top no longer glossy or gooey looking.
  • Allow the cookies to cool completely. Most cookies are the best right out of the oven, but these ones are not. We actually like these cookies best at room temperature or chilled!
  • Use a food scale if you have one! Measuring flour can vary from person to person and is usually the culprit for cookies not working out. If you have a food scale, use that instead of measuring cups. 400 grams is perfect for this Lemon Poppyseed Cookies recipe! Having a food scale is also helpful when measuring cookie dough balls to ensure they’re all the exact size (which makes them look more professional and bake evenly).

How Long Does It Take Cookies To Bake?

We’ve found these cookies are best around 12-16 minutes. 14-15 minutes is the sweet spot in my oven! 

While you may be tempted to make smaller cookies, the large size of these cookies is intentional. With smaller cookies, the texture is simply not the same.

The “sweet spot” for this recipe is exactly 1/4 cup (60 grams) of dough. Big, I know, but totally perfect! You’ll get thick, chewy, and perfectly tender cookies.

Process shots-- images of the glaze being made

STORAGE

Storage And Freezing Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

The cookies from this recipe store well at room temperature (in an airtight container) for 3-4 days. Baked unglazed cookies freeze okay, but it’s even better to freeze the dough! 

To do so: Drop the cookie dough balls on a large sheet pan and freeze until solid. Once solid, transfer the frozen cookie dough balls to an airtight container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To bake: You can bake these cookies straight from the freezer. There is no need to thaw, but you may need to add a few extra minutes to the baking time. Bake the cookies until the edges are set, and the center is still soft. Make the glaze fresh and drizzle on top!

Overhead image of the cookies on a cooling rack

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Lemon Poppyseed Cookies

5 from 2 votes
Lemon Poppyseed Cookies have a vibrant, intense lemon flavor with a subtle crackle and crunch from the poppyseeds. These bakery-style cookies are coated in a sweet lemon glaze that melts beautifully into the cookie.
Print Recipe

Lemon Poppyseed Cookies

5 from 2 votes
Lemon Poppyseed Cookies have a vibrant, intense lemon flavor with a subtle crackle and crunch from the poppyseeds. These bakery-style cookies are coated in a sweet lemon glaze that melts beautifully into the cookie.
Course Dessert, Snack, treat
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Keyword Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies, Lemon Poppyseed cookies
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chilling Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 16 -18 cookies
Calories 308kcal
Cost $6.32

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (16 tbsp) unsalted butter room temperature (do not melt!)
  • 1-1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon zest (~3 large lemons) (Note 1)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (Note 2)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract (Note 3)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose, white flour (Note 4)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (or coarse sugar for a little more crunch!)

Glaze

  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon poppyseeds
  • Tiny pinch of salt

Instructions

  • WET INGREDIENTS: Add 1 cup butter to the base of a stand mixer (or use a large bowl and a hand mixer). Add in 1-1/2 cups white sugar and 3 tbsp lemon zest. Beat until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape sides and add in 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, and 2 tsp. lemon extract. Beat until incorporated.
  • DRY INGREDIENTS: Scrape sides and add 2 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp. poppyseeds, and 1 tsp salt. Mix to combine. Finally, add in the flour and beat just until combined and no streaks of flour remain.
  • CHILL: Cover dough tightly and chill in fridge for 20 minutes. Line a large plate with parchment paper.
  • FORM COOKIE DOUGH BALLS: Portion out dough, measuring each ball to be exactly 1/4 cup (60 grams) of dough (I don't recommend bigger or smaller cookies -- they work best in this size -- Note 5) Repeat with remaining dough to get about 16-18 cookie dough balls. Once dough balls are rolled, roll each dough ball in 1/2 cup white (or coarse) sugar and then set them on the parchment-lined plate.
  • CHILL AGAIN: Return to the fridge for 30 minutes or freeze for 20. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (162 degrees C). Line a large sheet pan with parchment or a Silpat liner.
  • BAKE AND COOL: Add cookies to the prepared pan, only 6 at a time (they need a lot of space to spread!). Keep the rest of the dough balls in fridge/freezer while baking. Bake for 12-16 minutes or until cookies have puffed up and aren't gooey or wet looking on top. Bottoms/edges should be ever so slightly browning. Be careful to not overbake as you'll lose out on flavor and texture! Remove from oven, let stand on sheet pan for 5 mins before removing to a wire cooling rack to fully cool. Do not glaze until completely cooled. Repeat to bake all the cookies or save some for later (See Instruction #8)
  • GLAZE: Meanwhile, combine all the glaze ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth. Transfer to a small zip-top bag and seal without air. Cut the tip off the bag and drizzle glaze evenly over all of the cookies. If desired, add a touch of lemon zest to the top. Enjoy at room temperature or chilled.
  • STORAGE: Instead of freezing baked cookies, freeze the dough! Drop the cookie dough balls on a large sheet pan and freeze until solid. Once solid, transfer the frozen cookie dough balls to an airtight container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To bake: You can bake these lemon cookies straight from the freezer. There is no need to thaw, but you may need to add a few extra minutes to the baking time. Bake until the edges are lightly browned, and the center is still soft.
    The glaze doesn't freeze and thaw well, so I recommend making that fresh.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Lemon zest: The zest packs a huge flavor punch without adding liquid. There is a lot of zest --and it's all needed here! When zesting the lemon, avoid the white pith of the lemon — this is very bitter. Using a microplane (like this one), zest only the very outside yellow part of the lemon for this recipe.
Note 2: Vanilla: I'll often use vanilla bean paste (3/4 teaspoon) instead of extract for even more flavor! Totally optional if you prefer to use paste.
Note 3: 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. This extract can usually be found near other baking extracts and spices in the grocery store; I recommend using a pure lemon extract. Do NOT substitute with lemon juice -- the two aren't the same. 
Note 4: Flour: Use a food scale if you have one! Measuring flour can vary from person to person and is usually the culprit for cookies not working out. 400 grams is perfect for this recipe. (Having a food scale is also helpful when measuring cookie dough balls to ensure they're all the exact size, which makes them look more professional and bake evenly.)
Note 5: Cookie size: Cookies work best at this size. While you may want smaller cookies, know that the texture is not the same. The "sweet spot" for this recipe is exactly 1/4 cup (60 grams) of dough. Big, I know, but totally perfect!

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 308kcal | Carbohydrates: 49.3g | Protein: 3.2g | Fat: 11.5g | Cholesterol: 48.2mg | Sodium: 140.8mg | Fiber: 0.9g | Sugar: 32.2g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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