Soft, crumbly, tangy and crunchy, these Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies are super easy to make and delicious to snack on all day long. Enjoy these french style shortbread cookies with a cup of tea or as a sweet snack!
Why we love this recipe
These melt in your mouth Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Poppy Seeds seriously make the best sweet treat to enjoy with your afternoon tea - or if you are like me, afternoon coffee.
I love their crumbly yet crunchy texture (thanks to the poppy seeds!), and their mix of sweetness and tanginess. A perfect combination of flavours and texture!
Top them with a Lemon Curd for a truly indulgent treat or enjoy them as is, these lemon poppy seed cookies are just what you need when you want a quick sweet bite!
Note: this shortbread recipe is based on a traditional French Shortbread Cookie called "Sablé Breton" - as opposed to a British style shortbread. The main difference is that it contains eggs!
This recipe is very similar to my favourite cookies ever - the French Sablés Bretons Cookies. I used the same base of ingredients then incorporated some Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice and Poppy Seed to make these Lemon and Poppy Seed Cookies!
You will need (scroll down to recipe card for all quantities):
- Soft Unsalted Butter - you can also use salted butter if you want to create a version that is closer to the French Sablés Bretons
- Icing Sugar (or powdered sugar) - icing sugar has starch in it which gives a nice snappy texture to the cookies
- Egg Yolks - only the yolks here, that bring a lot of richness to the cookies
- Lemon: both Zest and Juice for maximum flavour!
- Plain Flour: easy peasy!
- Baking Powder: just a little bit to get a slightly more airy cookie
- Salt: extra salt can be discarded if using Salted Butter
- Poppy Seeds: you can use more or less poppy seed than me depending on how crunchy you want those biscuits to be.
Both the Zest and Juice of the Lemons are used to really bring a pop of citrus to these cookies! If you are looking for a less tangy flavour though, you can also keep the zest only and omit the juice.
More Poppy Seed Recipes:
How to make Lemon Cookies with Poppy Seed
These cut-out shortbread cookies are made the same way most shortbread are made, with the addition of the lemon and poppy seed. There are 3 steps:
- cream the Butter and Sugar
- add the Egg Yolks and rest of the liquids
- mix in the dry ingredients
To make these Lemon Shortbread:
- Place the soft Butter (make sure it is at room temperature) and Sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Cream the Butter and Sugar with the paddle/flat beater attachment for at least 5 minutes on medium speed. It needs to look pale and have increased in volume.
- Add the Egg Yolks one by one, mixing well until incorporated.
- Pour in the Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest and beat to mix in.
- Mix in the Dry Ingredients: Flour, Baking Powder and Salt.
- Add the Poppy Seeds
Shaping Shortbread Cookies
There are two ways of shaping the cookies: by rolling the dough into a log and slicing the log, or by rolling the dough into a thick sheet and using a cookie cutter like here.
- Transfer the dough over a sheet of baking paper and assemble it into a ball. Flatten the ball and cover with second sheet of baking paper. Roll into the desired thickness, then place in the fridge over a flat tray. Leave to chill for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Preheat your oven on 160'C/350'F.
- Remove the top baking paper sheet and use a cookie cutter to form the cookies. Place the cookies on a baking tray lined with baking paper or a baking mat.
- Optional: create the criss cross pattern using the back of a fork
- Bake the lemon poppy seed shortbread cookies for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on their thickness, or until the edges start to turn golden brown.
- Re-roll, chill and cut any leftover dough and repeat the process.
Tips to make these shortbread biscuits
- Use quality butter. The flavour and texture of shortbread mainly come from the butter, so the better quality you use, the best flavour you will get.
- Make sure your Butter is at room temperature. If too cold, it will not mix well with the sugar. The best way to get the right butter consistency is cut it into small cubes and leave them at room temperature for about an hour (more or less depending on the room temperature). Gently press on a cube to check its consistency - it should easily spread.
- Cream the Butter and Sugar for at least 5 minutes. That may seem like a long time, but it is absolutely what you need to create super light shortbread cookies!
- The Egg Yolks should also be at room temperature. If too cold, they will probably split as they cool down the butter.
- Use Organic Lemon if possible - we are using a lot of lemon zest here, which is where pesticides are usually found if using non-organic fruits.
- Roll the dough straight away after mixing it between two sheets of baking paper. It is much easier to roll before refrigeration, and you have less change of breaking the sticky dough by rolling it between baking paper.
- Use your preferred Cookie Cutter to create the cookie shape. I used a large round cutter, but you can also use a fluted or scalloped cutter if preferred.
- Adapt the baking time to the size and thickness of your cookies. I like my shortbread to be almost paper thin (2 to 3 mm or 0.1 inch) so they only require about 10 minutes in the oven, but if you like yours thicker, you will need to bake them for a little bit longer. They are ready when the edges start to turn golden brown.
You can keep these poppy seed cookies are room temperature in an air-tight container. They will keep fresh for 3 to 4 days.
Most cookies usually freeze really well - and it is the case for these cookies. Although you can freeze baked cookies, I highly recommend freezing them unbaked for a fresher taste.
- roll and shape the cookies are advised. Place the individual cookies on a flat tray, cover with wrap and place in the freezer for a couple of hours or until fully frozen.
- once frozen, transfer the cookies into a freezer friendly air-tight container, separating each layer with baking paper to make sure they don't stick to each other.
- when ready to bake, place the shortbread cookies on a baking tray and bake as advises, with an extra 2 to 5 minutes to allow for the cookies to thaw in the oven.
More afternoon tea treats
- Almond Shortbread Cookies
- Lemon Curd Tartlets
- Almond Flour Peanut Butter Cookies
- Mini Lemon Meringue Pies
- Chocolate Chip Scones
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
- Mini Lemon Cheesecakes
Made this recipe? Let us know if you liked it by leaving a comment and rating below! And don't forget to share your creation on Instagram with the hashtag #abakingjourney and tag @a.baking.journey
Lemon Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies
- 100 gr (7 tablespoons) Unsalted Butter - soft
- 30 gr (1/4 cup) Icing Sugar - or Powdered Sugar
- 3 Egg Yolks - at room temperature
- 1 Lemon Zest - (zest of 1 small lemon)
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) Lemon Juice
- 175 gr (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) Plain Flour
- 1/2 teasp. Baking Powder
- 1 pinch Salt
- 20 gr (2 tablespoons) Poppy Seed
I highly recommend using the measurements in grams & ml (instead of cups & spoons) for more accuracy and better results.
- Place the soft Butter (1) and Icing Sugar in the bowl of your mixer, and cream them together using with the paddle/flat beater attachment for at least 5 minutes on medium speed. It needs to look pale, fluffy and have increased in volume.
- Add the Egg Yolks one at the time, beaten well between each addition. (2)
- Pour in the Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest and mix for a few seconds to combine.
- Sift in the Flour, Baking Powder and Salt. Mix until the dough starts to come together, stopping to scrap the edges of the bowl if required, then add the Poppy Seeds.
- Transfer the dough over a sheet of baking paper, bring it together into a ball and gently press on it to flatten it. Cover with a second sheet of baking paper and roll into the desired thickeness (3) with a rolling pin.
- Place in the fridge to rest for 10 to 15 minutes (4).
- Preheat the oven on 160'C/325'F.
- Remove the top sheet of baking paper and use a Cookie Cutter to shape the shortbread (5). Use an offset spatula to transfer the cookies on a flat baking tray.
- Optional: use a fork to create a criss-cross strips pattern
- Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cookies, or until the edges start to turn golden brown.
- Make sure the butter is really soft and at room temperature, or it will be hard to mix it in with the Sugar. A tip to get the right consistency of butter is to cut it into small cubes and leave it at room temperature for about an hour (more or less depending on the temperature of the room). To check if it is soft enough, gently press on it; it should easily spread without too much resistance. Be careful if trying to use the microwave to soften it more quickly - you do not want the butter to melt at all.
- If the batter seems to split after you add the yolks, it could be because the butter wasn't soft enough/too cold, because the yolks were not at room temperature or because you did not beat the butter and sugar for long enough. Don't worry though, the batter will still come together once you add the flour.
- I like my shortbread really thin, so I rolled the dough to about 2/3 mm (0.1 inch). You can absolutely roll them thicker if preferred.
- It is important to chill the cookies before shaping them and moving them as they will be very soft before refrigeration. You need to butter to have harden again to easily transfer the cookies over a baking sheet.
- Re-roll any leftover dough/scraps between the two sheets of baking paper and refrigerate again before cutting out more cookies.