Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

18 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies are a rich, buttery cookie recipe full of bright lemon flavor! Made with fresh lemon juice and crunchy poppy seeds.

Whether you are a lemon lover or just in the mood for a tangy treat, Lemon BarsBlueberry Lemon Bread and these buttery lemon and poppy seed Cookies are the perfect citrusy Desserts!

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies in a stack

These Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies are the best shortbread cookies you’ve ever had. These summery cookies are a perfect blend of rich buttery goodness, vibrant lemon flavor, and a delightful tender texture for a cheery, sunny treat. To top it all off, there are crunchy, subtly sweet poppy seeds speckled throughout for a pretty cookie that tastes amazing!

Making Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies is a breeze, they come together with just a handful of pantry ingredients and bake in about 10 minutes. There is both fresh lemon juice and lemon zest in the cookie dough recipe to get as much lemon flavor as possible. And don’t worry, the poppy seeds are easily found in most stores with other baking spices. The dough does need to be refrigerated for a couple of hours, but once it’s chilled, you just roll it, cut it and bake it for delicious buttery lemon cookies with crispy speckles.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies are a perfect blend of simplicity and sophistication, offering a burst of citrusy freshness and a delightful crunch in every bite. They are technically shortbread cookies, which are different than your average cookie because they don’t have any leavening agents that make them rise. So instead of being soft or cakey, these are dense yet tender cookies with slightly crispy edges.

Lemon Poppy Shortbread Cookies on Baking Sheet

While these fresh Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies have lots of summery flavor, doesn’t mean you can’t make them year round. They make a cozy snack on fall afternoon with a hot cup of tea. Or serve them with some chilled Blueberry Jam for a refreshing, special Spring brunch treat. During the holidays, wrap up a stack of them for a cheery burst of sunshine in gift baskets. Whether you savor them with a cup of tea, serve them at fancy parties, or gift them to friends, these cookies are bound to become a cherished recipe.

What are Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies?

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies are a delightful twist on traditional shortbread cookies. They are made with a combination of shortbread cookie dough, fresh lemon juice and poppy seeds. The result is a cookie that boasts a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth tender texture, balanced with a refreshing burst of citrusy lemon and a delicate crunch from the poppy seeds.

How to Make Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

  • Cream: Cream the butter and powdered sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes then mix in the egg and egg yolk until fully combined.
  • Dough: Keep the mixer going and add the vanilla extract, lemon juice, zest, and poppy seeds. On the lowest mixer speed, add the flour and salt until combined.
  • Chill: Form the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours, up to 48 hours.
  • Prep: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat to prevent sticking.
  • Roll: Sprinkle a light layer of flour on a clean surface and roll out into a ¼ inch thick sheet.
  • Bake: Shape the cookie dough with a cookie cutter and bake for 10-12 minutes. The edges should be just starting to turn golden brown.

More Delicious Sweet Lemon Treats

FAQs for Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

Do you have to soak poppy seeds before baking?

Unlike other seeds, such as chia or flax seeds, poppy seeds do not require soaking before adding them into Lemon Poppy Seed Cookie dough. However, soaking poppy seeds in hot milk can make them easier to digest and a bit more flavorful.

How do you make soft lemon cookies?

If you want to make these cookies soft and chewy like classic Lemon Cookies, add ¼ cup flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. The baking powder will help the cookies rise for a fluffier cookie and the extra flour balances the egg and butter for a chewier cookie.

Why do you have to chill the dough first?

Refrigerate this dough for a minimum of two hours, but preferably overnight, to make sure the butter is very cold. Cold butter will melt slowly as the cookies bake which prevents them from spreading and burning.

Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Poppy Seeds

Key Ingredients

  • Butter: Unsalted butter forms the base of these cookies, providing richness and a tender crumb. It is important to use softened butter to be sure you get the mixture light and fluffy before refrigerating your dough.
  • Sugar: Powdered sugar adds a delicate sweetness and contributes to the light and tender texture of the cookies. It dissolves easily into the dough, ensuring a smooth consistency.
  • Eggs: The combination of a whole egg and an additional egg yolk adds moisture, richness, and structure to the cookies. They contribute to a tender and chewy texture.
  • Vanilla: Vanilla extract enhances the overall flavor of these cookies, adding depth and warmth to the citrusy notes of these lemony cookies.
  • Lemon: Fresh lemon zest and juice infuse the cookies with lots of bright and tangy lemon flavor. It’s best to use whole lemons instead of bottled juice, they have much better flavor and the zest adds a floral note to the lemony goodness.
  • Poppy Seeds: These tiny black seeds not only add a delightful crunch to the cookies but also impart a subte nutty, sweet flavor. Poppy seeds are readily available in most grocery stores, often found in the spice or baking aisle.
  • Flour and Salt: All-purpose flour serves as the structural backbone of the cookies, providing a tender crumb. A pinch of salt enhances the flavors, balancing all the sweetness and tartness of the lemon.

Can you make Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies ahead of time?

Yes, Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies can be made ahead of time. The dough can be prepared, shaped into a log, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerated for up to 3 days. When you’re ready to bake, simply slice the chilled dough into rounds, or rolled out and cut, and bake as directed. Absolutely! The cookie dough can also be stored in the freezer for up to 4 months. When you’re ready to bake, simply thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight, then proceed with the recipe as directed.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies in a stack


  • Citrus: Instead of lemons, you can make these sweet poppy seed filled cookies with other citrus. Try combinations like fresh lime and drizzle of melted white chocolate, or orange juice with mini dark chocolate chips.
  • Lemon Glaze: For an extra burst of lemony goodness, drizzle a tangy lemon glaze over the cooled cookies. Simply mix powdered sugar and fresh lemon juice until you achieve a smooth, pourable consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies and allow it to set before serving.
  • Almond: Add an extra sweet almond flavor by replacing the vanilla extract with almond extract. The combination of almond and lemon tastes amazing and will bring out the nutty flavor of the poppy seeds. You can add chopped almonds to the cookie dough too for some more crunch.
  • Lemon-Poppy Seed Bars: Transform the cookies into bars by pressing the dough into a baking dish instead of using cookie cutters. Bake until golden brown, then cut into bars for a different shape. Spread some Cream Cheese Frosting over the Lemon Poppy Seed Bars before cutting them for a delicious extra sweet dessert.
  • Lemon Curd: Make some super lemony cookies by adding a tasty homemade Lemon Curd filling. Spread the bottom-side of half the cookies with lemon curd, and then top with each with another cookie with the bottom on the filling side. Chilled lemon curd is easier to spread and stay in the middle of the sandwich cookies.

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How to Store

  • Serve: Place the cooled Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies in an airtight container, layered between sheets of parchment or wax paper. Store at room temperature for up to one week.
  • Store: You can keep the cookies fresh longer in the refrigerator. Store them in an airtight container or plastic storage bag for 2-3 weeks. Bring them to room temp or even warm them in a microwave to soften them up a bit.
  • Freeze: To freeze the cookies, pop them in the freezer on a baking sheet after they have cooled. Let them freeze for at least an hour then store in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw them at room temperature before serving.

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Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies are a rich, buttery cookie recipe full of bright lemon flavor! Made with fresh lemon juice and crunchy poppy seeds.
Yield 18 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 cup unsalted butter , softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  • To your stand mixer add the butter and sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes then add in the egg and egg yolk until fully combined.
  • Add in the vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest and poppy seeds then lower the speed and add in the flour and salt until just combined.
  • Put the dough into plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling out onto a floured surface 1/4" thick.
  • Press out with a cookie cutter and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.


Calories: 170kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 21mg | Potassium: 28mg | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 330IU | Vitamin C: 0.7mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 0.8mg
Lemon Shortbread Poppy Cookies

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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  1. Can I use Splenda or Monk Fruit sugar in place of the powdered sugar? My son is a diabetic.
    Thank you,

    1. I’ve not tested it using those so I’m not comfortable giving a recommendation. If you decide to try, I’d love to know what ends up working. Good luck!

  2. A time saving hint if you have room in your fridge. I roll my dough while it is soft between 2 layers of plastic wrap and then put on a cookie sheet in the fridge. I always have to let my dough soften just a bit before I can roll it and you save that step and the cookies cut better the colder they are.