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Meyer lemon shortbread cookies easy shortbread bars

Meyer lemon shortbread cookies

If you want a very easy recipe that includes the sunshiny flavor of lemon, these Meyer lemon shortbread cookies are for you!  This simple recipe has only four ingredients, and the bright lemon flavor is a perfect complement to the flaky, buttery shortbread. 

Course Dessert
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 16 cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (=1 stick) cut into cubes
  • 1 Meyer lemon, zest and juice juice will be ~ 2 tbsp


  1. Spray or butter a 9” pie plate. Cut out a piece of parchment and line the pie plate.

  2. You can make this one of two ways (both ways are easy, one is noisy). If you have a food processor (like this), add the flour, sugar, and butter and pulse around 20 times. Alternatively you could blend it for 10 seconds in the processor. Stop, then add the lemon zest and juice. Pulse a few more times until it’s all mixed together. It should look a bit wet at this point.

  3. If you don’t have a food processor or don’t want to wash one, you can use a pastry cutter like this. I often use this instead if I bake during nap time because it’s the quiet option and we live in a small house. It’s more of an arm workout but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In this case, put the flour, sugar, and butter into a bowl and use the pastry cutter to mix everything together. The butter should be in teeny pieces by the time you’re done and the dough should look slightly wet. Add the lemon zest and juice and use the pastry cutter briefly to mix them in so it’s uniform.

  4. In either case, dump out the dough (it will just look like crumbly bits at this point) into your prepared pie plate. Press very firmly into the parchment-lined dish. Really press it down. This will help it hold together and will cut nicely for you after it’s baked. 

  5. Put the pie plate with the shortbread dough in the freezer for 20 minutes. This chills the dough so it doesn’t puff up as much while it’s baking and keeps its shape.  While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350F.

  6. After the chill time, remove the pie plate from the freezer and prick the dough all over with a fork.  Bake at 350F for ~35 minutes, until it starts to lightly brown.

  7. When you take it from the oven, immediately cut it into 16 wedges while it’s still hot. This will making slicing it much easier before it firms up more.  Let it cool completely in the dish, then remove and devour. Or bite daintily. Whichever.

Recipe Notes

You can use other flour in place of the unbleached all-purpose flour. You can use whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, or a gluten-free all-purpose flour mix. Coconut flour and almond flour will not work well in this recipe.

I have tried making this with vegan Earth Balance buttery spread and it works well (and is the only sub you need to make the recipe vegan!). I haven’t tried with coconut oil. It would have to be solid and I’m not sure that it would produce the same flaky texture in the shortbread. If someone does try with coconut oil, I’d love to hear how it turns out.