Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

These cookies are a celebration of lemon. Rubbing lemon zest into the sugar releases a deep citrusy aroma, and a bit of cream of tartar gives them a snickerdoodle-like texture. This tender cookie has a sunny interior and is coated with crisp poppy seeds. Be sure to shop for poppy seeds where you know there is high turnover, such as from the bulk department in a health food store or a spice shop. They can sit on the shelves for a long time — and can go rancid quickly due to their high fat and protein content.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 3 persons



  1. Step 1

    In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. Step 2

    In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl, if using a hand mixer), combine sugar and salt. Zest both lemons over the sugar, then rub the zest into the sugar using your fingertips until moistened. (It will lightly stain the sugar yellow and release a strong lemony aroma.)
  3. Step 3

    Beat the butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, stopping and scraping the bowl at least once in the process.
  4. Step 4

    In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the whole egg, egg yolk and limoncello. With the mixer on low speed, stream the mixture into the creamed butter. Stop and scrape the bowl with a spatula, then increase the speed to medium and beat for another 30 seconds.
  5. Step 5

    With the mixer off, add the flour mixture, then mix on low speed until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, working in the bowl, fold the dough over several times with your hands to ensure it is uniform.
  6. Step 6

    Fill a small bowl with the poppy seeds. Portion the dough into heaping tablespoons (about 25 grams each) and set them on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Round each piece of dough into a ball, then roll in the poppy seeds until completely coated.
  7. Step 7

    Transfer back to the baking sheet, setting at least 1 inch apart. Cover the surface with another sheet of parchment and press down with a second cookie sheet to evenly flatten cookies to about 1/2-inch thick.
  8. Step 8

    Chill in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment (or grease with butter). When cookies have chilled and oven is ready, transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets spaced about 3 inches apart. (Keep remaining cookies in the freezer until ready to bake.)
  9. Step 9

    Working in batches, bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating baking sheets after 8 minutes from front-to-back and bottom-to-top. Cookies will be just golden on the edges and puffy in the center but should no longer look wet.
  10. Step 10

    Let cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to cooling racks. Store cookies in a sealed container, and enjoy within 1 to 2 days. Bake remaining cookies, or wrap and freeze chilled cookie dough. Once firm, transfer cookie dough to a covered container or sealed bag. Freeze for up to 1 month. You can bake the cookies straight from the freezer.