It's time to use up some of those fresh herbs in an unconventional, but oh-so-delicious way. These Lemon Thyme Shortbread Cookies are sure to please this Summer!
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Classic Shortbread Cookies with Seasonal Flavors
If you are new to shortbread, welcome to the world of easy to throw together cookie doughs and buttery baked cookies. This dough is so versatile and lends itself really well to lots of fun flavor combos.
Combining bright lemon zest with fresh (or dried if you don't have fresh!) thyme makes for a wonderful contrast of flavors for a delightful and easy to make cookie.
Plan Ahead for these Cookies
These cookies require some forethought and preparation, as the dough needs to be refrigerated for at least 4 hours before baking.
There are a few reasons why refrigerating your cookie dough is important:
- it allows the flour in the dough to hydrate, which makes for cookies that will bake and brown evenly
- it allows all those seasonal, fresh flavors of the lemon and thyme to concentrate and shine through when baked
- it allows the butter to firm up which prevents the cookies from spreading too much in the oven because cold butter just takes longer to melt in a hot oven
So, be sure you leave plenty of time to prepare the dough, let it chill then bake. The dough can be made up to a week ahead of time, too, if it's easier to make the dough one day and bake another later on.
How to Make Lemon Thyme Shortbread Cookies
This recipe starts by making a simple lemon sugar. To start, combine granulated sugar plus lemon zest and, rubbing them together with your fingers to release the oils from the lemon zest. Cover and set aside.
The preparation of the shortbread dough for this recipe is rather simple.
Start by creaming together the cold butter and sugars with the salt and lemon juice. Add in the sifted flours then the lemon zest and thyme. And voila, you’ve got some shortbread dough.
Roll out the dough to ½-inch thickness, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill. I like to roll out the dough before chilling it whereas some recipes call for chilling then rolling it out. I find rolling out chilled dough to be too difficult, so this way works much better.
Cut out rounds and bake the sprinkle with the lemon sugar. Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.
Can these cookies be made with different flavors?
Yes! Shortbread cookies can be made with lots of different flavor combinations. Try substituting the lemon in this recipe for orange, Meyer lemon or lime. And try substituting the thyme for mint, basil or rosemary. Just be careful with rosemary, use it sparingly!
Here are a few more shortbread variations to try:
Can these Shortbread cookies be made ahead of time?
Yes! The shortbread dough can be made up to one week ahead of time then baked. The baked cookies can also be frozen up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature and serve.
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- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest zest of 1 large lemon
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 1 large lemon
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest zest of 1 large lemon
Make Lemon Sugar
- In a mason jar or bowl with a tight fitting lid, mix together the granulated sugar and lemon zest, rubbing together between your fingers to release the oils. Cover tightly and set aside
Make Shortbread Dough
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, salt and lemon juice until thoroughly combined, about 3 minutes. In a separate bowl, sift together the all-purpose and cake flours. With the mixer on low, mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between each addition. Add the thyme and lemon zest and stir just until combined. Roll out the dough to a ¼- ½-inch-thick rectangle. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Flour a clean work surface and place cookie dough on top. Cut the refrigerated dough into 2-inch rounds (dip the cookie cutter in flour if the dough is sticking to it) and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet 1 inch apart (cookies will not spread much)
- Bake the cookies until just golden at the edges, about 15-17 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with lemon sugar. Let cool completely before serving
- Store cooled cookies at room temperature in a tightly covered container for up to 5 days
- Cookies may be frozen for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw at room temperature and serve
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