These Lemon Twist Cookies are light and buttery, and the perfect cookie for entertaining. Impress friends and family with this Italian, shortbread style cookie, bursting with the perfect level of lemon flavor.
Gimme all the lemon desserts possible and I will love every single one. There’s just something about a subtle lemon flavor, wrapped in a decadent dessert that gets me giddy. There’s a reason lemon is so popular in the dessert world, and I’m right there fan-girling with everyone. While you’re whipping up these lemon twist cookies with tangly lemon glaze you'll see what all the hype is about, you should add in some other lemon recipes. I highly recommend my lemon brownies, lemon poppyseed cake, and double crust lemon raspberry pie. Fill that kitchen with all the lemon goodies! Oh and don't forget to try one of our most popular recipes- lemon crinkle cookies (aka lemon tart cookies).
Why We Love the Lemon Italian Cookies
- It's a simple recipe that any lemon lover is sure to enjoy.
- They are just like the Italian lemon drop cookies but with a twist (pun intended).
- This original recipe comes from Southern Italy ( one of our most favorite places on earth).
- The have the perfect burst of lemon flavor.
- Perfect for spring family gatherings or with your morning coffee.
Ingredients/Shopping List for Italian Lemon Cookies
- Granulated sugar
- Lemon- we love to use Meyer Lemons, but any lemon will work. You will need the zest and lemon juice
- Unsalted butter- make sure it is room temperature
- Large Eggs
- Vanilla extract- for an added burst of lemon, use a ½ teaspoon of lemon extract too.
- All-purpose flour
- Ground walnuts- almond flour can be used here as well.
- Kosher salt
- Baking powder
- Coarse sugar for sprinkling
- Powdered sugar aka confectioners' sugar
How Do You Make Lemon Cookies from Scratch?
1. Mix dry ingredients - In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix flour together with the other dry ingredients, except the sugar.
2. Cream - In another bowl, combine the lemon zest and sugar, rub until fragrant, then add the butter and cream together. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly. Add vanilla.
3. Mix together - Combine the butter mixture and dry ingredients until the dough forms into a ball. Wrap the dough and chill for an hour.
4. Prep - Preheat the oven and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
5. Bake - Divide dough and shape it into ropes then fold ropes into the twists. Place on the prepared baking sheet, brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Cool cookies throughly.
6. Drizzle - Once cookies have cooled, mix together the juice and powdered sugar. Drizzle the top of each cookie with the glaze and enjoy!
For step by step instructions, see the full recipe below.
Tips and Variations
● Don’t overmix - When using an electric mixer, be sure to not overmix the cookie dough before chilling it. This can cause the
cookies to be too gooey to work with.
● Don’t skip the cooling - Without the chilling step, your dough will be too soft to work with. You won’t be able to form that famous twist look without it. The chilling process firms up the dough, which is a vital step for this lemon cookie recipe.
● Make them orange flavored - If you want to switch things up, you can use orange zest and orange juice in place of the lemon. It’s just as tasty!
● Don’t mess with the cookies until cooled - When coming straight out of the oven, the lemon twists will be fragile. While they cool on the pan or wire rack, they will finish firming up and then can be handled without falling apart.
● Can I freeze lemon cookies? - Skip the glazing step and store these lemon twist cookies for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, simply add the tangy lemon glaze then.
Common Questions About Lemon Twist Cookies
What are Italian Twist Cookies or Italian Lemon Knot Cookies?
They are a yeast cookie that’s a basic, light, buttery cookie that's made into a twist before baking. They’re a unique cookie, but popular and are made in a few different ways. They can range from soft and cake-like cookie, to small and crispy. A twist is more of a look than a specific cookie, is what I have learned.
Are Italian Knot Cookies the Same as Torcetti?
Yes, they’re technically the same cookie. However, torcettis are commonly a small, crispy cookie that is served with coffee. However, an Italian twist cookie can sometimes be made in various ways. For example, this recipe is a version of an Italian twist, but it’s cakier. So, an Italian twist is more of a look than a specific cookie, more times than not.
Please feel free to share your experience with making these Lemon Twist Cookies in the comments below or on social media!
More Cookie Recipes You’re Sure to Love:
- Dark Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies
- Brown Sugar Walnut Shortbread Cookies
- Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Lemon Bar Cookies
- Maple Snickerdoodles
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1 Large lemon zest and juice needed
- ¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 egg yolk room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup ground walnuts or almond flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg white
- 2 tablespoons Coarse sugar for sprinkling
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
In a medium mixing bowl add flour, ground walnuts, baking powder and salt. Mix until incorporated.
In a separate mixing bowl add granulated sugar and lemon zest and rub with your finger until zest releases its oil and sugar is fragrant. Add in softened butter and using electric mixer, mix 3-4 minutes until creamy.
Add egg and egg yolk one at the time and mix well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
Add in dry ingredients and mix until soft dough forms, but don't overmix.
Shape the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 18 pieces.
Using your hands, shape the dough piece into 9-10 inch lenght. Fold it in half and twist together. Repeat with remaining dough. Carefully transfer twists to prepared baking sheet.
In a small bowl beat egg white with 2 teaspoons water. Brush each cookie with egg white and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets.
In a small bowl sift powdered sugar, add juice and stir to form thick icing.
Using a small spoon drizzle the icing over cooled cookies; let stand until icing is set. Enjoy!
Don't skip on cooling time. The dough is too soft to handle.
Try to substitute lemon zest and juice with orange. It's very delicious too.
Leave the cookies to cool on baking sheets. They are fragile while still warm.
Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Cookies freeze well (without the glaze) for up to 3 months. Let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight, glaze and serve at room temperature.