Lemon Rosemary Butter Cookies

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These rich Lemon Rosemary Butter Cookies are simple to make and have a wonderfully buttery, bright, herby flavor. They’d be perfect on your Easter table!

Stack of lemon rosemary butter cookies with sugared rim

Stack of lemon butter cookies with rosemary on top

A few years ago I picked up a copy of the Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook (<affiliate link). The cookbook was originally published in 1986, but my “updated” version was a ninth edition published in 1956. The pages are worn and yellowed, dotted with drops of sauce and oil from who knows how many cooks before me. There are no glossy full page photos or step-by-step instructional images. Instead, it’s 800 pages packed full of simple, made from scratch recipes for everything you can possibly imagine.

A quick perusal of the book makes it clear cooking has changed a lot since the early 20th century. You won’t find many recipes for Raisin Sauce (to be served with ham or tongue) and Prune Whip on Pinterest these days. At the same time, it’s also clear so much remains the same. Amidst some of the more unusual (for us) recipes, I have found many tried and true favorites. I find myself returning to the Fannie Farmer Cookbook often, especially when I’m in search of a classic recipe that I know will stand the test of time.

Stack of lemon rosemary butter cookies with sugared edges

Among my favorites in the book are these Lemon Butter Cookies. Butter cookies are similar to shortbread, but with a slightly higher sugar to butter ratio, and, in some cases, the addition of egg yolks. The resulting cookies are rich and buttery but sturdier than shortbread, making them perfect for cutouts.

Fannie’s recipe already included a fair helping of lemon juice and zest, but also used cinnamon and clove for spice. I was looking for something a little less Christmas-y, so I omitted the spices and added a sprinkling of chopped fresh rosemary instead.

Stack of lemon butter cookies with flecks of rosemary

I know the thought of adding fresh herbs to a cookie might seem a little strange, but it gives these cookies the loveliest flavor. The scent of rosemary and citrus alone is mouthwatering, but every sweet, buttery, and lemony bite will convince you that this combination was meant to be.

I cut these cookies out into simple circles and rolled them in sparkling sugar sprinkles (<<affiliate) for a little spring bling. That, plus the flecks of rosemary in the dough, make these cookies an effortlessly lovely option for Easter celebrations or spring gatherings. The Mr. and I both loved these and found them hard to resist. I had to give some away and freeze the rest to keep my hands off of them! I think you’ll find, like I did, that Fannie Farmer knew just what she was doing with these Lemon Butter Cookies!

These cookies also can be made ahead. Both the dough and the baked cookies are perfect for freezing! To see all my tips for freezing cookies, check out my Guide to Freezing Cookies.

Stack of Lemon Rosemary Butter Cookies

If you’re looking for more bright, lemony spring recipes, try my Lemon Cream Sandwich Cookies or Lemon Blueberry Crumb Bread!

Lemon Rosemary Butter Cookies

These simple Lemon Butter Cookies are soft, tender, and buttery with a subtle hint of rosemary.
4.5 from 191 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 30 cookies
Calories: 130kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (2 sticks, 16 Tablespoons )
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 egg yolks (lightly beaten)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
  • 1/2 cup coarse sparkling sugar

Instructions

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar until smooth and fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice and beat until smooth. 
  • Sprinkle the salt, rosemary, and flour on top. Beat on low speed until the dough comes together and no streaks of flour remain. 
  • Pat the dough into a ball and set it on a piece of saran wrap. Wrap the dough up then pat it down into a rough rectangle about a 1/2 inch thick with your hands. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 48 hours. 
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the coarse sugar in a bowl.
  • Lightly flour your counter top then place the dough on top. Flour a rolling pin, then roll your dough out to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter or small juice glass, cut circles of dough out. Roll the edges of the dough in the coarse sugar then line up on the parchment paper, spacing at least 1 inch apart. Re-roll and cut the dough until none remains. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are very light golden brown and centers look set. 

Notes

  • These cookies also can be made ahead. Both the dough and the baked cookies are perfect for freezing! To see all my tips for freezing cookies, check out my Guide to Freezing Cookies.
Course Cookies
Cuisine American
Keyword butter cookies, lemon rosemary cookies

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 130kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 43mg | Potassium: 24mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 208IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 0.5mg
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31 Comments

  1. Hi,
    can I substitute the flour with gluten free flour? I can’t find a decent lemon rosemary cookie recipe thats gluten free :/

  2. These are addictive! For those who were wondering if dried rosemary can be used, the answer is yes. I used 1 tsp (which I broke into smaller pieces to distribute better) and the cookies have just the right hint of rosemary.

  3. Hi! My dough is very very soft and tacky. I just put it in the fridge. Should I leave in fridge for several hours or does this also mean I need to add in more flour?

    1. Sorry for the delay! The dough is meant to be refrigerated before rolling out. If it is still very tacky and too soft to roll after that, you might need to add flour. I hope they worked out for you!

  4. I had 2 leftover egg yolks and lots of fresh rosemary in my garden. I wasn’t sure if the rosemary would be too harsh, but these cookies are delicious! They would also be good with lavender.

  5. These are my go to cookies for parties. They are delicious and so fancy. I have made them after freezing the dough. I am crunch for time and wondering if I can make them and freeze them. I look forward to your comment. Also what if I make them 3 days before I need them. Should I keep them in fridge?

    1. These do freeze well! You can bake them, let cool, then stack in an airtight container with parchment paper between the layers. Thaw at room temperature. I find they keep pretty well and probably would just store them wrapped tightly if making 3 days in advance.

  6. I am wondering if this would taste good with lavender buds instead of rosemary. Was going to make Rosemary No Knead bread but these looks way too good. It to try! All the great comments are egging me on.

    1. Absolutely! I think that sounds lovely. I find lavender can be overpowering so I might use a little less than the recipe calls for.

  7. I made these and I love them. Then I decided to try this instead of using Rosemary I use lavender and they were delicious also.

  8. These are absolutely amazing. I like to make a chilled log, slice them extra thin, and bake until they are very crisp. Perfect with tea or coffee. The cookies are delicious as is, I might try making them with less sugar next time just for a more savory biscuit. Thanks for a great recipe!

  9. Oh my thank you so much for posting this recipe, they are absolutely divine, I literally have to hide these biscuits from my husband otherwise he eats them all.

    1. Hahaha! I love this comment so much. Thanks for making my day. I’m so glad you enjoyed the lemon butter cookies!

  10. Made these last night. I rolled the cookies into a two logs and refrigerated them in parchment paper. The logs were about 1.5 inches in diameter. They sliced beautifully. So much easier than rolling the dough and then cutting.

    Allow the dough to firm up a bit in the fridge before rolling it in a log. Here’s a helpful video for those who have never done this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMF_vcrxunw&frags=pl%2Cwn

    They are every bit as delicious as you say! Thank you.

    1. Thank you for sharing these tips! I’m so glad you enjoyed the cookies. I will have to try rolling and slicing them next time!

  11. The recipe is not clear on a point. Step 1 says – add sugar – It does not say if it’s just the brown sugar or both the sugars. However, later on in step 5 – it says roll the ” dough in the coarse sugar”.

    I’m assuming I should only add the brown sugar in step 1 and save the coarse sugar for step 5.

    Is this right?

    1. I’m so sorry about that! I’ve had some issues with my recipe plugins scrambling the ingredients, so the ingredient list was out of order. It’s all fixed now, and I made the instructions clearer as well. Your assumption was correct, though! Just the brown sugar goes in the dough and the coarse sugar goes on the outside. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  12. 5 stars
    These sound wonderful. Would it work to roll the dough into logs and slice and bake? Seems like it should work.

    1. So many classics in there! I feel like she is the lesser known, American version of Julia Child. I’m sure you would enjoy the cookbook!

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