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Lemon Poppy Seed Sugar Cookies

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Lemon Poppy Seed Sugar Cookies are amazing for spring and summer. They are light, refreshing, and have the best lemon flavor in the world. Whenever you eat them, it’s impossible not to snag a second or even third cookie!

Make them for Mother’s Day, backyard barbecues, or even a picnic. Their incredible flavor is hard to beat and will leave you wanting more. 

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Lemon Poppy Seed Sugar Cookies Recipe

Lemon lovers-listen up! These big, soft and chewy lemon poppy seed sugar cookies are absolutely addicting! Packed with freshly grated lemon zest, crunchy poppy seeds, and finished off with a wonderful sugar crust, they are sure to be a hit with your citrus loving family. These cookies freeze beautifully so you can have fresh from the oven cookies whenever the craving hits.

After rolling the balls in the sugar mixture, freeze on a baking sheet until firm and place in a ziplock freezer bag. When you are ready to bake, just pop them into the oven straight from the freezer. No need to thaw, just add a few more minutes to the baking time. 🙂

I can remember loving anything lemon flavored pretty much my entire life. That’s why I knew I had to make these lemon poppy seed sugar cookies. They make my heart happy, and my taste buds even happier. 

Can I Use Bottled Lemon Juice in Easy Lemon Cookies? 

Yes, you can use lemon juice if you want when making these lemon poppy seed cookies. The only thing is that you will need to add the juice to the cookie batter. The recipe calls for lemon zest to be added to the batter and the sugar, and that is the coating on the cookies. That is where they get their lemon flavor.

If you add the lemon juice to the batter, you can skip the zest if you want or make them extra lemony by going ahead and adding it too. 

How do I Keep Poppy Seed Cookies Soft?

To keep your poppy seed cookies soft, it’s important to let them cool all the way before storing them. Otherwise, they will develop condensation that will cause them to be overly soft at first then harden up quickly.

The next thing you need to do is make sure you keep them stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container. You never want to place them in direct sunlight or next to your oven when storing them either.


As with most of my recipes, these lemon cookies don’t take a lot of ingredients. You just need ten ingredients, and they are super easy to make. They taste as you bought them in a fancy bakery, though! 

  • Unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Poppy seeds
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter softened but still cool
  • Granulated sugar
  • Light brown sugar
  • Large egg
  • Grated lemon zest
  • Vanilla extract

How to Make Lemon Poppy Seed Sugar Cookies

I literally make these lemon poppy seed sugar cookies for almost all occasions. If we are heading out to a friend’s house for dinner or I want to make a treat for the neighbors, these cookies are at the top of my list.

Their flavor is so amazing it’s impossible not to be happy when you are eating them. Okay, I will stopping chatting so we can get to how you make lemon poppy seed cookies:

First Step: Adjust your oven racks, so they are on the upper and the lower-middle position. Then turn up the oven to 375 degrees. Next, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper to prevent sticking.

Second Step: Combine the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl then set aside. 

Third Step: Using your stand mixer and the paddle attachment, combine the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Use medium speed and beat until they are fluffy and light for about three minutes. Then use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl if needed—mix in the egg, one tablespoon of lemon zest, and the vanilla. Beat the mixture for about 30 seconds or until combined. Then add the dry ingredients using a low speed until they are combined. Don’t forget to scrape down the bowl as needed. 

Fourth Step: Put 1/2 cup of white sugar in a shallow bowl. Mix in one tablespoon of lemon zest to the sugar and combine. Then fill up a medium-sized bowl with cold water. Dip your hands into the bowl of water and lightly shake to remove any excess. Then roll the dough into a 1 1/2 inch ball that is between your palms. Place the ball into the sugar mixture to coat and set on the baking sheet. Continue this process until you have 12 cookie balls on each baking pan. Then take a regular drinking glass and add some butter to the bottom of it. Next, dip the glass in the bowl of sugar and use it to lightly flatten the cookies. 

Fifth Step: Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes. Make sure to rotate the cookies halfway through, so they bake evenly. Allow the cookies time to cool on the baking sheet for at least 3 minutes, then put them on a wire rack and let them cool until they reach room temperature. 


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Lemon Poppy Seed Sugar Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 33 minutes
Lemon Poppy Seed Sugar Cookies are amazing for spring and summer. They are light, refreshing, and have the best lemon flavor in the world. Whenever you eat them, it's impossible not to snag a second or even third cookie!
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  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus ½ cup for rolling dough
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, divided
  • teaspoons vanilla extract

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  • Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg, 1 tablespoon zest and vanilla; beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  • Place the ½ cup sugar for rolling and 1 tablespoon zest in a shallow bowl. Rub together zest and sugar between your fingers. Fill a medium bowl halfway with cold tap water. Dip your hands in the water and shake off any excess (this will prevent the dough from sticking to your hands and ensure that the sugar sticks to the dough). Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a 1½-inch ball between moistened palms, roll the ball in the sugar mixture, and then place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, moistening your hands as necessary and spacing the balls about 2 inches apart (you should be able to fit 12 cookies on each sheet). Butter the bottom of a drinking glass and then dip the bottom of the glass in the remaining sugar. Flatten the dough balls with the bottom of the glass until they are about ¾ inch thick, dipping the glass in sugar as necessary to prevent sticking (after every 2 or 3 cookies).
  • Bake until the cookies are golden brown around the edges and their center are just set and very lightly colored, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 3 minutes; using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


Source: adapted from Baking Illustrated
Author: Laura

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