What is the best way to add lemon flavor to a cookie recipe? I know lemon juice is highly acidic, I don't want to throw off the PH of the dough. Is lemon extract the same way? Lemon zest? Is there a way to compensate for that?

  • Is there milk in your cookies?
    – Mien
    Jan 23, 2012 at 14:56
  • @Mein I'm looking for general tips, but the most likely recipe I'll modify does include a tablespoon of milk. Other recipes for the same type of cookie do not, however, so if that turns out badly I might try a different base recipe. I know what I want my end result to be: the same as the box mix I tried last night, except actually tasting good instead of crappy ;) Jan 23, 2012 at 15:01
  • I tried adding lemon zest and lemon juice to a rolled sugar cookie recipe earlier this month, and while the unbaked dough was heavenly, the baked cookies were... eh. I think this might have been because I used brown sugar (an option provided by the recipe to end up with chewier cookies) instead of granulated.
    – Marti
    Dec 21, 2012 at 21:43

4 Answers 4


Try using lemon zest (lemon peel shavings) and lemon or lime juice. You might try sprinkling the zest over the top of the cookies right before you put them in if you don't get enough flavor from adding it to the batter

  • Just make sure the lemon is unwaxed and used a microplane grater for best results
    – Wudang
    Jan 24, 2012 at 12:40

The easiest way is just use a recipe for lemon cookies. I'm sure you can find lots of them online. If you really want to use a recipe for normal cookies (because you really like it), you could certainly add lemon extract to a regular batch. Don't add too much, the flavour is really concentrated. Since you won't use a lot of it (a teaspoon will do), the liquid:dry proportion practically won't change, but to be sure, you can cut back the milk by the amount (e.g. a teaspoon). You can also add a bit of zest without a problem.

I wouldn't add lemon juice because you're adding milk in your cookies. The milk would curdle (in some cookies that is exactly what you would want to achieve). However, you can try to add lemon juice instead of milk.

  • I said here 'a teaspoon of lemon extract', but this amount depends of course on how much cookie dough you have.
    – Mien
    Jan 23, 2012 at 15:29
  • Thanks! I'm trying to make a better version of the exact cookie that went disastrous over the weekend, which claimed to be a sugar cookie with lemon rather than a lemon cookie. I've got half a dozen sugar cookie recipes from Christmas Cookieganza this year, so I planned to use one of those. Jan 23, 2012 at 15:32
  • What was wrong with the cookies? And what did you try for lemon taste?
    – Mien
    Jan 23, 2012 at 15:47
  • 3
    @Mein Everything. It was a mix I bought online and I was downright offended at how bland the cookie was and how overly-sweet and not-at-all raspberry-tasting the raspberry icing was. It was like a blue-raspberry sour straw but twice as sweet instead of sour, slathered over a bland cookie that had maybe once, long ago, had a dream about a lemon. Jan 23, 2012 at 15:49

Since lemon is acidic, you would want to reduce the quantity of baking powder and add some or more baking soda to neutralize the acidity.

What if you add an acidic ingredient to a recipe with baking powder? You will need to add a little soda. Let's say you are making cookies and substituting 1/2 cup lemon juice for the water in order to make lemon cookies. The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of baking powder, but you will need to neutralize the acid in the lemon juice. Substitute baking soda for one teaspoon of the baking powder. Corriher says that baking soda is 4 times as powerful as baking powder, so use only 1/4 teaspoon baking soda for each teaspoon of baking powder in the original recipe. -- from http://www.thekitchn.com/pantry-basics-whats-the-differ-40514


What I ended up doing was taking my base sugar cookie recipe and substituting soymilk for milk to prevent the curdling issue. I then divided it into four portions, putting one straight into the fridge unmodified. One portion received zest, one received juice, and one received zest plus juice. The juice cookies may have been softer than the zest cookies (but there were some issues with baking that could have caused that), but all cookies rose the same amount (not much at all, by design). Sure enough, the ones with more lemon tasted more lemony :) Thanks for the help, everyone!

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