Filed under: Cookies / Sugar Cookies
February 4, 2022

Lemon Sugar Cookies with Raspberry Buttercream

Tangy, buttery lemon cookies with crispy sides and a chewy center topped with a smooth, tart raspberry buttercream.  The inspiration

5 from 21 votes
Yield: 14 cookies
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raspberry lemon sugar cookies

Tangy, buttery lemon cookies with crispy sides and a chewy center topped with a smooth, tart raspberry buttercream. 

raspberry lemon sugar cookies

The inspiration for these cookies was a very popular sugar cookie with pale pink frosting (theirs is almond flavored) which, tbh I have not actually eaten. It was just the image of the cookie that hit and stuck with me and I needed to recreate it but in the most delicious way I could imagine. And truthfully, I’ve been looking for the right opportunity to share this raspberry buttercream for quite awhile. 

To develop this, I went back to my marbled sugar cookies and more or less stuck with the recipe but changed the sugar ratios and added some baking soda so I’d get these babies to spread. Also, lemon zest! It’s really wonderful here and gives the sugar cookies a spark that goes especially well with the tart berry buttercream. 

Ingredients for Raspberry Lemon Sugar Cookies 

Butter: Softened, just so for about an hour at room temperature. You don’t want overly soft or melty butter in sugar cookies because it will cause them to over-spread. If you only have salted butter, omit the added salt. 

Sugar and powdered sugar: We need a mix of both granulated and powdered sugar for this dough. Granulated makes up the bulk of the sweetener in this cookie but it also contributes to the ‘crispy’ edges and the chewy centers. Powdered sugar, with its fine texture  and added cornstarch keeps the cookies tender. 

Lemon: You can use as much lemon zest as you like, I used two large lemons and found it sufficient to get the lemony flavor in my cookies but you can use more or less. 

Salt & vanilla: Both enhance the flavor of these sugar cookies. Use fine sea salt not table salt which is very ‘salty’ in flavor. For the vanilla, either pure extract, vanilla paste or if you’re feeling fancy a scraped vanilla bean will be perfect. 

Flour: All purpose flour, I used KAF AP in the cookies pictured. If you need to make gluten-free use a 1-to-1 substitute. 

Freeze dried raspberries: For the buttercream. This is a great way to add flavor (and color!) to a buttercream. Especially so with raspberries, they impart a ton of tart to an otherwise simply sweet buttercream. You’ll usually find these in the nut or snack cereal of a grocery store. 

How to make Lemon Sugar Cookies

The dough for this is really simple and it all happens in a stand mixer (you can use a hand mixer as well). First, rub the zest into the sugar to get it to release some of its oils (it’ll pull out the lemon flavor more) and then add the vanilla, salt and sugars. Beat until nice and fluffy. Then add the egg, beat again.

Then the flour. Always be careful when mixing in the flour, no need to overdo it – just until the dough comes together. Then portion it into dough balls (about 3 tablespoons of dough per cookie, if you want large cookies but you can always go smaller). With mine I got 14 generously sized cookies. If you go smaller, you’ll get more.

Now the fun part: shaping the dough so we can slather on some buttercream!

Grab a clean, small measuring cup (I used 1/4 cup) and dip the bottom in flour and press to leave a large circled indentation. If the measuring cup starts sticking to the dough, dip it in flour again.

Make sure you put enough pressure all around (not just where your finger is pressing) so you get an even circle. It’s okay if there’s a little flour left on the cookie, it will bake off in the oven.

These cookies spread quite a bit (that baking soda!) so if you’ve made big ones only do 6 cookies per sheet pan. Once they are all done, you can frost them.

For portioning, I used a tablespoon cookie scoop to get even portions of buttercream on each cookie, and an offset spatula to smooth it down (with some swoops, if you’re feeling fancy).

While the buttercream hasn’t yet set, you can add some toppings. If you’ve still got freeze dried raspberries, you can crush some on as pictured. If you’re out/want something else, you can use sprinkles. But tbh, they are quite lovely as is.

Butter temperature for Sugar Cookies 

I note this in the ingredients but I want to emphasize it again; your butter should never be overly soft or melty when making sugar cookies. It’s amazing how different a cookie can turn out when using melted or softened butter! Melty butter will lead to a much softer batter and will spread more in the oven. I take mine out of the fridge not more than an hour before I will use it. If I’m in a rush, I’ll pop it into the microwave for 10 seconds only. As long as you can press it with just a little indentation it’s good.  

raspberry lemon sugar cookies

How can I get my cookies to taste more lemony? 

For a stronger lemon zest taste, rub the zest with the sugar a few hours or even the night before making the cookie dough. Store it in an airtight container; this will release more oils from the zest. We’re only using the zest here so if you want a really puckery, tart lemon taste you might want to add lemon oil to the dough. Fresh lemon juice won’t do here, it’ll add too much liquid into the cookie and make it soft (plus the acid can react with the baking soda). 

What other buttercream can I put on top of the lemon sugar cookies?  

If you aren’t into the raspberry you can use another freeze dried berry (strawberry or blueberry) and if you don’t want any berry situation at all, then a cream cheese buttercream or a vanilla would be great here too (dye it pink for cuteness though!). 

A note about the raspberry buttercream: Because it’s made with freeze dried berries, the buttercream’s flavor will intensify as time passes and the powder gets absorbed into the butter. If you want to get a good read on how strong it will be, make it ahead of time with 1-2 teaspoons of powder, let it set (in an airtight container) and taste it right before frosting the cookies. Add more powder if you feel like it you want it stronger. 

Raspberry Lemon Sugar Cookies

Buttery lemon cookies with crispy sides and a chewy center topped with tart raspberry buttercream.
raspberry lemon cookies
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Yields: 14 cookies
5 from 21 votes


Lemon Sugar Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, unsalted and softened 226g
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 220g
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar 55g
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • zest of 2 lemons fresh
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups all purpose flour 360g

Raspberry Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened 113g
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar 165g
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons raspberry powder from freeze dried raspberries
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk


Raspberry Buttercream

  • Beat together the butter, salt, vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth. Add the raspberry powder and the milk and stir to combine.

Lemon Sugar Cookies

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two greased baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, salt, vanilla, lemon zest and sugars until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Add the egg and beat for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the flour and baking soda, and beat until the dough comes together in a ball.
  • Portion the cookies onto the prepared cookie sheets (3 tablespoons for every cookie, this will make big cookies). Roll the scoops between your hands to make a ball. Flour the back of a ¼ cup measuring cup and press down to flatten it in the center (as pictured above).
  • Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, until just golden on the bottom. Let cool before frosting.
  • Dollop 1 tablespoon of buttercream per cookie and spread it around the top. Decorate as you wish!

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Recipe Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I saw my favorite YouTuber, Morgan Long, make this recipe and knew I had to try it, too. I am so glad that I was influenced to make what might just be the best cookies I’ve ever made! So simple and easy but turn out very impressive. The cookies are bright with the lemon flavor and have a perfect flavor; the buttercream is sweet and tart and pink and perfect. I will be back to try more of your recipes.

  2. 5 stars
    I let my three year old pick out a recipe to make from your site and she picked this one! Some friends had given us some of their Meyer lemons, and I was surprised how much of the lemon flavor came through. Perfect texture in the cookie, the frosting is oh so good, and these are so pretty! Your recipes never fail. Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    The lemon and the raspberry flavours work wonderfully together.
    The cookies baked beautifully with a slightly chewy inside and a minor crispy edge – it’s a total dream cookie. AND THEN the most vibrant raspberry icing!
    Thank you for the recipe Sam!! <3

  4. 5 stars
    Excellent icing!!! I made one batch of cookie base – 1/2 stuffed with lemon curd and 1/2 with freeze dried strawberry buttercream! I can’t decided witch is my favorite?!?!

  5. 5 stars
    Sam! I made the cookies and they are so good!! Everyone here at the school where I work, loves them! definitely a hit! I’ll be making these again!!

  6. 5 stars
    The absolute best! Probably my favorite cookie ever. Made a triple batch and sent them to my daughters school for an in service day for teachers. They devoured them and can’t stop telling me how good they were. This was the first recipe I have made from your blog, but I promise I will be back to try more.

  7. The cookies turned out delicious! However I am so sad my buttercream did not turn out in that vibrant pink shade. Did you add food coloring or something else to get that deep color? I made mine exactly as the recipe said, even added a little extra raspberry powder, but the frosting is very pale pink.

  8. 5 stars
    Loved these!! I made a couple subs bc freeze dried raspberries were unavailable and too expensive so I just used some raspberry jam. I also put a little ricotta in the frosting bc I had some left over that I wanted to use. They are so yummy and the texture is perfect!

  9. 5 stars
    So delicious! I rubbed the lemon zest in the granulated sugar before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. Loved this recipe!

  10. 5 stars
    Yummy! I couldn’t get a hold of freeze dried raspberries so I used strawberries instead, which worked well.

  11. 5 stars
    I love the raspberry tartness in the buttercream, a great flavor contras to the sugar cookies , which is really nice, at least to me, super sweet cookies like some chocolate chip recipes are too much for me, these are much more balanced, so thank you