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Frosted Lemon Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 24 cookies

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These Lemon Sour Cream Sugar Cookies are soft, moist and loaded with lemon! There’s no chilling or rolling — just stir, drop, bake and frost (if you want to!). Perfect for Easter or Christmas baking. Includes how to recipe video

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long image of lemon sour cream cookies overhead on blue plate with lemon slices

So I stumbled upon the recipe for these Sour Cream Sugar Cookies in the cookbook my Grandma made for me last fall.

I never would have guessed how popular it would become! The problem is, some people loved it and some people hated it.

The issue was that those who didn’t like the recipe really didn’t know what to expect — the cookies are soft and cakey. They are not sugar cookies for rolling or cutting, and they’re pretty delicate.

close up of lemon sour cream cookies with lemon frosting on blue plate

So I’m back again with another variation, obviously. Bring on the haters! 😉

I wanted to try leaving out some of the moisture this time to get a slightly firmer cookie. These cookies are still very soft, and cakey, and delicious. If you’re looking for a firm sugar cookie — this recipe is not it. But they melt in your mouth and will be gone in no time!

I also wanted to add lemon because we love lemon. We love it big time.

square image of lemon frosted sour cream cookies with lemon slices on blue plate

With Easter coming up, my mind always goes to fresh, Springy flavors and potluck foods. Easter is a bit of a wildcard here in Manitoba — it can be cold, it can be really cold, or it can be pretty warm. You never really know what you’re going to get!

Regardless of what the temperature is, I am always so ready for Spring. The winter is long and cold and snowy and blowy and we are all anticipating blue skies and green grasses. Bring on the fresh, fruity treats! (And swimsuit-friendly meals… )

I would love to hear what your favorite Spring meals or treats are! Smoothies, popsicles, fruit salads, Easter meals? I’m itching for some fresh inspiration!

If you haven’t yet, be sure to join my Facebook group to stay up to date on new recipes and take part in polls and surveys to help me pick the best recipes to show you here!

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Frosted Lemon Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

4.25 from 4 votes
These Lemon Sour Cream Sugar Cookies are soft, moist and loaded with lemon! There’s no chilling or rolling — just stir, drop, bake and frost (if you want to!). Perfect for Easter or Christmas baking.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Cuisine American
Course Dessert
Servings 24 cookies
Calories 269kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar approx. 400g
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream I use 5%
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour about 575g

Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup butter room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered icing sugar
  • juice of 2 lemons*
  • yellow food coloring optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add eggs, sour cream, lemon zest, and lemon juice and beat until combined.
  • Add the baking soda, baking powder and flour and beat just until combined. Dough will be the consistency of thick cake batter — it is quite sticky and soft.
  • Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets (I get 6 on a regular baking sheet — my cookies are large!), trying to make drops as round as possible. Bake for 10-11 minutes or until no longer glistening in the center. Cool completely.
  • FrostingWith an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth. Add sugar and just enough lemon juice to make a smooth, thick frosting (you can add a teaspoon of milk if it is too thick). Color with yellow food coloring if desired.
  • When cookies are completely cool, spread with an even layer of frosting and serve.

Notes

*I use the juice of 2 lemons and no milk and the frosting has a strong lemon flavor — if you prefer less zing, use the juice of 1 lemon and just enough milk to reach desired consistency.
**My cookies are very large. You can definitely make smaller cookies and the recipe will yield more, you will just want to decrease the baking time.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 269kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 89mg | Potassium: 92mg | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 245IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1.3mg

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Comments

  1. Jill says

    Could you please please put in the amount if lemon juice in the recipe? Lemons and the amount of juice they produce vary widely. The lemons from my tree generally produce 1/2 c per lemon. Since ratios are important in baking, telling us the amount makes for a more accurate recipe and better results.

  2. LuAnn says

    I followed the recipe to a tee and they turned out like beautiful lumps of paste. Dry and tasteless. Tbe batter tasted better. And we were so looking forward to eating them. Won’t make again
    My lemons were large so I had to pay attention when making the frosting. The frosting was awesome.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Hi LuAnn! I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy them! It sounds to me like you added too much flour, which will cause these cookies which are not dry, beautiful lumps of paste to taste like dry lumps of paste.

  3. Denise says

    I made this frosting to use on lemon cake and only used the juice from 1 1/2 lemons and it was very runny. I ended up adding a lot more powered sugar to thicken it up. Next time I’ll start with the juice from maybe half a lemon and add as needed to get a thicker, creamy consistency.

  4. Rachael says

    I made these for Easter and they were AMAZING!!! So lemony and delicious! Not dry at all. Everyone loved them…… The only issue I had was with the cook time. My first batch I made the cookies a little smaller than suggested and baked for 10min, they were all undercooked and squishy (I know it could be my oven, or the fact that I am a horrible baker). Second batch I made the cookies bigger and baked and extra 2 min over suggested time, they were fluffy and perfect! Will def be making again

  5. Lori says

    I tried it with coconut flour and got the same result. They were incredibly dry (even though I only used 4 cups of flour) and just crumbled. I either needed less flour or more liquid for sure. I would recommend sticking to the recipe without any substitutions. I’ll give it another shot someday because they do look incredibly good. ?

  6. Pam says

    Can you use margarine instead of butter? I’ve made them a few times and everyone loves them and I need to make more and don’t have any butter and there’s a winter storm going on right now so I can’t get out to the store.

  7. Belinda says

    Please tell me what I did wrong….I love a soft, cake-like cookie. So I was excited when I found this recipe. The cookie tasted like flour—just not good 🙁 I used Bob’s gluten free flour and I sifted it. I’m thinking that’s where I went wrong.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      I haven’t ever made them with gluten-free flour so I can’t really say for sure. I would try adding a little more vanilla or lemon zest to mask the flavor if you find it’s a problem.

  8. Lori A Putnam says

    Love all the helpful comments/ideas here! I have too many limes, and need recipes to use them up, so what’s your opinion on using fresh lime juice and zest here in an even swap? Will it end up too bitter? Maybe I’ll lemon half the batch and lime the other half to see. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Jessica says

    These cookies are AH-MA-ZING! They combine my two favorite things… Yes, lemon and sour cream are my favorite flavors. Why? My husband says (in jest) that it’s because I’m bitter and don’t like to share. On that note, I am happy to report that my kids hate these cookies, so I do not, in fact, have to share. ?

    Thanks for an amazing recipe!

  10. Tammy Seegmiller says

    I’m never sure how much zest to use on things. When you say you used the zest of 2 lemons about how much do you think that yield?

  11. Katie says

    This was a very easy recipe and they are delicious. I will be making them again for my husband, he loved them.

  12. Kathryn Beneden says

    Not a huge fan of lemon but love to try new things. OMG!! Next batch will need more lemon, I scaled back my first try, but they are lemony, light, delicious. Love the frosting, adds a zing that compliments the cookie so well. Thank you for sharing this fabulous recipe.

      • Lisa says

        How much extra lemon juice do you think could be added without impacting the consistency of the batter? I botched a “tried and true” lemon bar recipe by adding too much lemon juice (they didn’t set), and my husband isn’t a fan of zest… Can’t wait to try this recipe!!!

        • Ashley Fehr says

          If you are wanting to add more lemon to the cookie, I definitely recommend zest. You will get a more concentrated lemon flavor, and you will never notice any change in texture. Your only other option might be to try a lemon extract, but I definitely wouldn’t add more juice.

        • Susan says

          I zest my citrus (I’ve tried this with lemon, as well as an orange/grapefruit combo that turned out great!) then chop it up as fine as I have the patience for. This avoids any strips of zest for those that don’t care for them and helps ensure the flavor is spread everywhere. I also add zest to the frosting, again chopping it up super fine.

          I really like the light, not too sweet taste of the cookie, letting me frost if I want sweet, and not frost if I am being good, LOL

  13. Debra nielson says

    Jusr finished a double batch for a BBQ, and they are wonderful! Added a little salt just because I think it brings out the flavor and POW these are GREAT! Will make these again for sure! Love lemon and this is LEMON!

      • Ana says

        I made these using King Arthur 1 for 1 gluten free flour. Couldn’t tell the difference! Came out light and moist. Son ate them all in 2 days. I added about 4 ozs. cream cheese to frosting and a little extra lemon juice. Great cookies!

      • Erin L says

        I used Bob’s Red Mill GF 1:1 (the blue label, not the red label) and I think I may have overcooked a little as mine turned out a little crunchier on the outside, but the middle was still nice and soft. I’m interested to see what liquid you took out as it might be perfect for the GF flour which tends to be drier, my frosting ended up more of a glaze, though. I dipped the top of each cookie in and let them set on a cookie rack over the parchment paper. 1 lemon usually yields 1 Tbsp zest and 2 Tbsp juice. I used 1 Tbsp True Lemon powder in place of the zest (tried these the day before Canadian Thanksgiving, no way am I going near a store today!) and the flavour was great.

  14. Linda Skow says

    Could you put these thru a cookie press, do you think, or are they too soft? Maybe if I chilled the dough overnight?

  15. Jeryl Kissling says

    Absolutely delish cookie. It sings spring. The only thing I did different was that I only used 4 cups of flour. They turned out wonderful Just like the pics.

  16. Rick Hokanson says

    So I made these cookies yesterday. They went over well with folks at my Mother-in-laws place of employment. Some of the comments I got back were “soft, fluffy, melt in your mouth, just the right amount of lemon, thanks for bringing them”. Plus I got a number of requests for the recipe and the website in which I found it.

    However my one SOLE Comment is on the Recommended Yield that should come if you follow the recipe. The Count on the Recipe stated that this recipe “Serves 24”. Does that mean that the serving size is 2 cookies or that you should only get 24 cookies from the recipe?

    I ask because I followed the Recipe exactly and with using the Biggest Cookie measuring scoop available. I got 48 cookies out of this recipe. I wanted to bring this to your attention so that you can correct it on the website in case anyone else is equally confused.

    I have quite a bit of personal baking experience…but for the sake of the new and inexperienced baker…this should be clarified a bit more. Can you do this? This was an EXCELLENT Recipe and I look forward to making it again and perhaps making a few personal changes to it and experimenting with it featuring other citrus flavors.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Hi Rick! I’m so glad that you and the rest of your taste testers enjoyed them! I put that it serves 24 because I get 24 cookies out of this recipe. I’m not sure if you can tell from the photos or the video, but my cookies are quite large. I use a tablespoon, get a large scoop of dough and drop onto the pan. On a regular baking sheet I bake 6 cookies (as I think you can see in the video). So I don’t think it’s misleading because that’s exactly what I get. I understand some may make smaller cookies and will get more, but that’s not really something I can control. I will update the recipe to give more details about the size. Thanks for your feedback!

      • Connie Alderson says

        Who cares how many they actually make as the cookie is fabulous! More is great! It’s an added bonus. LOL!

        Perhaps if a person actually wants only ‘X’ number of cookies, they should try freezing the remaining cookie dough. ?

    • Erin L says

      I used the Pampered Chef medium cookie scoop which holds 2 Tbsp and ended up with 28 and I made a half a recipe (trial run because I was using GF flour and True Lemon instead of zest), so mine must be the size of Rick’s. I used GF flour and they didn’t spread much, nice little humps 2.25 inches in diameter each.

  17. Giovanna says

    My husband just made these and for some reason they came out like thick cake. I went over the recipe to see if he had missed something and he followed it correctly. I noticed they call for an awful large amount of flour? Even the dough itself was quite sticky. Any thoughts on what could’ve happened? So disappointed bc I had to buy a lot of the ingredients and was so excited about these since I love lemon!

    • Giovanna says

      Sorry, after reading some of the other comments below; I realized they are supposed to be cake-like. And they taste very good with the icing! I just was expecting a regular sugar lemon cookie consistency.

      • Ashley Fehr says

        Yes, and please, please read the post thoroughly. Many times I reference the type of cookie you should be expecting, and I say that if you are expecting a regular sugar cookie that this is not the recipe. I write all those words for a reason! I’m glad they tasted good!

  18. Madison says

    These are really good half of the batch turned out perfect. I’m not sure why the other half was undercooked I cook them for longer than it said. The only thing I wish is that I bought some frosting for the, because the frosting it says to make is just a glaze, and he’s kind of big sugar cookies need a lot of frosting and not just a glaze. I’ve tried everything and it tells me to do to make it thicker online but nothing’s working so far. What should I do? For next time.

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Hi Madison! I am honestly not really sure what happened to the half of your cookies. It could be a lot of things. Did you bake one pan on the top and one of the bottom? Was the oven door left open too long and the temperature was lower? Because all ovens vary so greatly it’s really important to go by the look than the exact baking time. If they look done on top, they are done. They are a moist cookie, so they may look moist inside. The frosting is definitely pretty thick, so it sounds like your butter may have been too soft or your measurements might be off slightly. Next time, I would just be sure to add the juice gradually until your desired thickness. If you do find it ends up too thin, the only thing you can really do is to add more powdered sugar. I hope that helps!

    • Jake Brown says

      Use powdered sugar instead of sugar and when you are finishing the frosting keep gradually sturring in powdered sugar until it reaches the consistency you desire.

    • Patricia merica says

      Madison, mine turned out the same as a glaze, after some research, the recipe says powdered icing sugar which is different then plain powdered sugar, the difference is they add cornstarch, so the glaze I had I added some cornstarch til it got thick enough and worked much better, just keep tasting it because my cornstarch was old and it started to get a cornstarch taste, so I added a little bit more lemon and powered sugar. Next time I will buy a new cornstarch and try it

      • Ashley Fehr says

        Powdered icing sugar is actually exactly the same as powdered sugar — there is only one, at least where I live. If it was too thin, then just use a little less juice or more sugar. I don’t recommend adding corn starch.

        • Patricia says

          Ok, somewhere I read about that but next time I will try to just add a little bit of liquid at a time. Also do you know the nutrition value how many calories per cookie?

          • Ashley Fehr says

            I don’t usually calculate nutrition information for desserts, since they’re always going to be a splurge (unless I label something as lightened up or healthier). You can plug the ingredients into My Fitness Pal to figure it out if you want.

  19. Madison greb says

    Could I use lemon juice I buy from a store? I never can squeeze a lemon well enough to produce a lot of juice.

  20. Beth says

    Just finishing up baking a batch of these and they are delicious! Perfect little pillows of lemony goodness! These will be made often in our house…

  21. Carole says

    There has to be one of us out here to ask this question; of course.
    What are the chances of these still being “cakey” soft and delicious…with
    Gluten Free Flour? I think I can already see what you answer may be to this one!!

      • Erin L says

        I used Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 (the blue label, not red) and they did well, though they didn’t spread a lot so you can put quite a few on one tray, I used a medium pampered chef 2 Tbsp cookie scoop and they ended up 2.25 diameter little humps.

  22. LeAnn Doeden says

    Can you leave the zest out and use lemon juice instead of lemons? How much juice would you use instead of lemons?

    • Ashley Fehr says

      I actually wouldn’t recommend it. Lemon juice is more acidic than zest and will change the whole cookie. It also has way less lemon flavor, so you’d have to add a ton of it which would also change the cookie a lot. If you don’t have access to fresh lemons, you could leave it out, and add some vanilla extract or try adding lemon extract instead. I hope that helps!

  23. JoAnne says

    These look absolutely lovely. We also, for Spring, like strawberries dipped in sour cream and brown sugar. Everybody loves them

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Thanks JoAnne! It’s funny, my family used to mix cream and brown sugar to dip one of our pastries in, it was totally indulgent but we loved it whenever we could get our hands on it!

  24. Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says

    Sugar cookies are my FAVORITE! My Aunt has a great recipe that I need to get from her, and it’s the cakey kind too…pretty much my version of a perfect sugar cookie. Love the lemon frosting on here, perfect for spring!

  25. Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen says

    I’m ALL about a cakey sugar cookie! Especially when it’s frosted and lemon-y :). These sound wonderful and so perfect for spring!

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