Chewy, soft, and perfectly lemon-y, these vegan lemon cookies are a hit in my house! They’re topped with a delicious, thick cream cheese frosting and lemon zest to take them over the edge.
These lemon cookies have been a labor of love the past few weeks! I’ve been on a quest to make the perfect lemon cookies and it has been a lot of trial and error. They needed to be chewy, sweet, and soft, while also bursting with lemon flavor. Plus, I wanted them to taste good on their own, but also pair well with frosting. After about 6 tests, we have finally made it.
While these vegan lemon cookies are great for spring, they’re also the perfect summer treat! Then again, I will probably be making them all year long. Even though I’ve had more lemon cookies this past month than in my entire life. But, hey no complaints!
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WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
Easy to Make – These cookies are incredibly easy to make, as is the frosting!
Strong Lemon Flavor – Of course these lemon cookies need to be bursting with a strong lemon flavor. Made with fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, and a super simple lemon sugar, they is definitely no shortage of lemon in these cookies.
Freezer-Friendly – I love placing bakes in the freezer so that I have them whenever I am craving something sweet. And these lemon cookies freeze wonderfully. If it’s a hot day, I actually prefer having them straight from the freezer!
INGREDIENTS NEEDED (WITH SUBSTITUTIONS)
To make these easy vegan lemon cookies you will need the following ingredients:
Vegan Butter – To make these lemon cookies perfectly soft and chewy, we’re using vegan butter. My favorite brand is Earth Balance vegan butter sticks, but any good quality vegan butter should do.
Cane Sugar – Cane sugar is mixed with fresh lemon zest to create a delicious and strong lemon flavor that shines in these cookies.
All-Purpose Flour – All-purpose flour is the best flour to use for these cookies, however you should be able to use a 1:1 gluten-free flour replacement. But, it will change the texture slightly.
Fresh Lemon Juice & Lemon Zest – To make sure these vegan lemon cookies are loaded with lemon flavor, we’re using fresh lemon juice and zest.
Plant-Based Milk – A small amount of non-dairy milk is used. While I use unsweetened almond milk for my baking, any non-dairy milk is fine – soy milk, oat milk, coconut milk, etc.
Baking Soda, Baking Powder, & Salt – Essential ingredients for cookies.
Vanilla Extract – A splash of vanilla enhances the flavor in these deliciously chewy cookies.
Vegan Cream Cheese – These cookies are made with vegan cream cheese frosting. For dairy-free cream cheese frosting it is SUPER important to use a mild, good quality cream cheese. Brands I recommend include: Trader Joe’s Brand, Tofutti, and SimplyV.
Vegan Butter – Softened vegan butter sticks are used in this frosting along with dairy-free cream cheese to create the perfect thick frosting.
Powdered Sugar – Powdered sugar creates the perfect frosting consistency.
Fresh Lemon Juice – If you want to add in an extra burst of lemon, add a bit of fresh lemon juice to the frosting.
Plant-Based Milk – A splash of plant-based milk helps to thin out the frosting. If the texture is perfect before adding, feel free to omit!
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST LEMON COOKIES
To make these lemon sugar cookies follow the below directions. Make sure to read the recipe card for full instructions and ingredients.
HOW TO MAKE THE COOKIES
Step 1: Begin by preheating the oven to 350F and preparing a lined baking sheet.
Step 2: In a medium-sized bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Rub together with your fingers for 2-3 minutes until combined.
Step 3: To a stand mixer, add the lemon sugar and softened vegan butter. The butter should be lightly softened, not melted. Beat for 1-2 minutes on medium-low speed until whipped together.
Step 4: Add in the lemon juice, vanilla, and dairy-free milk and beat for another 1-2 minutes until combined.
Step 5: In a separate bowl, whisk together the baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour.
Step 6: Slowly add the flour mixture to the stand mixer and beat until a dough forms.
Step 7: Cover the mixing bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Step 8: Using a cookie scooper or your hands, add one to two tablespoons of dough onto your prepared baking sheet.
Step 9: Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the sides are lightly golden brown. They will harden as they cool, so if they look underbaked at first, no need to worry!
If you notice your cookies aren’t spreading after 6-7 minutes, remove from the oven, and smack the pan on the counter to help deflate the cookies. For a chewier texture, you can also do this once you remove the cookies when they’re done baking.
Step 10: Place on a wire rack and let cool.
HOW TO MAKE THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Step 1: Prepare the frosting by adding softened vegan cream cheese and softened vegan butter to a stand mixer. Whip on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until combined.
Step 2: Add in the powdered sugar and continue whipping on medium speed until a frosting forms.
Step 3: Add in the lemon juice and whip until combined. Then, add in the non-dairy milk until you’ve reached your ideal consistency.
Step 4: Frost the cookies once cool and top with more lemon zest!
STORAGE & REHEATING
These vegan lemon sugar cookies are super easy to store! You can keep unfrosted lemon cookies on the counter in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Then, transfer to the fridge for an additional 1-2 days. If already frosted, they keep in the fridge for 4-5 days.
You can also place these cookies in the freezer. To do so, I recommend skipping the frosting overall or adding on once defrosted. Place the cookies in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 2 months.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
Yes! If you want these lemon cookies to have a wrinkly appearance on the top, simply roll in granulated sugar before baking. As they bake this will help create wrinkles in the cookie.
To make these cookies chewier, you can flatten them out slightly prior to baking. In the middle of baking, you can also remove from the oven and bang the pan against the counter, this will help the cookies deflate. I recommend also doing this after the cookies have fully baked for that perfectly chewy texture.
As soon as you remove the cookies from the oven use a cookie cutter (or lid of a mason jar) and move the cookie in a circular shape. Slide the cookie cutter around the cookie until all the edges have been evened out.
As the cookies cool, they will stay in that shape and will look professionally made – it’s a small difference that makes the cookies look extra pretty!
OTHER VEGAN LEMON RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
If you decide to try this recipe out, let me know! I love seeing your recreations tagged on Instagram @nourishedwithnatalie.
Vegan Lemon Cookies
- ⅔ cup cane sugar
- 2 heaping tsps lemon zest
- ½ cup vegan butter, softened
- 2 tbsp non-dairy milk
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
Cream Cheese Frosting
- ⅓ cup vegan cream cheese*, softened
- ¼ cup vegan butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- ½ tbsp fresh lemon juice
- non-dairy milk, or as needed
How to make the Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare a lined baking sheet.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Rub together with your fingers for 2-3 minutes until combined.
- To a stand mixer, add the lemon sugar and softened vegan butter. Beat for 1-2 minutes on medium-low speed until whipped together.
- Add in the wet ingredients (the lemon juice, vanilla, and dairy-free milk) and beat for another 1-2 minutes until combined.
- Slowly add in the dry ingredients (baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour) and beat on medium speed until a dough forms.
- Cover the mixing bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Using a cookie scoop or your hands, add one to two tablespoons of dough onto your prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the sides are lightly golden brown. They will harden as they cool, so if they look underbaked at first, no need to worry!**
- Place on a wire rack and let cool.
How to Make the Frosting
- Prepare the frosting by adding softened vegan cream cheese and softened vegan butter to a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until combined.
- Slowly add in the powdered sugar and continue whipping on medium speed until a frosting forms.
- Add in the lemon juice and beat the mixture on medium speed until combined.
- If too thick, add in the non-dairy milk until you've reached your ideal consistency.
- Frost the cookies once they have cooled completely and optionally top with lemon zest.