Today’s post and recipe are dedicated to my cool Aunt Roxanne.

Two lemon shortbread cookies with pink icing on a plate

Every girl needs a “cool aunt.” When you are younger, your cool aunt takes you to her neighborhood pool, where you sip Fresca, munch the Cool Ranch Doritos your mom refuses to buy, and gossip about boys. When you are older, your cool aunt takes you to her favorite Mexican restaurant, where you slurp Margaritas, eat too much queso dip, and gossip about boys. Your cool aunt has the right advice for any situation, makes friends everywhere she goes, and is probably the most stylish person you have ever met. All of the above and more perfectly describes my cool Aunt Roxanne.

Last week, I received the shocking news that Roxanne had passed away unexpectedly. A cherished friend, aunt, sister, and daughter, she was taken from us too soon at the young age of 54.

Times of grief and heartbreak often leave me feeling powerless. I am not gifted with eloquence to offer soft words of comfort like my sister, with practicality and organization to accomplish important tasks like my mom, or with perspective to see the bigger picture like Ben. Most of the time, I find myself wandering aimlessly, trying to look busy, but really having no clue what I should do or how I should feel.

My default course of action when helpless: I bake.

Lemon shortbread cookies being cut out of cookie dough and placed on a baking sheet

The most dreadful of events—the death of a loved one; a natural disaster; an undeserved, violent attack— are often the ones I observe to be the most senseless. Faced with inexplicable, irrational tragedy, I find solace in the consistency and predictability of baking. A certain amount of specific ingredients, combined in a certain order, yield (almost) certain results. In my tiny kitchen-corner of the world, I can assert a measure of authority and define my dessert destiny. In a faulty world, it is comforting to reaffirm that butter and sugar will still whip into a sweet, fluffy frenzy.

Two side-by-side photos of lemon shortbread cookie dough

Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Icing are a tribute to my Aunt Roxanne. In the words of a friend, Roxanne was “sassy, classy, and fun.” With their bright flavor and classic flair, Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Icing are a tribute to her shining personality.

A lemon shortbread cookie with pink lemon icing on a white plate

Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Icing are everything a shortbread cookie should be—buttery and tender with a nice crisp—with a bonus burst of citrus energy. Just as Roxanne brought life and excitement everywhere she went, these cookies will boost your mood and animate your spirit.

Lemon shortbread cookies on a wire cooling rack with pink lemon icing

And they sparkle! A final dusting of sanding sugar adds extra pizazz to Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Icing. I choose pink in honor of Roxanne’s battle with breast cancer; I choose the sparkliest pink available, because Roxanne was a lady that lit up a room.

All of our lives could use a bit of extra shine, so why not start with our cookies?

Lemon shortbread cookies on a glass of milk and white plate

Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Icing have a classic, comforting taste that is solace until itself. Buttery, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread eptimomizes how truly delightful the unity of three simple ingredients—butter, sugar, and flour—can be, and the sunny citrus will brighten your spirit.

A glass of milk with a lemon shortbread cookie on top

Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Icing will bring joy to your day and a bit of comfort to your world; I know they have to mine. Thank you for allowing me to remember my cool Aunt Roxanne to share this bit of baked peace with you.

Cookie dough for lemon shortbread cookies being cut into cookie shapes

Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Icing

5 from 1 vote
Luscious Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Icing are everything a shortbread cookie should be: buttery, melt-in-your-mouth tender with a nice, light crisp. Lemon adds an extra burst of citrus energy, making this recipe a fun twist on a classic flavor.

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 1 hr 10 mins

Servings: 16 3-inch cookies, approx.


For the Lemon Shortbread:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 and 1/2 sticks) at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lightly packed lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Sanding sugar (optional for decorating)

For the Lemon Icing:

  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon milk plus more as needed


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment) mix together the butter and sugar on low speed, just until combined. Still on low, add lemon zest, vanilla, flour and salt. Mix only until the dough comes together. It will be very crumbly.
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into a flat disk, wrap in plastic, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Once the dough has chilled, roll the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle or square. Using a cookie cutter lightly dipped in flour, cut out cookies, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat mat (if not using parchment paper or a silpat, simply leave the cookie sheet ungreased).
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the Lemon Icing: Mix together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla. Add milk one teaspoon at a time until the desired consistence is reached. Drizzle over cooled cookies. Sprinkle with sanding sugar and serve.


The cooking time in the recipe below is based on 1/2-inch thick cookies. If your cookies are thinner, baking time should be reduced. (For 1/4-inch thick cookies, begin checking at 10-12 minutes).

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. sending you a big hug and praying for your family – Aunt Roxane was lucky to have a niece like you and I’m sure you lit up her life! xo

  2. Aw :( So sorry for your loss — I’m sure she’s smiling down at you for making these! I always bake in tough times, too. Baking certainly mends the soul.

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss :( Even if you don’t have the eloquence of your sister or organization of your mother, at least stress-baking allows other people to stress eat (which I find a very important part of the healing process).

    1. Kelly, I could not agree with you more! We have plenty of stress baking/eating happening on all sides lately, but it’s a tasty way to cope. Thanks for your kind comment.

  4. oh erin i am so sorry to hear about your aunt…sending hugs to you….the cookies with pink frosting look perfect and so sweet for your aunt. xoxo angela

  5. cool ranch doritos, fresca, hanging with my cool aunt – YES! reminds me of my childhood. I’m so sorry to hear about your aunt Erin. What a beautiful and sweet post dedicated to her. Many prayers.

  6. I am sorry to hear about your aunt. She sounds like a kick ass women and somebody I would have like to known. These lemon cookies though bring a brightness to an otherwise gloomy situation. Hope things get better!

  7. I’m sorry for your loss.
    I also have a cool aunt. Maybe I should bake her some of these delicious cookies

  8. Erin, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. My dad left us 6 weeks ago and when I feel like crying, I head to the kitchen to bake. He was an amazing cook so I know he’s right there with me enjoying the mess and heavenly smells. I can’t wait to try these :)

    1. Hi Trudy, I’m so sorry for your loss as well. I have no doubt that your dad is cooking right beside you too! Wishing you peace and comfort (and a kitchen filled with messes and heavenly smells :)) Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  9. I cannot find the link to this recipe and would love to have it. Just got a bunch of beautiful meyer lemons from a neighbor