Lemon Poppy Seed Sugar Cookies

These cookies just scream: “Make me! It’s Spring!” Lightly lemon and deliciously soft, these simple sugar cookies (no rolling required!) are absolutely delightful.

A few months ago, I tried a recipe for soft and chewy lemon poppyseed sugar cookies but they were a disaster. Flat and overly buttery, they were definitely the opposite of their soft and chewy description. I was really disappointed. So when I got the hankering for the same type of cookie a few weeks ago, I knew I had to try again and come up with my own version. An adaptation on a very simple drop sugar cookie, these cookies were born and I was thrilled with the results.

These fantastic little cookies are perfect for a spring snack, any type of baby or bridal shower, or to take to someone as a small gift. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did (since I was hard pressed not to eat twenty!).

Lemon Poppy Seed Sugar Cookies

One Year Ago: Perfect Potato Salad
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies

Lemon Poppy Seed Sugar Cookies

Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 – 3 dozen cookies

Lemon Poppy Seed Sugar Cookies


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • zest of one lemon


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and poppy seeds. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and buttermilk. Mix well.
  3. Drop the dough by small tablespoonfuls onto a greased or lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are set. The cookies should be puffy and fairly light in color when they are finished baking. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet. Move the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Source: My Kitchen Cafe

60 Responses to Lemon Poppy Seed Sugar Cookies

  1. Nan says:

    These cookies are delish! I ended up overbaking one batch which left them a bit dry. So I made a glaze with the juice from the lemon that was zested and drizzled some on that batch. I ended up doing that to all of my cookies. You should try it! So yummy! And, then you have a use for that zested lemon. 🙂 They were all eaten immediately by the young women in my youth group. Thanks for a fun and different recipe!

  2. viktoriya says:

    What type of poppy seeds do I use? I have poppyseed butter, which is just poppyseeds that are mixed with something else and are sticky. Could I use poppy seed butter in recipe like this , and perhaps lemon poppyseed muffins? I don’t know if people usually mean dry poppyseeds or not…

  3. Megan says:

    I have made these at least 4 times since I found this recipe, and they are so delicious! I love having a cookie that’s a little different and is so easy to make. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Sara says:

    Made a winter version of this by replacing lemon with clementines! So good. I used the zest from 3 clementines, and also the juice of one. I absolotely love the original lemon one (I usually double or triple the lemon zest). Such a fun recipe to play with.

  5. […] never heard of Lemon Poppy Seed cookies before, until I found them on a blog through Pinterest, and I couldn’t possibly be happier with the results. It’s a light, […]

  6. […] off today with mini pancake maple muffins. Once I got those cleaned up, I whipped up some more lemon poppy seed sugar cookies. For some reason that wasn’t enough, and I looked through my Pinterest board to see what else […]


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  9. Michelle Pedersen says:

    Made these last night. Added about 1 tsp of lemon extract & about 3/4 cup white chocolate chips. They were fantastic!!! Got a few requests for the recipe. Thanks!

  10. You had the awesome outline here. I feel hungry upon seeing the pictures here in your site… This could be a wonderful tips to everyone. Thank you!

  11. tasha says:

    Made these today; found you via pinterest. These turned out great. I added the juice of my lemon as well. I love a heavy lemon flavor, so I may add more lemon juice or even extract the next time. Thanks for the keeper recipe!

  12. Laura Mba says:

    I just made these cookies…wanted to try a lemon type cookie…these couldn’t have been more perfect. I had to make some changes only because I didn’t have a few of the ingredients on had (ie: brown sugar, I used all organic raw for all the sugar) and I didn’t have buttermilk which I just substituted with 1/4 1% milk and the juice of one lemon). Loved them, hope to try more of your recipes. Just going through your blog…I also have 3 boys (one less then you) and a girl and get much sanity from a handful of chocolate chips from time to time.!

  13. […] Lemon poppyseed sugar cookies […]

  14. Laurie says:

    These cookies are fantastic! I didn’t change a thing, and they came out great. A perfect cookie for Spring. The kids love them too, and I think they’d make a great gift for someone also. Thank you so much!

  15. Tracey says:

    Hey, the first time I made these cookies they were light and fluffy and delicious. I just make them for the second time and this time they didn’t really turn out super fluffy, and the outside even had a little bit of a crunch to it. Any idea what might have caused that? They still taste yummy, but the texture was so much better the first time!

    • Mel says:

      Tracey – hmmm…I don’t really know what could have caused the issue. It could be anything from the temperature of your ingredients (especially butter) to how much flour was added (maybe you measured with a lighter hand this time??). Also, with these cookies, creaming the butter and sugar together for a full 3 minutes is really important to them turning out light and fluffy.

  16. Tracey says:

    Unlike you, I’m NOT a big sugar cookie fan. I like frosting on cake, not on cookies. THIS cookie however, intrigued me, because it didn’t require frosting, and I happen to love lemon and poppy seeds! These cookies did not disappoint in the least! THEY ARE DELICIOUS!!! Soft, chewy, and yummo! Thanks so much for the recipe…it’s definitely a keeper.

  17. Kristin R. says:

    I just made these cookies and blogged about them. They were exactly what I was going for! Thanks for the recipe!

  18. AB says:

    I just made these for the first time, YUM! I actually doubled the recipe and made one lemon and one almond flavored. I made a drizzle for the almond ones with a little powdered sugar, milk and almond extract. So good, thanks for the recipe.

  19. […] Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies ——————-(adapted from My Kitchen Cafe) […]

  20. Clairissa says:

    Mel – I made these for a Sunday brunch at my aunt and uncle’s house and they were raved about. I love that I can go to your site for a go-to recipe and it is always a guaranteed hit. You are amazing.

  21. Gina says:

    Ok, here’s my take on this fine recipe:
    I doubled both the poppy seeds (=2 T) and the vanilla (=1 t) in the dough, plus I added 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil. The resulting cookies–28 of them with a standard cookie scoop–had a terrific lemon flavor, especially by the next morning. Still, they seemed to need something.

    As the cookies were already plenty lemony, I whisked together a quick buttermilk glaze, consisting of one cup powdered sugar, one tablespoon softened butter, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, and enough buttermilk to get it to the right consistency (not quite three teaspoons?). I warmed the glaze on defrost in the microwave for 15 seconds or so to make it very smooth, then instead of drizzling, I dipped the top of each cookie, let the excess run off, and then set them on a rack to drip and dry completely (20 minutes or so?).

    Not only did the glaze add some sweetness that they needed (to my taste), but it made the rather plain-Jane cookies look prettier, and it will help keep them soft and tender as a bonus.

    In any case, that was my spin on this recipe. Thanks for sharing it!

    • Mel says:

      Gina – LOVE your detailed comment. Thank you! I think your adaptations are brilliant and the buttermilk glaze is heavenly in and of itself. Thank you so much! I hope other readers can benefit from your comment.

  22. Solveig says:

    After the delicious pork chop recipe was such a success, I had to try these. Another home run! These are so easy to make and the results are delicious! First batch disappeared rather quickly so am baking second batch today. Thanks again.

  23. Jennie says:

    I made these today and they turned out fantastic. I added about 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract to pump up the lemonyness (is that a word?) and I made a quick lemon icing to drizzle over the top (mix 2 cups powdered sugar and 3-4 Tablespoons of lemon juice until it gets kind of pastey looking). Anyway, great cookies. A nice departure from Chocolate Chip or Peanut Butter (not that there is anything wrong with those! Lol!).

    • Mel says:

      Jennie – I love the icing and pop of lemon flavor from the extract! Sounds delicious…thanks for letting me know you liked these.

  24. Amy Weaver says:

    These were so great Melanie. Rob loves anything with lemon so they were a big hit.

  25. Christie says:

    Mel – I live in Appleton…we are close! We moved here about five years ago and LOVE it. I know you moved to Wisconsin a while ago. I hope you like it as much as we do.

    I stumbled across your blog a few months ago and have been following it religiously. You do a great job and work so hard. I’ve been telling all of my friends about it!

    • Mel says:

      Christie – well, we might as well be neighbors considering I hardly know anyone in my neck of the woods! We do love it here, though, especially now with this beautiful weather!

  26. Alisha O says:

    Oh I really cannot wait to make these. Having a baby in 2 days… going to the store as soon as a decent hour hits!

  27. teresa says:

    must.have.cookies! those look so good!

  28. Christie says:

    Thanks for the tips. I really don’t know what happened. I’m in Wisconsin…so I doubt it had much to do with humidity. My son had a playdate, so there is a chance I didn’t measure something right. I’ll try again because these looked AMAZING. Thanks so much!

    • Mel says:

      Christie – ok, so you probably know I’m in WI, too…not many commenters are from here so now I’m curious where you live (although if you don’t want to tell me that’s ok. 🙂 I live in the Green Bay area, and you are right, I don’t think humidity is a problem. Let me know if you try them again!

  29. Veronica M. says:

    I read your tip about scooping the flour into a measuring cup with a spoon and thought I’d tell you my little trick. I used to do it with the spoon, but it’s tedious and I’m impatient so now I just pour my flour into the cup, which is a lot faster. To keep from making a mess, I place my measuring cup on a thin paper plate, pour the flour into the cup, then level it off. I bend the paper plate and pour the excess flour either back into the sack or into the cup if I need to measure more flour.

  30. Veronica M. says:

    Oh no you didn’t! These look so wonderful, but I just started dieting, er, eating healthy I mean. I think I can come up with an excuse to make them anyway–I can’t believe how perfect they look (and sound)!

  31. Christie says:

    These cookies looked beautiful and delicious…I just made them but mine came out like little balls of cookie. They never flattened. Please tell me what I did wrong. Should I have added more liquid? I’d like to try them again but I’m not sure what I should do to tweak them.

    • Mel says:

      Christie – I’m sorry these didn’t work out for you! My initial impression after reading your comment was that perhaps the cookie dough was overfloured. Too stiff of a dough will often lead to cookies that don’t flatten. You may already do this (and if so, I’m not sure this would have happened!) but the most foolproof way to measure flour is to scoop it into the measuring cup with a spoon and then level it off with a flat edge, like a knife, so that too much flour doesn’t get packed in. Also, another contributor can sometimes be climate (as in humidity levels), although it shouldn’t have made such a big difference that the cookies never spread out. Oh, darn. I’m really bummed! If you make them again and the dough is as stiff when you are ready to roll them into balls, try adding a tablespoon of buttermilk at a time to loosen up the dough.

  32. Jonna says:

    Oh…just what I need! The perfect Spring Cookie.
    I will also be making those yummy looking calzones.

  33. grace says:

    if there’s lemon, i want poppy seeds. if there’re poppy seeds, i want lemon. bread, muffins, cake–love ’em all. these are the first cookies i’ve seen and they look perfect!

  34. TaLaisa says:

    Oh yum. Yum. YUM. I love lemon. And lemon poppyseed. Our wedding cake was lemon poppyseed, made by my pastry chef boss. My husband requests lemon poppyseed cake for every birthday and unbirthday. Cookies? So much easier for those demanding ‘sweet’ cravings. Thank You!

    I’m planning to make a lemon glaze to drizzle over them. I can’t get enough lemon. But it’ll have to wait. Sundays are my ‘free’ sugar days.

  35. Memoria says:

    These cookies sound great. I’ve never worked with poppy seed before. I’ll have to try this out.

  36. Don’t those sound yummy!

  37. Cammee says:

    Well I’ll be. I’ve never even considered a lemon poppy seed cookie. My kids die over the muffins and cake, but I have a feeling I’m going to be partial to the cookie version.

  38. Kristy says:

    I made these this morning to take to a woman I am visiting this afternoon. They are perfect! I stacked them in a clear cellophane bag and tied it with cute ribbon. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I saw a similar one in the Family Circle magazine but liked that I didn’t have to refrigerate the dough with yours. FYI to others, with my pampered chef cookie scoop, I got 22 cookies out of the batch.

    • Mel says:

      Kristy – great minds think alike because that is exactly how I packaged them when I took them to a few friends. I’m so glad you made these! Thanks for letting me know so quickly.

  39. Ruth says:

    Any suggestions for the substitution rate of jarred lemon zest vs. zest of 1 lemon. Also, I would really like the lemon flavor to stand out…so considering adding lemon extract too. I can’t wait to try these.

    • Mel says:

      Ruth – these cookies are definitely not overly lemony so if you want more lemon flavor, lemon extract would be ok. The lemon zest adds a great subtle lemon flavor. I would say the zest of one lemon is equal to about 1 tablespoon of jarred lemon zest.

  40. I love these cookies. I always make them at EASTER time in the shape of eggs. The lemon and poppyseed flavors go perfect together.

  41. Love the idea of a no rolling sugar cookie. They look scrumptious!

  42. Kim in MD says:

    What a fabulous idea, Mel! I love lemon poppyseed cake/muffins, and never thought to turn it into a cookie! Yet another “why didn’t I think of that?” moment!

    You are amazingly creative, and we are so blessed that you share your talent with us! 🙂

  43. Regan says:

    My husband loves lemon-poppyseed muffins and will only eat “hand held” desserts (i.e. nothing with a fork/plate). This is the perfect combo! Thanks for sharing.

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