Limoncello Cookies

63 | December 12, 2011

A couple of years ago with a house full of Limoncello and Limoncino (an Italian lemon liquor) that my in-laws brought back from Italy, the Limoncello Cookie was born. It is one of my favorite cookies of all time and if you follow ISMS than you know the Limoncello Cookie recipe is making it’s second appearance, only this time in a more refined, prettier, and tastier version. Think of it as Elvis’ 1968 comeback, if you will.

They’ve come to be a Christmas cookie staple in our house and this year I used them for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, a fun and delicious cookie swap amongst food bloggers. The cookie swap basically went like this: I signed up, was given three names of food bloggers with addresses, baked 36 cookies (12 for each participant), and received 36 cookies back. How could you go wrong with that? Well… we had a few bumps in the road, like I’m not sure who sent the last two batches of cookies as there was only return addresses and one batch was pretty much crumbs by the time it got here but it was still all very thoughtful and fun! The one batch of cookies that made it in tact with a name and contact info was insanely delicious! Like “I need to keep them locked up somewhere and hire a guard” kind of delicious. They came from Sweet Elizabeth and I’m not sure what she put in those Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies to make them so addictive but we can’t seem to put them down. Thanks to Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen for putting this together! I’ve enjoyed meeting other foodies, receiving cookies and especially baking for other people.

A shortbread base with limoncello frosting and topped with a candied lemon, Limoncello Cookies are pretty flippin’ heavenly in my opinion. Hope you enjoy and I hope these will become a holiday tradition in your kitchen as it is in mine. Salute!

Limoncello Cookies makes 24 cookies

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or paste
  • 1/2 Tablespoon grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 5 Tbs Limoncello
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 24 candied lemon wheels*
  • 72 yellow sugar pearls (3 for each cookie) optional

* Candied Lemon Wheels makes 24 wheels

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 to 3 large lemons, for 24 slices
Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice the lemons into 1/8 inch slices and remove any seeds. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan. Once boiling and the sugar is dissolved, reduce the heat to low, add lemon slices, and simmer for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the lemons and place on a cooling rack or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Allow to cool completely before using. Unused wheels can be stored in an air-tight container for 1 month in the refrigerator. Best if made the day before using.

In a medium bowl, combine salt and flour. Set aside.
Using a stand or hand mixer on a medium-high setting, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and mix until combined.
Next, add vanilla and lemon zest to the batter and mix to combine.
With the mixer on a medium-low setting, slowly add the flour/salt combo. Mix until the flour just starts to incorporate. Which simply means don’t over mix or you’ll get a tough cookie.
Pour the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and tightly cover. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 350°F. Once the dough is ready, divide it in half and return one half to the refrigerator. On a floured surface, roll the dough to 1/3 inch thick (just somewhere inbetween 1/4″ and 1/2″). With a 2 inch diameter round cookie cutter, cut dough into rounds and place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes until the edges start to golden. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Once baked, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before icing.
For the icing: In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar, Limoncello, and lemon juice. Stir until fluid but thick.
Dip cookies into the icing, allow to drain a little. Place on a plate, parchment paper, or cooling rack.
Decorate by placing a candied lemon wheel and a few sugar pearls on top of the cookie. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Allow the icing to set for at least 10 to 30 minutes. I know it’s hard to resist. Go ahead and sneak a bite, I won’t tell a soul.
Lemoncello Cookies. Warning: They’re just a little addictive.
***Chefs Note***
For a “no-fuss” simple version of the Limoncello cookie, follow mixing instructions but instead of rolling out the dough to make perfect round cookies, roll the dough into a 2″ by 12″  logs, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. When ready to bake, remove the wrap and with a knife simply slice the dough into 1/3″ thick cookies. Bake according to directions. Cool. And when it comes time to decorate after the icing is applied simply use a cluster of yellow sugar pearls, or a pinch of grated lemon zest, or yellow sprinkles, or just decorate however you wish. When I’m in a hurry this is what I do and that’s usually Christmas Eve and they’re just as good.


  • Sarah

    These cookies were amazing!!! Thank you so much for sending such a wonderful cookie. My children were fascinated by the lemon. I am so sorry about the ones that were given to you. Happy Holidays :)

    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      I’m so glad you liked them! And hey, a cookie crumb is a cookie crumb, right? so I’m just fine! Happy holidays to you as well Sarah!

  • Jessie

    So beautiful. Love these! Thanks for sharing!!

  • amy @ fearless homemaker

    these look just gorgeous – the bloggers who received them are definitely lucky! i love limoncello so i’m sure i’d adore these. i’ll definitely have to give them a try!

  • Michelle

    OH!!! These are darling and sounds yummy! Going on my list :)

  • Renee

    Yay! I can finally read your post about your beautiful cookies I kept seeing on #fbcookieswap! I’m bookmarking this so I can make it in the future. Thanks!

    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      Anytime. I’ve got your chocolate candy cane cookies bookmarked too! Can’t wait!

  • the husband

    To all reading this: these cookies are even better than they look. For better or for worse, I only get about a half dozen of these each year; the rest become gifts. I’ve already started lobbying for two dozen for personal use as “marathon fuel.” Runners need carbs, right?

    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      Don’t worry, I’m making more this week. You’re Dad will disown me if not.

  • Christy Davis

    I can attest to these cookies; they are delicious!!! We received them in the mail a couple of weeks ago…thanks again Meredith. Merry Christmas!

  • Kristen Pyle

    These sound DELICIOUS and they look so darn pretty! I’m going to try to make these this weekend. Hopefully they turn out well for me :)

  • Laurie {Simply Scratch}

    Seriously… these are beautiful Meredith! I think I’ll have to make these for the holidays… or just for me to totally devour by myself… either way I’M MAKING THEM!!

  • sara

    Yum, these look so delicious and perfect for the holidays! :)

  • Jennifer | Mother Thyme

    These are fabulous! I couldn’t wait to see the recipe after your picture of the beautiful cookies on Instagram. I am definitely adding these cookies in to include on my holiday cookie buffet!

  • Peggie

    For the lemon wheels, you don’t say how much water to use. I’m making limoncello now and will definitely make these cookies.

    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      Thank you, Peggie for pointing that out! It’s 2 cups of water for the lemon wheels. By the way, I’m jealous of your homemade limoncello!

  • Valerie @ From Valerie's Kitchen

    I have bags of lemons waiting for me in my kitchen and now I have an idea what I might be doing with them! Beauteeful!!!

  • Laura

    My goodness – these look perfect!

  • amelia from z tasty life

    they look absolutely fabulous!!! I need to try them with my home-made limoncello…

  • Kara

    Just stumbled on your site and these cookies are lovely. Can’t wait to try them!

  • Tickled Red

    These are stunning darlin’! I am so making a batch as soon as I can round up some limoncello. May have to brew a batch and wait patiently ;D

  • Amber, RD

    These are so beautiful! If I made these and they looked that good, I’m not sure I could bring myself to eat them. No, I take that back. They sounds delicious!

  • Sofie Dittmann/The German Foodie

    These look wonderful, almost too pretty to eat – and I bet they were delicious!

  • Katie

    WOW–these look and sound amazing. I just pinned them and can’t wait to give these a try!

  • Lisa

    I made these for Christmas and my family inhaled them. Thank you for the wonderful recipe – they are going to become a holiday favorite! Thanks!

  • Micah

    Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing through some of the posts I realized it’s new to me.
    Regardless, I’m definitely delighted I came across it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back often!

  • Deb

    I just followed a link from an email from Hoosier Homemade & discovered this great site & these beautiful cookies. My husband loves lemon but can’t have alcohol is there any substitute that would be any where near as good or am I better off to try something differant? Thanks for your help.

    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      HI Deb! I would try 3 tablespoons of lemon juice plus 1 tablespoon of water. If it’s too thin add water a spoonful at a time until it’s fluid. That should be just enough lemon flavor without being too over powering. Hope that helps.

  • Jessica

    These look awesome!! I’m going to try them out for my work party :) Question- if I make them on a Sunday, do you think they’ll still taste fresh by the end of the week? I know some cookies last longer than others :)

    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      Yes, these do last for up to a week. I think you would be safe! Good question.

  • Maria

    Oh, these look delightfully divine. I made a batch of Limoncello this summer and have tons still to use. These cookies will be a perfect addition to the Limoncello dessert file. How do the candy pearls stay attached, by the way?

    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      The candied lemon slices are very sticky and the pearls stay on. Plus it helps that you put them on while the icing is setting. Good question.

  • Diana

    I will make these for a cookie swap I think. My plan is to add some green food coloring to the lemon slices, then use red candies for the center.

  • Heather@ Online Game For Girls

    Hello How are you I`m here at the first time and this recipe is very nice and all steps are easy to follow for Limoncello Cookies.I read your Gravetar Profile nice story you sharing there I`m Also started a New Blog Where Girl Play the Games and your blog is very good for healthy and Delicious Menu for my Family i book mark your site now for more recipes and give you the best appreciated words from my side…Thanks

  • Ange

    I’m planning on making these for my wedding favors, how well do they freeze? In order to not lose my mind with stress, I want to minimize projects the days before the wedding… I was thinking of baking the cookies a week before hand, freezing them, then adding the icing and lemon topping a few days prior. Do you think that would work out?
    Thanks can’t wait to try them :)

    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      I actually think it might work. I know my mother-in-law has frozen them before with good results. Might not hurt to do a trial batch just to see. Congratulations!

      • Ange

        I am doing a test batch tonight with my mom thanks!

  • David

    Well, I tried this recipe for the first time and I was not disappointed. I have a very concerning family that always tries to out-do each other with the Christmas Cookie Swap. They’ll have quite the surprise this year with this Lemoncello Cookie! Thank you for the inspiration.


  • Melinda Addie

    I made your cookies and won 3 awards in the office cookie exchange/contest. I could not get the lemons to hold up, so ended up chopping them up and laying on top of cookies. Also, I think my icing was too thin and I thought it was thick. I used way more than 1.5 cups of powdered sugar. Also my dough was too soft and sticky, so I just made little circles of dough that I pressed out with my thumb. So each cookie was a perfect mouthful.

  • Linda Wiseman

    Hi Meredith,
    I just found your wonderful site and thought you might be interested in joining some of my Pinterest group boards. I think that you would be a great fit. Please check out my Pinterest account here:
    I shoot me a message if you are interested in joining any of them.

  • Linda Wiseman

    Hi Meredith,
    I just found your wonderful site and thought you might be interested in joining some of my Pinterest group boards. I think that you would be a great fit. Please check out my Pinterest account here:
    I shoot me a message if you are interested in joining any of them.
    Linda – P.S. – I love the name of your site too. So fun!

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