Rosemary Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Have you ever baked a sweet dessert with herbs? I’ll be honest, this is the first time I’ve tried it and I don’t think I’m ever going back to my non-herb baking days. These Rosemary Lemon Shortbread Cookies are a surprise with every bite. Buttery shortbread infused with sweet and tangy citrus and a subtle earthy herbal note from the rosemary. All of these flavors are set off by the slight crunch of the sparkling sugar at the edge of each little cookie. Seriously, these cookies will continue to delight you even as you find yourself eating the entire batch all by yourself. I’m not admitting to anything other than the fact that I may need a cookie intervention.

Along with my cookie intervention I may need an intervention for all of my ‘kicks’ this year. And by kicks, I mean short lived obsessions during which I explore and cook and bake with a certain ingredient until my family can’t stand to even look at it anymore. And then I move on. Luckily, each kick has gently given way to the next one so that the previous is not thought about in completely negative light, but rather thought of fondly. At least I like to think that’s the case. I just can’t help myself. I get so into a particular ingredient or food and I can’t quite seem to think about anything else until I’ve exhausted all of my ideas; or at least until the next shiny ingredient comes along and turns my head.

These Rosemary Lemon Shortbread Cookies seem to embody several of my kicks, especially when paired with my Rosemary Citrus Spritzers. I have been on a crazy citrus kick lately, going from Meyer lemons to key limes and now a combination of lemon and mandarin orange. The Rosemary Lemon Shortbreads are also giving way to my latest kick: baking with herbs. Stay tuned for more of that because if I know myself at all, this isn’t over by a long shot. But you should definitely try them for yourself. I’m quite sure you won’t be sorry that you did.

Do you have any ingredients that you just can’t get enough of? Please tell me I’m not the only one.

Rosemary Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 16-18 minutes

Total Time: 38 minutes


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Sanding sugar for rolling, optional


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add lemon zest, vanilla and egg and beat until incorporated.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together both kinds of flour, salt and rosemary.
  3. With the mixer on low, gently add dry ingredients into butter mixture. Mix until ingredients are well combined and a stiff dough is formed.
  4. Cut two 12x16 inch pieces of plastic wrap. Divide dough in half placing one half of the dough on each piece of plastic wrap. Use your hands to form two 1 ½ inch diameter logs. Open the plastic wrap and sprinkle logs with sanding sugar (if using) and roll a bit more to coat the logs well in the sugar. Wrap logs tightly in the plastic wrap, place on baking sheet and freeze logs for 1 hour or until firm.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  6. Remove dough logs from the freezer and remove the plastic wrap. Slice dough into ¼ inch thick slices and place on prepared baking sheets 1 inch apart.
  7. Bake until cookies are just golden at the edges, about 16-18 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on wire racks. Store cookies in an air tight container for up to 4 days.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.

by Emily

Emily is the cook, baker, photographer and rambler behind the blog, Jelly Toast. Aside from taking photos of everything she eats, her days are spent being a short order cook, story teller, tea party guest and giver-of-snuggles to her two kiddos. She has not yet mastered the clean-as-you-go cooking style, but has high hopes for the future.

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48 Responses to “Rosemary Lemon Shortbread Cookies”

  1. Natasha — February 20, 2013 at 8:41 am

    I looove baking with herbs. Rosemary and lemon is one of my favorite combinations. Thyme and sage are also wonderful herbs to bake with. And I love simple little cookies like this, especially with those cute sparkly edges!


  2. Brian @ A Thought For Food — February 20, 2013 at 9:05 am

    I have no doubt that I’d love these cookies… and it’s so funny, I have rosemary, lemon scones on the blog right now. Something must be in the air. :-)


    • Emily — February 20, 2013 at 6:25 pm

      I’m definitely going to have to swing by and check out those scones, Brian! They sound amazing!

  3. Mari @ Oh, Sweet & Savory — February 20, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Lovely photos and recipe! I’ve enjoyed the lemon-and-rosemary flavor combination in my savory dishes. I can’t wait to try this in a cookie, and a shortbread cookie no less!
    And I know what you mean by ‘kicks’ — I experience them all the time (I’m currently on a figs and hazelnut kick).


  4. Mari @ Oh, Sweet & Savory — February 20, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Lovely photos and recipe! I’ve enjoyed the lemon-and-rosemary flavor combination in my savory dishes. Can’t wait to try it in a cookie, and a shortbread cookie no less!
    (And I know what you mean by ‘kicks’ — I experience them all the time (right now I’m on a fig and hazelnut kick!)


    • Emily — February 20, 2013 at 6:27 pm

      Thanks so much, Mari! Fig and hazelnut sound amazing :)

  5. Cookbook Queen — February 20, 2013 at 10:07 am

    I go through “kicks” constantly. Right now I’ve decided that my family needs to expand it’s tastebud horizons, so I’m trying new dinner recipes constantly.

    I think the boys would give anything for a taco at this point.

    These cookies are absolutely gorgeous!


    • Emily — February 20, 2013 at 6:28 pm

      Thanks so much!! I think I could go for a taco, too, now that you mention it…

  6. Debby Pucci — February 20, 2013 at 10:09 am

    They certainly look yummy!


  7. Barbara | Creative Culinary — February 20, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I’ve made rosemary and lavender shortbread cookies and the biggest surprise was how well the rosemary blended with something a bit sweet; it was our favorite of the two. I’ve also used lavender and lemon on a pizza with ricotta and honey; not quite a dessert but oh so good. I love baking with herbs in general; while no longer interested in a veggie garden I still keep a huge herb garden and get excited this time of year knowing it won’t be long!


    • Emily — February 26, 2013 at 10:34 am

      I’ve never cooked with lavender before, but have always wanted to try it. That lavender and lemon pizza sounds unbelievable! Thanks so much for the ideas :)

  8. Nancy L — February 20, 2013 at 11:05 am

    I have made a similar cookie from a Martha Stewart recipe for Rosemary Butter Cookies and I absolutely love them!! The addition of the lemon though would certainly send it over the top!! Can’t wait to try this!


  9. Deauna — February 20, 2013 at 11:22 am

    there’s a tea salon that has THE BEST herb cookies. My favorite is the one made with lavendar. It’s such a different flavor experience.


  10. Jess @ On Sugar Mountain — February 20, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    How neat are these!! I never really think to use herbs in my baking (other than breads anyway) and now I REALLY want to try these out to experience the flavor first hand. They look gorgeous :D


  11. Stephanie (Velez Delights) — February 20, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    I’ve never tried baking sweets with herbs even though my mom’s tried to get me to do it for years! I guess I’ll have to try it out!


  12. natalie @ wee eats — February 20, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    savory cookies?? madness!


  13. Kate | Food Babbles — February 20, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    I loooove baking with herbs or pairing herbs with desserts in general. I find it so unexpected and people kind of look at you a little strange when you tell them there’s basil in their sorbet or rosemary in their lemonade. But they’re almost always pleasantly surprised. These cookies sound like they are incredible! I especially love lemons as rosemary together. Oh and as far as kicks, I’m totally there with you. I had my herb kick last summer. I was on a goat cheese baked into anything and everything kick for a while in the fall. Oh, and lest we forget, my bacon desserts craze. That kick still continues to be experimented with.


    • Emily — February 26, 2013 at 10:44 am

      Kate, I think you and I are totally on the same page with kicks! I buy goat cheese in these huge packages from Costco (and I’m not ashamed) because we go through so much. It’s crazy! I can also completely get on board with a bacon kick, anytime :)

  14. Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen — February 20, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    I’m way too ADD to stick with one ingredient (except maybe butter!) for very long. I’ve never tried herbs in baking, but these sound incredible.


    • Emily — February 26, 2013 at 10:41 am

      I couldn’t agree more that butter is definitely something to stick with ;) You should totally try these, Loretta! It’s great to see you again!

  15. Bellenza Bistro — February 20, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Must give all these herb ideas a try! Love anything lemon already…but these cookies look like something special!


  16. Michael — February 21, 2013 at 8:47 am

    These looks delish! I think anything with course sugar gets my vote haha


    • Emily — February 26, 2013 at 10:39 am

      Me too, Michael! It just makes things look so fancy :) Thanks so much for stopping by!

  17. Holiday Baker Man — February 21, 2013 at 11:27 am

    These are pretty awesome!


  18. lemonkerdz — February 22, 2013 at 8:45 am

    I love shortbread and adding new flavours seems a great idea. Will give this a go. Thanks


  19. PJ Graham — February 22, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    I love the lemon and rosemary combo – I get rave review for lemon-rosemary sugar cookies. I also make a rosemary apple pie. Blackberry and sage go well together (I actually made a blackberry sage jelly this year). Basil and honey. And so on. Yummy stuff!


    • Emily — February 26, 2013 at 10:38 am

      Wow, thanks for all of the ideas, PJ! I just bought 4 packages of blackberries at the store and now I really think I’ll need to try to pair it with sage. I love that idea! Thank you so much for stopping by!!

  20. Tracy — February 23, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    These look absolutely lovely! Rosmeary is my favorite herb, and these cookies look delightful to go with my afternoon tea.


    • Emily — February 26, 2013 at 10:37 am

      Thanks, Tracy! They are perfect with tea. I may have tried it with a dozen or two ;)

  21. Stephanie — February 24, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    I made these today and they are delicious! Super easy, too! Thank you!


  22. Gisele — February 25, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Hi ! I baked these cookies for my family on Saturday and it was a delight ! Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe !


    • Emily — February 26, 2013 at 10:36 am

      That’s great, Gisele! I’m so glad to hear it. Thanks so much for stopping back and taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it!

  23. Oliver Denton — February 25, 2013 at 11:20 am

    I’ve been looking for something to do with all the rosemary in the garden – definitely going to try this!


  24. Tana — May 1, 2013 at 11:13 am

    I’m planning on making these this weekend as party favors but I want to roll out the dough and cut the cookies into shapes. Any suggestions on method to do so?


  25. Suzy — May 9, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Hi Emily,
    I found this recipe on Pinterest and I couldn’t wait to try it! I love shortbread cookies and the rosemary sent this to the top of my “to bake” list! I could not find sanding sugar at my local grocery. I had sugar in the raw on hand and that made for a nice crunchy outside! I hope to bring these to my mom for Mother’s Day Sunday, but between my husband and I, I’m not sure they will last!
    Thanks for the recipe. I can’t wait to try some of the other tastey treats I see on your site!


  26. Julie — September 14, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Hi, I’d like to make the shortbread. How much in weight is 2 sticks of butter please?


    • Jamie — September 14, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      After a quick Google search, here is some info for you:
      Butter is sold in 4 sticks to the pound. 2 sticks is 8 ounces, equal to 16 tablespoons.
      One stick is 1/4 pound = 4 ounces = 113 grams.
      I hope this helps.

  27. Valeria — October 7, 2013 at 9:40 am

    These cookies could definitely use some fresh minced ginger! Nice recipe, thanks xx


    • Jamie — October 7, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks so much for stopping by! If you give the ginger a try, let me know how it tastes!

  28. Jackie — December 4, 2013 at 3:54 am

    Hi, I just tried this recipe. I double checked my measurements, but the dough seemed way to wet. I added more flour and they baked up fine, but they are more like a sugar cookie than a shortbread. Has anyone else had this trouble. My understanding is that shortbread should be a stiffer dough.


  29. kellee — December 1, 2014 at 11:41 am

    I was wondering if this dough will freeze well? I wanted to make the dough and freeze it. This way all I need to do when it’s time for my family’s cookie exchange is defrost, cut and cook.


    • Jamie — January 28, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      Hi Kellee,

      Freezing the dough should be fine. Sorry for the late reply!

      – Jamie

  30. Laura — May 1, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    I just made a half recipe of these and they are DELICIOUS! I am making cookies for a friends wedding and I’m definitely using this recipe! I only used all-purpose flour and baked them for 15 minutes. I’m almost thinking they could have a smidge more lemon zest but heavens above these are good!


    • Jamie — May 3, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      That’s great, Laura! I’m so glad you like them!

  31. Katherinesummer — September 3, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    When you say 2 sticks of butter are you talking about 1c sticks or 1/2c sticks?


    • Jamie — September 4, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      1/2 cup sticks. :)
      Thanks for stopping by.

  32. Alma Fawcett — April 10, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Lovely recipe, I’ve been baking these for many years before your original post. Instead of giving my secret recipe, I’ll give them yours! by the way I absolutely love the added look of sanded sugar! Bravo!


    • Jamie — April 10, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      Thank you, Alma! I appreciate your kind words.

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