Lemon Cooler Cookies are soft, tender cookies bursting with fresh lemon and real butter, then coated in lemony powdered sugar!
Okay, friends...I'm going to date myself with this one. Today's recipe was inspired by a discontinued, boxed cookie that was popular in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s. Who remembers Lemon Cooler Cookies in all of their crunchy, sweet-and-tangy, powdered sugary glory?
While my mom didn't treat us to store-bought cookies all that often growing up, on the rare occasions that I got my hands on a box of those babies, they were gone in no time. And it wasn't like I was sharing them, since they typically ended up stashed under my bed. Tell me I'm not the only one?
So, nostalgic gal that I am, I decided to see if I could recreate those fondly remembered Lemon Cooler Cookies of my childhood. And you know what? I determined that it's hard to replicate the flavors of shortening and artificial ingredients when you insist on baking with real sugar and butter and lemon. 😉
Thus, my cookies are not exact copycats, but I think they're pretty darn good -- nay...even better -- than the originals!
These cookies are softer and thicker than the Sunshine brand Lemon Coolers that inspired them. They boast a tender, shortbread-like texture, a crisp exterior, loads of lemon flavor, and a generous blanket of powdered sugar.
- Butter. These cookies rely on real butter instead of shortening, which keeps them tender rather than crunchy. Be sure your butter is at room temperature.
- Powdered sugar + granulated sugar.
- Eggs. Again, eggs are best added at room temperature. I just put them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to remove the chill.
- Extracts. Both pure vanilla extract and lemon extract contribute flavor to this recipe. The lemon extract provides an extra lemony punch, but you may leave it out if you don’t have any on hand.
- Cake flour. If you don’t have cake flour, you can easily make your own.
- Measure 3 cups of regular flour into a bowl. Use a tablespoon to remove 6 tablespoons of flour from the bowl...just put it back into your flour container. Then add 6 tablespoons of corn starch to the bowl, to replace the flour you removed. Sift the flour and cornstarch mixture into another bowl by pouring it into a fine mesh strainer and tapping it with the palm of your hand. Repeat this process 4 to 5 more times until mixture is well combined and aerated. Proceed with recipe using your homemade cake flour.
- Alternatively (and I have not tested this), some people have reported successfully making this recipe with regular all-purpose flour instead of cake flour.
- Baking powder.
- Lemon juice. Bottled lemon juice will work just fine in this recipe. However, since you’ll already need several lemons for the zest, I recommend using freshly-squeezed lemon juice from those same lemons. You'll want to zest them before cutting them in half and juicing them.
- Lemon zest. Finely grated lemon zest works best in this recipe, particularly in the powdered sugar coating. Either use a microplane for zesting, or -- if your zest is coarse -- finely chop it with a knife before adding it to the recipe.
How to Make Lemon Cooler Cookies
These drop cookies involve a few easy steps, but they're so worth the little bit of time they require!
- Beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
- Blend in the eggs and the extracts until smooth.
- Stir in the dry ingredients and the lemony goodness.
- Space out balls of dough on lined cookie sheets and flatten slightly.
- Bake and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Coat with powdered sugar, finish cooling, and enjoy!
And there you have it, folks! I hope you love these little gems as much as my family does.
I have to say, they definitely fill a void in my lemon-loving heart. In fact, I'm no longer sad about the discontinuation of those beloved Lemon Cooler Cookies of my youth. Because -- childhood nostalgia aside -- you just can’t beat a homemade update made with real ingredients. 🙂
More Lemon Favorites
Lemon Cooler Cookies
- ⅔ cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon lemon extract
- 3 cups cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
To coat cookies:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- Position racks in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in the eggs, vanilla, and lemon extract until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Add the lemon juice and mix until everything is just combined (do not overmix).
- If the dough is too sticky to work with, refrigerate for 20 minutes. Using a mini cookie scoop (or a tablespoon), scoop the dough into approximately 1-inch balls. Space the balls at least 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets and flatten them slightly. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the centers are puffy and the cookies are light golden brown on the bottom. Remove the cookie sheet to a wire rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- While cookies are baking, combine remaining 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons lemon zest in a large paper lunch sack or gallon-sized plastic baggie. After 5 minutes of cooling time, remove 4 to 5 warm cookies from the sheet and carefully place in the powdered sugar. Gently shake and roll the bag around until the cookies are coated with powdered sugar. Remove the cookies from the bag, shaking off excess powdered sugar, and allow them to finish cooling on a wire rack. Repeat until all of the cookies are coated with powdered sugar.
- If you don’t have cake flour on hand, you can easily make your own. Measure 3 cups of regular flour into a bowl. Use a tablespoon to remove 6 tablespoons of flour from the bowl (put it back into your flour container). Add 6 tablespoons of corn starch to the bowl (to replace the flour you removed). Sift the flour and cornstarch mixture into another bowl by pouring it into a fine mesh strainer and tapping it with the palm of your hand. Repeat this process 4 to 5 more times until mixture is well combined and aerated. Proceed with recipe using your homemade cake flour.
- Bottled lemon juice works fine in this recipe, but since you’ll already need several lemons for the zest, it’s tastiest to go ahead and use freshly-squeezed lemon juice.
- Lemon extract provides an extra lemony punch, but you may leave it out if you don’t have it.
- Finely grated lemon zest works best in this recipe, particularly in the powdered sugar coating. Either use a microplane for zesting, or if your zest is coarse, you can finely chop it with a knife before adding to the recipe.