Last week I hosted an event and needed to bring an easy dessert to feed a crowd, so I pulled out this fool-proof and extremely easy lemon shortbread cookie recipe from my cookbook: New England Invite: Fresh Feasts to Savor the Seasons. The citrus brightens up the sweet and buttery flavors and cookie dough has just 5 ingredients. I added in some food coloring to tint it in different ombre pink, red and purple tones for Valentine’s Day (you could adapt the color for any holiday, I’ve done green for St. Patrick’s Day shamrock cookies too!).  This recipe also makes a fun, buttery, sticky dough and is a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen—have them help shape the dough into a ball and roll it out before you stamp out the cookies with cookie cutters – get the adapted recipe below! 

The Easiest Lemon Shortbread Heart Cookies for Valentine's Day.
Serves: 24-30 Cookies
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • Food Coloring, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, butter, and sugar in a bowl. Beat with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Sift flour into the butter mixture and stir to fully combine the ingredients. If desired, add food coloring to tint the cookies to your preferred color.
  4. Use your hands to pack the dough together into two balls, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  5. After the dough chills, place it on a floured work surface and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to ½ inch thickness.
  6. Stamp the dough with your desired cookie-cutter shape and transfer to baking sheet.
  7. Bake the cookies at 350°F for 10-12 minutes, watching the color of the cookies closely, until they just start to turn a light golden color.
  8. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them rest for 2–3 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Adapted from New England Invite: Fresh Feasts to Savor the Seasons, By Kate Bowler