Whipped Lemon Shortbread

Shortbread, but make it citrusy and soft. These delicate, melt-in-your-mouth lemon cookies are light yet zesty. Butter and confectioners’ sugar are beaten together until super light and voluminous, giving them their namesake “whipped” texture, while the addition of masa harina provides a pronounced corn flavor.

20 mins
12 to 16 mins
1 hr 1 min
23 medium (about 2 1/2") cookies
Whipped Lemon Shortbread - select to zoom
Whipped Lemon Shortbread - select to zoom
Whipped Lemon Shortbread - select to zoom
Whipped Lemon Shortbread


Prevent your screen from going dark as you follow along.
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

  2. Weigh your flours; or measure by gently spooning into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.

  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the masa harina and flour. Set aside.

  4. In a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, confectioners’ sugar, salt, and lemon zest at medium-high speed until very smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

  5. Stir in the vanilla and lemon paste.

  6. Add the dry ingredients, mixing on low speed until the dough comes together.

  7. Portion the dough into 1 1/2" balls; a level tablespoon cookie scoop works well here.

  8. Gently roll the dough balls in granulated sugar to coat before placing them onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2" between them. If at any point the dough feels too soft to work with, cover the dough and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes. 

  9. Use a fork to lightly flatten the top of each cookie once.

  10. Bake the cookies for 12 to 16 minutes, or until they’re set and the edges are starting to brown slightly.

  11. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool right on the baking sheet; they’re quite fragile when warm. Cool completely before serving.

  12. Store lemon shortbread cookies, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Masa harina (translation: dough flour) is flour made from corn that’s been soaked in a solution of slaked lime (nixtamalized) to loosen its hull and soften it, which improves its texture and helps release its nutrients. The soaked corn is ground into a paste (masa), dried, and then ground again, this time into a fine flour. Due to the corn’s special treatment, neither cornmeal nor corn flour are good substitutes for masa harina.