These holiday citrus sugar cookies are a yearly tradition around here and something everyone looks forward to at the holidays. These citrus cookies have hints of orange and lemon, are very forgiving and can be made into more than cutout cookies.
With this one dough you will be on your way to citrus flavored crisp sugar cookies and beautiful snowball style cookies as well!
About this citrus cookie recipe:
I am a big fan of crisp sugar cookies and this citrus sugar cookie recipe is our favorite one to make at the holidays. These are lemon and orange cookies but with just a hint of those flavors in the dough to really elevate the flavor of these cookies.
This citrus sugar cookie dough can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until you are ready to roll and cut them out. I like to make a large batch of this citrus sugar cookie dough at the beginning of the month during the holiday season and bake up a batch each week.
These are crisp sugar cookies that are lightly citrus flavored and not too sweet. In other words, delicious!
Steps to making these crisp sugar cookies:
Tips when working with this citrus cookie dough:
This citrus sugar cookie dough can be a tricky dough to work with because it is a little drier than most cookie dough recipes that you roll out but let me tell you it is worth it for the flavor! Having a drier dough before baking means you will have crisp cookies after baking.
Here are some of my tips when making these lemon and orange cookies:
- If the dough feels a little dry before rolling, do not add extra flour. You can grab a big chunk of the dough and squeeze it in your hands to warm it up a bit. This will help make the dough more pliable. Just keep doing this until the dough ready to roll.
- Like any cutout cookies recipe, you will be left with scraps after your first cuts with the cookie cutter. Go ahead and re-roll your dough and cut out some more shapes but only do this once. After you cut out your second round of shapes, grab your dough and pull it all together and either chill it for 30 minutes to roll out again or you can immediately begin making these citrus snowball cookies with it if you don't want to wait.
Frosting ideas for these citrus sugar cookies:
Because this is a cutout sugar cookie recipe, you may want to add a decorative icing layer on top. In our house, we do not fuss with formal royal icing. We use two different types of icing or toppings:
- A quick sugar cookie frosting: This is our favorite type of easy frosting to make for cookies. To make this you need 1 cup of powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla and a couple of tablespoons of milk. Mix until you reach the desired consistency. We like to turn our cookies upside down into the frosting and then remove it and place it on a cooling rack to dry. It is usually dry in a few hours. You can see more detailed pictures in our snowflake cookies post.
- Brown butter frosting: This is our decadent way of decorating cookies and it is also really easy! To make this you will need to brown some unsalted butter on the stove. Once it is browned, pour it into a bowl with powdered sugar and vanilla and mix well. You can add a few drops of milk if you need to thin it out. This makes a great drizzling icing for your cookies. This will take about an hour to dry.
- Sprinkles! : Nothing is easier than sprinkles and it can be added right before baking like we did with ours. You can use all one color for a clean look or get creative with colored sprinkles.
All of these are amazing and full of flavor. The brown butter frosting we use if we want to drizzle a frosting over top like in a zig zag shape. This will not dry hard like an icing but it will set up and pretty fast.
The quick frosting for sugar cookies we use is when we want to dip the cookies into the frosting so that the entire top of the cookies is colored. This frosting will dry hard but it will take a bit longer to dry depending on the thickness. That is why we sometimes use the brown butter frosting so we can eat them sooner!
Give this recipe a try and you will no longer find sugar cookies to be boring, promise!
More Holiday Ideas:
- Italian Pizzelles
- Citrus Snowball Cookies
- S'mores Pie Holiday Gift
- Homemade Eggnog
- Homemade Golden Milk Mix (Perfect gift idea)
- Easy Mini Cheesecake Bites
- Creamy Lemon Bars
- Sugared Cranberries
- Eggnog Snowball Cookies
- Old Fashioned Sour Cream Drops
- Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
- Vanilla and Cream Scones
- Italian Bread Pudding
Holiday Citrus Sugar Cookies
Tried the Recipe? We Would Love To Hear From You In The Comments Below!
- 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- the zest of one lemon with a microplane or zester
- the zest of 1 orange with a microplane or zester
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup of powdered sugar for icing
- ½ cup of milk
- food coloring use one drop at a time to achieve the desired color
- Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl.
- Using electric mixer, beat butter, lemon peel and tangerine peel in large bowl until light.
- Add ½ cup sugar and ¼ cup powdered sugar and beat until fluffy.
- Beat in egg.
- Add dry ingredients.
- Using spoon, stir until mixture forms dough (dough will be soft).
- Divide dough into thirds.
- Gather each third into ball; flatten into disks.
- Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated. Let soften slightly, if necessary, before rolling out.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Generously flour work surface and rolling pin.
- Place 1 dough disk on work surface (keep remaining 2 dough disks refrigerated).
- Press rolling pin into dough several times to flatten slightly for easier rolling.
- Roll out dough to ⅛ inch thickness, frequently lifting and turning dough to prevent sticking. Using cookie cutters cut out cookies.
- Transfer cookies to ungreased nonstick baking sheets, spacing ½ inch apart.
- Bake until cookies turn brown on edges, about 10-15 minutes.
- Let cookies stand on sheets 1 minute. Using metal spatula, transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. Once cooled you can proceed to the decorating part!
make the quick icing
- gather all the ingredients you will need
- Mix 1 cup of powdered sugar, food coloring(if using) and 2 tablespoon of milk in a large shallow bowl.
- Make sure all of the sugar lumps are gone and the consistency is nice and smooth but not watery.
- If it is watery just add 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar at a time until it thickens. If it is too thick add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until it thins.
- If you are adding coloring, add your food coloring and mix well
Adding the icing (quick and easy way)
- Take your cooled cookies and place them face down into the bowl of icing and carefully pull it out and place it right side up on a cooling rack to dry.
- The cookies after being iced will need at least 2 hours (or more depending on humidity) to dry fully.
A quick sugar cookie frosting (same as what is in the recipe above):
This is our favorite type of easy frosting to make for cookies. To make this you need 1 cup of powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla and a couple of tablespoons of milk. Mix until you reach the desired consistency. We like to turn our cookies upside down into the frosting and then remove it and place it on a cooling rack to dry. It is usually dry in a few hours.
Brown butter frosting:This is our decadent way of decorating cookies and it is also really easy! To make this you will need to brown some unsalted butter on the stove. To do this add ½ stick of unsalted butter to a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the butter starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Once it is browned, pour it into a bowl with 1 cup of powdered sugar and teaspoon vanilla and mix well. You can add a few drops of milk if you need to thin it out. Add more powdered sugar to make it thicker. This makes a great drizzling icing for your cookies. This will take about an hour to fully dry. recipe adapted from epicurious
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here