Vegan Lemon Drop Cookies 🍋 Enjoy these light, soft and buttery cookies topped with a bright & citrusy lemon glaze icing. Inspired by traditional Italian lemon drop cookies, this easy vegan recipe has all the delicious flavor and texture without the eggs or dairy. How sweet is that?
A few years ago I ran across an old recipe for Italian lemon drop cookies (sometimes known as Anginetti or Italian knot cookies). They looked so good, but required eggs and dairy to prepare.
I've had a lot of success veganizing fruit-centric desserts, like my cranberry oat crumble bars and old-fashioned applesauce cake, so I decided to give lemon drop cookies a try by replacing the animal products with all vegan ingredients.
It took me a couple attempts to dial in the recipe, but eventually I figured out just the right combination of ingredients. Frankly, that final batch of cookies were so irresistibly good, I couldn't leave them alone. I knew I had a winner.
I bet you want to know what these vegan lemon drop cookies taste like? Imagine biting into a plump & petite version of a yummy, soft, freshly baked scone. Delicate, but not crumbly. Sweet, but not too sweet. The cookie itself has a lovely mellow lemony flavor, which is complimented by the tart, bright, citrusy flavor of the lemon glaze icing. I'll warn you, it's hard to eat just one of these cookies without your mouth watering and begging for another!
This is one of those handy go-to recipes when you have last-minute guests or are simply craving a little something sweet to nibble on with a cup of coffee or tea. If you appreciate lemony desserts like I do, you are going to love these soft and buttery baked treats glazed with a zesty lemon icing. Vegan lemon drop cookies offer the perfect balance of tartness and sweetness - a flavor harmony that will have you (and your guests) coming back for more.
Table of Contents
Why we love this recipe (and you will too!)
- A light and simple dessert
- Ready in 30 minutes!
- Perfect to serve after an Italian meal (or any meal)
- So easy to prepare, no need for an electric mixer!
- Makes a delightful treat with afternoon tea
See the printable recipe card below for quantities & complete details
🍋 Ingredient Notes
This recipe is prepared in two parts: Cookie Dough and Lemon Glaze Icing
Almond flour - provides a light, soft, delicate texture and flavor.
All-purpose flour - I used organic unbleached all-purpose flour.
Baking powder - fresher is better as an open package can lose its rising power fairly quickly (see more baking tips below).
Salt - sea salt, desert salt, or table salt. I used table salt.
Sugar - I used organic granulated cane sugar.
Vegan butter -your choice.
Egg replacer - (see notes below for options).
Lemon juice - fresh or bottled (I suggest fresh if you need zest).
Lemon zest - adds color and flavor (but may be omitted).
Non-dairy milk - your choice (I like using almond or rice milk).
Lemon Glaze for Cookies
Powdered sugar - (Sift if needed, it should be lump-free)
Vegan butter -your choice
Non-dairy milk - your choice (I use rice milk in this recipe)
Lemon juice - fresh or bottled
Lemon zest - to add to the top of the cookies. You can also use candy sprinkles instead for a festive look.
Prepare the cookie dough
Preheat oven to 375º
Pour all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium size mixing bowl.
Thoroughly combine and set aside.
In a larger bowl, combine butter and sugar.
Beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add vegan egg replacer, lemon juice, and zest.
Continue mixing until smooth.
Gradually add dry ingredients, alternating with a small amount of vegan milk while stirring.
Add just enough milk until the dough is soft enough to roll into balls, but not gooey. Stir until ingredients are fully combined, but avoid over-mixing as it can make the dough tough.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use a teaspoon to scoop and drop dough onto the cookie sheet (or you can roll the dough into ball shapes like I did).
Place cookie sheet into a 375℉/190℃ pre-heated oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the cookies begin to turn a light golden brown.
Remove from oven and carefully transfer cookies onto a wire rack. The vegan lemon drop cookies may look a bit crackled like small round scones or biscuits, which is perfectly fine. Allow to cool completely.
🍋 Pro Tip
Place the wire rack on top of the parchment lined cookie sheet. It will make clean up a lot easier after you drizzle the lemon glaze icing onto your cookies.
Prepare the lemon glaze icing
In a medium mixing bowl, beat powdered sugar, butter, milk, and lemon juice until smooth. Glaze should be thin enough to coat cookies but not runny.
Use a teaspoon to drizzle glaze over the top of each cookie.
Finish with a pinch of lemon zest on top (or decorative candy sprinkles).
Enjoy immediately or place in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to serve. This recipe yields 20-24 cookies.
🍋 Top Tips for Better Baking
Use fresh ingredients, including flour and leavening agents like baking soda. All-purpose white flour has a shelf life of about 3-8 months. Gluten-free and whole wheat flours may become stale sooner. Unless you bake a lot, it’s better to purchase flour in small quantities. Baking soda can lose its rising oomph after a few months. I like to keep an extra unopened box on hand just in case.
Measure accurately. Baking is equal parts science and art. Unlike some cooking methods where you can guess-timate quantities by adding a handful of this or a pinch of that – too much or too little of an ingredient can mean the difference between ooh and aah or uh-oh. Pre-measuring your ingredients with everything prepped in advance can be a game-changer.
Something I've learned: A kitchen scale can be a home baker's best friend.
Here are a few tools that I find to be helpful to prepare this recipe:
Mixing bowls - 2 medium/large size bowls
Food scale - (optional) perfect for accurate measuring
Zester or grater
Silicone spatula or large spoon for stirring
Parchment paper - optional
Italian lemon drop cookies, also known as anginetti cookies, are a traditional Italian treat. They are soft, cake-like cookies infused with lemon flavor, typically coated with a tangy lemon glaze, and often decorated with colorful sprinkles (for this recipe we used lemon zest on top).
Why are they called "drop" cookies? Italian lemon drop cookies are called "lemon drops" because of their unique shape and texture. The term "drop" refers to the method of shaping the cookie dough by dropping spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. The cookies spread slightly and flatten during baking, resulting in a rounded shape. The combination of the cookie's shape and lemony taste led to the name "lemon drop cookies" or "anginetti cookies" in Italian.
Yes, you can make Italian lemon drop cookies without eggs by using suitable egg replacements. Common vegan egg substitutes include applesauce, mashed banana, flaxseed meal mixed with water, or commercial egg replacers. These alternatives help bind the dough and provide moisture, resulting in soft and delicious cookies. In this recipe we also replaced dairy butter with vegan butter.
I have seen recipes that include olive oil as an ingredient in traditional Italian lemon cookies, but I opted not to use it because I prefer a buttery flavor profile. If you decide to use it, keep in mind that the olive oil flavor may come through in the final product. For a milder taste, you can use a light olive oil instead of extra virgin olive oil.
These cookies typically stay fresh for about 5 days when stored refrigerated in an airtight container. However, they are best enjoyed within the first few days for optimal freshness. (Tip - microwaving a few cookies in 10 second increments will make them soft and warm, almost like freshly baked!)
Yes, you can freeze Italian lemon drop cookies. Place the cooled cookies in an airtight container or freezer bag, separating the layers with parchment paper to prevent sticking. They can be frozen for up to 2-3 months. Thaw them at room temperature before serving.
While lemon is the traditional flavor for lemon drop cookies, you can experiment with other citrus fruits. I haven't tried it myself, but imagine lime, orange, tangerine, or even grapefruit drop cookies could be delicious! Adjust the quantities accordingly to achieve the desired flavor, and consider using the corresponding citrus zest and juice for optimal taste. Do let me know if you give it a go!
Traditional Italian lemon drop cookies are often enjoyed on special occasions and holidays, especially Easter and Christmas. Their vibrant colors and refreshing lemon flavor make them a popular choice for festive gatherings and cookie exchanges. Decorating them with festive sprinkles adds an extra touch of celebration.
If you love this recipe ★★★★★ please be sure to rate it below! Sharing your experience lets me know that you enjoyed it and will help other readers decide if they should give the recipe a try too. Thanks a bunch!🥕
Vegan Lemon Drop Cookies
- 2 mixing bowls medium - large size bowls
- Food scale (optional) perfect for accurate measuring
- Zester or grater
- Cookie/baking sheet
- Parchment paper (optional) but very helpful
- Cooling rack
Vegan Lemon Drop Cookie Dough
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup sugar granulated
- ¼ cup vegan butter
- 1 egg egg replacer
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice fresh or bottled
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest fresh
- ¼ cup non-dairy milk your choice
Lemon Glaze Icing
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2½ tablespoons vegan butter
- 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 375℉/190℃
- Pour all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium size mixing bowl. Thoroughly combine and set aside.
- In a larger bowl, combine butter and sugar. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
- Add vegan egg replacer, lemon juice, and zest. Continue mixing until smooth.
- Gradually add dry ingredients, alternating with a small amount of vegan milk while stirring. Add just enough milk until the dough is soft enough to roll into balls, but not gooey.
- Stir until ingredients are fully combined, but avoid over-mixing as it can make the dough tough.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use a teaspoon to scoop and drop dough onto the cookie sheet, or you can roll the dough into ball shapes.
- Place cookie sheet into a 375℉/190℃ pre-heated oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the cookies begin to turn a light golden brown.
- Remove from oven and carefully transfer cookies onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before icing.
Lemon Glaze Icing
- While the cookies are cooling, prepare the icing.
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat powdered sugar, butter, milk, and lemon juice until smooth. Glaze should be thin enough to coat cookies but not runny.
- Use a teaspoon to drizzle glaze over the top of each cookie.
- Sprinkle tops with a pinch of lemon zest.
- Enjoy right away or place in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.