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Lemon and Cardamom Shortbread Cookies

7 lemon and cardamom shortbread cookies on a baking tray, with slices of lemon around the cookies. On top of the shortbread cookies is a lemon glaze.

These buttery lemon and cardamom shortbread cookies are flavored with cardamom and lemon zest, and topped with a lovely fragrant lemon glaze.

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One of my favorite style of biscuits to eat are butter biscuits, and in that category shortbread ranks supreme. They are rich and buttery, with a delicate crumb that’s perfect with tea or as a snack to munch on. Just be sure to pick up those crumbs.

For this recipe I have taken the basic shortbread recipe (used Nagi’s recipe on RecipeTinEats) and given it a different twist by flavoring it with lemon zest and cardamom. Lemon zest and cardamom are added to the dough, and then the shortbread biscuits are topped with a lemon glaze. These lemon and cardamom shortbread biscuits have a beautiful flavor and aroma, and that lemon glaze makes them look super pretty. Serve them as a snack with tea, or pack them up and give them to friends as a holiday gift.

A holiday cookie box featured salted caramel melting moments, lemon and cardamom shortbread cookies, two types of chocolate bark, and chocolate brownies.
I made these lemon and cardamom shortbread cookies for Eid, and put them in boxes to distribute to friends.

Where did shortbread cookies originate from?

Shortbread is a traditional Scottish biscuit originating in Scotland. It’s popularity has spread to other countries such as England, where it has become a common biscuit to be enjoyed with tea. The traditional recipe includes only 3 ingredients – sugar, butter and flour. Over the years, other ingredients such as rice flour and cornflour have been added to certain recipes to alter texture. Other changes are regular sugar being substituted for icing sugar (powdered sugar) which is what has been done in this recipe too.

What is with the different shapes of shortbread cookies?

Shortbread biscuits come in many different shapes and forms. The classic and traditional shape is the wedges. To make wedges, the shortbread dough is pressed out into a circle, cut into wedges, pricked with a fork and then baked. The second popular shape are shortbread fingers, and can be seen in the popular Walker’s brand. To make this style, the shortbread dough is pressed into a slab like shape in a square or rectangle pan, cut into fingers and then baked. This is my favorite shape, and the style I have used for these lemon and cardamom shortbread biscuits. Lastly, it’s also possible to roll out the shortbread dough and then use cookie cutters to cut whatever shape you want.

How to make lemon and cardamom shortbread cookies?

These lemon and cardamom shortbread are super easy to make requiring just a couple of ingredients. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Prepare a 13 x 9 inch baking tray with parchment paper, and pre-heat the oven.
  • Start off with creaming the butter. Make sure the butter is softened, else this step won’t be possible. Once the butter is pale and creamy, sift over the icing sugar (powdered sugar) and mix. The sifting ensures that there are no clumps in the icing sugar.
  • Add in the cardamon, lemon zest and flour, and beat together lightly. The dough that will formed will be on the crumbly side. Shape into a ball by pushing it together, but don’t knead.
  • Press the dough into the prepared tray. A rolling pin can also be used, but keep the pressure on the light side.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut the cookies into bars, but don’t cut all the way through. Prick holes with a fork and bake till light golden. Set aside to cool.
  • Meanwhile prepare the glaze. Mix together icing sugar (powdered sugar) and lemon juice together till it reaches a drizzle consistency. Drizzle over the cooled shortbread cookies, and enjoy.
  • In case the dough is difficult to handle at any stage, keep it in the fridge for a couple of minutes to firm up.

If you are looking for other recipes perfect for the holiday season, do try out the following:

  1. Almond Cake
  2. Banana Bread
  3. Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
  4. Lemon Blueberry Muffins
  5. One bowl chocolate cake
  6. Salted caramel melting moments

Would love it if you could try out and rate the recipe, and let me know how it was in the comments below! 

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7 lemon and cardamom shortbread cookies on a baking tray, with slices of lemon around the cookies. On top of the shortbread cookies is a lemon glaze.
4.75 from 4 votes

Lemon and Cardamom Shortbread

These buttery lemon and cardamom shortbread cookies are flavored with cardamom and lemon zest, and topped with a lovely fragrant lemon glaze.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Cooling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 22 biscuits
Calories 160 kcal


For the shortbread:

  • 250 g / 8 oz salted butter softened
  • ¾ cup 90g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 2 cups 300g plain / all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom powder see note 1

For the lemon glaze:

  • 1 ½ cup icing sugar powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoon lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 160°C/320°F or 140°C (fan forced / convection).

  2. Grease and line a 31.5 x 23.5 cm / 9 x 13" baking tray with baking paper on the bottom and overhang from the sides. The overhang will help in easily taking out the shortbread cookies later.

  3. Place the softened butter in a medium sized bowl. Beat butter until pale and creamy. Sift over the icing sugar (powdered sugar) and combine together.

  4. Add the cardamom powder and lemon zest and stir together.
  5. Add the flour in two portions. First mix one cup of flour, and then add the other. Beat until the dough comes together. Use your hands to turn the dough into a smooth ball of dough. Don't knead.

  6. Roughly shape the dough into a rectangle shape, and place it into the prepared tray. Use a rolling pan, along with your fingers to press the dough into the pan. Be very light in rolling as well as pressing the dough, as that can make the biscuits firm.
  7. Use a large sharp knife to score the shortbread into the shape of bars – don’t cut all the way through. Prick with a fork (2 to 3 times per bar).
  8. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, turning the tray halfway through the baking process, until the shortbread is light golden. Place the baking tray on a cooling rack to cool completely. This recipe makes about 22 – 24 cookies. Nutrition yield is for a serving of 1 cookie per person.

  9. For the lemon glaze:
  10. Place the icing sugar (powdered sugar) in a bowl and add the lemon juice. Mix together till a liquid glaze is formed. In case the glaze is too liquid, add more icing sugar (powdered sugar) and if it is too thick add a drop of lemon juice (or water). Drizzle the lemon glaze over the cooled shortbread biscuits.

Recipe Notes

  1. It is possible to substitute the cardamom powder with cardamom seeds. Take about 2 – 3 cardamom pods, and take out the seeds. Lightly crush them in a mortar and pestle, then use in the recipe. 

Note: The shortbread recipe is based on the recipe for shortbread cookies on Recipe Tin Eats

7 lemon and cardamom shortbread cookies on a baking tray, with slices of lemon around the cookies. On top of the shortbread cookies is a lemon glaze.

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  • Reply
    November 20, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    4 stars
    looks so yummy, can’t wait to try this. Very curious about taste.

  • Reply
    November 24, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    5 stars
    I’ve been snacking on shortbreads all week and I cannot wait to try this flavour combo! Love that these biscuits are a mix of fresh and spiced, it sounds absolutely delicious!

  • Reply
    Gavin Sutherland
    November 25, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    5 stars
    Simply delicious – my daughter and I have been baking once a week for the past while and these are in the WILL BE MAKING AGAIN section. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  • Reply
    November 30, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    5 stars
    I love making shortbread but have never tried them with cardamom before – what a great idea!

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