Homemade buttery lemon shortbread is a billion times better than the dry offerings in tartan tins at Christmas. This version with its citrus zing is perfect for afternoon tea on this beautiful spring day or for a summery picnic on a blanket under the apple tree.

Lemon Shortbread Biscuits with a nice cup of Afternoon Tea.

I think I need a gingham table cloth, a little table and chairs, maybe a big straw hat and a floaty dress – oh and possibly a handsome gentleman to serve me my tea and shortbread this afternoon, don’t you?

How To Make Lemon Shortbread

Shortbread is one of the easiest biscuits to bake. Its origins lie with Medieval biscuit bread which was similar to a sweetened rusk.

Appetising as that sounds, I am quite glad that shortbread evolved a little bit through the centuries!

Mary Queen of Scots is said to have favoured a thin, buttery shortbread flavoured with caraway seeds which she nibbled on happily in the 16th century.

The most basic shortbread recipe uses only flour, butter and sugar but, for this lemony version, I have replaced a little of the plain flour with cornflour. Cornflour makes this lemon shortbread a little bit crisper, perfect for dunking in a cup of tea! 

I’ve also used icing sugar in this recipe instead of the caster sugar I use in my basic recipe. Both give an excellent result with icing sugar being marginally easier to mix in with the butter. 

It’s really important here that you allow time for your biscuit dough to rest and recover in the fridge before slicing, this helps prevent any spreading during baking. 

Homemade Lemon Shortbread Biscuits, served on the saucer with earl grey tea.

Decorating Lemon Shortbread

I decorated my lemon shortbread with a sprinkle of gloriously delicious sugar scented with yellow mirabelle plums – my daughter brought it back for me from a school trip to France, she knows me very well!

I haven’t managed to track it down here in the UK but a scattering of golden caster sugar on top of your lemon shortbread biscuits is a good substitute.

You could also make some glacé icing by mixing a little lemon juice with some icing sugar to form a paste and drizzling it over cooled shortbread biscuits. 

Shortbread Flavours

Ring the changes by:

  • Replacing the lemon zest with orange or lime.
  • Adding a teaspoonful of rosewater to the mixture and topping the finished biscuits with rose petals. Perfect for you Valentine!
  • Mixing in a teaspoonful of chopped lavender for easy lavender shortbread

Oh the afternoon tea possibilities!

More Easy Biscuit Recipes

If you’re feeling very biscuity after all that have a look at my:

If you make my recipe I’d love to hear how it turns out for you. Please leave a comment and a star rating below and share your pictures with me on social media. Tag me @thinlyspread and include the hashtag #thinlyspread so I can see them!

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Lemon shortbread served on the saucer of a cup of earl grey tea.

Lemon Shortbread for Afternoon Tea

Print Pin Rate
Course: Baked Goods, Biscuits and Cookies, Treats
Cuisine: Scottish
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 10
Calories: 73kcal

Equipment

  • Lightly greased baking tray
  • Baking parchment

Ingredients

  • 125 g vegan butter or margarine chopped
  • 1 lemon Just the finely grated zest
  • 25 g sifted icing sugar
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 50 g cornflour
  • Golden caster sugar or yellow sugar crystals to decorate

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 180°C/360°F
  • Beat chopped butter and icing sugar together until golden and well combined
  • Add the finely grated lemon zest and mix to combine
  • Sift the flours together and stir into the butter mixture until you have a soft dough
  • Roll into a log shape, wrap in baking parchment and refrigerate for half an hour
  • Slice 1cm thick biscuit shapes off the log, lay on a lightly greased baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes until lightly browned
  • Cool on the tray for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (or scoff while warm)
  • Decorate with a sprinkle of sugar and serve with your favourite tea

Notes

Nutritional information is only an approximate guideline. Calculations will vary according to the ingredients you use and your cooking methods.

Nutrition

Calories: 73kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 14mg | Potassium: 28mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 21IU | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg
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