Buttery lemon shortbread squares – an easy and delicious citrus twist on classic shortbread cookies. Made with simple ingredients, these irresistible little squares are sweet, salty, and perfect for holiday gifting! Egg free.

Close up of diamond shaped lemon shortbread.

Easy lemon shortbread

Let’s chat about holiday baking. Specifically cookies. Do you have a list you stick to every year? Or do you like to try lots of new cookie recipes? I tend to stick mostly to our family favorites, with a few new cookies thrown in, and I always start with these chewy ginger molasses cookies.

Shortbread cookies make many appearances this time of year – typically the roll out, cut out, slice-off-the-log sort – but this week, after coming across this recipe, I was suddenly craving thick, chewy, super buttery, Scotch-style shortbread squares.

So I made a pan of lemony shortbread, and then, we couldn’t stop eating it. After we demolished the whole batch in less than two days, I decided it best to file this gem away as shortbread perfection, and not make it again until next season, because I have zero self-control when it comes to buttery, floury sweet things and there are so many more to come between now and January.

Shortbread may not be the most photogenic of baked treats, but the flavors here are anything but boring, and I hope that the plain appearance won’t dissuade you from trying these buttery, crumbly shortbread bars tinged with vanilla and fragrant Meyer lemon zest. Trust me when I say that you’re going to really love these.

Baking ingredients to make lemon shortbread squares on a marble background. Butter, flour, sugar, lemon, salt, and vanilla.

How to make lemon shortbread squares

The recipe is disarmingly simple, and the ingredients list is short: sugar, butter, flour, salt, vanilla and lemon zest. You probably have everything you need, right now, in your pantry. Well, you may need to borrow a bit of butter from a neighbor – this luscious shortbread requires three full sticks!

I was excited to find a few small, vibrant Meyer lemons at the grocery store, which I would recommend using here if you can find them, as they tend to have a sweeter and more pronounced lemon flavor than regular lemons. Or use any other citrus zest you’d like (or none at all), but be sure to rub the lemon zest together with the sugar for a few minutes to really bring out the bright citrus flavor. Happy baking!!

Close up of diamond shaped lemon shortbread.

If you make these lemon shortbread bars, be sure to tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #forkknifeswoon and leave a comment and rating below letting me know how you liked them! ★★★★★ Star ratings are especially helpful because they help others find my recipes too. xo, Laura

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Easy and addictive Buttery Lemon Shortbread Squares via forkknifeswoon.com

Buttery Lemon Shortbread Squares

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  • Author: Laura Bolton – Fork Knife Swoon
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 35 mins
  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Yield: 24 Squares 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Buttery lemon shortbread squares – an easy and delicious citrus twist on classic shortbread cookies. Made with simple ingredients, these irresistible little squares are sweet, salty, and perfect for holiday gifting!


  • 3/4 cups (148g) granulated sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 11/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 31/4 cups (390g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled


  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan with butter. Line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl. Use your fingers to massage the zest into the sugar for a minute or two, until fragrant and completely incorporated.
  3. Add the butter to a stand-up mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 1 minute), scraping down the bowl with a spatula, as needed. Mix in the vanilla and salt.
  4. Add the flour, and mix on low speed until just combined. The dough will be thick and clumpy.
  5. Press the dough into an even layer in the prepared pan. Prick with the flat end of a wooden skewer, every half-inch or so.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until just golden. Remove from the oven and let cool 10-15 minutes before slicing into bars. Enjoy!!


Recipe adapted from Sweet Paul Magazine.