Lime zest and juice can be used instead of the lemon in this recipe.–Martha Stewart

LC Melting Away Note

Lovely and delicate, these lemony cookies are quite, quite aptly named. It’s tricky to explain in mere words that meltaway sensation, but we think you know what we mean. It’s that moment of nibbling at shortbread in which crunch gives way to a surprising and sweet nothingness that lingers for just a second before making you question yourself. As in, did I just imagine that? And then you rationalize having one more lemon meltaway cookie, just so you know for certain if you’d actually imagined it or not. Trust us, this is a scenario we’ve experienced more than once. And happily so. Even if you follow Martha’s advice above and swap citrus, the same meltaway sensation still remains. And thank heavens for that.

Lemon meltaway cookies, covered in icing sugar, piled on a deep blue patterned plate.

Lemon Meltaway Cookies

5 / 2 votes
Crisp, buttery, and delicately flavored, these cookies are simple and elegant. Swap out the lemon for lime, if you prefer.
David Leite
Servings48 servings
Calories54 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour


  • 1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Finely grated zest from 2 lemons, preferably organic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  • Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high, beat the butter and 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and juice and vanilla and mix until fluffy. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture, and mix just until combined. The dough may be quite crumbly, but that’s okay. Simply press the dough crumbles together.
  • Divide the dough in half and shape each portion into a log about 1 1/4 inches in diameter. (To do this with ease, place each portion of dough on an 8-by-12-inch sheet of parchment paper and then roll to form a log 1 1/4 inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along the long edge of the parchment at each turn.) Place the log of dough in a resealable plastic bag or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Cut each log into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, no thicker. Place the rounds on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Bake the cookies until pale golden, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the sheets once halfway through. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool slightly.
  • When the cookies are no longer hot but still warm, gently toss a few of them at a time with the remaining 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar in a resealable plastic bag or a brown paper bag. (Mind you, the cookies are delicate. Use caution.) Place the wire racks over newspaper, return the cookies to the racks, and cool completely. (The cookies can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.)
Martha's Entertaining

Adapted From

Martha’s Entertaining

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Serving: 1 cookieCalories: 54 kcalCarbohydrates: 6 gProtein: 1 gFat: 3 gSaturated Fat: 2 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 8 mgSodium: 13 mgPotassium: 7 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 3 gVitamin A: 88 IUVitamin C: 1 mgCalcium: 2 mgIron: 1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2011 Martha Stewart Living. Photo © 2011 Frédéric Lagrange. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I found these cookies to be very pure and simple. The texture is very good and the lemon flavor is good but not overwhelming. These meltaways will go very nicely alongside milk, tea, coffee, even a shot of bourbon. I don’t, however, recommend tossing them in the sugar while still warm, as quite a few fell apart. I tossed the rest in sugar after cooling and lost not a single one. This is a very good cookie.

One of my favorite cookies ever! They do melt in your mouth and they’re so easy to make.

This was a delightful little shortbread-type cookie! Very tender with a delicate taste of lemon. It was easy to make and I let it cool in the refrigerator for 2 days, not 1 like the recipe suggests. They had to bake a little longer, more like 16 to 18 minutes. I let them cool for a few minutes and dusted them with confectioners’ sugar in a brown paper bag. They turned out to be beautiful, white-dusted coins! I’d definitely make these again.

These are easy-to-make, pleasant little biscuits that come together quickly. They’re buttery, light, sweet, and tart at the same time, and they were a big hit all around. Fair warning—definitely not a recipe for those who don’t like lemon!

This recipe wows with just a few basic ingredients. The cookies live up to their name and are crispy-crunchy at first bite before melting away delicately. I made the recipe exactly as written and got about 4 1/2 dozen.

This recipe is wonderful; I couldn’t stop eating these after I tasted them. They were easy to prepare and even after sitting in my refrigerator for almost a week they still baked up beautifully. I did find that it took about 20 minutes for them to become set and lightly golden in my oven, but I think my oven tends to be a bit on the slow side. Definitely a recipe I intend to keep.

“Fabulous!” These cookies elicited an enthusiastic response from my tasters, tasted great, had a lovely texture, and the citrus was uplifting and combined nicely with other holiday cookies, including varieties of chocolate, butter, ginger, and oatmeal. While the tossed-in-confectioners’-sugar look is reminiscent of Mexican wedding cookies, the lemony flavor was less predictable and, hence, also more interesting. As for shaping the logs, ours ended up a bit more on the rectangular side, which was initially a bit distressing since we didn’t know how they’d look when finished, but it ended up fine—lovely little rustic rectangles. For tossing with confectioners’ sugar, no more than 3 or 4 at a time seemed to work best in order to get them well coated. And, since we made these as part of our holiday baking, we had no opportunity to test the refrigeration option, as they were gone completely in very short order! At another time of year, I’ll give the lime option a try as well. While shopping earlier this week, I saw key limes, and I think those would be worth the extra squeezing effort required to create enough juice. The cookies’ unique tartness could be perfect for the ending to a Southern or south of the border meal. And FYI, we didn’t quite the get full yield stated, but we had cookies aplenty nonetheless.

All of my tasters loved this cookie. The lemon flavor is quite pronounced and the texture is just what you’d expect from a meltaway: creamy, smooth, and buttery. The assembly of the dough was quite easy. The only possibly tricky part is shaping the dough into a log.

Melt-in-your-mouth delicious Lemon Meltaways! These little cookies live up to their name and were so easy to make. They’re not an overly sweet cookie and are somewhat fragile until they cool completely. I thought the amount of vanilla seemed like a lot, but it was perfect. I liked the idea that the dough could be refrigerated ahead of time, but I think I’ll freeze it next time and bake as needed. The recipe also stated that the cookies could be baked ahead and then kept refrigerated, so that’s great for holiday giving or eating! These will definitely appear again in my kitchen for Christmas!

I decided to make these with the optional choice of limes instead of lemons. I made a half-recipe and got 2 dozen cookies. Next time I’ll be making a whole recipe since these were delicious. The only thing I’d do differently is to roll the cookies in the confectioners’ sugar instead of dropping them into a resealable plastic bag. These cookies are delicate and some of them fell apart after tossing them into the bag. I love the tartness of the lime juice and zest along with the sweetness of the sugar. These are small cookies but pack a delightfully large punch. YUM!

Cookie dough that’s easy to make and freeze ahead of time. When ready to bake, the cookies are easy to prepare and are a crowd-pleaser!

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Easy to make, even easier to make disappear. I added more lemon for a cookie that was a bit more on the tart side.

  2. 5 stars
    These cookies were great! The only change I made is that I used almond flour to make them gf. Also I always keep a lemon in the freezer and grate it on the smallest part of the grater. Less waste that way.