Gluten Free Lemon Poppyseed Cookies

Gluten Free Lemon Poppyseed Cookies

Stack of lemon poppyseed cookies on brown surface [pinit] So … we’re trying something new today. Well, I mean, it’s not that new. It’s a recipe for Gluten Free Lemon Poppyseed Cookies. They are crispy around the edges, and chewy and tender toward the center, with juuuuust enough lemon flavor (without any lemon extract, even) for happiness without any awkward puckering. Basically, they’re the perfect lemon cookies. So what’s new? Certainly gluten free cookie recipes are nothing too new around here. But with this cookie recipe, first I adapted the recipe from Martha Stewart (thanks Martha!), and they were really so lovely and crispy-tender. And then I made a Lighter Gluten Free Lemon Poppyseed Cookie recipe by cutting the fat in half, and the sugar nearly in half. Much, much lighter. Why did I do that?

Lemon poppyseed cookies laying on top of each other on brown surface

I did this two-for-one recipe today (see the lighter version here) for a few reasons. First, everyone likes options. And judging by the comments and emails I get, you like lots of options. I don’t ever count calories (for myself or my family), or even fat and sugar, really. Instead, I try for everything in moderation. But you’re not me. And your family isn’t my family. So I thought some of you might like to at least consider the lighter version. If it’s not for you, go for the version in this post!

Lemon poppyseed cookies being dipped in brown sugar

Second, since GFOAS Bakes Bread is out in the world, you know I’m writing another new cookbook (always! lucky lucky me, really). And some of you already know that that new cookbook is basically a cookbook of copycat recipes of some of your favorite desserts, snack cakes, crackers and candies, which we’ll never eat gluten free if we don’t make them ourselves. Those are generally not low-fat or low-sugar (with a few exceptions). So to make them taste just like the original, I have to use allllll sorts of fat and sugar. And to me, they’re treats and that’s perfectly fine. But since I know that many of you are also interested in lightening up your treats and crackers and snacks, I’m considering adding in variations for many of those recipes in the cookbook like I’m doing here—lighter versions. The original recipe for each snack in the cookbook will taste exactly like the original. A dead ringer. The lighter (or sometimes Paleo-ified version) won’t be a dead ringer, but it will be pretty close. It will be the recipe I’m more likely to feel good about giving to my family for breakfast. Or in my kids’ lunchboxes. You get the idea, right?

Lighter Gluten Free Lemon Poppyseed Cookies

That way, you can choose! The recipe just above? That’s the lighter version. It’s not quite as tender (sugar doesn’t just make baked goods sweet; it tenderizes too! so do egg yolks, which are missing in the other version). But they’re really lemony, still crisp on the edges and chewier toward the center. Just not quite as chewy.

Stack of cookies and lemons and brown surface

And just above, we’re back to the regular version. That recipe follows here. You decide which works for you!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies


10 tablespoons (140 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons (28 g) vegetable shortening (I use Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening, which is trans-fat free), melted and cooled

1 1/4 cups (250 g) sugar

1 egg (60 g, out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 lemon), reduced by half

2 cups (280 g) all-purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 teaspoons lemon zest (again, from 1 lemon)

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Coarse sugar, for rolling (I used Sugar in the Raw)


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set aside.

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl with a hand mixer), cream the butter and shortening on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, egg, vanilla and reduced lemon juice, beating well after each addition. In a separate medium-size bowl, place the flour blend, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest and poppy seeds, and whisk to combine well, working out any clumps in the lemon zest. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the mixer bowl in 3 batches, beating until just combined after each addition. The dough should be fluffy and light. Transfer the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap, wrap tightly and refrigerate for about 15 minutes or until chilled.

  • Once the dough has chilled, scoop it by the scant tablespoonful onto the rimmed baking sheets, placing them about 2 inches apart. Roll tightly into balls, roll in the coarse sugar to coat completely, and then press down into a disk about 1/4-inch thick. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the edges of the cookies are lightly golden brown (about 10 minutes). Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Lemon Poppyseed Cookies recipe, as voted on by YOU on my Must Make Gluten Free Pinboard!



P.S. If you haven’t yet, please pick up a copy of Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread! Your support means everything to me, and makes the blog possible!

Comments are closed.

  • March 3, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    Wow, these look so delicious! Thank you for sharing! :)

  • Laura
    February 28, 2014 at 11:06 PM

    Gluten free Kit Kats?! YUM!!

  • […] Lemon poppyseed cookies. Lighter version. […]

  • L R
    February 27, 2014 at 7:29 PM

    I only recently made a gf Keebler pecan sandies cookie recipe, not exactly the same but fairly close. I haven’t had a pecan sandie in soooo long I may have forgotten what they taste like…lol :)
    I love lemon and poppy seed muffins, these sound very nice indeed!

  • Mare Masterson
    February 26, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    OK Nicole, I love that you are so wonderful that you even think of developing the regular and lighter version, never mind actually doing it! I wonder, though if you prefer the regular version? Reason I am asking is the regular photos are well lit with bits of lemon zest around and the lighter is not as well lit, without lemon zest (teasing you, you know!)

    Anneke, I am diabetic. I think I am going to try the lighter version with honey and no corn syrup this weekend. I will report in on how it works, how it tastes, and how it affects my blood sugar.

    • Anneke
      February 26, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      Thanks, Mare, I’d love to hear your results!

  • jillie
    February 26, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    wondering what is the best way to use honey or coconut syrup to recipes…should i add more dry or change in another way? thanks, these look yummy

    • February 26, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      I’m afraid it’s not that simple, Jillie. If you change from a granulated sweetener to a liquid sweetener, it’s really a new recipe. Sorry!

    • Mare Masterson
      February 26, 2014 at 12:54 PM

      Jillie, I know to replace sugar with honey in baking, you use 1/2 the amount of the honey. I am trying the lighter version with honey this weekend. I’ll let you know.

  • Cheryl Robinson Thomas
    February 26, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    Sounds delish and definitely want to try these. Just wondering about the lemon juice, reduced by half…I’m assuming you mean to ‘cook it down’ to concentrate, but with such a small amount, 1/4 cup, I’m not sure I have a small enough pan for my gas cooktop to reduce without a potential sticky mess. Suggestions welcomed! By the way, you are my new hero! The new Julia Child of gluten-free baking!! Thank you!

    • February 26, 2014 at 11:04 AM

      Yup, Cheryl, cooking it down is exactly what I mean. I have done it both with the juice of 2 lemons to make it easier (and then you can just measure out half of the reduction, which should come to 2 tablespoons), and with just the juice of 1 lemon in a small “butter warmer” saucepan. You just reduce it over medium-low heat, and keep an eye on it. It happens relatively quickly. The only way it’s really going to reduce into a syrup is if you walk away. Go ahead and ask me how I know that. ;)

  • Jennifer S.
    February 26, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    I love options and I love that you get that about us! thanks for all you have done and continue to do. I’m just salivating for the new cookbook because I know GF Kit Kats will be in there and I.want.one.now.

    • Jennifer S.
      February 26, 2014 at 10:04 AM

      oh and I just went out and did some voting on your board – can’t wait to see some of that stuff! :)

      • February 26, 2014 at 11:02 AM

        Glad you ‘voted’ Jennifer! Gluten Free Kit Kats are definitely a labor of love to develop (still working on it!) but I will get there and that’s a promise! :)

  • Anneke
    February 26, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    Being the poor cookie baker that I am, I’d love to know what you think about which version of these cookies is likely to turn out better on the first try. Keeping in mind that I will follow the directions about room temp and weighing the ingredients, do you think I might have more likelihood of success with one version over the other? I’d like to do the lighter version (diabetic daughter, as you know), but I worry that my already suspect cookie skills may have trouble with not using typical cookie ingredients. Either way, lemon and poppy seeds together are one of my favorite combos, so I know I need to make one or the other! Possibly every day! Thanks, as usual!

    • February 26, 2014 at 11:01 AM

      Oh, Anneke, you are boxing me IN here! As far as ease, I’d say that the original version is a tiny bit more straightforward. But really, if you follow the temperature guidelines for the ingredients, they’re both a total snap. The only slightly different ingredient in the lighter version is the tablespoon of light corn syrup, but that’s still a pretty common, everyday ingredient. I say go for the lighter version in honor of your diabetic daughter. They taste really good!

      • Anneke
        February 26, 2014 at 1:47 PM

        I’ll give it a try and let you know! You know how timid I can be about cookies . . .

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