These lemon white chocolate cookies have a brown butter base with a tangy lemon flavored dough and studded with sweet pools of melted white chocolate. They’re quick and easy to make and they’re crisp on the outside and soft and chewy in the center!
Why you’ll love these lemon white chocolate cookies
- They’re super quick and easy to make with a tiny bit more effort than an average cookie.
- They’re a little crisp on the outside and soft in the center when they’re warm but nice and chewy once they’ve cooled.
- The warmth of the brown butter pairs so well with the tangy lemon and sweet white chocolate.
I’ve had these white chocolate lemon cookies on my mind for a while but I wanted something more than just sweet and tart.
I was inspired by one of my favorite recipes, my brown butter lemon cinnamon rolls, to add brown butter to these cookies and it pulled through! These cookies are perfectly nutty, a little tart with sweet bits of white chocolate.
If you like these cookies, you’ll love my pistachio cookies and my mini egg cookies. If you’re for all things lemon, make sure to check out my lemon poppyseed cheesecake, lemon macarons and lemon poppy seed muffins.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Flour: I HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale, as flour is so often over measured. If not, make sure to fluff up the flour and spoon it into the measuring cup and level it off.
- Sugar: I used half light brown sugar and half granulated sugar. I don’t recommend just granulated sugar but you can use all light brown sugar or half dark brown sugar and half granulated sugar and they’ll be very similar.
- I also don’t think they’re overly sweet so I don’t recommend reducing any of the sugar as it’ll change the texture of the cookie too.
- Lemon: I used fresh medium lemons. They’re easier to zest when they’re cold and rubbing the zest with sugar allows the sugar to pull out the flavorful oil from the skin.
- Butter: I like to use salted butter for cookies, especially when browning the butter. I find that it browns quicker and more evenly but unsalted butter also works fine.
- Dairy free butter also works well.
- If you skip browning the butter make sure to still only use 93 grams and not the full 113 grams.
- Eggs: I tested this base cookie recipe with both a large whole egg and with just egg yolks. I want to make my recipes as versatile as possible so if you’re making one of my recipes that calls for egg whites, and you have a ton of egg yolks leftover, you can replace this one large egg with 3 large egg yolks (50-60 total which is the same as one 1 large egg). The egg yolk cookie will be just slightly less wet and doesn’t spread quite as much so it bakes a little bit thicker than the cookie with the whole egg. Both versions were great.
- Just make sure your egg is at room temperature. Pop it in hot water for a few minutes if it’s cold.
- Vanilla: I like to use pure vanilla extract for cookies but vanilla bean paste or artificial vanilla extract works fine too (or vanilla beans if you’re feeling fancy).
- White Chocolate: I used a white chocolate bar to get melted pools of white chocolate in the cookie. You can also use white chocolate chips but the cookie will spread just slightly less than mine in the photos (making a slightly thicker cookie).
Step 1: Brown the butter by heating a stick of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. It will melt, bubble, foam and then the milk solids will toast and settle on the bottom. Make sure to read my whole post on browning butter if you haven’t done it before. The butter should reduce from 113g to about 90-95g.
Step 2: Zest the lemons over the sugar and use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar to release the oils. Add the hot butter, stir for a second to cool it and then add the egg, vanilla and lemon juice. Whisk aggressively for 2-3 minutes until it’s completely smooth and lightened in color.
Step 3: Add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt and use a rubber spatula to fold the dough just until the last streak of flour is combined.
Step 4: Add the chopped white chocolate bar and fold it into the cookie dough just until the chunks are evenly dispersed.
Step 6: Use a 2 ounce cookie scoop to scoop 8 cookies, four per cookie sheet (they spread a lot).
Step 7: Bake for 10 minutes then remove the pan from the oven and bang it on the counter a few times so the cookies flatten a little. Quickly use a biscuit cutter (or anything round) to scoot the cookies back into a round shape and finish baking. Return to the oven for 2-3 more minutes and bang them on the counter and scoot them with the biscuit cutter again.
Step 8: Top with more white chocolate chunks and some flakey sea salt and allow them to cool on the pan for at least 10 minutes to set before serving.
How to bake cookies
I always bake in a convection oven but when I took some polls on instagram, most of you said you either don’t have one or you don’t know how to use your convection oven. So since I just about developed all my recipes in a 350F(180C) convection oven, I decided to experiment with a conventional.
If you don’t know the difference, a convection oven has a fan that circulates the heat more evenly. This usually results in a quicker bake, so always do less time if you’re unsure and it also gives a more even browning. If you’re not used to it, the changes can be frustrating but I find them convenient.
These cookies spread a lot so I recommend using two average sized cookie sheets. I was able to squeeze all 7 cookies on my large 15×11” cookie pan, if it was any smaller, I would do 4 at a time.
Baking with a conventional oven (no fan)
Bake 2-2.5 oz cookies at 325F (163C) for 11-13 minutes.
Baking with a convection oven (fan)
Bake 2-2.5 oz cookies at 350F (177C) for 10-12 minutes.
How to make cookies ahead of time
The cookie dough can also be made ahead of time. Just finish the cookie dough, scoop the dough balls onto a cookie sheet and place it in the fridge to firm up for half an hour. Then place the cookie dough balls in an airtight container or bag and freeze for up to a few months.
Before baking, bring them back to room temperature and bake accordingly or reduce oven temperature by 25f and add a few extra minutes to baking time if baking frozen.
How to store cookies
Everyone loves a warm cookie but honestly I loved these fully cooled too and I even loved them chilled while they were thawing. They’re definitely more chewy after they’ve cooled.
Store them in an airtight container or bag at room temperature for 2-3 days or a few weeks in the freezer. Feel free to microwave them for 5-10 seconds before serving again.
Frequently Asked Questions
I haven’t tested these with dairy free butter but all of my recipes that I have tested have worked with dairy free butter so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.
I haven’t tested these with gluten-free flour but all of my recipes that I have tested have worked with gluten-free flour so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I recommend a 1:1 gluten-free substitute like King Arthur or Bob’s red mill.
You can but make sure to only use 93 grams not 113 grams of butter then.
I used a Ghirardelli white chocolate bar. This makes the cookies spread a little bit more than if you make them with white chocolate chips but either works fine.
Thanks so much for reading today’s post, if you have any questions just comment down below. Make sure to leave it in the comment section because I can’t answer in the rating section.
If you make these incredible lemon white chocolate cookies, I’d love it if you left a star rating for me. If it’s less than five stars, please leave a comment with the rating so I know why! 🙂
As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!
Lemon White Chocolate Cookie Recipe
- 1/2 cup (113g) salted butter browned to 93 grams
- 1/3 cup (66g) granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup (66g) light brown sugar lightly packed
- Zest from 2 medium lemons
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tbsp (30mL) lemon juice (half medium lemon)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup (150g) all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
- 1 Tbsp (10g) cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 4 oz white chocolate chopped
- pinch flaky sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350F (177C) convection OR 325F (163C) conventional and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In a small pot, over medium heat, cook the butter for 5-10 minutes, stirring intermittently until it begins to bubble and foam.*1/2 cup (113g) salted butter
- Then stir continuously until you see the milk solids browning and settling on the bottom. Pour the butter into a bowl and allow it cool for a few minutes.
- Place the sugars into a medium-large bowl and zest the lemons on top. Use your fingers to run the zest into the sugar, allowing it to release it’s oils for flavor.1/3 cup (66g) granulated sugar, 1/3 cup (66g) light brown sugar, Zest from 2 medium lemons
- Add the hot butter and stir a little to cool the butter. Then add the egg, vanilla and lemon juice and whisk together aggressively for 2-3 minutes, until it's smooth and has lightened in color.**1 large egg, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 Tbsp (30mL) lemon juice
- Add the flour, cornstarch, salt and baking soda and fold the cookie dough just until there are a few streaks left of flour.1 1/4 cup (150g) all-purpose flour, 1 Tbsp (10g) cornstarch, 1/4 tsp fine sea salt, 1/2 tsp baking soda
- Fold in the chopped white chocolate, just until they're evenly dispersed.4 oz white chocolate
- Split cookie dough into 8 cookies (2.5 ounces each), (4-6 per cookie sheet, they spread a lot) and bake one sheet on the middle rack for 10 minutes, just until the edges are starting to brown.
- Remove them from the oven, give the pan a quick tap on the counter and use a round biscuit cutter to scoot them around so they’re perfectly round. Return to the oven for 2-3 more minutes and repeat. The edges should be lightly browned and the top no longer wet.
- Sprinkle with flakey sea salt and allow them to rest for at least 10 minutes on the pan before transferring off the cookie sheet.pinch flaky sea salt