The Speckled Palate
March 30, 2019

Lemon Tea Cakes #SpringsSweetsWeek

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This post is sponsored in conjunction with #SpringSweetsWeek. I received product samples from sponsor companies to help in the creation of the #SpringSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.

Light and soft Lemon Tea Cakes make the perfect springtime cookie because aren’t too sweet or too tart. No matter the occasion, these cut out lemon sugar cookies are perfect for sharing. Depending on the cookie cutter size, makes 52 cookies.

A bunny lemon cookie is decorated

I’ve been a sucker for lemon desserts since I hit my mid-20s and discovered the lemon bar. (I meaaaaaaaan… late is better than never, right?)

So when I was trying to decide what I wanted to make with Adams Extracts and Sprinkle Pop as my third and final #SpringSweetsRecipe, my mind went in a lemon direction.

And what better way to go than a light, lemony sugar cookie that is mild, easy to cut out, fun to decorate and scrumptious to nibble? I took inspiration from my All-Butter Tea Cake Cookies recipe and ran with it, adding lemon everywhere for a delightful result.

More springtime dessert recipes you will adore: Funfetti CookiesStrawberry and Blueberry Hand PiesMargarita Cupcakes with Salted Tequila FrostingRoasted Strawberry Cheesecake Popsicles

Adams Extract and other ingredients for lemon cookies are shown on an aqua background

What you’ll need to make these Lemon Tea Cake Cookies

  • Stand Mixer
  • Zester
  • Citrus juicer
  • Baking sheet
  • Baking mat or parchment paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Springtime sugar cookie cutters

Adams Best Vanilla Flavor is poured into cookie dough

Specialty ingredients you’ll need to make Lemon Tea Cakes (and to decorate them for springtime fun!)

Cookie dough is shown on a dough beater in the stand mixer before going into the fridge for chilling

How to make Lemon Tea Cakes

Combine the wet ingredients.

In a stand mixer, add the softened butter and sugar. Cream them together, stopping once the butter is a light yellow and fluffy.

Add in the vanilla, egg, milk, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix until smooth.

Combine the dry ingredients, then add them to the wet ingredients.

In another large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Whisk until combined.

Fold dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and continue mixing with the hand or stand mixer until just combined.

A girl touches lemon sugar cookies as they cool on wire racks

Chill the dough.

Stretch a long piece of plastic wrap out on the countertop. Scoop the cookie dough into it, and carefully wrap the plastic around it. Press into a round shape. (This will help you when you’re rolling it out later.)

Chill the dough in refrigerator for 1-2 hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight, as well, but you’ll need to take it out 30-45 minutes before rolling because the dough is challenging to roll out when it’s super cold.

A man and a girl decorate Soft Lemon Tea Cakes in a kitchen

Cut out the cookies and BAKE!

Preheat the oven, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Flour a flat surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1/2″ thick round, and then cut into shapes using cookie cutters. (This step is particularly fun to do with kids. Our older daughter adores cutting out various shapes and rolling it, so if you have time and don’t mind the inevitable mess, let your kids join in on the fun!)

Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet, and bake.

Once baked through (and not brown), the cookies cool on a wire cooling rack.

A girl uses food coloring to color Lemon Icing

Make the icing and decorate!

In a large glass bowl, combine the ingredients for the icing. Whisk until smooth.

Separate out into different containers. (I like to pour 1/4 cup of icing into 5 different containers for even color distribution.)

Color the icing using food dye, if you’d like. I used the Adams Extracts All-Natural Colors, and they were perfect and springy for this recipe!

Once the cookies have cooled, spread the icing onto them using an offset spatula or a butter knife. Then add sprinkles! 

Containers holding Lemon Icing are shown with the food coloring and lemon wedges

FAQs about Lemon Tea Cake Cookies

What are Tea Cakes?

Tea cakes are fluffy and light, barely sweetened cookies! They’re similar to sugar cookies, but they’re softer and less sweet. And—surprise, surprise—they pair nicely with a cup of tea because they’re a very mild and simple cookie.

According to Southern Living, they most likely hail from the rural South and date back to times when rations were meager. If pantries were stocked, they included basics like flour, salt, etc. (In fact, our family’s original recipe calls for vegetable shortening and water.)

These cookies are pretty simple, but I love them all the same because they remind me of my childhood with a lemony twist. And when iced, they’re lovely for the whole family and for sharing.

A man and a girl decorate Soft Lemon Tea Cakes in a kitchen

Do I really have to chill the dough? If so, why?

YES, you must chill the dough. (Sorry if you were looking for a Tea Cake recipe that requires no chilling—this is not what you’re looking for.)

When you chill the dough, you’re giving the flour and gluten a time to rest, as well as time to firm up before baking. While you could probably roll these out immediately after making the dough, the cookies wouldn’t hold their shape, and that would be sad since you’re putting in the effort to roll ‘em out and cut them into individual cookies.

A girl places decorative sprinkles onto lemon sugar cookies

Quick tips for making these Soft Lemon Sugar Cookies

  • Make this cookie dough 1-2 days in advance, and let it hang out in the fridge before rolling it out and baking!
  • Make these cookies dairy free by swapping the butter with vegetable shortening and the milk with unsweetened nondairy milk.
  • Keep the dough from sticking to your surface by sprinkling flour on the countertop, as well as on top of the chilled dough and your rolling pin. If the dough starts sticking, reapply flour as many times necessary. While you don’t want the dough to be completely covered in flour, you also don’t want it to stick.
  • Unsure if you’ll like the lemon twist on these cookies? Hop on over to my classic Greek Yogurt Cut Out Sugar Cookies and All-Butter Tea Cake Cookies. Those might be better for your tastebuds!

Decorated Lemon Tea Cake Cookies sit on wax paper, cooling

Now who’s ready to hear about our amazing GIVEAWAY?

Check out the amazing prizes you can win in our #SpringSweetsWeek Giveaway!

Swiss Diamond graphic and prize packPrize #1: Swiss Diamond Cookware is giving one winner an XD Nonstick 6 Piece Newlywed Kitchen Kit! Swiss Diamond’s 6-Piece XD Newlywed Set is the ultimate nonstick cookware collection, with a pot or pan for nearly every recipe you can think of! Nothing conducts heat more efficiently than diamonds, and combined with the extra-thick cast aluminum body, these pans have amazingly even heat distribution. With this superior heat retention, they sear ingredients as well as stainless steel, but without the messy cleanup. The XD nonstick coating releases so well, you can cook anything without a drop of oil or butter. This set includes a 9.5″ fry pan, an 8″ fry pan, a 2.2 quart saucepan with lid and 5.5 quart soup pot with lid.

Swiss Diamond® International dates back to 1974, when HORT Coating Center SA was founded in Sierre, Switzerland, as a scientific research company exploring new materials and surface coatings. Fast forward to 2001, when a revolutionary nonstick coating suitable for use on cookware was developed, which led to the creation of Swiss Diamond® International SA.

Dixie Crystals graphic and prize pack

Prize #2: Dixie Crystals is giving one winner the Wilton Ultimate Cake Decorating Tools Set! What better way to decorate your cakes made with Dixie Crystals sugar then to use this decorating set? A blue and white rectangular organizer caddy has FOUR see-through drawers and two top compartments for holding tips, plus slots on the side to hold spatulas. Included in the caddy are 263 pieces, including piping tips, a practice board, decorating bags, straight and angled spatulas, flower nails and an icing comb. There’s also a lot of handy fondant tools, too, including a roller, cut-out sets, impression mats, modeling tools, shaping foam and a fondant smoother. It’s a cake decorating dream!

Since 1917, Dixie Crystals® has been the South’s choice for high-quality sugar and sweeteners. Their pure cane sugar products are all natural, non-GMO and provide consistently delicious results.

Melissa's Produce logo, along with a stack of veggies and fruits

Prize #3: Melissa’s Produce is giving one winner an Organic Family Produce Box. This box contains 100% organic fruits and vegetables including kale, cucumbers, apples, pears, lemons, oranges, carrots, onions, celery, garlic and so much more!  It’s easy to get in your five servings of fruits and vegetables with this fun produce box.

Joe and Sharon Hernandez founded Melissa’s Produce with a decade of produce industry experience in a small, rented produce warehouse lunchroom. The original office had just three telephones and four chairs. In a few short years, the company would grew to occupy a newly renovated and expanded 280,000 square foot office and warehouse complex. Melissa’s brand’s namesake, Joe and Sharon’s daughter, takes an active role in the company. The company’s Food Service Division has become a full-service operation that supplies culinary professionals with staples, exotics and Melissa’s full line of organic produce.

A stack of Nancy's products in a kitchen

Prize #4: Nancy’s Yogurt is giving one winner a fabulous Nancy’s Yogurt tote bag full of fun items! One winner will receive a tote bag stuffed with coupons for free Nancy’s Yogurt products, a super cute T-shirt, recipe cards and Post-Its. It’s everything you need to learn more about Nancy’s Yogurt.

After Chuck and Sue Kesey got married in 1960, they opened Springfield Creamery in Oregon. For the first decade they focused on bottling glass jugs of milk for home delivery and school lunches. Nancy Van Brasch Hamren joined the Creamery in 1969 and shared her recipe for making yogurt. Nancy’s became the first yogurt sold in the United States to contain live probiotics. In 1999, Nancy’s Yogurt began distributing to all 50 states. Today, there are nearly 60 employees, and Springfield Creamery makes over 100 cultured dairy and soy products.

Peep's Logo

Prize #5:  PEEPS is giving one winner a gift card to PEEPS® & Co. The winner can choose from a variety of delicious PEEPS® & Co candy items as well as apparel. They even have fun gifts like throw blankets, slippers, plush bunnies and socks. The choice is yours!

Just Born, the company that makes PEEPS® & Co., was founded in 1923 in New York and moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1932. Just Born got its name when founder, Sam Born, proudly displayed in his store window an evolving line of daily-made candy, declaring them “just born”.  Today we enjoy the wonderful combination of sweet colored sugar and fluffy marshmallows that create the unforgettable taste experience of PEEPS® Brand Marshmallow Candies.

Barlean's giveaway products

Prize #6:  Barlean’s is giving one winner a bottle of Seriously Delicious Omega-3, Extra Strength Ideal CBD Hemp Oil and a bag of Super Seeds.  Seriously Delicious Omega-3 is a tasty way to add Omega-3’s to your diet without a fishy after taste. The Extra Strength Ideal CBD Hemp Oil is made from US grown hemp, contains no artificial ingredients, has a natural mint flavor and is gluten free, vegan and known to promote health, as well as keep people resilient to changes in their environment. Super Seeds are a delicious way to add antioxidants and Omega-3’s to oatmeal, smoothies and yogurt. 

Barlean’s believes that people can make a difference in the world through ordinary purchases. They are on a mission to make premium natural supplements and functional foods that feed the mind and body. They also use profits to support outreach programs for people in need locally and around the world.

Adam's extracts and food coloring on a metal table

Prize #7:  Adams Extract is giving one winner four of their amazing extracts and a set of their food colors. The extracts include Pure Almond Extract, Pure Vanilla Extract and Pure Lemon Extract. The winner will also receive Adams Best Twice as Strong Vanilla, which is awesome to bake with. 

John A. Adams began making and selling his Green Plant Sarsaparilla extract in 1888 in Battle Creek, Michigan. In 1905, he moved his family to Beeville, TX. Working with just $6.71 worth of materials on top of an old icebox, John A. Adams created a new formula for vanilla. His wife tested it by whipping up a cake and announced, “John, this is the BEST flavoring I have ever used.” “Well, that’s old man Adams BEST,” he responded. The name stuck, and Adams Best was born! Today, Adams manufactures and markets under several Adams Brand banners, including Adams Best®, Adams Extract®, Adams® Seasoning & Spice, and many more. SprinklePop sprinkle mixes for the giveaway and logo

Prize #8: Sprinkle Pop is giving one winner six fabulous sprinkle mixes from their Easter collection!  The sprinkle mixes include Hangin’ with my Peeps, Bewitched, Signature, Green Tea, Cottontail Confetti and Egg Hunt. These fun sprinkles are a great addition to any spring or Easter baked goods. 

Liz Butts founded Sprinkle Pop in Texas. Liz found that not only can she pinpoint exactly what sprinkle color combinations work best together, but she can create a custom blend with the perfect textures. She grew the business from a one-woman show, operating out of the small “sprinkle room” in her house on nights and weekends. Less than a year later, she expanded to a dedicated warehouse space with a devoted team of sprinkle fairies. She makes delicious sprinkle mixes that are custom, vibrant and luxurious. More than 50% of all the sprinkles are dyed in house, so they are one of a kind. 

The Details: The #SpringSweetsWeek giveaway is open to residents of the United States who are 18 years of age or older. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Eight (8) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The #SpringSweetsWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the #SpringSweetsWeek posts or entry.

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Saturday #SpringSweetsWeek Recipes

Decorated Lemon Tea Cake Cookies are shown on wax paper with Pinterest text

Lemon Tea Cake Cookies
Yield: 52 2" cookies

Lemon Tea Cake Cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 28 minutes
Soft Lemon Tea Cake Cookies are a scrumptious treat! This twist on a traditional Southern tea cakes makes for a perfectly balanced and light lemon cookie that aren't too sweet or too tart. The dough puffs up in the oven and holds its shape beautifully, so these sugar cookies are perfect for cutting out and decorating with homemade Lemon Icing and sprinkles. No matter the occasion, Lemon Tea Cakes are perfect cut out cookies for sharing.


Lemon Tea Cake Cookies

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Adams Best Vanilla Flavor
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Lemon Icing



Make the Cookies

  1. In a stand mixer, cream the softened butter and sugar together.
  2. Once the butter and sugar are creamed, add the vanilla extract, egg, milk, lemon juice and lemon zest. Blend until smooth and incorporated
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together into another large bowl.
  4. Fold dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing with the stand mixer, and stirring until just combined.
  5. Stretch a long piece of plastic wrap out on the countertop. Scoop the cookie dough onto it, and wrap the plastic around it. Press into a round shape. 
  6. Chill the dough in refrigerator for 1-2 hours. (You can refrigerate the dough overnight, but you'll need to take it out 30-45 minutes before rolling because the dough is challenging to roll out when it's super cold.)
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. Set aside.
  8. Flour a flat surface. (I like to use a countertop, but a cutting board would work if it’s large enough, too.)
  9. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1/2" thick round, then cut it into shapes using cookie cutters. Transfer the cookies onto the prepared baking sheet.
  10. Repeat the process as many times as necessary to cut out all your cookies.
  11. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cookies have firmed up. You do not want them to brown.
  12. Transfer to a wire cooling rack.

Make the Icing

  1. While the cookies cool, whisk together the powdered sugar, salt, lemon extract, vanilla extract, lemon juice and milk to create the icing.
  2. Whisk until smooth, then separate out into individual bowls for coloring.
  3. Once colored, set aside until time to ice the cookies.

Ice and Decorate the Cookies

  1. Line a portion of the counter (or a table) with wax paper.
  2. Once the cookies have completely cooled, use butter knives or offset spatulas to spread the icing on them.
  3. Decorate the cookies with sprinkles, too.
  4. Let the cookies sit for 1-2 hours to allow the icing time to harden, then enjoy!

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving:Calories: 77 Total Fat: 2g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 9mg Sodium: 54mg Carbohydrates: 14g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 10g Protein: 1g

Thank you to our #SpringSweetsWeek Sponsors: Dixie Crystals, Swiss Diamond, Nancy’s Yogurt, Barlean’s, Sprinkle Pop, PEEPS, Melissa’s Produce and Adams Extracts for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #SpringSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are my own.


  1. Cindy

    These tea cakes would look so nice on an Easter brunch table!

    • Erin

      Wouldn’t they be lovely? Thanks, Cindy!

  2. Blair

    The Perfect cookies for Easter! I’m on it, Thanks!

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