lemon pistachio cookies – christmas baking begins!

This is one of my “maybe” Christmas cookies – I haven’t quite decided if this is going on the final baking list. Every year I always make at least one lemon treat because in the winter our lemon tree seems to always be exploding with lemons – and this year is no different.  I decided to experiment ahead of time to see if this new recipe would be a winner for the cookie list this year – but I can’t decide! People seem to always really enjoy what I’ve made in year’s past, so it’s hard to decide what to mix it up with. Maybe you’ll have an opinion?

You don’t need too much for this batch – fresh lemons, pistachios, and the usual suspects: sugar, flour, eggs and butter.

Start by whipping that butter and sugar together in a frenzy. Frenzy, I tell you! Anything else and it won’t turn out as right.

Well… it probably will. But I just like to say the word “frenzy”.

After that, you must add eggs. And flour. And lemon juice. Continue with the frenzy.

Then, pull it off the mixer and fold in your pistachios. I suppose you can to this in the mixer, too, but I rather like doing it by hand.

Just a thing, I guess.

Then you take your lemon zest…

and mix it in with a half a cup of sugar. Mix and smoosh it together to make “lemon sugar”.

The lemon sugar is super sparkly and makes the cookies shiny and glittery!

You’ll take a ball of dough and roll it up and then roll it around in the sugar.

Then place it on your cookie sheet and slightly flatten out the cookies. You can use your fingers or a little spoon, like I did.

The cookies spread out a bit, so I did rows of 2 so they’d have a little extra room for expanding.

If you like a really nice lemony flavor, use extra lemon juice when making the dough. If you’d rather have a “hint” of lemony flavor without feeling like you’ve been punched in the face, use about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice instead. I kind of lean towards “punch me in the face” but not everyone is into that (ie: Jake).

I love how the sugar sticks to the cookies and create a glittery effect. It reminds me of ornaments and frosted things. The pistachios give a nice little crunch to this cookie as well. If you want a crispier cookie, cook these for a tad longer – otherwise, these have a soft inside with a light crisp edge. Get the recipe below!

Lemon Pistachio Cookies
Adapted from Bakergirl

3/4 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup roasted, salted pistachios
For rolling cookies in:
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup white sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar. You want it to be light and fluffy ~ about 3 minutes. Add egg and mix until it comes together.

In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the electric mixer until it’s just combined. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, depending on how lemony you want your cookies. Fold in pistachios.

Mix together 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest in a small bowl. Rub the zest into the sugar until it’s well combined and sparkly.

Roll dough into 1 inch ball then roll the dough in the lemon sugar. Place dough balls onto the cookie sheet and flatten slightly with a spoon.

Bake cookies for 11-13 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown.

9 thoughts on “lemon pistachio cookies – christmas baking begins!

  1. I love extra lemon. And it’s a nice change up from the regular chocolate/vanilla varieties I see this time of year. How do the pistachios work with it? Is there a bit of saltiness?

    1. Hi Darlene – The pistachio provide a extra crunch and a little bit of saltiness. I used some dry roasted, salted pistachios and it just adds a touch. I didn’t try it with the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, but with 1 tablespoons you can taste a hint of lemon with the pistachio flavor. I suspect I would like it would extra lemon.

  2. For some reason lemon cookies strike me as a very San Diegan holiday treat. They look delicious though! I’m out of pistachios but maybe I’ll try with almonds 🙂

    1. Hi Jinxi – Haha, maybe that’s true! Lemon seems like a perfectly good holiday thing to me, though I’m sure most associate it with summer. I’m sure these cookies would also be good without any additions and just pure lemon flavor!

  3. Oh the cookies look fantastic! I just got done baking 12 dozen cookies. But even after all that, I think I’m going to try this one because they just look so good! And I’ve got a metric butt-ton loads of Meyer lemons on the tree.

    1. Our lemon tree is also exploding right now, so I’m thinking of doing extra lemon treats for Christmas baking this year. Hope you get to try making these!

    1. Hi CC – These sugar are so sparkly and I love that! I think the lemon sugar is a good idea and can be used for other stuff, too (like making different infused sugars).

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