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Vegan Lemon Shortbread

These vegan lemon shortbread cookies are crunchy, crumbly and perfectly sweet. Packed with fresh lemon flavour in every bite, these are a great sweet snack for summer picnics and parties.

Stack Of 4 Vegan Lemon Shortbread Cookies

If you’re looking for a dairy-free, light and refreshing dessert for summer, this vegan lemon shortbread is just the thing! It’s perfectly crunchy and crumbly and it’s bursting with fresh, zesty flavour.

This recipe is great for beginners and I’ve even included detailed notes, step-by-step instructions and top tips below to help you get success on the first try. So if you’ve never made a vegan dessert before, don’t worry!

Ready? Let’s get baking!


There are just 6 simple ingredients in this dairy-free lemon shortbread!

  • Dairy-free margarine: My recipes specifically call for vegan margarine and not vegan butter. While they’re both made from oils, vegan butter will produce a drier result if you use equal amounts. I like to use Vitalite spread for baking.
  • Caster sugar: Caster sugar is also known as superfine sugar in the USA. As the name suggests, it’s just a finer version of regular (granulated) white sugar.
  • Lemon extract: I used lemon extract to really enhance the lemon flavour in my shortbread. If you prefer, you can use vanilla extract instead.
  • Plain flour: Or all-purpose flour, to give the cookies structure.
  • Cornflour: This is optional but recommended! Cornflour (or cornstarch if you’re in the USA) will give the shortbread an extra crumbly texture, making it taste more authentic.
  • Lemon zest: This adds a burst of fresh lemon flavour. Make sure it’s dry when you add it so it doesn’t interfere with the texture of the dough.
Plate Of Dairy Free Lemon Shortbread With Lemon Zest On Top

Tools and equipment:

  • Baking tray and baking paper: This recipe makes 12-15 shortbread cookies so you can either line two trays or reuse the same one once the first batch has cooled.
  • Mixing bowls and utensils: A large mixing bowl, a teaspoon and a wooden spoon.
  • Grater: To get the zest off of the lemon.
  • Cookie cutter: I used a 3-inch round cookie cutter. I recommend using this size to ensure that the baking time is correct. If you’re using a smaller or larger cutter, the amount of biscuits you end up with will vary, as will the baking time/temperature.
  • Rolling pin: To roll out the shortbread dough!
  • Kitchen scales: I have included cup measurements in my recipe card for convenience but if you’re new to vegan baking, I’d recommend using a food scale to ensure your measurements are accurate. This means you’ll be way more likely to have success on the first try!

How to make vegan lemon shortbread cookies

Step 1: In a large bowl, mix together 200g of vegan margarine and 100g of caster sugar until smooth. Then stir in 1 teaspoon of lemon extract.

Margarine And Sugar Mixed Together In A Bowl

Step 2: Add 280g of plain flour and 2 tablespoons of cornflour/cornstarch to the bowl. Mix it in with a wooden spoon and when it’s starting to stick together, use your hands to press it into a ball. If the dough is too wet, add more flour and if it’s too dry, add a splash of vegan milk.

Step 3: Grate the zest off of 1 lemon and add it to the bowl with the cookie dough. Use your hands to gently press/knead it in evenly.

Step 4: Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes. This will help it to hold its shape in the oven. While the dough is chilling, preheat your oven to 180°C (or 160°C for fan ovens) and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Step 5: When the 30 minutes are up, gently soften the dough in your hands to get rid of any cracks then roll it out on a floured surface to around 1/2-inch thick.

Step 6: Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to cut out your shortbread cookies. Re-roll leftover pieces and repeat until all of the dough is used up.

Cutting Circles Out Of The Dough

Step 7: Place the circles on your lined baking tray and bake for 22-25 minutes, until the shortbread is firm to the touch all around the edges.

Circles Of Dough On Lined Baking Tray

Step 8: Sprinkle some extra caster sugar on top. Leave your lemon shortbread cookies on the tray until completely cool then enjoy!

Top shortbread tips:

  • Shortbread is not supposed to be golden brown so it can be a little tricky to know when it’s done baking. After the minimum baking time is up, carefully feel the edges. If they’re firm then they’re done- if they’re still a bit soft then pop them back into the oven for a few more minutes.
  • Use vegan margarine because this is what the recipe has been tested with. Using the blocky type of vegan butter is likely to cause dry cookies.
  • Make sure your lemon zest is dry before you add it to the cookie dough. If there’s any lemon juice on there it can cause the cookie dough to become too wet.
  • If your dough does turn out too wet, you can fix it by adding more flour. If it’s too dry, you can help it come together by adding a splash of plant-based milk.


How long will vegan lemon shortbread last?

It’ll last for around 5 days if you keep it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place such as a kitchen cupboard.

Can I freeze them?

Yes, vegan lemon shortbread cookies are great for freezing. You can pop them into airtight containers and freeze for up to 2 months. To defrost, just let them sit out at room temperature for an hour or two. Do not refreeze.

What can I use instead of cornflour?

Simply replace it with an equal amount of plain flour. The cornflour helps create a more crumbly texture but the shortbread is just as delicious without it.

How do you know when shortbread is ready?

You’ll know it’s ready when it’s firm to the touch around the edges. Shortbread shouldn’t be golden brown because it continues to bake for a few minutes after you remove it from the oven so make sure to keep an eye on it.

A Plate Of Vegan Lemon Shortbread Biscuits

More vegan shortbread biscuits:

I hope you like these vegan lemon shortbread cookies! If you make them at home, leave a comment and rating below to let me know how it goes. Happy baking!

Thumbnail Image Of Vegan Lemon Shortbread
5 from 1 vote

Vegan Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Dairy-free lemon shortbread biscuits that are crunchy, crumbly and taste just like the authentic Scottish version!

Course Dessert
Cuisine vegan
Keyword vegan lemon shortbread
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Chill time 30 minutes
Servings 12 shortbread cookies
Calories 186 kcal


  • 100 g Caster sugar (½ cup)
  • 200 g Vegan margarine (¾ cup)
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon extract (can sub for vanilla)
  • 280 g All-purpose flour (2 cups + 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornflour (cornstarch)
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons Caster sugar, to sprinkle on top


  1. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar, margarine and lemon extract.

  2. Add in the flour and the cornflour. Mix until it begins to stick together then use your hands to press it into a dough. Then gently knead in the lemon zest.

  3. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes. This will help it to hold its shape in the oven.

  4. While the dough is chilling, preheat your oven to 180°C (or 160°C if you're using a fan oven) and line a tray with baking paper.

  5. Gently knead the chilled dough to get any cracks out then roll it out to about ½-inch thick on a floured surface. Cut out 3-inch circles, re-rolling leftover dough until it's all used up.

  6. Bake for 22-25 minutes until firm all the way round the edges. The shortbread should still be mostly pale in colour and slightly soft in the middle- it will firm up as it cools.

  7. Sprinkle the extra sugar on top and allow them to cool completely before attempting to remove them from the tray.

Recipe Notes

  • Use spreadable vegan margarine, not the blocky type.
  • If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. If it’s too dry, add a splash of plant-based milk to help it come together.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Nutrition Facts
Vegan Lemon Shortbread Cookies
Amount Per Serving (1 shortbread biscuit)
Calories 186 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Sodium 95mg4%
Potassium 1mg0%
Carbohydrates 22g7%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 2g4%
* All values are an estimate only and will vary depending on the food brands used.
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