If you’ve been craving all the spring flavors like I have, then you need these lemon poppy seed mascarpone cookies in your life! They’re soft and tender, with deliciously chewy edges.
These lightly sweet cookies have just the right amount of lemony flavor (from lemon zest and juice), plus an extra flavor boost from the poppy seeds. You can optionally add a drizzle of simple, two-ingredient icing (recipe included!) for extra sweetness, and top with sliced almonds to dress them up even more!
Soft Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies
I honestly think lemon cookies are underrated. Sure, I get why chocolate chip cookies are popular (I love them too!). But sometimes I’m in the mood for something a little lighter and brighter, you know? Enter: these lemon mascarpone cookies!
They’re made with creamy mascarpone cheese for a soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Plus, they’re easy to make, with no electric mixer required. Gotta love easier cleanup!
Here’s what you’ll need to make these lemon poppy seed cookies:
- all-purpose flour: This helps give structure to the cookies. You should be able to replace with gluten-free all-purpose flour in a 1:1 ratio if needed.
- lemon: We’re using the lemon juice and zest of about 2 lemons here.
- poppy seeds: These aren’t strictly essential, but they compliment the lemon flavor so well.
- mascarpone cheese: Mascarpone is similar to cream cheese, but it’s softer, with a more velvety texture.
- butter (unsalted)
- sugar: I used white granulated sugar here.
- egg: For binding the ingredients and giving the cookies structure.
- vanilla extract: A little vanilla extract really brings out the lemon flavor.
- baking soda & baking powder: These are essential for proper rise and texture.
- salt: If using salted butter, leave this out.
And if you’re making the icing, you’ll need powdered sugar, a splash of milk, and optional sliced almonds for topping!
How to Make Mascarpone Cookies with Lemon
Start by setting out the mascarpone about 30 minutes before you start. (If you forget to do this, you can put it in a bowl and use a spoon to continually stir/mash it until it’s softened and creamier.) Also, set aside the egg so it comes to room temperature.
1: Combine Wet Ingredients
Melt the butter in the microwave at half power until just melted. Set aside to cool a bit (1-2 minutes).
Next, combine with sugar and vanilla extract, and whisk well until sugar is dissolved. Next, add the egg and whisk until incorporated.
Then, add the room-temperature mascarpone and whisk until smooth (i.e. there are no more lumps).
Next, juice and zest the lemons (you’ll need about 2 tablespoons of juice and 1 tablespoon of zest). Add that to the mixture, along with the poppy seeds, and stir with a rubber spatula.
2: Combine Dry Ingredients
In a separate bowl, stir the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt) with a fork or whisk to combine. Sift into the wet ingredients and gently stir with a rubber spatula until JUST combined and there are no more streaks. (Don’t over-mix).
Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 45 minutes. (This is important – it makes the dough easier to work with and makes sure the cookies don’t spread too much when baked.)
Then, use a tablespoon or tablespoon-sized cookie scoop to scoop dough (leveled off). Shape or roll into balls with your hands. Try to work quickly so the dough doesn’t warm up too much.
Place the balls of dough on a parchment-lined sheet pan, making sure to leave room for spreading.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes, until just golden around edges. The centers will still be a little soft, but they should firm up as the cookies continue baking once out of the oven.
Allow the cookies to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling. (Nothing wrong with a little taste test at this point, just sayin’ 😉 ).
3: Make Icing (Optional)
Lastly, once the cookies are cool, add icing (if desired)! Combine powdered sugar and a splash of milk in a small bowl until it reaches a thick, but drizzly, consistency. Pour or drizzle over cookies and top with sliced almonds.
I use this same icing in this chai custard toast with pecans. So yummy – tastes like a cinnamon roll!
Mascarpone Cookie Baking Tips
Here are some tips to make sure your cookies come out perfect:
- Don’t overheat the butter when melting.
- Make sure your egg is at room temperature before making your dough.
- Make sure the mascarpone is either room temperature or stirred very smooth. It needs to be fully incorporated into the dough, without any lumps, before the lemon is added.
- Avoid over-mixing once the dry ingredients (especially the flour) are added. This can negatively affect the texture.
- Don’t skip chilling the dough, or the cookies will spread too much (plus, they’ll be hard to shape into balls!).
- Don’t over-bake. All ovens are different, so check your cookies a little early to be safe.
How to Store Lemon Mascarpone Cookies
Store these cookies in an airtight container on the counter for up to 3 days. Be sure to separate layers with parchment paper so they don’t stick together.
I’d wait to add icing if you’re planning to serve them later, otherwise the icing might get mushed!
If you’re craving another lemony dessert, try these luscious lemon curd parfaits.
I only iced about half of these, but even so, these did not last long in our household! That luscious lemon poppy seed flavor is just too good.
If you make these lemon mascarpone cookies, I’d love if you shared your thoughts with a rating and comment below!
Looking for more tasty baked desserts? Check these out:
- Raspberry Almond Blondies
- Peanut Butter Banana Brownies
- Blueberry Walnut Blondie Bars
- Almond Butter Cookie Bars
- Churro Custard Toast with Chocolate Drizzle
- Mini Baked Blueberry Glazed Donuts
Iced Lemon Mascarpone Cookies
For the Cookies
- ½ cup unsalted butter (8 Tablespoons, or 1 stick)
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese (room temperature*)
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
- 1 Tbsp poppy seeds (optional but recommended)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
For the Icing/Topping
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 Tbsp milk
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- Before you start, set the mascarpone and egg on the counter for 30 minutes (to bring to room temperature).
- Melt the butter in the microwave in 30 second intervals at 50% power until just melted. Set aside to cool for 1-2 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine melted butter with sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk well until sugar is dissolved. Add the egg and whisk until incorporated. Add the room-temperature mascarpone and whisk until smooth (no more lumps).
- Separately, juice and zest the lemons. Add 2 Tablespoons of juice and 1 Tablespoon of zest to the wet ingredient mixture, along with the poppy seeds, and stir with a rubber spatula.
- In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and stir with a fork or whisk. Sift slowly into the wet ingredients. Gently stir with a rubber spatula until JUST combined and there are no more streaks. (Don’t over-mix).
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 45 minutes. (Chilling is essential – it makes the dough easier to work with and makes sure the cookies don’t spread too much when baked.)
- Once the dough is chilled, use a tablespoon-sized cookie scoop (leveling off) to scoop dough. Shape or roll into balls with your hands. (Try to work quickly so the dough doesn’t warm up too much.)
- Place the balls of dough on a parchment-lined sheet pan, making sure to leave room for spreading. (I used 2 sheet pans with about 10 balls of dough on each, and had a little left over to freeze.)
- Bake at 350° Fahrenheit (176° Celsius) for 10-12 minutes, until just golden around the edges. Remove from the oven. (The centers will still be a little soft, but they should firm up as the cookies continue baking once out of the oven.) Allow the cookies to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Lastly, mix up the icing in a small bowl and drizzle over cooled cookies. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top if desired. Enjoy!