Get ready to whip up your all-time favorite Panera Lemon Drop Cookies in the cozy confines of your own kitchen. These cookies take the classic sugar cookie and give it a playful citrus twist that'll have you grinning from ear to ear.
These lemon cookies are filled with chewy, lemony goodness that'll make your mouth water, with surprise bursts of white chocolate chips in every bite. They have just the right amount of tangy lemon and sweet, melty white chocolate.
Trust me, once you try these, you won't be able to stop munching.
Looking for more Panera copycat recipes? Try these Jumbo Panera Blueberry Muffins, this Panera Mango Smoothie, or these Panera Pickled Red Onions which are the perfect topping for this Kale and Apple Salad.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Lemon drop cookies are known for their tangy and zesty flavor. They are perfect for lemon lovers just like this Easy Lemon Curd topped with Lemon Swiss Meringue and this Lemon Thyme Cheesecake.
- The combination of the sweet cookie base and the bright, refreshing flavor of lemon creates a delightful contrast. Making these the perfect not-to-sweet cookie.
- Unlike Italian lemon drop cookies, these Panera Lemon Drop Cookies have a soft and chewy texture. It strikes a balance between being slightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, making them enjoyable to bite into.
For more perfectly chewy cookies try my Peanut Butter Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies or for a slightly savory option try these Bacon Fat Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bourbon.
You will need the following ingredients to make these tangy Panera Lemon Drop Cookies.
Flour: No special flours are needed for these cookies. All-purpose flour is perfect. For accuracy, the best way to measure the flour is by using a digital kitchen scale.
Tip: If you don't have a digital scale, spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level it with the back of a butter knife. Try not to compress the flour into the measuring cup. Too much flour creates dense cookies.
Salt: I add at least a pinch of salt to all of my recipes. Salt complements and intensifies the other flavors. For all of my recipes, I use Morton Kosher Salt which packs more densely than Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. If you are using Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt you will want to double the amount of salt you add.
Butter: Room temperature butter is easier to cream together with the sugar. I use unsalted butter. If you only have salted butter you will need to omit the salt in the recipe. There is about ¼ teaspoon of salt per stick of salted butter.
Sugar: Use white granulated sugar to keep sugar cookies color as light as possible.
Fresh Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest: The lemon juice mixes with the baking soda to provide lift and gives these cookies a delightful tang.
Powdered Sugar: A quick dusting of powdered sugar is a quick and easy way to finish off these cookies. Be sure to wait until the cookies have cooled completely before dusting them with powdered sugar, otherwise, the powdered sugar will start to melt.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Substitutions and Variations
- Swap the lemon juice and zest for another citrus fruit. Try using limes, oranges, or grapefruit.
- For an even stronger lemon flavor swap the vanilla extract for lemon extract.
- If you want large bakery-style cookies like you can purchase from Panera Bread Company, roll the dough into balls using four tablespoons of dough. Place the dough balls on a baking sheet approximately four inches apart. Bake in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 20 minutes.
- Rather than dusting the cookies with powdered sugar, you could make a quick lemon drizzle. Whisk together 1 cup (125g) of sifted powdered sugar with the juice from one lemon and a pinch of salt. Drizzle the lemon icing across the cookies.
Step by Step Directions
Step 1: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest together on high speed until light and fluffy. This should take about 2 minutes.
Step 2: Add the eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Mix on medium speed until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Tip: Mixing the lemon zest with the sugar will help release the lemon's oils and scent.
Step 3: Add the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until just combined being careful to not overmix the dough.
Step 4: Fold in the white chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.
Step 5: Wrap the cookie dough in wax paper and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. The chill time allows the dough to firm up and allows the flour to fully hydrate.
Step 6: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it into balls, about 2 tablespoons of dough each. The dough may be a bit crumbly but will become smoother as you roll it.
Tip: To quickly portion out the dough use a knife to cut the chilled dough into smaller pieces.
Step 7: Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet leaving at least 2 inches in between each cookie. Flatten the balls slightly with your hand to help them spread.
Step 8: Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Tip: Use a light-colored cookie sheet. Dark cookie sheets absorb too much heat and can cause your cookies to overbake. Check out this post from Handle the Heat to see a comparison of cookies baked on different types of cookie sheets.
Tip: For crispier cookies increase the bake time by 2-3 minutes.
Tip: Want perfectly round cookies? Immediately after removing the cookies from the oven grab a round cookie or biscuit cutter and place it around one of the cookies. Move the cookie cutter in a circular motion to gently round the cookie before it sets completly. Check out my cookie shaping video on Instagram if you have questions.
Step 9: Once they have cooled, use a flour sifter or fine mesh strainer to dust the cooled cookies with the powdered sugar.
Make-Ahead, Storage, and Freezing Instructions
Make-Ahead: You can mix up the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Chilling cookie dough keeps it from spreading too much as it bakes by hydrating the flour and solidifying the butter.
Chilling the dough is especially important when you bake cookies made with browned butter like these Sourdough Snickerdoodles.
Storing: Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Freezing Cookie Dough: Unbaked cookie dough balls can be frozen for up to 3 months. I always have a batch of Condensed Milk Chocolate Chip Cookie dough in my freezer for when a cookie craving strikes.
Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Once frozen, remove from the baking sheet and place in a zip-top bag. Label with the date and contents.
When you are ready to bake cookies, remove the cookie balls from the freezer, let them sit at room temperature while the oven preheats, and then bake. You may need to add a minute or two to the baking time.
Freezing Baked Cookies: Baked cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Once the cookies have cooled completely, place them on a sheet pan and freeze until solid. Transfer the frozen cookies to an airtight container or zip-top bag. Label with the date and contents.
Thaw frozen cookies overnight in the refrigerator or on the counter.
Yes, In fact for the best results, this cookie dough needs to chill for at least 2-3 hours. But feel free to leave the dough in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Refrigerating cookie dough before baking is essential to prevent it from spreading. If the dough isn't refrigerated the butter in the cookies melts quickly causing them to spread.
A hot oven also helps to prevent cookies from spreading. A hot oven allows the cookie edges to set quickly before the cooking has a chance to spread out too far.
Drop cookies are made by dividing cookie dough into evenly sized spoonfuls and "dropping" or placing them onto a baking sheet.
Fresh lemon juice will give you the freshest flavor but if you don't have any lemons you can substitute bottled lemon juice.
Without the lemon zest, the lemon flavor won't be as strong.
- Make sure all of the ingredients are at room temperature. This ensures the ingredients mix evenly and will give you the best final texture. To quickly bring the eggs to room temperature, place them in a bowl of warm water for 10-15 minutes.
- Use a cookie scoop for evenly portioned cookies. Take the guesswork out of portioning cookies by using a cookie scoop to make sure each cookie is the same size. Alternatively, you could cut the block of cookie dough into even pieces with a knife. I find that this method saves me time.
- Baking times for all recipes are only suggestions. The actual baking time will vary depending on your oven. It is helpful to know your oven and worth purchasing an inexpensive oven thermometer. Oven temperatures can vary as much as 50 degrees plus or minus.
- Don't let the cookie dough become too warm while you are baking multiple batches of cookies. If the dough is too warm when you place it in the oven the cookies will spread too much and become thin and crispy.
- When baking large batches of cookies, you can always place the dough back into the refrigerator if it gets too warm.
- Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. These cookies are so soft and gooey that they may fall apart if you try to move them too soon.
Read my post on How to Fix Dry Crumbly Cookie Dough for even more cookie tips.
Comment below and tell me which is your favorite cookie from Panera Bread Company.
Even More Cookie Recipes
Thanks for Reading!
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Copycat Panera Lemon Drop Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter room-temperature
- 1 ½ cups granulated white sugar
- 4 lemons zest only
- 2 large eggs room-temperature
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups white chocolate chips
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the 1 cup unsalted butter, 1 ½ cups granulated white sugar, and zest of 4 lemons together on high speed until light and fluffy. This should take about 2 minutes.
- Add the 2 large eggs, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix on medium speed until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Mix just combined being careful to not overmix.
- Fold in the 1 ½ cups white chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.
- Wrap the cookie dough in wax paper and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. The chill time allows the dough to firm up and allows the flour to fully hydrate.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it into balls, about 2 tablespoons of dough each. The dough may be a bit crumbly but will become smoother as you roll it.
- Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet leaving at least 2 inches in between each cookie. Flatten the balls slightly with your hand to help them spread.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool for at least 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack cooling to cool completely.
- Once they have cooled, use a flour sifter or fine mesh strainer to dust the cookies with the ¼ cup powdered sugar.