Combine a crisp, buttery, French shortbread cookie with a double burst of bright lemon and you've got a heavenly sweet treat! The fact that these Lemon-Glazed French Sable Cookies come together easily in one bowl (no mixer needed!) seals the deal!
I was intrigued by a recipe for French Sable Cookies with a lemon glaze that came through my inbox recently. The email was from King Arthur and, being a sucker for all things lemon, I quickly clicked on the link. The cookies looked delicious, but when I read the reviews I was disappointed as many of the comments described the recipe as fussy and the dough sticky and difficult to work with.
That didn't deter me though as I already had a wonderful, no-fail French Sable Cookie (pictured below) recipe.
It was easy to adapt the recipe to include lots of flavorful lemon zest and a simple lemon glaze. I'm super happy to introduce you to these DELICIOUS Lemon-Glazed French Sable Cookies.
What are French Sable Cookies?
Sables (aka French Butter Cookies or Breton Biscuits) are the French equivalent of shortbread cookies. Like classic British Isle shortbread cookies, the ingredient list is short and sweet. All of the recipes start with butter, sugar and flour. Variations can include powdered sugar, brown sugar, corn flour and/or corn starch.
The main difference between classic Scottish or Irish shortbread and French sables is eggs. Sable recipes include eggs or, as in this recipe, egg yolks. The egg adds a rich flavor and delicate texture. Sable means sand or sandy in French and refers to the crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth texture of these delicious cookies.
Dip, Drip and Flip
Back in 2017, while making Christmas cookies, I came up with a super easy decorating technique. It's gone in a bunch of different directions over the years, but the basic method for all of the variations is what I call the Dip, Drip and Flip technique. These French Sable Cookies employ the same easy technique for the lemon glaze. My daughter-in-law, Lindsay created a video demonstrating how easy it is to dip, drip and flip! Check it out:
These French Sable Cookies are wonderful to serve as a sweet treat with a tall glass of milk. They're also perfect for tea parties, and coffee breaks. They make a lovely dessert on their own or paired with ice cream.
For an easy, make-ahead dessert, I love to serve vanilla ice cream in pretty bowls drizzled with this jewel-toned Raspberry Coulis (pictured below) and a few of these buttery lemon cookies - DELISH!
Give them away!
Another fabulous thing to do with these French Sable Cookies is to gift them to family, friends, co-workers, new or old neighbors, teachers - really anyone you want to give a little TLC. To make gifting even more special, we've created a pretty label to pizzazz up your gifts. We're happy to share a PDF for these free printable labels with you.
Just leave a comment at the bottom of this post, letting us know you'd like to receive the labels and we'll get them off to you in the next few days, along with instructions on how to use them and links for the boxes and ribbon shown in the pictures.
Don't wait, you probably have everything you need to make a batch of these Lemon-Glazed French Sable Cookies. The aromas wafting from your kitchen will be amazing... like a fine little Parisian patisserie. But the best part will be the smiles on the faces of family and friends as they take a bite of these crisp, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth delights!
Café Tips for making the French Sable Cookies
- Because there’s no mixer used, the butter needs to be very soft when mixing up these Irish Shortbread Cookies. Either let the butter come to room temperature by letting it sit out overnight or you can use the microwave. A short stint in the microwave on power level 10 (10%) works like magic to soften butter. You’ll need to experiment a bit with your microwave though, as they’re all different. Start with 20 or 30-second increments at power level 10 until you learn how long your microwave will take to get the butter nice and soft, but not melted.
- I like to use a good-quality butter for these French Sable Cookies since the ingredient list is short and each one is important. My favorite butters are Land O' Lakes and Kerry Gold but there are lots of other good quality brands of butter. Also, I'm a bit of a rebel in the culinary world as I have always used salted butter. I know that unsalted butter is the choice by many "experts" but I totally agree with Christopher Kimball (founder of Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen and more recently, Milk Street) in this article regarding salted vs unsalted butter.
- You might wonder why these cookies need to be chilled for 30 minutes before baking. The chilling helps them keep their shape in the hot oven. Also, chilling the cookies, uncovered, helps them to dry out a bit which is a good thing with shortbread, as it intensifies the flavor. So it's a win-win!
- A small amount of corn starch in these Lemon-Glazed French Sable Cookies also helps the cookies to keep a nice shape in the oven and adds to the crisp texture. (It's optional - so if you don't have corn starch, don't go out and buy it just for this recipe.)
- The cookies will be slightly puffed after being in the oven for a while. Right when they come out of the oven, you can smooth them out by pushing gently on the tops with a metal spatula.
- I like to use a fluted or scalloped cookie cutter for these French Sable Cookies but any shape cutter will work.
- I used to be TERRIBLE at rolling cookie dough for cut-out cookies. I could NEVER get it even. Then, a few years ago, I discovered a wonderful rolling pin that makes me look like a pro. It has removable discs in 4 different sizes that make it simple to roll to an even thickness. Check out the pictures of these cookies above in the post. No one would know that, on my own, I would need remedial rolling lessons!
- A few tips on rolling and cutting out cookies:
- Keep your work surface and rolling pin dusted with flour.
- I also like to rub the cutting edge of my cookie cutter in a little flour in between each cookie.
- Press fairly firmly when cutting out the cookies, but don’t twist the cookie cutter as the shape will get distorted.
- If you don’t have room in your refrigerator to chill the cookies on two sheet pans, just transfer all of them to one pan after cutting. Then later, once they’re chilled, you can divide them between the two pans for baking.
- It's fine to reroll the scraps and cut more cookies.
Thought for the day:
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoy this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations, and ideas for variations.
- 1 cup very soft butter I use salted butter
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 egg yolks from 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- finely grated zest from 2 large lemons
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour Or you can use 2 cups of flour and 2 tablespoons of corn starch. I like the cornstarch as it gives a little extra crispness.
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons half and half
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. (177˚C.) Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a medium size bowl, combine the soft butter and sugar. Stir until smooth and well combined.
Add the egg yolks, vanilla extract and lemon zest. Stir to combine. Add the flour and stir until well incorporated and the dough starts to come together. The mixture will seem crumbly at first. Just keep stirring until it comes together.
Sprinkle a work surface with flour. Have some extra flour on the side in a small cup.
Turn the dough over several times to coat lightly with the flour then divide the dough in two and cover one half with a piece of plastic wrap.
Keeping the surface and your rolling pin lightly dusted with flour at all times, roll out the dough to the desired thickness. I like mine about a ¼ thick for thinner cookies and closer to ⅜ for thicker ones. You can go thinner or thicker it’s just important to keep the surface underneath the dough lightly floured as you roll. (I also like to dip my cookie cutter in flour before cutting each cookie to keep the dough from sticking to the cutter.)
Use a cutter of your choice (I used a scalloped 2.5-inch cutter) to cut out the cookies, transferring them to one of the prepared sheet pans as you go. Space the cookies 2 inches apart.
Bring the dough scraps together then roll out more cookies until the dough is used up. Repeat with second ball of dough. Chill the cookies in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking.
Bake the cookies for 12-16 minutes or until light golden brown. If the cookies have puffed a bit or have some little bubbles, you can flatten them at this point with the back of a flat metal spatula. Transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon half and half and vanilla extract in a medium-size bowl. Mix until smooth. The glaze should be fairly thick, but pourable. Add a little more half and half if too thick. Add more powdered sugar if it’s too thin. (See picture above in the post.)
Transfer the glaze to a small shallow bowl (a little larger than your cookies). Slowly stir the glaze to release and air bubbles.
Holding onto the edges of one cookie, dip the top surface into the glaze, being sure all of the surface touches the glaze. Pull cookie straight up out of the glaze and allow excess glaze to drip into the bowl for about 15-20 seconds. (You can gently shake the cookie back and forth and up and down to get it to drip a little faster.) Then quickly flip the cookie to the right side up and give it a gentle jiggle to allow the glaze to flow evenly over the surface. If the glaze drips over the edge of the cookie, you didn’t let it drip quite long enough.
Repeat the dip, drip and flip technique with the remaining cookies. Place cookies on a cooling rack and allow the glaze to dry for 20-30 minutes. If you want to stack the cookies in a storage container or box for gifting, you’ll need to let the glaze dry for at least 8 hours. I like to let them sit out overnight before stacking.
Store in an airtight container. These cookies actually keep well for several weeks once the glaze is set and dry.
(You'll have a fair amount more glaze than you need, however, to the dip, drip and flip technique properly, you need this amount. You can use it for something else, if desired but it will probably end up with some crumbs in it.)
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn’t have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.
The yield of this recipe depends on the size of your cutter. I use a 2.5-inch scalloped cutter and get 28-30 cookies.