Lemon Basil Cookies – perfectly light and fluffy, a little crunchy on the outside, and loaded with summer flavor! Even the pickiest of eaters will love these cookies! So simple to make too, that you won’t even mind turning on your oven in the summer!
Have I mentioned yet that I’m married to a pick eater? I love him dearly – but the man could starve in a grocery store.
Grant came home from work the other day just as I was taking the last pan of these cookies out of the oven. He is my star-recipe-tester/number-one-critic/most-valued-food-opinion-giver so naturally I asked (forced?) him to try one – remembering mid-sentence that he doesn’t like nuts (pistachios are a key ingredient in these!). To my shock, he LOVED these.
These cookies were a staple growing up (thanks mom!) and although I regarded them suspiciously at first (basil? in a cookie? with nuts?? Are you nuts?) I can promise that these are LEGIT. They’re perfectly light and fluffy, with a slight crunch that comes from the pistachios, and they taste fresh and lemony. They don’t taste like you’re eating herbs – don’t worry! It’s really not weird – Grant would have told me if it was. He is, after all, my most trusted recipe critic, and like I mentioned, he really enjoys these.
These are just about the easiest cookies I know how to make! Chop the lemon basil and pistachios in your food processor, mix up the dough, chill it in the freezer for 20 minutes (or up to 1 day in the fridge), scoop into balls, roll them in a little coarse sugar + chopped pistachios, and bake for 10 minutes!
You’re on your way to cookie bliss in no time. Pro tip: Make a batch of this cookie dough and freeze it (for up to 3 months) for a rainy day, after the fresh lemon basil has faded away. My mom always does this and it’s honestly the best thing you can do for your future self!
Technically, you’re supposed to use the lemon variety of basil here, but regular basil works in a pinch if you can’t find it (like I couldn’t). Add a touch more lemon to compensate if you’re using regular basil.
*Update* – as of Summer 2018, I now have a lovely Lemon Basil Plant! Thanks for finding me one, Mom! It’s out on my balcony and I’m doing my best to keep it alive ?. Regular basil will still work just fine if you can’t find any lemon basil!
These cookies are the epitome of summer. My mom grew (and still grows!) her own lemon basil, possibly just so she can make these cookies for us?? Now, our little porch is home to another little basil plant – provider of the star ingredient for these cookies. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be over here making as many of these as I possibly can before our basil supply runs out or summer ends – whichever comes first.
*Note* – I originally published this post on August 14, 2017 but have updated the photos and some of the text as of July 31, 2018!
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Lemon Basil Cookies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup butter, softened (1 and 1/2 sticks)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup chopped lemon basil or regular basil, if you can't find lemon basil
- 1/3 cup shelled and chopped pistachios
- 3 tbsp sugar cane sugar works well because of it's coarser texture
- Make the cookie dough: Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, with a mixer, cream the softened butter well. Add the sugar and cream well. Add the egg, mixing until just combined. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and basil next, and mix until just combined. You can add a handful or two of the chopped pistachio nuts here to the dough for extra OOMPH (I like to do this). Add the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients in two additions, mixing between each. Form the dough into a slightly flattened disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for an hour, or in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Make the topping: While the dough is chilling, prepare the topping and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Shell and chop your pistachios - you can chop them with a knife or throw them in a food processor and pulse until you have small chunks - don't pulse them into a powder. Mix the pistachios & sugar in a small bowl.
- Bake: Shape the dough into small balls (about 1 tbsp each). Roll each ball in the sugar/pistachio mixture and place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. Let cool a few minutes on pan before moving to a cooling rack.
- Serve + Store: Enjoy immediately! Once cooled, store in an airtight container at room temperature for 5-6 days. Make ahead: Cookie dough can be made ahead and refrigerated for 1 day before baking. Dough can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Move to the fridge the day before you plan to bake the cookies so the dough can soften a bit, but still stays chilled.
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