Lemon-Poppy Seed Cookies

This image courtesy of Gentl & Hyers

We love the look of these cookies, pale golden rounds speckled with dark-blue poppy seeds, surrounded by shards of toasty sliced almonds. The classic combination of lemon and poppy seeds so commonly found in cakes is slightly unusual in a cookie, but it works. A ring of sliced almonds on the outside gives the cookies a tailored, finished look. Also of the slice-and-bake variety, we depend on the convenience of making them. They are a New York Philharmonic favorite, making a long-running appearance on Cara’s voluminous cookie trays. Orchestra members vote for their favorites by consuming them first, and these always go in the blink of an eye. 

70 cookies

Preparation Time20 min

Preparation Time - Text20 minutes, plus 4 hours to chill the dough

Cooking Time12 min

Cooking Methodbaking


Total Timehalf-day

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursedessert, snack

Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, vegetarian

Equipmentelectric mixer

Mealsnack, tea

Taste and Texturebuttery, nutty, sweet

Type of Dishcookie, dessert


  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup (1½ ounces) poppy seeds
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) lightly crushed sliced almonds


  1. EQUIPMENT: 2 rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment paper

  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat until combined. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the lemon zest and poppy seeds. Carefully add the flour, mixing just until incorporated.

  3. Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a 12-inch cylinder. Place half the sliced almonds on a piece of parchment paper or wax paper and roll 1 log in the almonds, pressing lightly so they adhere to the log. Repeat with the second log of dough and the remaining almonds. Wrap each log in parchment paper or wax paper and twist the ends. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, until firm.

  4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F.

  5. Remove the logs from the refrigerator and rest for 10 minutes. Cut the logs into ⅜-inch slices and place them on the prepared pans 1 inch apart. Bake until the bottoms and edges of the cookies are just beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on the pans on a rack. Repeat as needed with the remaining dough and cooled pans until all the cookies are baked, or freeze the dough for future use. Store the cooled cookies between layers of parchment paper or wax paper in an airtight container for up to 1 week.


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