Lemon Pepper Cornmeal Cookies

Lemon Pepper Cornmeal Cookies

If you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis, don’t try to pipe these cookies. And I’m not joking. My hands were quite sore after piping 4 dozens of these, even though I don’t have any of the aforementioned problems. The dough is quite stiff and not so easily piped. To alleviate the process, you can either chill the dough briefly, then roll it into little balls and bake. Or, you can form a log from the whole batch of dough, refrigerate it, slice and bake the following day as ice-box cookies.

Please, don’t get discouraged by what I’ve just said. The cookies are good and very much deserved to be made. Regardless the way they are shaped, the cookies are so Italian, crunchy but tender, buttery, lemony, and with a pleasant light peppery bite.

Makes 2 dozens


  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose
  • 1 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper (freshly ground)
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • 1 cup minus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks; ½ lb) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pure lemon extract (or ¼ tsp lemon oil)


Center an oven rack and preheat to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Put the lined baking sheet into another sheet to protect the bottoms of the cookies from overbrowning. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, pepper, and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the zest and sugar together. Rub with your fingertips to release the lemon oil.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer (or in a bowl of the stand mixer with the paddle attachment) beat the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually bean in the sugar-zest mixture. Add the extracts, then the egg and egg yolk, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Gradually add the dry ingredients, mix until combined. Transfer about ¼ of the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip (I used Ateco 826) and pipe S shapes about 2 ½-inch long and 1-inch wide leaving about 1 inch space around each cookie. If you find it too difficult to pipe S-s, you can pipe zigzags or sticks which are easier to pipe. Add another small portion of the dough and continue to pipe. Since the dough is stiff, it’s better not to overfill the pastry bag and use both hands to squeeze the bag. Continue until all the dough is used. Chill the formed cookies on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes before baking. Bake in batches, for about 20-23 minutes, until the cookies are light golden in color. Cool on the sheet on a rack for 10-15 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack and cool completely. The cookies can be made 1 week in advance.

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36 Responses to “Lemon Pepper Cornmeal Cookies”

  1. These look fabulous! What a fun cookie!

  2. Oh these look really crunchy good. I admit, I’ve never had a cookie with pepper in it. Is the pepper strong or subtle. I imagine it’s subtle. I will have to try these out!

    Happy Halloween!

    Michelle :)

  3. What a nice cookie ! the flavor must be very nice !

  4. Delicious and very pretty piping! I’m sure if I were to make them I wouldn’t pipe them ;) The zest of 3 lemons AND lemon extract…wow, they must really be lemony!

  5. An original combo! Pepper and lemon pair very well… Those pretty cookies must taste heavenly!



  6. These cookies look wonderful! Beautiful picture!

  7. As the saying goes, pleasure often comes after pain. (wait, is that a real saying, or is it just something I made up?) Regardless, I’ll gladly endure the pain on my hands and fingers if I could pipe them as well as you could! They look beautiful!

  8. These sound wonderful, Vera! I love that grittiness you get from the cornmeal.

  9. These look so good though I don’t think I would have the patience to pipe them out like you did… I love the little swirl design though.

  10. Well your cookies are a beautiful shape, of course! I’m a piping novice, so perhaps these would be good practice. While I’ve heard of pepper cookies before, I’ve never actually had any. But I always love the texture of cornmeal in anything baked. They look wonderful!

  11. The cookies look so good and lemon-pepper sound really delicious!!


  12. I adore cornmeal cookies! And the pepper must give them that wonderful “je ne sais quoi”!

  13. Cornmeal cookies sound fabulous. I think I could eat all 4 dozen :)! I do hope your wrist feels better.

  14. those flavors sound delicious in a cookie – what a great idea!

  15. so they’re good enough to endure a sore wrist, eh? they sure are attractive–nicely done. :)

  16. These cookies look marvelous! I love to make piped cookies, although you’re right – they leave you with really sore hands afterwards…

  17. These remind me of christmas cookies, or at least Italian style christmas cookies. They look delicious, perhaps a little painful but I think I can suffer for these cookies. Thanks for the recipe.

  18. I like the flavors and I think these would be great for dipping in a nice hot cup of tea. I’m glad you piped them despite the soreness because they look great.

  19. 4 dozen of those? Might be good training for arm wrestiling or something :)

  20. What lovely cookies!! I am sure all of the flavors are fantastic!

  21. these are very tasty! when i made them i added thyme and lemon juice. they were so good with tea in the morning.

    i love your addition of pepper.

  22. Nice cookies. Ha and you managed to pipe 4 dozen of these !! i would have piped two for the photos than the rest easy way out :) they will still taste delicious. I love the flavour combination :)

  23. WOW! this is explosive cookies, so stunning as it reminds me of Paris……fantastic!

  24. I love so many Italian cookies. The crispness and lack of uber-sugar, although I love uber-sugar cookies too. I have been a grocery checker for 30 years and 19 days so I think I will go with the slice and bake route. Besides I am much better with taste than I am with pretty but I am working on it. They sound perfect and the photo is lovely.

  25. Oooh, what a great photo set up. Perfect!

    They sound delish, but I hear you on piping them. I’ve done it before and it kills. If you don’t have carpel tunnel when you start, you just might afterwards, lol. I wonder if a cookie press would work?

  26. Melody, thank you very much!

    Michelle, thank you! The pepper flavor is subtle. But make sure you grind the pepper coarse, not fine!

    Natalia, thank you! The flavor was nice :)

    Linda, thank you! They were lemony but not over so :)

    Rosa, thanks a lot! I don’t think it’s very original. It’s an old Italian classic.

    Lien, thank you very much for your words!

    Christy, I can’t agree more :) Thank you for the compliment!

    Eileen, thank you very much! They have enough grittiness in them.

    Jen, thank you! You can always slice-and-bake them :)

    Andrea, thank you! There’s enough cornmeal crunchiness in these ones :)

    Ana, thank you very much!

    Rita, you are so right about it. I can confidently say the pepper gives them the “je ne sais quoi” :)

    Sophie, thank you very much! My wrist does feel better, thank you!

    Arundathy, thank you!

    Grace, yep! They were good, I’m giving you my word :)

    Miri, thank you so much! I noticed that the more you eat them – the less the pain :)

    Abby, thank you! They are certainly Italian but I didn’t know they are traditionally served for Christmas. Good to know.

    Camille, thank you very much! I’m sure they would be good with tea but, honestly, I prefer them with coffee :)

    Jude, exactly :)

    Maria, thank you! They were quite tasty :)

    Lan, thyme sounds lovely with lemon! I’ll give your version a try one day.

    Natalie, thank you! It sounds like a very bright idea :) Why didn’t I think about it myself? Probably, because I was giving them away :)

    Big Boys Oven, thank you very much for the complement! I thought they were rather supposed to remind of Rome :)

    We love Italian cookies together :) I’ll be happy if you give them a try.

    Jacque, thank you! I thought about a cookie press for a moment. But the idea of washing both pastry bag and cookie press helped me to squeeze this bag harder :) But I think it would work fine.

  27. I love anything with pepper and cornmeal in it, especially if it is a cookie. Arthritis or not this is on my to do list. Thanks for the warning!

  28. So do I, Kim :)

  29. Hi Vera, I made these cookies yesterday and they’re very good! Thanks you :)
    (I posted about them and linked to you.)

  30. May, I’m so glad you liked them! I’ll definitely check them out :)

  31. Love your website. These cookies are exactly what I was looking for. Have you ever experimented by substituting a little fresh rosemary for the pepper?

  32. Maru, thank you. Lemon and rosemary is a classic flavor combo; I personally love it. You can replace some or all pepper with rosemary, or just add the rosemary. Either way, the cookies will be good.

  33. Your recipe is so inspiring that i’m making them right now. I just happened to buy a cookie press recently–actually more with cake decorating in mind–but it makes the pressing really easy! There’s a lever with ratcheting notches so that it requires almost no strength at all to produce a cookie. I really recommend getting one. Mine is made by Gefu (i live in Germany), but this one looks similar.


    Thanks for the recipe! I looked at a bunch of similar ones, but liked yours the best. I’ve also heard of using sage rather than pepper or rosemary. I changed it to 3 egg yolks and am refrigerating the dough before pressing them.

  34. Update: Woops! refrigerating the dough too long before pressing makes it impossible to press! Worked better to refrigerate after pressing, as you suggest. I do think the three egg yolks were a good idea, though fwiw.

  35. Nettie, I agree that a cookie press is a very handy gadget. I hope you liked the cookies.

  36. Possibly a silly question, but is this recipe in metric? I just assumed it wasn’t, so I converted it into grams (since I only have metric cups/spoons). The cookies melted in the oven and didn’t keep their pretty piped shapes. I thought I’d check to make sure I was right before having a second go, melted or not, they are delicious!

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