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Homemade Girl Scout Cookies: Lemon Coolers

Homemade Girl Scout Cookies: Lemon Coolers

Girl Scout cookies come and go, and not every cookie recipe makes it to the cookie booths every spring. Lemon coolers are a retired Girl Scout cookie that many lemon-lovers have fond memories of. Unfortunately, memories are all that they have because these cookies aren’t offered in this year’s line-up. I liked the bright, lemony flavor of these cookies too and also appreciated the fact that they were a little different than the rest of the Girl Scout’s offerings. I wanted to try and give them the same treatment as some of my other favorite Girl Scout cookies and come up with a homemade version.

There was one big problem with this plan: my memory of the cookies – along with a photo of a Lemon Coolers box  – were all I had to go on when creating the recipe. My memory was of a crisp, tender cookie that was lemony and coated with confectioners’ sugar. I remember it having a much lighter texture than, say, a shortbread cookie and I also recall that it was fairly sturdy, not crumbly. So, my interpretation is based on this template. I will admit that if you pulled out a 12 year old box of Girl Scout cookies to compare these to, they might not be twins, but they’re definitely going to satisfy a craving for a crisp lemon cookie and match the look of the originals.

Girl Scout Lemon Coolers Box

I used cake flour with a very little bit of cornstarch mixed in to give these their light texture. They’re softer than shortbread, but still have a nice crispness to them when you take a bite. I used real butter, which the original cookies probably did not, but I opted to use lemon extract (lemon oil is also a very good choice) instead of fresh lemon zest because that is closer to the flavor I remember in the originals. To give them that lemon-slice shape, I formed the dough into a log, chilled it, then sliced it in half before cutting the individual cookies. This made it very easy to shape them all and ensured that they all came out to the same size.

These cookies turned out to be very close to what I was looking for in a faux Girl Scout Cookie. They are slightly sweet and have a nice lemony flavor to them. I baked them just until the edges turned golden, which make for a crisp-tender cookie, and generously dusted them with confectioners sugar while they were still slightly warm. They kept well for several days without loosing their taste or texture, but they were so light that they were easy to eat two at a time.

Homemade Girl Scout Cookies: Lemon Coolers

Homemade Girl Scout Cookies: Lemon Coolers
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp lemon extract or 1 tsp lemon oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups minus 1 tbsp cake flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp milk
additional confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Beat in lemon extract, vanilla extract. Sift in cake flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt, mixing with the mixer on low speed to keep the flour from flying. Add in 3 tbsp milk and beat until mixture just comes together. Dough should be slightly sticky, but not wet.
Shape dough into a large log about 1 1/2-in in diameter. Wrap in wax or parchment paper.
Chill dough in fridge for at least 1 1/2 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Slice dough log down the middle to create two half-circle logs. Lay logs with the flat side down and cut slices of dough that are a bit under 1/4-inch thick (no more than 1/4-inch or they will turn out a bit softer). Transfer cookies to cookie sheet.
Bake for 9-12 minutes, until edges just begin to turn golden.
Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
When cookies are cooling on the wire rack, generously dust with extra confectioners’ sugar.

Makes about 3 1/2- 4 dozen cookies

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  • sharon
    February 26, 2010

    Brilliant! These were also one of my favorite Girl Scout cookies, and I’m glad I now have a new substitute…and its homemade and free of preservatives 🙂

  • Natalie
    February 26, 2010

    Wonderful!! These were hands down my favorite GS cookie and I was really disappointed when they were discontinued. The Lemonades that they sell now just don’t have that tartness that I like. I remember the Lemon Coolers having a perfect tart tang to the sweet. I love lemon desserts in general.
    Thanks for this!

  • Joy
    February 26, 2010

    It looks great! Could you use lemon juice instead? Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  • Mackenzie@The Caramel Cookie
    February 26, 2010

    These were my favorite type of girl scout cookie! Thanks so much for posting the recipe!!!

  • Erin
    February 28, 2010

    does lemon extract ever lose it’s potency? I made these today and used possibly twice as much lemon extract as necessary (also, they were really dry so I added milk until it started to come together appropriately). Anyway, as you may have guessed, the lemony-ness left a bit to be desired once I baked them. So (and I know it makes them less girl-scouty), but I whipped up a milk chocolate, cream and lemon juice drizzle for it and it really made the lemon in the cookies pop.
    great recipe – I’m going to get some new lemon extract and try again!

  • Nicole
    February 28, 2010

    Erin – It probably does lose potency over time. I actually used lemon oil in my best batch, so I’ll modify the instructions to reflect that you need more extract than oil just to be on the safe side.
    Also, that glaze sounds delicious – and I think that improving cookies is definite within the Girl Scout spirit!

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  • Jen @ Just for Rachel
    March 2, 2010

    This sounds so good! Lemon coolers are my favorite! I saw this on Be Different Act Normal, and am making it right now just 20 minutes later, I couldn’t resist. Thanks for taking the time to make the recipe, and sharing it for people like me who have no idea what they are doing in the kitchen! Jen

  • Amanda
    December 21, 2010

    As like everyone else I also loved the lemon coolers. They were by far my favorate cookie. I had thought about these for a few years wishing they would re-introduce them but that never happeed. Soo im hoping this is the next best thing. I can’t wait to make them for the holidays. Thanks again!!!

  • Katja
    February 29, 2012

    They offer these again, now called Savannah Smiles. Not quite so pure as the recipe, though. Thanks!

  • nancy goossen
    July 12, 2012

    I love lemon coolers, and the other cookies all so very good. 🙂

  • Darlene
    February 11, 2014

    Find GS troops who are using Little Brownie Bakers and you will find Savannah Smiles. They are the Lemon Coolers with a new name to celebrate the Girl Scout heritage.
    This recipe sounds great and I will definitely be giving it a try!

  • Lisa
    February 11, 2014

    The GS Savannah’s are coated in a lemon flavored powdered confection sugar coating which is the key to copy-catting the recipe. To duplicate you could use lemon flavored kool aid packets and blend with powedered sugar together. Domino’s used to market a lemon flavored confection sugar, but they don’t anymore.

    February 11, 2014


  • Regina
    March 3, 2014

    Thanks for posting, I wanted to try these because my daughters sold them this year, but I have to make them gluten free.

  • Kelly
    March 19, 2014

    Your recipe is spot on!

  • Karen
    December 14, 2014

    These are fantastic! I also miss the original Lemon Coolers, but these are so very close. The only things I did differently was add the lemonade kool aid to the powdered sugar as a previous commenter advised, and I also used my cookie press. The shapes are different than the original, but the press made cute little cookies. Thank you, I will be making these again soon!

  • Map
    December 21, 2017

    I made these and they turned out hard. Didn’t like the texture. But they had a nice lemony taste.

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