Black pepper adds a touch of heat to this lemony version of the classic icebox cookie. To make these cookies, Meyer lemon zest and freshly ground pepper are stirred into an easy sugar cookie dough that can be made ahead, rolled into logs, and frozen. Then, when an after-dinner sweet tooth kicks in, just slice and bake to order.

What to buy: The distinct flavor of Meyer lemons works well here, but regular lemons are a fine substitute.

Game plan: The dough logs can be frozen for up to a month—just wrap the plastic-covered logs tightly in aluminum foil before freezing. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before slicing and baking.

  • Yield: About 40 cookies
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 40 mins, plus chilling and cooling time

Ingredients (9)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed, finely grated Meyer lemon zest (from about 4 medium lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Whisk together the flour, zest, baking powder, pepper, and salt in a medium bowl to break up any lumps; set aside.
  2. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until lightened in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle with a rubber spatula.
  3. Return the mixer to medium speed, add the egg and vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle with the rubber spatula.
  4. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add in the reserved flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide it in half. Roll each portion into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
  6. When ready to bake the cookies, heat the oven to 350°F and arrange the racks to divide the oven into thirds.
  7. Remove the dough logs from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap, and slice the dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place the rounds about 1/2 inch apart on 2 baking sheets (about 20 cookies per sheet).
  8. Place both sheets in the oven and bake for 6 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom and bake until the edges of the cookies are firm but the tops are still soft, about 6 to 7 minutes more.
  9. Place the baking sheets on wire racks and let them cool for 5 minutes. Using a flat spatula, transfer the cookies to the wire racks to cool completely.