Lemony Sweet Stained Glass Cookies

Shaina is the home cook and wannabe photographer behind Food for My Family, where she shares recipes, tips, opinions and her philosophy on food as she wades through the process of feeding her family, her friends and anyone else who will let her, all while juggling four kids and running a business.


I love baking Christmas cookies, and one thing I want my children to remember is baking with me.  Unfortunately, the cookies I tend to make for gifts at Christmastime aren’t the most exciting for kids: fruit-filled pastries dusted with powdered sugar, candied-ginger orange shortbread and pecan teacakes.  I needed something that screamed “Happy Holidays!” from the rooftop, or at least from the minute you saw it on your plate.  Stained glass cookies were just the thing to get the kids in the holiday spirit and one where they could be involved every step of the way.

Every cookie starts with a good dough.  This one has lemon extract and lemon rind in it to give it a bit of a kick in the pants.

square-butter square-flour square-dough

While you’re mixing up the dough, set your kids or your husband to work sorting the hard candies by color so you can crush them soundly with a can of stewed tomatoes or chicken noodle soup.  (Whatever you have will work.)

cookies-candy sort

Place half of your dough on a piece of parchment and roll it out.

cookies-dough ball

Using two sizes of cookie cutters, one large and one small, cut out large shapes with a 4″ cookie cutter…


…and then cut out small shapes (2″ or so) inside that.


Fill the inside with the crushed candies.  Use a toothpick to push the pieces around inside the cookie, being careful not to get the candy pieces up on the cookie dough itself, just along the inside edge.


Once baked and cooled, they’re done.  If you wanted, you could cut holes out in the top before baking and hang them as ornaments.  They also make fantastic colorful gifts.


Want a variation?  Omit the lemon rind and substitute peppermint extract for the lemon extract.  Then use blue and white mint-flavored candies and you have a completely different cookie.




  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon rind
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 30-40 hard candies such as Jolly Ranchers or Life Savers, sorted by color


Preheat oven to 375º F.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars.  Beat in lemon extract, egg and lemon rind.  Stir in the sour cream.  Sift together flour, salt and baking soda and then mix into the batter.  Separate in half.  Place the balls on a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit your baking sheets.

Lightly flour the top of the dough and use a rolling pin to roll it out to ¼” thickness on the parchment.  Using 4″ and 2″ cookie cutters cut out large shapes with the 4″ cutters and then use the 2″ cutter to cut out the centers.  Slide the parchment sheet with the cookies onto a cookie sheet.

Crush the sorted candies in zip-top or other baggies wrapped in cloth using the rolling pin or some other heavy object, like the bottom of a can.  Using a small spoon, like a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon or something similar, place the candies into the cutout shapes.  Use a toothpick to guide them around to the edges, being careful not to get any candy pieces on top of the cookie dough itself, just up to the edge.

Bake at 375º F for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on parchment.  When cool, carefully peel parchment away.  Package in airtight containers once completely cool, hang on the tree, give them away to friends, family and neighbors, and don’t forget to eat a few yourself.  ‘Tis the season, after all.

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