This classic Italian Lemon Biscotti recipe is big on flavour and low on effort. With its signature crunch and lemon flavouring, the biscotti cookies are drizzled in a tangy lemon glaze which brings out the bright, refreshing lemon flavour. These are perfect year-round, everyday cookies that can be stored in a cookie jar, taken on picnics or added to holiday gift packages.
My love affair with these traditional cookies continues after sharing with you my guide on How To Make Traditional Biscotti. The recipe in the guide can be used as the base for all variations of biscotti making it such a versatile base cookie recipe.
What are Biscotti?
They are a classic Italian cookie originating from Tuscany in Italy with a signature oblong shape and crunchy texture. Ones made with almonds are traditionally known as Cantuccini Toscana, but many different flavourings can be added to a biscotti cookie.
The word 'biscotti' when translated to English means 'twice baked'. And that's exactly what happens during the process of making these biscuits. The dough gets shaped into logs, then baked to cook the dough. Afterwards, it's cooled slightly, then cut and baked again to dry the biscuit out. Due to the second bake, the shelf life of these cookies is unbelievable!
Why you'll love this recipe
Minimal equipment needed. I love the fact that zero fancy equipment is needed. Grab yourself a bowl, wooden spoon and baking tray and that's it!! So simple.
Beautiful flavour. The lemon flavour is like a ray of sunshine when you bite into these cookies. The lemon in the dough is mild and sweet and the glaze packs a contrasting tang. If you want an extra citrus punch, I give you a tip on how to achieve that.
Long shelf-life. as they are dried out in the oven to achieve that signature crunch, it means that these can be stored in an airtight container and they'll last for a week. Perfect to have on hand for unexpected guests.
The joy of this recipe is that you'll most likely have all these ingredients on hand in your pantry. it's a simple short ingredients list, yet when combined, they produce a traditional Italian biscotti with GREAT flavour.
I find store-bought biscotti can be fairly bland, flavourless and always unbelievably rock hard (like break your teeth hard!) My recipe uses real lemons to bring out a bright sweetness but they are baked to be perfectly crunchy, but not too hard.
- Sugar - Granulated or caster, white or golden sugar can be used.
- Lemon zest - Lots of lemon zest is needed to flavour these biscotti, so use the zest of two whole lemons.
- Flour - Use plain (all-purpose) flour instead of self-raising or cake flour.
- Baking powder & salt - Just a little baking powder to create lift and a little salt to counteract the sweetness and balance the flavour.
- Eggs - I use large eggs as standard. Make sure they are at room temperature.
- Unsalted Butter - If you use salted butter then leave out the separate salt in the recipe.
- Lemon Juice - I add two teaspoons for more lemon flavour in the biscotti. Just enough so as not to affect the moisture of the dough whilst still adding the lemon flavour. If you prefer, you could add Limoncello instead.
- Vanilla extract - I find just a little helps enhance flavour. Another option would be to use 1 teaspoon of lemon extract (not essence!) if you want a real punchy lemon flavour. Don't go overboard though as it can be over bearing. My personal preference is without as the lemon glaze adds a lemon tang too!
- Lemon glaze- This is the simplest glaze made up of just powdered sugar and fresh lemon juice. Sweet and tangy - it's a great addition to decorate these biscotti with.
How to make Lemon Biscotti
The process of making these Lemon Biscotti is pretty straightforward. I've provided step-by-step instructions and photos so that you can be guided through the simple steps. My aim is to banish the myth that biscotti are hard or tricky to make. They really aren't! Let me show you.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
1. Release oils from the lemon zest. Rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips for a full 1 minute. This is a step that can be bypassed and the sugar and lemon zest added along with the wet ingredients. But read my tip below as to why I recommend doing it (Image 1 & 2).
TIP: Rubbing the zest and sugar together is a sure-fire way of imparting more lemon flavour to the biscotti. It massages all the beautiful oils from the zest into the sugar. You'll know it's working as the sugar will change colour and feel wetter. Also, it will smell divine! Use this trick when adding zest to any of your bakes.
2. Add dry and then wet ingredients and mix. Sift in the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt into the sugar and give it a quick stir together (Image 3).
Make a well in the centre then add the wet ingredients; eggs, butter, lemon juice (or limoncello if using) and vanilla extract (Image 4). Using a wooden spoon, work from the middle out to mix the ingredients until just combined (Image 5 & 6). The dough will look shaggy at this point.
TIP: If the dough feels like it'll be too sticky for your to shape, then just refrigerate it for 30 to 45 mins, at this point.
3. Shape dough. I find this part easiest doing it on a lightly floured surface - but you can do it straight onto the prepared baking tray if you prefer! Lightly dust your hands and the surface with flour and turn out the dough. Divide the dough into two. One piece at a time, gently knead the dough a couple of times for it to come together into a smoother mass. Then roll each portion into the shape of a log (Image 7).
Place each log onto the tray and continue shaping from there. You want the two halves to be roughly 30cm long x 5cm wide (12-in x 2–in). Make sure to leave space between the logs, as the dough will spread while baking. When the log is the right size, wet your fingers slightly to smooth the dough and flatten the top. (Image 8)
NOTE: For this recipe, I don't egg wash the dough or sprinkle over demerara sugar at this point. These lemon biscotti are decorated in a lemon glaze so I don't think they need it. But in my Almond Biscotti, I do as they are left plain. So if you'd like the extra crunch, now is the time to eggwash and add that extra sugar.
5. Bake and slice. Bake the biscotti for about 20 to 25 minutes. You want it firm and golden (Image 9). Then let the biscotti logs cool for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 135°C (275°F). After 10 minutes, using a sharp serrated knife, cut the logs diagonally into 2cm (3⁄4-inch) slices (Image 10). Place the slices on their sides on the parchment-covered baking tray (Image 11).
Bake again. It's time for a second bake now. They go bake in the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until dry and crisp, turning halfway through the baking time. Then cool and they're ready to be enjoyed! (Image 12)
TIP: These biscotti aren't 'break your teeth' rock hard. They do have a slight give in them. If you want very dry, hard biscotti, add another 10 or so minutes to the bake time.
6. Make the lemon glaze. This glaze could not be simpler to make. Sift into a bowl (this helps remove any unwanted lumps, the powdered icing sugar. Then pour in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to start off. Whisk it until smooth. It has to have a thick consistency to make it pipeable over the biscotti. Add more lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time if it is too thick.
Pour the glaze into a ziplock bag, snip a tiny hole off the corner of the bag and then pipe the glaze over the top of each biscotti. Sprinkle over some extra lemon zest if you desire (totally optional...it just looks pretty and of course adds on a little more lemon flavour. You'll then need to leave the lemon biscotti for 30 minutes or so, or until the glaze has completely set.
Citrus, especially lemon, is one of those flavours that pair so well with other ingredients. This means, that even in these simple Lemon Biscotti, you can take it one step further and customise them to suit! Check out the following flavour add-ins below.
- Lemon Almond Biscotti: Sub a quarter cup of the plain flour with almond flour and add in 130g/1 cup of blanched, or toasted, skin-on almonds.
- Lemon Poppy Seed Biscotti: 36g/1/4 cup of poppy seeds add such a fabulous crunch to any baked goods, and of course, they work so beautifully with the lemon flavouring.
- Pistachio and Lemon Biscotti: Add in 130g/1 cup of pistachios into the biscotti dough. You'll be left with quintessential Italian nutty flavours and aroma with this variation.
Other ideas for a variation on these Lemon Glazed Biscotti are to add in white chocolate chips or drizzle over melted white chocolate instead of the glaze. Into the dough, you could add some thyme (rub it with the sugar to release the fragrance). Add dried cranberries, dried raspberries or fresh blueberries for a fruity kick.
Alternatively, add in chopped toasted pecans for a more seasonal variation. As you can see, there are so many choices to customize these. Let me know what interesting combination you go with!
- Maximum flavour. Infuse the lemon zest into the sugar to increase the depth of the flavour. With such simple ingredients, lets maximise the taste.
- Floured work surface and hands. The dough can be wet to touch and flouring your hands and work surface will save you from a sticky mss when shaping into logs.
- Cooling time. 10 minutes is the perfect time to slice the biscotti. If it cools too much it can crack and crumble.
- Double bake. My recommendation is 15 minutes to bake for the second round. This dries out the biscotti enough to make it crunchy but not enough to break your teeth.
Frequently asked questions
They essentially mean the same thing. Biscotti is the plural form of the word biscotto. Biscotti is Italian for hard, sweet biscuits.
Once baked for the second time, allow them to cool down completely on the baking tray. Once cool, store the biscotti in an airtight container and they'll remain crisp.
If they have been stored too quickly, and softened, then pop them back into a 150C/300F oven for 10 minutes to crispen up again.
After the first bake, remove the biscotti from the oven. You want to wait about ten minutes before slicing it. If the biscotti log is too hot, then it can crumble and fall apart as you slice it. On the other hand, if you leave it too long and it cools too much, then the biscotti log can also crumble when slicing. I find that the 10-minute mark is perfect timing.
Some suggest spritzing the biscotti with a little water before slicing - I've never done this but you could try this technique too.
Also, make sure you use a sharp serrated knife to make the slices. Lastly, if adding nuts to the biscotti dough, I suggest chopping them quite finely before mixing them through as this will help with slicing them later on.
This is most likely from the biscotti not being baked for long enough the second time around. That second bake time is needed to bake and dry out the biscotti in order to make them crispy and hard.
Depending on how you like your biscotti, you can increase this bake time by 10-15 minutes to make them super hard, crunchy.
If you want to enjoy biscotti like a true Italian, then dip these beauties into vin santo, sweet dessert wine or dunk them into coffee or tea for an equally delicious approach.
To store: Biscotti can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
To freeze: Biscotti can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature. If they have softened slightly, then pop them back into a 150C/300F oven for 10 minutes to crispen up again.
Equipment you’ll need
- Large Mixing Bowl: No stand mixer required for this recipe. It's super simple to bring together in one large mixing bowl.
- Baking tray: you can use one large one or a two smaller ones to bake your biscotti on.
More lemon flavoured recipes
If you tried this Lemon Biscotti Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you're there!
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Easy Italian Lemon Biscotti Recipe
- Baking Tray
- 150 g granulated sugar, plus 1 teaspoon for sprinkling
- 2 lemon, zest
- 240 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
- 60 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed (or limoncello)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or lemon)
- 120 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Preheat oven . Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Release oils from the lemon zest. In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and lemon zest and using your fingertips, rub the two together for 1 minute.
- Add dry and then wet ingredients and mix. Into the bowl with the sugar, sift in the dry ingredients; flour, baking powder and salt and mix together briefly.Make a well in the centre then add the wet ingredients; eggs, butter, fresh lemon juice (or limoncello) and vanilla extract. Using a wooden spoon, work from the middle out to mix the ingredients until just combined. Then gently knead the dough a couple of times until it comes together. The mixture will feel a little sticky and if you prefer you can refrigerate it at this point for 30-45 minutes to make it easier to handle when shaping.
- Shape dough. Lightly dust a work surface and your hands with flour. Divide the dough into two, and using your floured hands, gently knead each portion of dough a couple of times until it comes together and is smooth. Then roll each piece into the shape of a log.Place each log onto a baking tray and continue to shape the two halves into a roughly 30cm long x 5cm wide (12-in x 2–in) long log. Leave space between the logs, as the dough will spread while baking. Use moistened hands to flatten the tops and smooth the dough.
- Option: Egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. You can egg wash and sprinkle over sugar for crunch if you like. I haven't in today's recipe, but occasionally I will if I have a leftover egg from another recipe! Make an egg wash by whisking together the remaining egg and milk in a small bowl. Brush the egg wash over the logs, and then sprinkle them with the extra teaspoon of granulated sugar or demerara sugar.
- Bake and slice. Bake the biscotti for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until firm and golden. Remove biscotti from the oven and reduce the heat to 135°C (275°F). Set aside the biscotti to cool for 10 minutes. Cut the logs diagonally into 2cm (3⁄4-inch) slices using a sharp knife. Place the pieces on their sides on the parchment-covered baking tray.
- Bake again. Bake the biscotti for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until dry and crisp, turning halfway through the baking time. Allow to cool fully. Once cooled, there will still be a little give in the biscotti. If you want very dry, hard biscotti, add another 10 or so minutes to the bake time.
- Make the lemon glaze and decorate biscotti: Add powdered icing sugar to a bowl and add lemon juice. Whisk until combined and lump-free. Either use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the biscotti. Or, for more accuracy, pour the lemon glaze into a small ziplock bag. Cut a small hole in the corner and drizzle in a zig-zag fashion over the biscotti. Leave to set for 30 minutes, or until the glaze is hard.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.