Grapefruit Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies


These light and buttery shortbread cookies are perfumed with grapefruit zest, speckled with poppy seeds, and finished off with the perfectly sweet and citrusy grapefruit icing.



I often find myself spending spare time browsing the aisles of Target. It’s a magical place that never bores me no matter how many times I go, and seems to always offer things I never knew I needed. During one of my recent Target trips, I found a little bottle of poppy seeds on clearance. Without a second thought, the poppy seeds were rolling around with the rest of my unnecessary (but totally necessary) things in my basket. And so the brainstorming began of what to do with these little black seeds. Poppy seeds are usually paired with lemon – there are lemon poppy seed muffins, scones, pancakes, etc. All are super tasty, but Mr. Lemon, it’s time for you to share the LIMElight (see what I did there?) with your fellow citrus friends!

These shortbread cookies are lightly sweetened and have a buttery, slightly crumbly and perfectly crispy/crunchy texture. The grapefruit zest adds a wonderfully bright pop of flavor, while the poppy seeds bring that extra textural element. The grapefruit icing is just the right amount of sweetness for these cookies. Overall, this cookie gets an A+.




I followed this recipe by Gimme Some Oven, making just a few minor changes. Let’s make the shortbread cookie first. Put coconut, sugar, grapefruit zest, and vanilla extract in a food processor or blender and pulse a couple times (this mixture smells absolutely fantastic, so take a big whiff of it and savor it). If you’re using a food processor, add flour and pulse; then slowly add butter slices (about 1 tbsp per slice) while pulsing until combined. If you’re like me and don’t own a food processor, put your flour and sugar/coconut mixture in a large bowl and simply cut your butter into your flour (see my Figgy Shortcake post for my thoughts on cutting butter, and instructions on how to do it). Once you reach this point, add the poppy seeds, and knead your dough until it comes together, adding half a teaspoon of water (or grapefruit juice) if needed. Roll it out on a large floured surface into a ¼ inch sheet. Cut out your cookies using whatever cutter you’d like; repeat with excess dough until all your dough is used. I used a 3 inch cutter, and ended up with about 20 cookies. Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-17 mins at 325F (the bottoms should be just slightly brown). Transfer to wire rack to cool.



Icing time. Simply mix your powdered sugar, grapefruit juice and salt. Add more juice to get a consistency that allows you to decorate appropriately. I made my icing on the thicker side and put it in a ziplock baggy to trace the outlines of the cookies. Then I added a little extra grapefruit juice to make it runnier, and used a spoon to fill in the circles. The thicker icing acts like a little barrier to prevent the runnier icing from spilling over the edges. Decorate with more zest and/or poppy seeds.

Thicker icing for the outline, runnier for the inside



And that’s it. Go make yourself a cup of coffee, tea, or whatever you want and enjoy this delicious cookie! Thank you Mr. Lemon for giving up your monopoly on poppy seeds for this killer cookie! 


Grapefruit Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookie
Yields 20
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Shortbread Cookie
  1. 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  2. 1/2 cup white sugar
  3. 2 tbsp grapefruit zest (about 2 grapefruits)
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 2.5 cup AP flour
  6. 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, sliced (about 1 tbsp)
  7. 1 tbsp poppy seeds
Grapefruit Icing
  1. 2 cups powdered sugar
  2. 2-3 tbsp grapefruit juice
  3. 1/4 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. In a food processor or blender, add coconut, sugar, zest and vanilla. Pulse a few times until coconut is about the size of your sugar granules. Add flour and pulse a few more times. Slowly add your butter pieces and pulse until combined*.
  3. Add poppy seeds to dough. Knead the dough until it comes together, adding 1/2 tsp of water or grapefruit juice if needed.
  4. Flour a large working surface and roll out dough (about 1/4 inch thick). Cut out cookies using desired cookie/biscuit cutter. Gather excess dough and repeat until all dough is used.
  5. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake 15-17 minutes until bottoms of the cookies just start to brown. Transfer to cooling rack.
  7. Make grapefruit icing by mixing all ingredients together. Ice your cookies - you can use a ziplock bag, spoon, or a combination of both.
  8. Decorate with additional zest or poppy seeds if desired.
  1. *If you do not have a food processor, simply mix your sugar mixture and flour in a large bowl, and cut the butter into the sugar/flour mixture with a pastry blender or a fork.
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Delightfully Full

4 thoughts on “Grapefruit Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies

  1. This looks so good! And it makes me want to have a tea party. The tips for getting that perfectly round icing-top were just what I needed to imagine mine coming out close to as beautiful as yours!

    1. Tea parties are the greatest, and this would definitely be a wonderful addition! And I’ll share whatever little tips and tricks I can! Thank you so much for the positive feedback!

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