Science Behind: Lemon Drop Cookies

Yields: 20 Servings Difficulty: Medium Prep Time: 10 Mins Cook Time: 15 Mins Total Time: 25 Mins

Our recipe is Lemon Drop Cookies. The part that we’re adapting is we’re taking the baking soda out and increasing the baking powder from 1 teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half. Why do this? Simply because it’s easier to use one leavening agent than two. The baking soda is in the recipe to activate the baking powder, but we think that there’s enough acid in our recipe for the baking powder to react with no baking soda. Normally, this wouldn’t be the case but because there’s so much acid already in the recipe (lemon zest and lemon juice), we think that the baking powder will react just fine on its own.  

Adaptation predections and explanation!

If we omit the baking soda the recipe will be very acidic because of all of the acid already present. The baking soda raises the pH level but if we omit it the pH will be very low and acidic because of all of the lemon. The baking powder will be able to react with all of the acid so that’s not an issue. We learned in class about the pH level of baking soda. It’s a little bit higher than 8. The pH of lemons is 2. The recipe has the baking soda in it in order to balance the pH, so the cookies aren’t super tart. So, what would happen if we omit the baking soda? The pH of the cookies will be very low because of all of the acid that is in the cookies. So, we thought that to try and balance the pH we could add canola oil to our recipe. Canola oil, or vegetable oil is present in many cookie recipes and can be used as a substitute for butter. So, if we add ¼ cup of canola oil and ¼ cup of butter instead of the 1/2 cup butter, the ratio of the cookies should stay relatively the same. Canola oil also has a pH of 7, making it neutral. Our hopes of adding the canola oil will keep the recipe at a more neutral pH. So, we want to add 1/4 tsp of baking powder and a 1/4 cup canola oil and omit the baking soda.

See science behind the steps here!

See science behind the ingredients here!


0/9 Ingredients
Adjust Servings


0/4 Instructions
  • Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • In the mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and zest.
  • Add the eggs, butter and lemon juice, beat to combine (do not overbeat). Fold in the shredded coconut (or any extra such as nuts, raisins or chocolate chips) if using.
  • Drop by spoonful and sprinkle with more coconut or pearl sugar if desired. Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes or until golden (lightly browned around the edges) let cool on cookie sheet then move to a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar before serving if desired. Enjoy!


Recipe Citation: Rosemary. “Easy Lemon Drop Cookies.” An Italian in My Kitchen, 16 Sept. 2020, 

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