Lemon Curd Cookies

These lemon curd cookies are soft and tender, sweet and tangy, and the perfect bite when you don’t want to make a lemon tart. Each element of this recipe is simple to make. Read below for step-by-step directions and my best tips for making this recipe.

lemon curd cookies recipe

What are Lemon Curd Cookies?

This lemon curd cookie recipe consists of delicate lemon thumbprint cookies filled with creamy lemon curd.

It’s the perfect balance of sweet and tangy, and it dazzles the taste buds!

When I was working on this recipe, I made seven versions until I came up with just the right one. It’s all about the little details, so I tweaked the lemon cookie several times until the texture and flavor were balanced exactly as I imagined them from the start.

And you know what?! The cookie and curd are a match made in heaven. Complete citrus bliss.

Ingredients for This Recipe

Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

ingredients in bowls for lemon curd cookies, including flour, powdered sugar, vanilla, baking powder, kosher salt, an egg, unsalted butter, baking powder, and a lemon

Unsalted Butter: Always use unsalted butter for baking. Different brands of salted butter contain various amounts of salt, which adds variability that we don’t want to deal with. Bring the butter to room temperature (approx. 65 F) so it creams easily and blends with the other ingredients.

Powdered Sugar: We don’t use powdered sugar often enough in cookies, but it’s a wonderful choice for cookies that need to be extra tender. Powdered sugar helps to keep the cookies especially tender and soft, so it’s essential to use this type of sugar in this cookie.

Lemon Zest: The zest adds another layer of lemon flavor to the lemon curd cookies. Lemon zest adds a subtle, but important hint of lemon flavor in the cookie, and then the curd brings it all together.

Vanilla Extract: I prefer standard vanilla extract for this recipe. Not Mexican vanilla or specialty vanilla extracts. Classic vanilla extract works perfectly.

Large Whole Egg: The egg acts as the binding agent, and it also provides structure for the cookies as they bake.

Morton’s Kosher Salt: I am very specific about the type of salt I use because Morton’s kosher salt is different in weight from table salt and Diamond Crystal kosher salt. You can typically find Morton’s at most grocery stores.

Baking Powder: Baking powder plays a vital role in this recipe because it aerates and expands the cookies as they bake. This leads to a lighter and more tender cookie texture that you could not achieve without baking powder.

All-Purpose Flour: Flour provides structure for the cookies so they don’t melt into a puddle as they bake. The cookies will still spread some, but they still hold their shape beautifully.

Lemon Curd Ingredients

Ingredients for Lemon Curd, including lemons, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs

Lemon Juice: Always use fresh lemon juice for lemon curd. Bottled lemon juice does not taste the same and will not yield the desired lemon flavor.  

Egg Yolk: The yolk adds flavor and helps to thicken the lemon curd. It also adds a creamy mouth feel.

Whole Eggs: The use of whole eggs helps to thicken the curd more than just the egg yolk. 

Granulated Sugar: Sugar adds sweetness to the curd so it’s not too tart. Use granulated sugar (you can also use castor sugar in equal amounts). Sugar also helps the eggs not to scramble as the lemon curd cooks.

Unsalted Butter: Finish the lemon curd with unsalted butter. Butter adds more fat and flavor, and it creates a silky texture.

Lemon curd cookies

When are Lemons in Season?

While lemons are available year-round, they are technically “in season” during the winter months.

In reality, lemons are never out of season, since growers around the world harvest at different times. Peak season, however, is November through April.

Best Lemons for Lemon Curd Cookies

You don’t need fancy lemons for this recipe. Use Eureka or Lisbon lemons, both of which are sold at nearly every grocery store in the United States. 

You can also use Meyer lemons when they are in season. Meyer lemons are more mellow, so I still recommend Eureka or Lisbon for this recipe.

How to Make This Recipe

The Lemon Cookies

  1. Cream the butter, lemon zest, and powdered sugar on medium-low in a stand mixer.
  2. Add the vanilla and mix on low.
  3. Lightly whisk the egg, then add it to the mixer a little at a time, running on medium-low.
  4. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, and add to the mixer in 3 additions.
  5. Portion the dough using a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop. Roll each ball between your hands to smooth it. 
  6. Place the cookie dough balls on a lined sheet pan, and indent the center of each cookie.
  7. Cover and chill for 1-2 hours.
  8. Place 15 chilled cookies on a parchment-lined half-sheet pan, and bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes. 
  9. Make a deeper indentation in the cookies right after baking because the centers will puff up during baking.
  10. Cool for 5 minutes, and remove from the baking sheet to a cooling rack.
lemon zest, powdered sugar, and butter in a mixing bowl
1. Combine lemon zest, butter, and powdered sugar in a stand mixer. Mix with a paddle attachment
Vanilla being added to lemon curd cookie batter
2. Add vanilla and mix.
pouring egg into mixing bowl to add to the cookie batter
3. Add the egg a little at a time and mix.
adding the dry ingredients to the lemon curd cookies batter before mixing
4. Add flour in 3 additions and mix after each one.
completed lemon cookie dough batter in a mixing bowl against a white backdrop
5. Finished dough.
1 tablespoon scoop scooping the cookies
6. Use a 1 tablespoon scoop to portion the cookies.
two hands rolling cookie dough balls to make them smooth
7. Roll each cookie dough ball to make smooth.
hand using a teaspoon to indent the cookies to make the thumbprint centers.
8. Indent the cookies with the back of a flat teaspoon
15 lemon curd cookies on a parchment-lined sheet pan before baking
9. Place 15 cookies on a parchment-lined half sheet pan and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 F.
using a teaspoon to gently indent the cookies again after baking
10. After baking, gently indent or press the centers a little deeper. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack until needed.

The Lemon Curd

  1. Add 1-2 inches of water to a small pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the sugar and eggs to a medium glass mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the lemon juice and whisk.
  4. Place the bowl over simmering water (don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water), and whisk continuously until the lemon curd is pale and thickened.
  5. Remove the bowl from the pot, and whisk in the butter.
  6. Pour lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer into a heat-safe bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the lemon curd, and chill for 30 minutes.
  7. Spoon the lemon curd into a piping bag, and pipe in the centers of the cooled cookies.
  8. Store the curd in the refrigerator in a covered container for 1 hour to set. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.
Eggs and sugar combined in a glass bowl for lemon curd
1. Combine eggs and sugar in a glass bowl and whisk.
Pouring lemon juice into lemon curd mixture
2. Pour lemon juice into egg mixture and whisk to combine.
lemon curd mixture in a glass bowl sitting on a pot as a double boiler
3. Add 1-2 inches of water to a small pot. Bring to a simmer, and place bowl over the pot and whisk continuously.
Lemon curd in double boiler after it has cooked and thickened
4. Whisk the lemon curd until it’s thick and pale, about 10 minutes.
butter added to lemon curd before whisking
5. Add butter to lemon curd and whisk.
straining lemon curd into a heat-safe bowl against a white backdrop
6. Strain lemon curd into a heat-safe bowl.
placing plastic wrap on top of lemon curd before cooling in fridge
7. Place plastic wrap directly on top of lemon curd.
bowl of lemon curd that needs to be chilled before adding to the lemon curd cookies
8. Place lemon curd in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Baking Essentials

using a piping bag to put lemon curd in the lemon thumbprint cookies
9. Use a piping bag to portion the lemon curd in the center of each cookie.
hand dusting lemon curd cookies with powdered sugar
10. Dust cookies with powdered sugar to finish.

3 Tips for Making Perfect Lemon Thumbprints

Tip #1: Use Room-Temperature Butter and Eggs

No matter how impatient you may feel to make this lemon curd cookie recipe (I know the feeling!), cold butter and eggs do not work as well.

Why?

Cold butter and eggs won’t emulsify (blend together) as easily as room-temperature ingredients, and the cookies will be more compact.

Allow your butter to come to room temperature, which is 63 – 65 F.

This tip is specific to the lemon thumbprint cookies, not the curd.

Likewise, allow the eggs to come to room temperature so they mix easily into the dough. Remove your eggs from the fridge approximately 45-60 minutes before making the dough.

Tip #2: Indent the Cookies Before They Chill

For my lemon curd cookies, I use a flat-bottomed teaspoon similar to the one in this set, but you can also use a melon baller or the back of a round teaspoon.

The trick is to roll the balls, indent them deeply with a teaspoon, and then cover and chill before baking.

If you wait to indent the cookie dough balls until after they have been chilled, they will crack and split more, which isn’t preferable for achieving the right texture.

Tip #3: Strain the Lemon Juice

This creates a smoother and silkier texture.

Even if you use a juicer for your lemons (I always use this one), pulp naturally flows into the bowl. Strain the lemon juice so there aren’t bits of pulp in the lemon curd.

In addition, strain the lemon curd after cooking it. Even if you whisk thoroughly during the cooking process, little bits of egg can curdle.

And who wants bits of pulp or egg in their lemon thumbprint cookie?

No one. Absolutely no one!

Lemon curd thumbprint cookies

How to Store These Cookies

There are two ways to store these lemon curd thumbprint cookies.

Store Them Unfilled

First, you can make lemon thumbprints and store them unfilled in an airtight bag for a couple of days until needed.

Likewise, you can make the curd and store it in the fridge for up to a week before filling the cookies. If you want to learn more about lemon curd, check out my entire lemon curd post here.

Storing After Filling the Cookies

The second option is to fill the lemon thumbprint cookies and store them in a single layer in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Don’t stack the filled cookies.

The cold temperature makes the cookies just slightly firmer, so remove the cookies from the fridge 15 minutes before eating so they are soft again.

Once filled, they are good for up to 7 days, but they are best eaten within one to three days.

Lemon curd cookie recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Freeze These Cookies?

Yes, there are two ways to freeze lemon curd cookies:

First, make the cookies and the curd, then freeze them separately. When you want to assemble the cookies, thaw the curd in the fridge and the cookies at room temp, and fill.

Second, you can freeze the lemon curd cookies after filling them. This method is tricky because the lemon curd on the cookies can get smashed or smeared.

In addition, the filled cookies will be softer once thawed because of the moisture from the lemon curd.

Personally, I recommend freezing the cookies and curd separately for the best results.

What are Other Flavor Options?

You can make these cookies with passion fruit curd, blood orange curd, or lime curd. Pretty much any citrus flavor works for this cookie. 

For another variation, you can also add a fresh raspberry or small slices of strawberry to the top of each lemon curd cookie.

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Lemon Curd Cookies

lemon curd cookies on a cooling rack with parchment underneath and powdered sugar dusted on top

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Lemon Curd Cookies have never been this good! The cookies are easy to make, and the lemon curd takes less than 15 minutes to cook. This cookie is a match made in heaven for lemon lovers!

  • Author: Camille
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Chill Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Yield: 26 cookies 1x
  • Category: cookies

Ingredients

Units Scale

For the Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

  • 113 g (8 Tbs) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 110 g powdered sugar
  • Zest of 1/2 a large lemon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large egg (approx 50 g), room temp
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 175 g all purpose flour

For the Lemon Curd

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 77 ml (1/3 c) fresh strained lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter

Instructions

To make the Lemon Curd Cookies

  1. Combine butter, powdered sugar, and lemon zest in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and mix on low speed until smooth and creamy.
  2. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla. With a fork, gently whisk the egg in a bowl and pour the egg into the mixer a little at a time until smooth.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and stir. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing after each addition, so that the wet ingredients absorb the dry. Stop mixing when there are no dry streaks remaining.
  4. Scoop the lemon cookie dough with a 1 tablespoon scoop onto a lined sheet tray that will go into the fridge. Roll each cookie ball between your hands until round and smooth. Then use the back of a round teaspoon or melon baller dipped in flour (so it doesn’t stick) to make a deep indent in the center of each cookie.
  5. Cover the pan of cookies and place them in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 F (177 C), and place the lemon thumbprint cookies on a parchment lined tray, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. You should be able to get 15 cookies onto a standard half sheet pan.
  7. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until edges just barely have color. Use the back of a clean teaspoon or melon baller to indent the cookies again as soon as they come out of the oven if the indentations puff up.
  8. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking tray, and then transfer to a cooling rack. 
  9. Optional: Once cool, you can store the lemon thumbprint cookies unfilled in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week or freeze them for up to 1 month. 

To Make the Lemon Curd

  1. Combine the egg yolk, whole eggs, fresh lemon juice, and granulated sugar in a medium glass (or heat-safe) bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Next, fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Turn the heat down between medium and medium-low to keep the water at a simmer.
  3. Once the water is simmering, place the bowl of the lemon curd mixture over the pot (don’t let the bottom of the glass bowl touch the simmering water).
  4. Whisk the lemon curd mixture continuously until it becomes pale and thick. This takes about 10 minutes. 
  5. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the butter until melted and combined with the curd. 
  6. Pour the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer into a heat-safe bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the curd so that the plastic touches it. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to cool the curd. 
  7. Pour the warm lemon curd into a piping bag, cut off the end so there’s a small opening, and pipe the curd into the lemon thumbprint cookies. 
  8. Dust with powdered sugar if desired. Transfer the cookies to a covered container and chill for an hour to set the curd.
  9. Store cookies in the fridge for up to one week. You can also freeze the filled cookies for up to 1 month.

Notes

This is a Baker Street Society original recipe.

7 Comments

  1. You forgot to say that you should use flour when indenting the cookies. I did a batch without that stuck terribly and then I saw you used flour in your Instagram video!

    • Abigail, thank you for catching my error! I just updated the recipe. So sorry for the frustration it caused you. My goal is always to make baking a joy in the kitchen!

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  4. Is the amount of butter correct for the lemon curd? Mine never thickened and I noticed other curd recipes have more butter.

    • Yes, the butter amount is correct. The thickening should happen when it’s cooking, not from adding the butter.

    • Also, this is a small batch of lemon curd, so the amounts are definitely smaller. But I have made this several times, and the curd thickens up nicely. It’s not going to get as thick as say, a boxed lemon curd, but it’s still thick. If you want yours thicker, add 1 Tbs corstarch to the sugar at the beginning, and this will help it thicken more.

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