Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Lemon Curd Cookies (Lemon Thumbprint Cookies)

These lemon curd cookies are the perfect treat when you're in the mood for a lemon dessert. 

The cookie is crisp on the outside and tender inside. It's got a very mild lemon flavor from the lemon zest in the cookie as well as the lemon sugar that the cookie dough is rolled before baking. 

Each "thumbprint" is filled with a lemon curd that brings all the tart goodness and pairs perfectly with the sweet cookie.  

These lemon curd thumbprint cookies are the perfect treat for spring.

lemon curd cookies on a white plate


I quite enjoy lemon treats.  One of my childhood favorites is lemon freeze. It's a recipe from my Grandma that's so yummy. 

Lemon meringue pie is another dessert I remember having often as a kid. 

I also love these gooey lemon bars.  Lemon curd cookies are a cookie version of lemon bars. They're basically lemon bar cookie cups and they are so tasty!
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  • butter
  • vegetable oil
  • sugar
  • powdered sugar
  • eggs
  • vanilla
  • all-purpose flour
  • baking soda
  • cream of tartar
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • lemon zest


rectangular white tray with several lemon curd cookies on top and a bowl of lemon curd to the side.


Let's get started with our lemon sugar first. 

I recommend using a zester for this. If you don't have one, you can try using the mini section of a cheese grater, but the lemon peel will not be as fine.    

You can use a zester for many things besides just zesting lemons. You can use it to zest oranges or limes. You can use it to finely grate ginger, garlic or parmesan cheese. 

I would definitely consider getting one if you don't have one.
  1. Begin by zesting 2 lemons. When zesting, be sure to only remove the yellow part of the peel. (The white part is bitter, so you don't want that in the lemon sugar)
  2. Place the zest in a bowl with 1/2 cup of sugar. 
  3. Mix to combine. 
Once the lemon sugar is combined, set it aside. We will roll the cookies in this mixture later. 

Note: While you're zesting, zest an additional lemon. This zest will go into the cookie batter.
collage of images depicting how to make lemon sugar


These cookies are basically a sugar cookie. A hint of lemon zest is added to the batter and the cookies are rolled in lemon sugar before baking. 

 These really are easy cookies to make. 

The full printable thumbprint cookie recipe is at the very end of the post. 

collage of images depicting how to make lemon sugar cookies
  1. Add 1 cup softened butter to a large bowl and mix until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add 1 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup powdered sugar to the butter. Mix until combined.
  3. Add 2 eggs, 2 tsp. vanilla extract and the zest of 1 lemon. Mix until smooth.
  4. Add 5 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. cream of tarter. 
  5. Mix with a wooden spoon until all the flour has been combined.
  6. Roll about a tablespoon of dough into a ball and roll in the lemon sugar to coat.
  7. Bake the dough balls at 375 for 10 minutes on a greased sheet pan. (Alternately you could line the pan with parchment paper.) 
  8. Once removed from the oven immediately create a deep indentation in the center of each ball using a melon baller.
  9. Place the baked cookies on a wire rack. Once cool cavity with lemon curd.
collage of images depicting baking cookies and creating an indent for the lemon curd filling


Making your own lemon curd is actually really easy.   I recommend using fresh lemon juice. (The bottled stuff is just not as good.) 

This tangy yet sweet lemon curd is the highlight of these cookies.
white dish of lemon curd on a blue background.
Let's get started with this easy recipe.
  1. Juice 3-4 lemons until you have 3/4 cup of juice.
  2. Place juice, 1 1/2 cup sugar and 3 eggs in a medium saucepan. 
  3. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. 
  4. Cook just until it thickens and the whisk leaves visible trails in the curd. Do not boil. Remove from heat.
  5. Strain the curd through a small sieve to remove any lumps.
  6. Stir in 1/4 cup cubed butter and stir until butter is melted and incorporated.
  7. Let cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and then place in the refrigerator. (Make sure plastic wrap is placed right on top of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.)
You can make the curd ahead of time and refrigerate until needed.

What's the difference between lemon curd and lemon custard?

Lemon curd and lemon custard are similar. They're both have a pudding like consistency and are cooked over the stove. 

 The main difference is the ratio of lemon juice to other ingredients.

Curd has a higher concentration of lemon.  Lemon curd ingredients are fairly basic including lemon juice, sugar, eggs and butter. 

Lemon custard could include all of those ingredients but may also have milk, cream or water as well as cornstarch or flour to help thicken it.

Does lemon curd have to be refrigerated?

Yes, it is best to refrigerate lemon curd as soon as it has cooled to room temperature.


Once the cookies have cooled, place a generous scoop of lemon curd in the cavity of each cookie.   

Store leftover cookies in the refrigerator.

You can eat leftovers cold, or let them sit out for 20-30 minutes until they come to room temperature. 

I like them as is, but you can dust them with powdered sugar if desired.
lemon thumbprint cookies on a tray

Do lemon curd cookies need to be refrigerated?

If you have added the lemon filling to the cookie, then yes they need to be refrigerated.  

 You can leave the unfilled cookies at room temperature and fill them with the refrigerated lemon curd right before serving. 

Can you freeze lemon curd cookies?

Technically, both the cookies and lemon curd freeze fairly well, so freezing the lemon curd cookies will work just fine. 

Freeze the cookies on a baking tray until hardened and then move to an airtight container once frozen. 

The problem is, if not carefully packed, the cookies can become stuck to the curd resulting in a messy presentation when you pull them out to eat. 

My suggestion is to freeze the cookies and curd separately and add the curd to the cookies once thawed and ready to eat. 

Or you could freeze the cookies and make fresh lemon curd when ready to serve them.


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a plate of lemon curd cookies with text overlay

lemon thumbprint cookies with text overlay
Lemon Curd Cookies

Lemon Curd Cookies

Servings: 38
Author: Rachel
Prep time: 40 MinCook time: 40 MinTotal time: 1 H & 19 M
Sugar crusted cookies filled with a tart lemon curd. It's like lemon bars in cookie form.


Lemon Sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 c. sugar
Lemon Cookies
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 5 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
Lemon Curd
  • 3/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (3-4 lemons)
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 c. butter, cubed


Lemon Sugar
  1. Zest two lemons being careful to only zest the yellow part of the rind. (The white part is bitter)
  2. Mix together the sugar and the zest and set aside.
Lemon Cookies
  1. Mix butter until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add vegetable oil and the sugars and mix to combine.
  3. Add eggs, vanilla and lemon zest and mix.
  4. Add flour 1 cup at a time and stir just until combined. Sprinkle in baking soda and cream of tartar with the first cup of flour.
  5. Scoop a spoonful of dough and roll it in a ball. 
  6. Roll the ball in the lemon sugar to coat.
  7. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 10 minutes.
  8. Immediately after removing from oven, take a melon baller and make an indentation in the center of each cookie.
  9. Let cool before filling with lemon curd.
  1. Combine lemon juice, sugar and eggs in a saucepan. 
  2. Cook over medium-low heat until thickened. The whisk will leave visible trails in the curd when it's thickened. Do not boil.
  3. Pour the curd through a strainer to remove any lumps.
  4. Add butter to the curd and stir until melted and incorporated.
  5. Let cool to room temperature and the store in the refrigerator.
  6. When ready to serve, place a generous scoop of the lemon curd in the cavity of each cookie.


Store cookies in an air tight container.

Cookies can be stored at room temperature until the filling has been added and then must be stored in the fridge.

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Nutrition Facts



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Nutrition information is automatically generated and is not guaranteed to be correct.

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Lemon Desserts

1 comment :

  1. These look delicious, love anything lemon. I will definitely make these