This easy lemon curd cookies recipe is always so fun to make and eat! They’re shortbread cookies with lemon curd that we’ll make homemade, or you can use store-bought and it’s just as good! If you like these lemon curd thumbprint cookies, you’ll love my Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake, my Lemon Dump Cake, and my Lemon Poppyseed Scones!
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Easy Lemon Curd Cookies Recipe
Thumbprint cookies are so fun! I love making my peanut butter and jelly thumbprint cookies for a yummy nostalgic treat, and my cinnamon-dusted salted caramel thumbprint cookies are always a huge hit! But I have a soft spot for lemon goodies, so these lemon curd cookies may be my new favorites! They're buttery lemon shortbread cookies filled with rich, tart lemon curd, and they're SO easy to make! Best of all, you can feel free to use either homemade lemon curd or save time with store-bought lemon curd!
What can be made from lemon curd?
The recipe for the homemade lemon curd for these cookies comes from my lemon coconut layer cake, which can be found in my Sweet Summertime cookbook! Making that cake was a useful reminder that there are SO many delicious uses for your leftover lemon curd once you're done making this recipe! My favorite is to use the lemon curd as an ice cream topping! Just spoon it over some creamy vanilla ice cream and enjoy the contrast of the sweet and tart flavors. I also love lemon curd in lemon bars, or as a topping on pastries, toast, biscuits, crepes pancakes, yogurt, and other breakfast goodies.
Lemon curd is also perfect as a dessert filling or topping. Think cheesecake, layer cake, cupcakes, or tarts. And of course, these lemon curd cookies are always a good idea!
Is lemon curd the same as lemon custard?
Not quite, although they do have some similar ingredients. Lemon curd is made with lemon juice, butter, sugar, and eggs. Lemon custard, on the other hand, often adds cornstarch, milk or cream, or flour to those ingredients to achieve a thicker, creamier consistency.
Lemon Bar Cookies Ingredients
- all-purpose flour - because these lemon cookies have a shortbread base, it's important to measure your flour correctly. I recommend measuring flour by weight using a kitchen scale. If you measure with a measuring cup, you could end up with too much flour depending on how it's packed in the cup, and that can make your cookies more crumbly and harder to form into dough.
- lemon zest - use a microplane grater to remove the outer peel of the lemon to add a brighter lemon flavor to these cookies. I prefer to use organic lemons when I'm zesting them, since the coating added to conventional lemons can inhibit the lemon flavor.
- salted butter - your butter should be cold and cut into cubes. I like to cut it into cubes, then place it back in the fridge or freezer to chill again before using. If you prefer to use unsalted butter, just add ½ teaspoon of salt in with your dry ingredients.
- vanilla extract - be sure to use a high-quality pure vanilla extract. Or better yet, check out my post on how to make vanilla extract at home with just 2 ingredients!
- powdered sugar - sift your powdered sugar before measuring, or use a kitchen scale to measure out 115 grams by weight.
- lemon curd - I include a recipe below for a delicious homemade lemon curd, but you can also use your favorite store-bought lemon curd to save time making this recipe!
- turbinado sugar - we'll be using turbinado sugar to add a sweet crunch to the top of our cookies! If you don't have any turbinado sugar, feel free to use white sparkling sugar or just omit it altogether.
This is a pretty simple recipe for shortbread cookies with lemon curd, so you'll mostly need basic cookie tools -- a large baking sheet and liner, and an electric mixer. You'll also want to grab a microplane grater to zest your lemon, and a wooden spoon or other tool to press out the "thumbprint." I like to use a wine cork!
Tips and F.A.Q.
Your lemon curd should last up to a week, refrigerated in an airtight container. You'll definitely have some left over, so see above for some ideas for what to do with your extra lemon curd!
Definitely! Whether you use homemade or store-bought lemon curd for these cookies, you should keep it refrigerated in an airtight container afterwards.
Yes, you should keep these lemon curd thumbprint cookies in the refrigerator -- they should be fresh for up to 4 days. If you like, you can also freeze them for up to 2 months - just be careful when freezing to not stack to the cookies to avoid the lemon curd sticking to everything.
You may not have heated it enough to set the eggs -- I'd recommend using a thermometer to make sure the temperature hits between 160-185°F. Also, keep in mind that your lemon curd will thicken as it cools, so if you're unsure if it's thick enough, let it cool to room temperature. If it's still too thin, you can reheat it, stirring constantly, to reach the appropriate temperature.
This may be the result of cooking it at too high a temperature. You should aim to heat to at least 160°F, but no higher than 185°F.
These cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature or up to 1 week if kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 3 months.
You may have too much flour in your dough. I recommend measuring flour by weight using a kitchen scale. If you measure with a measuring cup, you could end up with too much flour depending on how it's packed in the cup, and that can make your cookies more crumbly and harder to form into dough. Measuring by weight ensures the amount of flour added is exactly what you need for the recipe. If you really can't get your hands on a kitchen scale, definitely measure using the spoon-and-level method.
More Lemon Recipes You'll Love
- Lemon and Blackberry Cake
- Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Zest
- Vegan Olive Oil Cake with Lemon and Pistachio
- Lemon Icebox Pie
- Lemon Lavender Cupcakes
Equipment you may need
- 2 ¼ cups (288 g) all-purpose flour - measured by weight with a kitchen scale or with the spoon-and-level method
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon zest - packed
- 1 cup (227 g) salted butter - room temperature
- ½ teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (115 g) powdered sugar - measured by weight with a kitchen scale or with the spoon-and-level method
- ½ cup (113 g) lemon curd - store-bought or homemade (recipe follows)
- turbinado sugar - for sprinkling
- To make lemon curd, heat zest, juice, sugar, and eggs in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly.4 large lemons, 4 large eggs, 1 cup granulated sugar
- Reduce heat to low and continue to cook mixture, whisking constantly, about 10 minutes or until thickened.
- Remove from heat and add chunks of butter gradually, continuing to whisk as butter slowly melts.6 tablespoon salted butter
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and place in a bowl to cover and let cool. Chill at least one hour or overnight before using for cookies.
- To make lemon curd cookies, place powdered sugar and lemon zest in a mixing bowl and press with a wooden spoon to release lemon oils.1 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Add softened butter and cream together about 3-5 minutes, or until mixture is light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla.1 cup salted butter, ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Gradually add flour and mix just until dough comes together. Chill dough in fridge for an hour.2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- Scoop out one-inch dough balls and place 2 inches apart on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Chill any extra dough for the next batch.
- Use your thumb, the end of a wooden spoon, or a wine cork to press a shallow indentation into the middle of each cookie. Fill each indent with about ½ teaspoon chilled lemon curd. If desired, sprinkle each cookie with raw sugar.½ cup lemon curd, turbinado sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Place baking sheet in freezer to chill for at least 15 minutes while the oven preheats.
- Bake in preheated oven for 13 minutes, or until bottoms of cookies are lightly golden brown. Let cool on pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
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Last Updated on April 27, 2023 by Chenée Lewis