Lemon Curd Cookies

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These buttery shortbread cookies are filled with lemon curd, baked, and then drizzled with a vanilla-almond glaze. Lemon Curd Cookies have perfectly crisp edges with a soft and tangy center — a lemon lover’s dream treat!

Other favorite lemon treats: lemon blueberry bread, lemon zucchini bread, or our favorite lemon bars.

Overhead photo of finished Lemon Curd Cookies with a spoonful of lemon curd alongside.
I know, I know, Christmas has come and gone along with cookie baking season. But I just had to slip one more cookie recipe in for you to make before the New Year. I thought of waiting a few months to post this recipe (saving it for Easter or Springtime), but I decided it would be a travesty to wait that long!

If you love shortbread and you love lemon, these might be your new favorite cookie. We have not been able to stop eating them at my home!

Process shot collage -- butter and sugar get beaten together and then dry ingredients are added to make Lemon Curd Cookies.

These cookies are a bit more involved than most cookie recipes, because you’ll need to make lemon curd, cookie dough, and a glaze. While none of the components are overly intricate, each part takes time and a bit of planning. You’ll want to make the lemon curd a day in advance and the actual cookie dough also needs chilling before being baked.

Don’t let the advance preparation scare you; these cookies are worth every minute it takes to make them (and then some).

How to make Lemon Curd Cookies

Below I’ll share a quick overview of the steps for making Lemon Curd Cookies. The numbers on the photo collages (above and below this text) correlate with the steps listed below. 

Like I said, you’ll begin with making lemon curd. While I haven’t included step-by-step photos for that, you can see a full post on making homemade lemon curd here.

  1. Soften the butter to room temperature. Make sure to use real butter, not margarine. The better the butter, the better these cookies will taste.
  2. Add granulated sugar and beat….
  3. …until you reach this consistency.
  4. In goes the extracts, salt, and cornstarch and finally the…
  5. …flour! Mix until just combined. Avoid over mixing the dough or you’ll end up with less-tender cookies.
  6. The consistency of the dough should look like this photo.  You can probably tell it’s quite soft and needs to be chilled.
  7. Before chilling, measure out the cookie dough balls using a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon.
  8. Roll each cookie ball and then roll it in granulated sugar.
  9. Press an indent into the center of the cookie dough balls and place on a sheet pan to chill thoroughly.
  10. Fill up the indent with fully chilled and thickened lemon curd.
  11. The curd should be even with the top of the cookie. Bake the cookie and allow it to cool completely.
  12. Add the glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the cookies and allow time for the glaze to dry before enjoying these amazing Lemon Curd Cookies. 

Process shot collage -- cookie dough being formed into balls and then filled with lemon curd.

Can you make Lemon Curd Cookies ahead of time?

These lemon curd cookies can be made in advance. All you need to do is make the dough, form them into the cookies (with the thumbprint) and freeze the dough balls (Place on a sheet pan to freeze and then transfer to an airtight container/bag).

The frozen cookie dough will last from 3-6 months in the freezer (Baked cookies with the curd don’t freeze very well and neither does the glaze).

When you’re ready to bake the Lemon Curd Cookies, just pull them out of the freezer (no need to thaw), add in the prepared lemon curd, and pop them in the oven. (They’ll typically need a couple extra minutes on the bake time).

As far as baking these lemon curd cookies ahead of time, these are best within 3-4 days of being made. The better you store the cookies, the longer they’ll last.

Up-close photo of finished cookies.

Lemon Curd Cookie tips

  • Chill the dough. This cookie dough must be chilled before baking, and this allows the ingredients and flavors to meld. Just like marinating meat before you cook it makes it more flavorful, the same applies to  these cookies.
    • I recommend shaping the cookies first and then chilling them. While the dough is still soft and warm, it shapes a lot easier (and cracks less) than when the dough is firm and cold.
    • After adding the lemon curd filling, we chill the cookies for another 5-10 minutes. We want the cookies very cold and firm before they go into the oven.
  • Thoroughly beat the butter and sugar. Beating the butter and sugar fluffs the dough with air; that gives the cookies the perfect foundation for great texture. Take your time to make sure the butter and sugar are well blended. 
  • Make the lemon curd at least one day in advance. The curd needs to be fully thickened and well chilled before adding to the cookies. You can make the curd 3-4 days in advance before baking.
  • Don’t overfill the indent of the cookies with the lemon curd. Overfilling will cause spilling, burning on the sheet pan, and make a huge mess. You don’t want to go there.

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Lemon Curd Cookies

5 from 2 votes
These buttery shortbread cookies are filled with lemon curd, baked, and then drizzled with a vanilla-almond glaze. Lemon Curd Cookies have perfectly crisp edges with a soft and tangy center -- a lemon lover's dream treat!
Print Recipe

Lemon Curd Cookies

5 from 2 votes
These buttery shortbread cookies are filled with lemon curd, baked, and then drizzled with a vanilla-almond glaze. Lemon Curd Cookies have perfectly crisp edges with a soft and tangy center -- a lemon lover's dream treat!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword lemon curd cookies
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Chilling Time 1 day 1 hour
Total Time 1 day 1 hour 33 minutes
Servings 35 -37 cookies
Calories 155kcal

Equipment

  • Candy Thermometer for the lemon curd

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract, optional (Note 1)
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons white all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup prepared lemon curd (Note 2)
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (or 2 tablespoons whole milk)
  • 1 drop pure almond extract (add more or omit to personal preference)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

Lemon Curd

  • 1 and 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 3-4 large lemons (~3 tablespoons zest and 1/2 cup juice)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

  • LEMON CURD: Make the lemon curd at least one day in advance. To make the lemon curd: combine 1 and 1/2 cups sugar and lemon zest (zest of 3 lemons, about 3 tablespoons) in a food processor. Pulse 15-20 times and then pour into a medium-sized bowl. Add the room- temperature butter to that bowl and using a hand mixer, beat until light and creamy-- about 3-4 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add in the salt and 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice. Beat to combine.
  • LEMON CURD CONT.: Pour the mixture into a medium-sized saucepan and place over low heat. Stir constantly for about 10 minutes or until thickened. The curd must reach 170 degrees on a candy thermometer. (If it doesn't reach this heat, it won't properly set up). Pour curd through a fine mesh sieve and use a spatula to press it through the sieve into an airtight container. Place plastic wrap right on top of the curd (so the plastic wrap is touching the lemon curd; this keeps the lemon curd from developing a film) and cover the container with a lid. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight before using. Lemon curd will stay fresh for 5-7 days in the fridge.
  • COOKIES: In a large bowl, add the room-temperature butter and sugar. Beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides as needed. Add the almond, vanilla extract, cornstarch, and salt and mix until combined. Add flour to the bowl. Beat together at low speed, scraping bowl as needed, until all ingredients are combined. Do not over-mix the dough.
  • CHILL COOKIES: Shape the cookies into small balls -- the size of 1 tablespoon (using a tablespoon measuring spoon to form and measure balls) and then roll the cookie dough balls in the 1/2 cup granulated sugar until generously coated. Next, gently indent the center of each cookie dough ball with your finger. Place these cookies 2 inches apart on a Silpat or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour (or freeze for 30 minutes). Remove from the fridge and add completely chilled and thickened lemon curd to fill (but not over fill) the centers of all the cookies. Return the cookies to the fridge for 10 more minutes.
  • BAKE: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes or until very lightly browned and the tops are no longer glossy (slightly under bake for soft and delicious shortbread cookies).
  • COOL COOKIES: Remove cookies to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. (Add heavy whipping cream or milk until you've reached your desired consistency; I like the glaze on the thicker side, but you may want to add a bit more cream or milk).
  • GLAZE: Drizzle the glaze over the cookies (either drizzle with a spoon or transfer the glaze to a plastic bag and cut off the tip to pipe). Allow the glaze to set. Cookies are best enjoyed within 3-4 days; store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: You can leave out the almond extract entirely, if desired. If you do, add an additional 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract in its place. Almond extracts do differ greatly based on brand, so if you have a strong almond extract you may want to add only 1/4 teaspoon.
Note 2: The lemon curd needs to chill at least 8 hours before using in these cookies. This recipe makes more than you'll use in these cookies. Check out my post on lemon curd for tons of ideas on how to use the leftover lemon curd.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 155kcal

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Nutrition facts in these cookies

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10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Chelsea,
    I just made your recipe for your Lemon Curd Cookies today. I have never been a lemon cookie fan, but I am now. They absolutely melt in your mouth. I was short on time, so I bought the lemon curd. I plan on making these again, so I will try the homemade curd next time. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Great buttery cookie with a hint of lemon. Will make again adding lemon zest and/or lemon juice to dough as I would prefer an even more lemon flavor.

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