Lemon curd cookies are a delicious, refreshing treat that's perfect around the year. They're easy to make and only require a few simple ingredients. They're loaded with lemony flavor and a light and fluffy texture. If you're looking for a new cookie recipe to try out, give these little beauties a go!
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💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Perfect balance of tart and sweet. Some cookies can be very sweet, but not these ones! The base of these lemon curd cookies is lightly flavored with vanilla, and has the perfect melt-in-your-mouth texture without being too sweet. The lemon curd is the hero of these cookies, offering a hit of sweet lemony flavor.
- Great way to use up leftover lemon curd. You can make this with both store bought or tangy homemade lemon curd. So, if you're wondering what to do with that half used lemon curd jar, this is going to become your go-to recipe!
- Ready in 30 minutes. You really can't beat a cookie that's ready in such a short amount of time. These lemon curd thumbprint cookies will be done before you can say "cookie!" (oh, and if you like no-stress cookies that are done in under 30 minutes, check out my no chill chocolate chip cookies!)
📋 Ingredients and notes
You'll need butter (preferably salted), superfine sugar, an egg, vanilla extract, all purpose flour and lemon curd to make this recipe.
Notes and Variations
- Salted vs. unsalted butter: I used salted butter (at room temperature) to make these lemon curd cookies. However, you can also use unsalted butter! If you want a bit more depth of flavor while using unsalted butter, add half a teaspoon of salt when adding the flour.
- Superfine sugar vs. regular granulated sugar: You can use regular white granulated sugar in place of superfine sugar in this recipe. However, I've found that the cookies usually end up much more grainy. Powdered sugar is also not the same as superfine sugar, and won't integrate with the dough as well. Instead, I suggest blending granulated sugar to make superfine sugar.
- Vanilla extract vs. vanilla essence: Use vanilla extract rather than vanilla essence for a deeper vanilla flavor.
- Homemade vs. store bought lemon curd: You can use either homemade or store-bought lemon curd in this recipe. If you buy lemon curd, I highly recommend this brand - it's my favorite!
📖 How to make amazing lemon curd cookies!
These lemon curd cookies are incredibly easy to make, are ready in just 30 minutes, and requires just three simple steps: prepare the cookie dough, make the thumbprints and bake the base, and fill with lemon curd.
Prepare the cookie dough
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Place softened butter and superfine sugar in a large mixing bowl. Use a stand mixer (with paddle attachment), hand mixer, or a whisk to cream butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Using an electric mixer typically results in a better consistency for this recipe.
Add an egg and vanilla extract to the same bowl. Beat until well combined.
Add all purpose flour to the bowl and beat on a low to medium speed until a dough forms. Do not over-mix, but make sure to scrape sides of the bowl.
P.S., you can add some lemon zest into the dough for additional lemon flavor.
Take a heaped tablespoon of dough and roll into small balls, placing the balls on a large baking sheet with parchment paper (or a non-stick baking sheet). Gently press the cookie balls to flatten slightly.
How to make the perfect thumbprint cookie
Typically, the indents in the cookies are made by gently pressing your thumb into the center of each cookie (hence the name ‘thumbprint cookie’!) But I've found that using the back of a teaspoon-sized measuring spoon produces a more consistent thumbprint. So I have used the back of a spoon in my recipe.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the cookies for 10 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden. Don't overbake!
However, since you're making indents before baking the cookies, they might sometimes lose their shape slightly as they are baked. In this case, gently press the measuring spoon into the cookies as soon as they come out of the oven again to make the indent deeper. Alternatively, you can chill the cookie dough after the indents are made.
Fill the thumbprint cookie
Immediately after removing from the oven, fill the indents with a small amount of tart lemon curd. I typically use half a teaspoon of lemon curd per cookie.
Allow cookies to sit on the cookie sheet or transfer to a wire rack until cooled completely. Enjoy the luscious lemon curd centers and buttery shortbread cookies while they're still warm!
👩🏽🍳Top tips and FAQs
Lemon curd and custard are similar, and used somewhat interchangeably. Lemon curd is a thick, rich spread made with eggs, sugar, butter, and lemon juice (often used as a filling for cakes and tarts). Lemon custard, on the other hand, is a creamy pudding-like dessert made with milk, eggs, sugar, and lemon juice. It's typically served chilled or frozen, making it the perfect treat on a hot day.
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, lemon curd can be stored in an air tight container, in the fridge, for up to four weeks. If you want to preserve for longer, transfer lemon curd to freezer-safe containers, leaving about ½-inch of room on top, then freeze it.
Yes, you must refrigerate lemon curd after opening, in an airtight container.
Creaming the butter and sugar is highly recommended for two reasons: it helps dissolve the sugar into the butter, and evenly disperses the sugar throughout the dough, ensuring the cookies have that perfect texture and are not too crumbly. As a result, using a hand or stand mixer is highly recommended. However, you can whisk the sugar and butter with a bit of elbow grease if you don't have one of those on hand.
Dry cookie dough (or crumbly texture) is typically due to overmixing or too much flour (or other dry ingredients) during the mixing process. This can be fixed by adding one to two tablespoons of liquid (typically milk or softened butter) and folding that into the mixture.
I typically add lemon curd as soon as the cookies come out of the oven.
The heat of the cookies helps set the lemon curd, while still retaining that bright yellow color. You can add it before baking, but the color will be paler and not as vibrant.
🍴 Serving and storage suggestions
Store baked lemon curd cookies in an airtight container in the fridge. When stored this way, it can last for 3 to 4 days (though I've literally never had this last more then a day in my house!)
If you wish to freeze these cookies, portion them, and then store them in a single layer in a freezer-safe bag. This way, they'll last for up to 2 months. Storing in a single layer will prevent the tangy lemon curd in each cookie from sticking to each other (and everything else).
What else can be made with lemon curd?
If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that lemon curd is amazing. It's tart, sweet, and silky smooth all at the same time. So, it's perfect for everything from desserts to breakfast. To mix it up a bit, and make something else with leftover lemon curd, I have included some ideas to get lemon lovers started. However, make sure to check out my post on 30 easy and unique lemon curd recipes!
If you like this recipe, check out my other cookie recipes:
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Lemon Curd Cookies (Thumbprint!)
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup superfine sugar, see notes on how to make this at home
- 1 egg, large
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1¾ cups all purpose flour
- ⅓ cup lemon curd, homemade or storenbought
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Place ½ cup each of softened butter and superfine sugar in a large mixing bowl. Use a stand mixer (with paddle attachment), hand mixer, or a whisk to beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Using an electric mixer typically results in a better consistency for this recipe.
- Add 1 large egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the same bowl. Beat again until well combined.
- Add 1¾ cups of all purpose flour to the bowl and beat on a low speed until a dough forms. Do not over-mix!
- Take heaped teaspoons of dough and roll into small balls, placing the balls on a baking sheet with parchment paper (or a non-stick baking sheet). Gently press the cookie balls to flatten slightly. Use the back of a circular, teaspoon-sized measuring spoon to make an indent in the center of each cookie.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the cookies for 10 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden. Don't overbake!
- Use the teaspoon to make the indents a little deeper if necessary, and then immediately after removing from the oven, fill the indents with a small amount of lemon curd. I typically use half a teaspoon per cookie.
- Allow to cookies to sit on the baking sheet or transfer to a wire rack until cooled completely. Enjoy!
- To make superfine sugar at home, add one cup plus two teaspoons of white granulated sugar to a food processor or blender for 30 seconds. This will make one cup of superfine sugar!
- You can use either salted or unsalted butter for making this cookie. Salted butter adds a bit more depth of flavor but both taste great.
- Bake these cookies for 10 minutes or until just starting to turn golden. The cookies will still be soft at this stage but will firm up quickly as they cool down. Don't overbake!
- To flatten the dough balls evenly, place a small piece of parchment paper over the dough ball and press down gently with the bottom of a measuring cup.
- Sometimes the indent made before baking might flatten out while it bakes. In this case, press the indent further as soon as the cookie is taken out of the oven and you should be all set.