These Lemon Curd Cookies start with a soft, chewy cookie hinted with lemon zest that’s topped with bright, tangy lemon curd and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Lemon lovers will go crazy for this tart, tasty treat. I am especially ready for fall and all the cozy recipes now that September is here but I just had to share one last recipe that feels like summer. Sunshine in a cookie.
The cookie dough base is like a sugar cookie that’s tender and slightly chewy. The addition of lemon zest adds another pop of tartness that balances well with the lemon curd. If you haven’t made lemon curd before, now is the time to do it! It comes together fairly quickly and isn’t too difficult. You can also use this lemon curd recipe for filling cakes and tarts, or I’ve known some lemon lovers who even eat it by the spoonful!
- Lemons. The zest from the lemons is added to the cookie dough and the juice is used for the lemon curd. Don’t substitute bottled lemon juice – it’s just not the same as the fresh stuff. Be sure to strain your lemon juice before mixing it with the other ingredients to ensure you don’t get any seeds or pulp in the curd.
- Egg yolks. For the cookies, you will need one whole egg and for the lemon curd, you’ll only need the yolks. To separate the yolks from the whites, I like to carefully crack each egg into a bowl and then gently lift out the yolks, one at a time. You can save the egg whites and keep them in the fridge to make macarons, meringue, or even sponge cake!
- Cornstarch. This is in both the cookie dough and the lemon curd. It helps give the cookie a chewy texture and it helps thicken the lemon curd. The curd will thicken on its own but I like to add a little cornstarch to ensure it gets nice and thick, especially since we don’t want it dripping off the cookie.
How to Make Lemon Curd Cookies
- Make the lemon curd. The egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice are whisked together in a medium-size saucepan. This mixture gets cooked over low heat until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the butter, and be sure to strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Be sure to put plastic wrap directly on the curd to prevent a skin from forming. It will need to cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours before putting it on the cookies.
- Make the cookie dough. This is a simple cookie dough hinted with lemon zest. First, I like to rub the lemon zest into the sugar which helps release the oils from the zest. The butter and lemon sugar get creamed together then the egg and vanilla are mixed in. The dry ingredients are mixed in last and the dough is ready to be scooped.
- Scoop the cookies. I like to use a 3 Tablespoon or 1.33-ounce size scoop, which is sometimes labeled as “size 24” like this one. Scoop the cookie dough right onto the cookie sheet and flatten it to about 2 ½ “ in diameter. Make sure to space the cookies out – I fit 6 cookies on a ½ sheet baking pan.
- Bake the cookies. No chilling time is needed for these cookies! They can go right into the oven once the dough is made. The cookie dough has a little extra flour, which helps the cookies stay thick and hold their shape rather than spread thin. They bake at 350°F for about 12-14 minutes.
- Top the cookies with lemon curd. Let the cookies cool completely before topping them with the lemon curd, otherwise, the curd will start to get soft and drip off the cookie. Dollop a couple of tablespoons of the lemon curd onto each cookie then use the back of a spoon to spread it just to the edges, leaving a small rim of the cookie showing.
- Dust with powdered sugar. This is optional but helps give these cookies that lemon bar feel and adds a little something extra to the presentation. And lemon + powdered sugar just belong together!
Lemon Curd Cookie FAQs
- Do I need to chill the cookie dough? Nope! For most of my cookie recipes, I do recommend chilling the cookie dough balls before baking but not in this particular recipe. There is enough flour in the cookies so they will stay thick, even after pressing them down so they don’t spread in the oven. This means no chilling is necessary.
- How do I store the cookies? Since the lemon curd needs to be refrigerated, store any cookies topped with lemon curd in the fridge, in an airtight container. Keep them in a single layer or the curd will stick to any cookies placed on top. If you’d prefer to add the lemon curd to the cookies right before serving, store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature and keep the lemon curd in the fridge.
- Do I have to strain the lemon curd? Straining the mixture will ensure that you end up with the smoothest, silkiest lemon curd. Even if you do everything right, there will most likely still be a few small bits of cooked egg in your curd. This is exactly why it’s important to run your mixture through a fine mesh sieve at the very end. It will also keep out any seeds from the lemon juice that may have been missed.
- How far in advance do I need to make the lemon curd? The lemon curd needs at least 2 hours in the fridge to cool. The curd will thicken more as it cools and you want it as thick as possible before spreading it on top of the cookies so it doesn’t drip off. The lemon curd stores great in the fridge (up to one week) or the freezer (up to 3 months) so you can do this step well ahead of time!
Tips for the Best Lemon Curd
- Use fresh lemon juice. Bottled lemon juice doesn’t even compare to the fresh stuff when it comes to lemon curd. If you’re going to take the time to make lemon curd, take the extra step to squeeze your own juice – you won’t regret it. You need ½ cup of lemon juice for this recipe which equals about 3-4 large lemons. My favorite tool to use for this job is a metal handheld juicer. It will make the process much quicker!
- Keep the heat on low. Since the egg yolks are being cooked over direct heat, they can curdle very easily which you want to avoid or you end up with scrambled egg lemon curd. Keeping the heat low will allow the curd to thicken slowly, without overheating it. The mixture should be steaming but never should boil. Stirring the lemon curd constantly will also help prevent the eggs from curdling.
- Stir the curd constantly. Don’t walk away from the lemon curd or leave it unattended. It’s a little high maintenance because it needs to be stirred the entire time it’s on the heat. This will help prevent the yolks from cooking and curdling so you end up with a smooth, lump-free texture in the end.
More Cookie Recipes You’ll Love
- Caramel Cone Crunch Cookies
- Chocolate Sprinkle Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches
- Brown Butter Toffee Skillet Cookie
- S’mores Blondies
- Brown Butter Blondie Bars
Lastly, if you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment below and tag @sweetkitchencravings on Instagram or TikTok. Or if Pinterest is more your style, you can save my recipes to your collection there. Happy cookie baking!
Lemon Curd Cookies
For the Lemon Curd
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 cup (215g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- ½ cup (116g) fresh lemon juice , about 3-4 lemons
- ½ cup (1 stick or 113g) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
For the Lemon Cookie Dough
- 1 cup (216g) granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon (6g) fresh lemon zest
- ¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 ¾ cup (328g) all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon (8g) cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- powdered sugar, for dusting on top
- Lemon Curd: Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice in a medium-size saucepan. Place the mixture on the stove over low heat. Stir constantly with a heat-safe spatula and cook on low until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.
- Once the curd has thickened, turn off the heat and stir in the butter.
- Strain the lemon curd with a fine mesh sieve. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the curd and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until completely chilled.
- Lemon Cookie Dough: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Combine the sugar and lemon zest with your fingers, rubbing to release the oils in the zest.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar mixed with the lemon zest until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add the egg and vanilla. Mix until combined.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl again then add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir just until combined.
- Scoop the cookies onto the prepared baking sheets, using a 3 Tablespoon (size 24 or 1.33 oz.) cookie scoop, and spacing them at least 2” apart (I fit 6 on a baking sheet). Press each dough ball down to flatten until they are about 2 ½” in diameter.
- Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes. Allow to cool completely before topping with lemon curd.
- Top each cooled cookie with about 2 Tablespoons of lemon curd. Use the back of a spoon to spread the lemon curd to the edges of the cookie, leaving a small rim of the cookie showing.
- Finish with a dusting of powdered sugar and enjoy!
- Lemon Curd: Be sure to strain your lemon juice so you don’t get any seeds or pulp in the curd. See more the post above for more tips for the lemon curd.
- Storing: Store cookies topped with lemon curd in the fridge in a single layer of an airtight container. Extra lemon curd can be stored in the fridge for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Make Ahead: To prep the cookies and lemon curd ahead of time, you can make the cookies and curd 1-2 days before serving. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature and the lemon curd in the fridge. Spread the lemon curd on top of the cookies right before surfing then finish with powdered sugar.