Lemon Butter Cookies With Lemon Curd
These Lemon Butter Cookies with Lemon Curd have to be one of the funnest cookies to make! This lemon cookie recipe yields soft, chewy, irresistible cookies which are super simple to make, and it’s EASY to eat more than one! These lemon cookies are full of lemon flavour thanks to the freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest and lemon curd. I like to use lemon extract too for extra flavour but that is optional. These lemon cookies actually have so many names - it was difficult to decide what to call them but landed on lemon butter cookies with lemon curd, although they are often called Lemon Cream cheese Cookies, Lemon Gooey Butter Cookies, Lemon Cheesecake Cookies, Lemon Curd Cookies, or Lemon Bar Cookies - you get the idea! Whatever you want to call them they are the perfect treat with flavors you will love!
What Are Lemon Butter Cookies?
They are more than basic lemon cookies. These bright and refreshing lemon cookies are tender and soft and finished with a dusting of powdered sugar. Cream cheese gives these cookies amazing flavor and texture, keeps the lemon cookies soft, moist, tender, and ironically it doesn’t make them taste like cream cheese. Rather it makes them taste more buttery - thus the name! The lemon zest, juice, extract and curd add a nice lemon zing. They are soft, slightly chewy cookies that are perfectly thick and ridiculously tender without being cakey. They’re incredibly easy to prepare and will disappear in a flash.
Ingredients For These Lemon Butter Cookies With Lemon Curd
- Unsalted Butter: Softened/room temperature
- Cream Cheese: Use full fat for best flavour and softened/room temperature
- Granulated Sugar: To sweeten cookie dough
- Confectioners sugar/Powdered Sugar: For rolling cookies in and later for dusting them with it
- Eggs: 2 eggs and room temperature so that they blend well into the batter
- Lemon Extract & Vanilla Extract: I love using lemon extract but if you don’t have any just stick with the vanilla extract and use pure extracts for best flavour
- Lemon Zest & Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice and freshly grated zest is always recommend (no bottle stuff here please)
- All-purpose Flour: I have not tested these with a gf flour but a really good quality 1-1 GF flour would likely work in its place
- Baking Powder: acts as a leavener
- Salt: for balancing the flavors
- Lemon Curd: Use store bought lemon curd or homemade lemon curd (recipe included below). If you are making the one below it’s very easy and delicious and only requires Eggs, Sugar, pinch of Salt, Butter, Lemon Juice and Zest
How To Make Lemon Butter Cookies
- Make LEMON CURD and allow to cool or skip this step if using store bought lemon curd
- WHISK together dry ingredients: flour, ½ cup of powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt and set aside
- CREAM the butter with the cream cheese, and lemon zest, and lemon juice, followed by the sugar, eggs, lemon extract, and vanilla extract, and mix until light and fluffy.
- Gradually MIX dry ingredients/flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate / CHILL DOUGH for 30 minutes or overnight.
- SCOOP out cookie dough portions and empty right into small bowl of remaining powdered sugar - toss then use your hands to roll dough and place onto prepared baking sheet
- Create an INDENT using thumb or back of teaspoon measuring spoon in the middle of each dough ball fattening the ball a little
- FILL the indent with a little lemon curd
- BAKE 11-12 minutes or until the cookies have flattened.
- COOL on baking sheet 3-5 min then transfer them carefully with cookie spatula to cooling rack to cool completely (I like to chill mine a bit so they set and they taste so good chilled too but that is optional)
- DUST edges of cookies with powdered sugar and enjoy!
Can I Bake These Lemon Curd Cookies Without Curd and Dollop It on Afterwards?
Yes you can this will keep the lemon curd from baking into the cookies and give you more like thumbprint lemon curd cookies and the lemon curd will stay creamy and oozey. Here is how to do it: - Prepare cookie batter as stated then chill dough and scoop and roll and place on baking sheet - bake as is for the same amount of time (do not indent and place lemon curd on them pre bake) Once the cookies come out of the oven, immediately press the centers with the back of a 1 tablespoon spoon. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet. Once the cookies are cool, sprinkle each of them with powdered sugar. Add a dollop of lemon curd to the centers of each cookie and serve!
Do I Have to Chill the Cookie Dough?
Yes, you MUST chill the cookie dough otherwise the dough will be way to sticky to work with. Do not bake with unchilled dough because the lemon cream cheese cookies will bake thinner, flatter, and be more prone to spreading.
Do I Have To Make These With The Lemon Curd?
The lemon curd is optional - it makes them even more special but if you prefer to make them without that is fine you can skip that part all together just roll balls through powdered sugar and place on prepared baking sheet. Slightly press down dough so that it forms a disc about 2 inches in diameter. Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until cookies are set.
Tips for Making the Best Lemon Cookies
- When you scoop the cookie dough out release it right into your bowl of powdered sugar and give it a roll or a toss in the sugar before handling - this is the best tip I can give you to help you roll these cookies without the dough sticking to your hands or fingers - chilling helps but the dough is naturally going to be on the stickier side
- Make sure to use full-fat, brick-style cream cheese in this recipe. I do not recommend low-fat or whipped cream cheese as the taste or texture will not be the same.
- For extra lemony cookies, add more lemon zest to the cookie dough than the recipe calls for or a little extra lemon extract - use less vanilla if that is the case
- You can bake all the lemon cream cheese cookies at once, or you can freeze some of the dough to bake off later. If baking frozen cookie dough, simply add a minute or two to the total bake time. See Freezing instructions below
- These cookies get even chewier when chilled - I like to chill them after they have cooled completely and I also store them chilled as well in an airtight container for extra chewy fudgey and delicious texture
Storage, Make Ahead & Freezing
- STORAGE: Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 3-5 days. I recommend storing them in the fridge. Any extra lemon curd can be stored in and airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
- MAKE AHEAD: Unbaked cookie dough can be made ahead and can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Lemon Curd can be made a head and stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- FREEZING: If you’ll be freezing the BAKED cookies, omit the powdered sugar coating. Put the cookies in containers separated with sheets of wax paper or parchment paper and freeze for up to 4 months. Defrost the cookies and place them on a rack. Dust powdered sugar over them. UNBAKED cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 4 months. Allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight before using.
More Lemon Desserts and Cookie Recipes You Will Love
For The Lemon Curd (you will need approx 1-1½ cups homemade or storebought)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 egg yolks, room temperature
- ¾ cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of approx 3 lemons)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest or approx 2 lemons)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and cold
For The Cookies
- ½ cup butter, unsalted and room temperature
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup powdered sugar (Confectioners’ sugar), divided
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
For The Lemon Curd
- In a small saucepan whisk together eggs, egg yolks, sugar, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice. Place pan on stove top/burner and turn the heat up to medium to medium low heat and stir continuously until sugar is dissolved 10-15 min and has thickened. Don’t increase heat are than medium.
- Turn heat down to low and add the cold butter a couple of pieces at a time, stirring to blend until each addition is melted and incorporated. Continue cooking the mixture another few minutes until it is thickened and coats the back of a spoon
- Pour curd through a fine mesh sieve or strainer over a bowl to remove the zest and any partially cooked egg. Straining is optional but recommended
- Pour the lemon curd into a wide and shallow bowl so that it cools faster then cover it with plastic wrap directly onto the curd to prevent film or skin from developing on top and also it to cool to room temperature. Lemon curd can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
For the Cookies
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ½ cup of powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt and set aside
- In a large bowl, using a stand mixer or electric mixer, cream together the butter, cream cheese, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Add the sugar and mix until creamy, scraping down the side of the bowl. Add the eggs, lemon extract, and vanilla extract, and mix until light and fluffy.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients/flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.
- Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.
- Fill a small bowl with remaining ½ cup powdered sugar.
- Using a small cookie scoop (approx 1 tablespoon) scoop a heaping cookie dough ball directly into the powdered sugar and toss to coat. If you try to scoop it into your hands it will be too sticky. Coat it with powdered sugar then roll it in your hands
- Place 6 coated cookie dough balls on your large lined baking sheet, a few inches apart. Using the back of a rounded teaspoon or your fingers, press into the center of each ball to create an indent for your lemon curd
- Fill each cookie with appox ½ teaspoon of the lemon curd.
- Place in the oven and bake for 11-12 minutes or until the cookies have flattened. The lemon curd will spread and bubble and that is normal
- Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 3-5 minutes, before carefully transferring to a cooling rack/wire rack with a flat spatula as they will be quite soft and gooey.
- Allow the cookies to cool completely, then transfer to the refrigerator for about 10-30 minutes to chill and allow cookies and curd to set - or enjoy as is.
- Sprinkle or dust edges of the cookies with remaining powdered sugar if you wish and enjoy
- Store in airtight container with parchment paper between layers. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 3-5 days - I prefer to store them refrigerated or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- When you scoop the cookie dough out release it right into your bowl of powdered sugar and give it a roll in the sugar before handling - this is the best tip I can give you to help you roll these cookies without the dough sticking to your hands or fingers - chilling helps but the dough is naturally going to be on the stickier side
- For more tips on making lemon curd and whether you can just go ahead and use 4 whole eggs instead check out my lemon curd blog post with all the details here
- For extra large cookies (bakery style) use a large 3 tablespoon cookie scoop and - tablespoon measure for the indent and a full teaspoon of lemon curd in the indent - bake as directed adding a minute or 2 to your baking time only if needed - place in 5 cookie dough balls in your cookie sheet as these will spread quite a lot. (Below is a photo of the huge bakery style version and the medium size version)
- The lemon curd is optional - it makes them even more special but if you prefer to make them without that is fine you can skip that part all together just roll balls through powdered sugar and place on prepared baking sheet. Slightly press down dough so that it forms a disc about 2 inches in diameter. Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until cookies are set.
Adapted from Tasting Table