Lemon Thumbprint Cookies are buttery vanilla shortbread cookies filled with lemon curd and drizzled with white chocolate. They are so amazing, you'll want more than one batch!
I am a sucker for an old fashioned classic recipe like thumbprint cookies or hallongrotta which means "raspberry cave" in Swedish.
The cookie itself is a buttery melt in your mouth shortbread. And most often they are filled with some flavor of jam.
I love to eat these sweet beauties but I'm also a major fan of salted dulce de leche thumbprint cookies.
It took me several days to perfect the recipe for these cookies. I tested multiple recipes from well-known cookbooks, online sources, and other bloggers. Each ending in disaster. The cookies were either way too sweet or spread far too much.
Finally, with batch five I achieved thumbprint success! No spreading. No sugary toothache. Just pure cookie perfection.
Shortbread cookies are often a ratio of one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour. Sorted Food actually did a video on this. And while every recipe I tested contained those ratios, each one was a failure.
Why this recipe works
For my final attempt at this recipe for lemon thumbprint cookies, I added a little extra flour. Actually, a lot of extra flour. A whole cup extra.
The purpose of the extra flour was to stabilize the dough. I didn’t want to fiddle with finicky cookie dough that needed to remain cold up until it went in the oven. That’s just too much work.
Instead, we now have an easy shortbread dough that doesn't need chilling before rolling and filling.
I used a small cookie scoop to portion out the cookies. Each one should be about one tablespoon in size. Roll the dough into a neat ball and then press an indention in the middle with your thumb.
You can also use the back of a teaspoon, just be sure to flour it so it doesn’t stick. Also, be mindful of how deep you make the impression. If you go too deep, your lemon curd may seep out the bottom.
Fill the indentions with about a fourth of a teaspoon of lemon curd.
The cookies only need to bake for about 12 to 14 minutes, just until the bottom edges are lightly browned. It’s important not to overbake shortbread. You want them to be a little soft so they will melt in your mouth.
Let the cookies cool completely before drizzling with white chocolate.
I just know you are going to love these lemon curd cookies! Be prepared to make multiple batches because your friends and family will be asking for more.
What other fillings can be used?
You need basic pantry ingredients to make these lemon curd thumbprint cookies
- Butter: Use unsalted sweet cream butter that is at room temperature.
- Sugar: Regular granulated sugar is all that's needed.
- Egg yolks: 2 egg yolks at room temperature make the dough soft and malleable.
- Vanilla: As always, use a pure vanilla extract that's good quality.
- Salt: A little salt balances the sweetness.
- Flour: All-purpose flour works best.
- Lemon curd: Use your favorite lemon curd. Any fruit jam will work as well.
- White chocolate chips: These are for the drizzle which is completely optional.
- Oil: A flavorless oil like canola or vegetable helps the chocolate melt smoothly.
Can I omit the eggs?
Eggs are required for this recipe. The dough will be too dry and will crack without them.
- Baking sheets: You'll need 2 large baking sheets to bake the cookies.
- Mixing bowls: A single mixing bowl is needed to make the dough.
- Mixer: You can use either a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer.
- Cookie scoop: A 1-tablespoon scoop is best for portioning the dough.
How to make the best lemon cookies
The dough comes together quickly!
Step 1. Beat the butter and sugar together. Mix in the egg yolks, vanilla, and salt. Then mix in the flour. The dough will be soft but not sticky.
Step 2. Roll the dough into 1-tablespoon sized balls. Use your thumb or a teaspoon to press an indent into the dough ball.
Step 3. Fill the indent with lemon curd or jam of your choice. And bake!
This recipe doesn't require you to chill the dough so it's super fast.
Step 4. Bake the cookies at 350°F for 12-14 minutes. Just until the bottoms are starting to lightly brown.
Step 5. One the cookies have cooled, drizzle the tops with melted chocolate.
How to store lemon filled cookies
Keep the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Or place them in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
If you love these cookies, you might also want to try these iced Meyer lemon cookies.
Originally published May 2015. Post updated May 2020 with new photos and a video. No change to the recipe other than doubled the ingredients to make more cookies.