Lemon Bar Cookie Cups

A sweet, slightly crumbly cookie filled with tart, silky smooth lemon curd, dressed up with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. If you’re a lemon bar lover, you’ll love this cookie cup version. It’s easy to make, and easier to serve than lemon bars.

While searching for fun new recipes to try for 12 weeks of Christmas cookies, I saw several lemon thumbprint cookie recipes, and I couldn’t resist turning them in to cookie cups. Cookie cups are fun to make, easy, and the possibilities are almost endless. After I tasted one of my lemon cookie cups, I realized it tasted like a lemon bar.

I based this cookie on the Fudge-Filled Toffee Pecan Sandies recipe and filled it with homemade lemon curd. Of course, you could also use store bought lemon curd, but this lemon curd is so fabulous you really need to give it a try.

This luscious, best-I’ve-ever-tasted Lemon Curd recipe is from FineCooking.Com and their foolproof method is really unique. You cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl, slowly beat in whole eggs, then add the lemon juice, and finally, thicken it in a pan on the stove. It’s satiny smooth and you don’t need to worry about accidentally having bits of cooked egg white in your curd that need to be strained out.

The Lemon Curd recipe makes more than you’ll need for the cookies, but it will keep in the refrigerator for a week, and  it freezes well and will keep in the freezer for 2 months. I made a double batch of the lemon curd and plan to make mini lemon pies next week for Thanksgiving.

Lemon Bar Cookie Cups

Lemon Bar Cookie Cups


  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour*
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda*
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar*
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup lemon curd (recipe below)
  • powdered sugar for decorating, optional


Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine the flours, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the oil, egg and extracts. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and stir until combined.

Drop one tablespoon dough (I used a #50 scoop) into each cup of a greased mini muffin tin. Bake for 8 minutes.

Remove from oven and using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Fill with a teaspoon of lemon curd. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 4 minutes, or until cookies are firm and lightly browned on the sides. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Sprinkle the edges to the cookies with powdered sugar.

*I made the following high altitude adjustments: added 2 tablespoons flour, reduced baking soda to 1/4 teaspoon, and subtracted 1 tablespoon sugar.


Lemon Curd


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest


In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, about 2 min. Slowly add the eggs and yolks. Beat for 1 min. Mix in the lemon juice. The mixture will look curdled, but it will smooth out as it cooks.

In a medium, heavy-based saucepan, cook the mixture over low heat until it looks smooth. (The curdled appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts.) Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. (Once it was completely melted, mine thickened and reached 170º in just a few minutes, so watch it closely.) It should leave a path on the back of a spoon and will read 170°F on a thermometer. Don't let the mixture boil.

Remove the curd from the heat; stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the curd to a bowl. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming and chill the curd in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken further as it cools. Covered tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for 2 months.


This post is week 8 of my 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies posts. I hope you get some great ideas checking out all of the fabulous cookies the other 12 weeks of Christmas Cookies (and sweets) bakers baked up for this week.


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    Leave a Comment:

  1. Donna says

    I would love to try these! They are beautiful! I couldn’t find how many cookies it makes – could you tell me, please? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Danielle – I haven’t tried freezing them, but I think you could bake them and then freeze them, or freeze the dough in balls and add a couple minutes to the cook time.

  2. maureen muir says

    This recipe looks great, but I can’t do nuts in any form. Any suggestions for an alternate to canola oil? Thanks!

      • Jay says

        Hi Barbara. Canola oil comes from a seed that the farmers plant in their fields. The canola fields bloom bright yellow in the summer and are harvested in the fall. Not sure you could classify this as a nut. We would classify it as a seed that you can produce oil from. Hope this helps. Jay

  3. says

    Made these today (well, made the lemon curd a couple days ago and the cookies today!). Sooooo delicious. I used all-purpose flour for all of it and didn’t have lemon extract, so I just put in a little extra vanilla. We think they are perfect. Thank you so much for the recipe! My husband will be taking these to work tomorrow for his Christmas potluck. I am wondering if you’ve ever tried freezing the completed cookies?

    • says

      Thanks Tamie – they are one of my favorites. I haven’t frozen the completed cookie, but I think it would work just fine. I would thaw them in the fridge overnight. Just sprinkle them with powdered sugar shortly be serving. Let me know if you give it a try.

  4. Mirra says

    Is the homemade lemon curd..sweet or tart? I like lemon on the tart side! I am not a huge fan of overly sweet lemon curd. I love the idea of it being homemade though!

  5. Catherine says

    Made these last night gluten free and they were Amazing!! My family devoured them! Thank you for the delicious recipe!

  6. Britt says

    Hi! I was planning on making these a little over 24 hours in advance for a baby shower. Do they stay fresh that long? If so, how would I do it? I read the comment that said wait to put the lemon curd on until before the party, but does that mean you have to put them back in the oven then? Or is it fine to just dollop it on and it will still taste the same? Also, how long would the cups need to be baked then if I didn’t do the curd during the baking time? Sorry so man questions. Thanks in advance!

    • says

      Hi Britt – if you’re making them just a little over 24 hours in advance, I wouldn’t change the recipe except, just sprinkle them with powdered sugar right before serving them so they look prettier. They’ll taste great. Please let me know how the guest like them. Thanks for the question.

      • Karen says

        Hi! I am getting ready for a busy week of baking for a dessert reception and would like to make these a couple of days in advance. In that case, what would the answers be to Britt’s questions? Those are the exact questions I have! Thanks in advance…

        • says

          Hi Karen – Kristina (above) wanted to make hers a couple of days in advance and I recommended she make the cookies a few days ahead but add the lemon curd a few hours before instead so it doesn’t soften the cookie too much and she replied that it worked out great. A dessert reception sounds like my kind of event. Have fun!

  7. Gia says

    Hi these are yummy! I’m a huge citrus fan! One question, is whole wheat flour necessary? It’s not that I’m not a fan but I never have it at home sooooo…. Just wanted to know if I can make these without .

  8. says

    Thanks for the great recipe…just made them and the are delicious!! Putting them in Christmas goodie bags for my friends! But they will have a permanent place in my recipe collection. Thanks!

  9. says

    I make Lemon Bars every Christmas. But am going to try yours instead. The last few years I wasn’t always happy on how mine turned out ( they seemed dry). These look delicious and I love the idea of the muffin tins.
    Great recipe!

  10. Hayley says

    These look like the perfect accompaniment to my afternoon cup of tea! I recently made some lemon curd and should really give something like this a go rather than eating the curd with a spoon out the jar! Thanks Barbara!

  11. Aimee says

    I love the lemon curd just by itself!! The little cup is good too! But the lemon curd I can eat just as is! My mom made this same recipe for the curd and i lost it so Thank you Thank you! Excellent!

    • says

      Hi Aimee – you’re right! The lemon curd is fantastic on almost any dessert or by the spoonful. Thanks for taking the time too let me know your made it.

  12. Joanna says

    Hi Barbara,
    I just made these cookies, but instead of the mini muffin tin, I used a Wilton silicone brownie mold for bite-size brownies and unfortunately they were way too crumbly. I’m sure I followed the recipe correctly. Do you think it could be the mold? I added some time to the recipe, but it just didn’t turn out. Guess this means I need to go buy a mini muffin tin! :)

    • says

      Hi Joanna,

      I’m sorry your cookies were too crumbly. It is a crumbly cookie and maybe not be suited to baking in silicone molds, but I don’t have much experience with those. It could also be that we used different flours and some flours absorb more moisture than others. If you make them again, you could try reducing the flour a bit. Of course, I always love getting a new baking pan, so buying a mini muffin tin is a great idea too. Thanks for the feedback! :)

  13. Dawnell says

    Can’t wait to make these. What a out using Lemon Juice in place of the extract??
    Fou d your recipe on Pinintrest

    • says

      Hi Dawnell. Thanks for stopping by. I don’t think you’d be able to taste 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice in the dough, extract is more concentrated. But the lemon curd brings most the lemon flavor, so you could just use 1 teaspoon of vanilla instead. Thanks for the great question.

  14. Stephanie says

    Made these tonight. They were so good. Even my husband who doesn’t care for lemon all that much loved them.

  15. Kristina says

    I plan on making these for Easter dessert. Do you think they’d be alright made a few days ahead? I’d probably wait to add the lemon curd though. Do you think I should add it right before or would a few hours before be OK? Thanks much! Look delish!

    • says

      Hi Kristina – I’ve been on vacation and I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you quickly. I’m sure it would be alright to make the cookie a few days ahead and adding the lemon curd a few hours before is a great idea so it doesn’t soften the cookie too much. I hope that’s just what you did! Thanks!

      • Kristina says

        They turned out perfect! I made the cookies and lemon curd on Friday but didn’t fill the cookies until Sunday for Easter dessert. They were fantastic and loved by everyone! Thanks again for the recipe!

  16. Laura Dunn says

    I saw these on Pinterest and can’t wait to try them! I was wondering if the lemon curd is soft and gooey or harder and more sticky?

  17. Leah says

    These look fabulous! I’m going to make them for my mom’s birthday party Saturday!
    I was wondering about the whole wheat flour though, is it needed, or can I just substitute it for all purpose? Thanks for this great recipe!

    • says

      Hi Leah – so sweet of you to make them for your mom. I think you would be fine to use only all purpose flour in place of the all purpose flour and whole wheat flour. Enjoy!

  18. Sarah G says

    These look so delicious! I’m in the process of making them now but the timing isn’t working out for some reason. They were nowhere near cooked when it was time to take them out so they’re back in the oven for a few more minutes.

    • says

      Hi Sarah. Every oven cooks differently and it’s always best to trust your instincts. I hope you a few extra minutes made them perfect for you. Thanks!

  19. says

    Oh wow! These do look amazing! Thanks for stopping by my blog! I hadn’t realized the PB cups were originally your recipe (found it on a friends blog) but I wanted to let you know I added a link back to your blog. :) Thanks so much for a fantastic recipe!!!!

  20. says

    Found your site through Pinterest! I would love to make this recipe, however I have a question… Do you think it would turn out alright if I bought lemon curd from the store? I found one at my grocery store that I was thinking I could use for this. Please email me and let me know, I’d greatly appreciate it!

  21. April says

    I haven’t made the cookies yet but I just made the lemon curd and WOW, is it good! The challenge will be not eating it all before I have time to make the cookies. Delicious, thank you!

    • says

      The curd is fabulous! Luckily you don’t use it all in the cookies so there’s plenty leftover. Thanks for taking the time to let me know you made it!

  22. April says

    I’ve been wanting to make lemon curd for a while, thanks for giving me the motivation! Have you tried canning lemon curd before freezing it? Do you think it would work or should I just put it in a jar and freeze?

    • says

      Hi April – I haven’t done much canning, so I don’t if it’s safe or not. I did an internet search and they said it was questionable. So I’d stick with the freezer.

    • says

      Hi Kristin – this would be a great cookie for a cookie exchange. It makes about 36 cookies. Please let me know if you love them as much as we did. Thanks!

  23. says

    Love that you are doing 12 weeks of cookies. Cookies are my all time favorite thing to bake! These look great and I don’t think I ever tried freezing lemon curd. I will add these to my Christmas baking list while I am at my moms

  24. says

    I think I could eat a million of those. I adore lemon fillings and combined with the buttery goodness of those cookies…well, I don’t think I could exercise any restraint!!!

  25. says

    I am drooling, yes drooling. They look not only adorable but sinfully delicious. The lemon goodness is just too much for me to handle. I love lemon bars and haven’t seen a recipe I like as much as this one other than my grandmothers! Awesome job

  26. says

    Barbara – These look so awesome, they are making my mouth water! I love lemon bars, but these look much easier to make, so I’ll have to check them out.

  27. says

    I love lemon cookies when it gets cold out. I’m not sure what it is, but the light/tart flavor of the lemon always tastes so good when we have been eating some of the heavier treats that come with fall. I think I am going to make this curd, it sounds simple and great to have on hand for treats like this. This is a great recipe, Barbara!

  28. says

    Barbara, Barbara, Barbara, I am swooning. Citrus of any kind is the ultimate! These look heavenly. I can’t resist. I’ll be making these for certain!!