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Our pretty little Lemon Cookies with tangy lemon cream filling are terrific for any occasion. From summer to winter these cookies are perfect for holidays, picnics or just because you want to brighten someone’s day. Lemon sandwich cookies are always a favorite especially for lemon lovers!
The perfect year-round cookie!
The cookie dough has a subtle buttery lemon flavor and a melt-in-your-mouth texture similar to shortbread. Flavored with plenty of lemon zest and a little fresh lemon juice, these bite-sized cookies are the perfect treat and an instant favorite with the whole family.
Made with common pantry ingredients easily transformed into a memorable bite:
For the lemon infused cookie dough:
- cream cheese – adds a nice subtle tang to the flavor and helps create a soft, cohesive dough
- unsalted butter – softened
- granulated sugar
- lemon zest – you’ll need finely grated zest from two lemons. Only zest the yellow portion of the skin – no white pith! The pith can cause a bitter flavor in your finished cookie.
- egg yolk
- fresh lemon juice – fresh squeezed lemon juice makes all the difference in the flavor
- salt (omit if using salted butter)
- pure vanilla extract – if you enjoy lemon extract, feel free to add a tiny amount along with the vanilla extract. Be careful as a little goes a long, long way.
- all-purpose flour
For the lemon filling:
- unsalted butter – room temperature
- confectioners’ sugar – plus extra for dusting on top of the finished cookies
- vanilla extract
- lemon zest – finely grated
- fresh lemon juice
Tools needed to make this Lemon Cookie recipe:
In addition to an electric mixer and a good light-colored cookie sheet, you’ll need:
- parchment paper
- pastry bags – you’ll need two – one for the cookie dough and another for the lemon filling.
- large decorating tip – for these cookies I used the Wilton 8B large decorating tip. You can also use the Ateco 869, or the Ateco 826 Open Star Pastry Tip, as we have done in our Orange Cream Star Cookies. Any large open pastry tube / tip should work well.
How to make Lemon Cookies using a pastry bag and decorating tip:
1. Create a template
Draw 1 and 1/2-inch circles on one side of a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit your cookie sheet. The circles should be spaced about 1-inch apart. Turn the parchment paper over so the pencil marks are on the bottom.
This simple step takes just a few minutes to complete but is invaluable when matching cookies to create a sandwich.
2. Make lemon sugar
In a small food processor combine half the sugar and the finely grated zest of two lemons. Process until the sugar is light yellow in color and the zest almost disappears.
3. Make the cookie dough
In a large bowl using an hand mixer or stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment beat together the cream cheese, butter, lemon sugar, all the remaining granulated sugar, lemon zest, egg yolk, salt, vanilla and lemon juice. Add the dry ingredients and mix until blended. Scoop half the dough into a pastry bag fit with a large decorating tip.
4. Pipe the cookies
Pipe cookie dough into one of the circles on the prepared baking sheet just until it’s almost full. The cookies won’t spread very much so you’ll end up with just about what you piped onto the parchment paper.
PRO TIP: To get the best shape hold the bag straight up and down with the edge of the tip hovering slightly above the baking sheet. Squeeze the bag firmly until the cookie is almost as wide as the circle. Stop squeezing, pull up and away.
If using the Wilton 8B tip, gently press the center of each piped cookie using a finger or the back of a tiny measuring spoon to smooth the dough.
This cookie dough is very forgiving. If you don’t like the way the cookie mound turned out, put the dough back in the bag and try again.
After baking and cooling, match up similar sized cookies to create a sandwich.
6. Prepare the lemon filling
Mix the filling ingredients together and pipe one teaspoon into a swirl onto the bottom of one cookie. Press the matching cookie on top and press gently. Refrigerate or freeze in an airtight container until needed.
Can you roll out these cookies or use a cookie press instead of piping?
Feel free to roll the cookie dough into 1-inch balls, if desired. Gently press the dough balls into 1/4-inch thick rounds using the palm of your hand or the bottom of a small glass. As stated above, these cookies don’t really spread so they’ll end up as thick as you make them.
NOTE: rolling the dough into balls actually takes longer than piping the cookies onto parchment. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be thrilled you used the piping method.
I haven’t had much luck using a cookie press with this dough. It’s a little too soft to adhere to the pan. If you want to try anyway be sure you’re pressing the dough directly onto a cold baking sheet. Silpat mats and parchment won’t work for pressed dough.
Check out our troubleshooting guide for Spritz Cookies for more information on using a cookie press.
You might also be tempted to try rolling out the dough and cutting into sugar cookies. Again, this dough is just a little too soft for rolling out. If you’re looking for a tested, perfected and fantastic Cut-Out Sugar Cookie Recipe, please try ours!
Freezable Lemon Cookies
These cookies freeze perfectly!
If you’re not planning to freeze them I highly recommend refrigerating the cookies once assembled to help set the buttercream filling. They’re best stored in the refrigerator and removed 30 minutes before serving.
The only problem I have with these cookies is the fact that I want to eat them all! One at a time they disappear from the sealed container in the freezer until they’re gone. Seriously. I devour them straight from the freezer just like our Orange Cream Star Cookies.
Can you use other flavors in these cookies?
Absolutely! The Orange Cream Stars would be great with a chocolate ganache filling, too.
Another option is to omit the citrus zest and double the vanilla extract. Fill with chocolate ganache or Nutella.
Jam might also make a good filling but I would also use the buttercream so the tops won’t slide off. If you crave a buttery cookie with jam, you’ll love these Viennese Whirls. The whirls are also piped cookies with a fantastic texture and flavor.
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Lemon Cookies with Lemon Cream Filling
- large open decorating tip
- 2 pastry bags
- parchment paper
- electric mixer
For the cookie dough:
- 1 cup granulated sugar (206g)
- finely grated zest from 2 lemons (no white pith)
- 3 ounces cream cheese, softened (86g)
- 8 ounces unsalted butter, softened (16 tablespoons or 226g)
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour (337g)
For the lemon filling:
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened (4 ounces or 113g)
- 1 ⅔ cups powdered sugar plus more for dusting (190g)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cut two pieces of parchment to fit your baking sheet(s). Using a round cookie cutter create a template by drawing 1 ½-inch circles, about 1-inch apart, on one side of the parchment. Turn the paper over so the circles are on the bottom. Repeat with the second sheet of parchment. Set aside.
- Fit a large pastry bag with a large open decorator tip and set aside.
To prepare the cookie dough:
- In a small food processor, combine half the sugar and the finely grated zest of two lemons. Process until the sugar is light yellow in color and the zest almost disappears.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, butter, lemon infused sugar, the remainder of the granulated sugar, egg yolk, lemon juice, salt and vanilla. Beat on medium-high until the mixture is fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and blend again. Add the flour in 3 additions, scraping down the sides and bottom as needed.
To pipe the cookies:
- Scoop half the cookie dough into the prepared pastry bag. The dough must be very soft to pipe correctly. If needed, place the pastry bag filled with dough in a warm location to soften. You can also rinse your hands under very warm water, then hold the pastry bag for a minute or two to soften.
- Squeeze out generous 1 ½-inch rounds using the template as a guide. The cookies should be similar in size so they match when sandwiched together.
- To get the best shape, hold the bag straight up and down with the edge of the tip hovering slightly above the baking sheet. Squeeze the bag firmly until the cookie is almost as wide as the circle. Stop squeezing, pull up and away. If using the Wilton 8B tip, gently press the center of the cookie to smooth using a finger or the back of a small measuring spoon.
- This cookie dough is very forgiving. If you don’t like the way the cookie looks once piped, put the dough back in the bag and try again.
- Bake the cookies until the edges just begin to brown, about 7 to 11 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the cookie. NOTE: The cookies go from done to too brown in flash so watch the baking time carefully. Transfer the cookies to a rack and cool completely before filling.
To prepare the filling:
- Beat all the filling ingredients until smooth. Scoop the filling into a pastry bag. Cut a small opening at the tip. Match up all the cookies into pairs. Pipe the lemon filling into a swirl covering the whole bottom half of half the cookies. You should use about 1 teaspoon of filling per sandwich cookie. Top with matching cookie to create a sandwich.
- Refrigerate or freeze until needed. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving for best flavor and texture.
- Please review the entire post for additional tips for making perfect Lemon Cookies
- As the dough has to be very soft, almost warm, to be piped, it is not recommended to make the dough ahead of time.
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