Easy Lemon Pecan Cookies: Fancy Enough for a Cookie Tray

Sneak Preview: Easy Lemon Pecan Cookies are traditional thumbprint cookies featuring a lemon curd filling in the middle. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with icing for a dressier look. The pecans make these cookies unique and extra flavorful.

LEMON PECAN COOKIES ready to eat on a rectangular serving platePin

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Are you looking for a lemon cookie to add to your Christmas cookie tray or a sweet bite to end a meal? These miniature desserts would be my first choice. You don’t have to chill the dough or do anything ahead of time. Make, bake, and serve.

A couple of nights ago, my husband and my Alabama sister went through my freezer looking for these cookies. After eating several, they said, “Be sure to tell everybody these are really good.”

I replied, “Thank-you. Get out of my freezer!”

Happy Bakers Speak Up

I made these for a cookie exchange and was a little afraid because not everyone likes lemon the way I do. I think folks were so tired of chocolate that these were among the first to go. I will definitely make them again. I also want to put Rob on my speed dial.”SCOOTER

Recipe Inspiration

My Easy Lemon Cookies are a variation of my husband’s favorite Christmas Thumbprint Cookies.

Three Ways To Save Time and Make This Recipe Simple

  1. I mixed the pecans into the dough instead of rolling dough balls in egg whites and chopped pecans. Feel free to leave out the pecans altogether if you prefer.
  2. I used lemon curd (storebought or homemade) instead of frosting in the center.
  3. I sprinkled the finished cookies with powdered sugar. I’ll also show you a variation with vanilla frosting.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • FLOUR: The flour of choice in this recipe is all-purpose, bleached, or unbleached.
  • PECANS: Since the pecans are inside the cookie, toasting them will add flavor. You can toast them in the oven, but I prefer to toast all the nuts in a microwave. Be sure they cool before adding them to the cookies. Pecans are optional. Leave them out or swap them for another chopped nut of your choice.
  • SALT: I use table salt or sea salt. If using Kosher salt, add a pinch more.
  • BUTTER: Let the butter (salted or unsalted) come to room temperature for the best results. I don’t recommend substituting margarine for butter. The buttery flavor is the calling card of this recipe.
  • SUGAR: The recipe was tested with granulated white sugar.
  • EGG YOLK: Egg yolks add richness to this cookie. Adding the egg white will change the texture. Freeze the egg white and save it for another recipe like this fabulous angel food cake.
  • LEMON CURD: You only need about ⅓ cup, so buy the ready-made stuff if you can find it at the grocery store. If not, here’s my recipe for making lemon curd in the microwave. If you prefer, use the orange curd or lime curd variation in that recipe.
  • POWDERED SUGAR: You’ll need confectioners’ sugar (aka powdered sugar or XXXX sugar) to sprinkle over the top of the cookies or make a frosting if that’s what you prefer.

Lemon Pecan Cookies with Icing instead of powdered sugar.Pin
Easy Lemon Curd Cookies with Icing

📌Kitchen Secrets📌 for Lemon Pecan Cookies

  1. Toasting the pecans makes a difference. Skip it and miss out on the extra flavor. Toasting nuts takes only 1-2 minutes with a microwave.
  2. Putting the cookies in the oven for a couple of minutes before making a crater helps soften the dough so you won’t have big cracks around the edge that leak filling.  No guarantees–you may still get a few–but it works for me.
  3. Be sure cookies are completely cooled before dusting them with powdered sugar, or the sugar will melt and disappear. If this happens, dust them again. No harm done.

How To Make Lemon Pecan Cookies with a Lemon Curd Filling

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

toasting pecans on a paper plate using the microwave.Pin
Step 2: Toast pecans in a microwave. Chop and allow them to cool.

Step 3: Combine the chopped pecans, flour, and salt in a medium bowl and set to the side.

butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl of a stand mixerPin
Step 4: Use an electric stand mixer (or a portable mixer) with a paddle attachment to combine or cream the room-temperature butter with granulated sugar. Mix until it’s light in color and creamy.
adding the egg yolk and vanilla to the creamed butter and sugar.Pin
Step 5: Add egg yolk and vanilla and continue mixing.
adding the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.Pin
Step 6: Stop the mixer and add the dry ingredients (chopped pecans, flour, and salt). Combine only until all ingredients are moistened and start to stick together.
Using a spring loaded dipper to make balls out of cookie dough.Pin
Step 7: Use a cookie scoop or spring-loaded dipper to portion balls that contain 1 tablespoon of dough. Roll each ball by hand and arrange it on a baking tray covered with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. If the dough becomes too sticky or soft to handle, set it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Poking a hole into warm cookies two minutes after they hae been in the oven.Pin
Step 8: Place cookies into a preheated oven for 2-3 minutes. Open the door and press a cork or finger into the middle of each cookie. Close the oven door and continue to bake.
Re-pressing the holes with a cork before filling with lemon curd.Pin
Step 9: After 8-9 minutes in the oven, remove the cookies from the oven and re-press the holes with a cork, the end of a wooden spoon, or your finger.

Note: The reason you see different colors of lemon curd is that I used store-bought curd in some of the cookies and homemade lemon curd (the lighter lemon color) in others. They turned out equally well.

Cooling baked cookies on a wire rack.Pin
Step 11: Move baked cookies to a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes before decorating (if that is your plan).
decorating lemon curd cookies with icing or powdered sugar.Pin

Step 12. If you crave sweetness, drizzle the cookies with powdered sugar icing. Or give each cookie a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar. (I use a small tea strainer to create a uniform effect.)

FAQs About Lemon Pecan Cookies

Can I freeze these lemon cookies?

Yes. Double wrap (plastic wrap and a plastic storage bag or container) and store in the freezer for a month. Be sure to place paper or plastic wrap between every single layer of cookies. If you sprinkled them with powdered sugar originally, you might want to give them another sprinkle after defrosting.

Does lemon curd need to be refrigerated?

Yes, it is made with eggs. That means these cookies need to be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

What can I do if I don’t have parchment paper or a silicone baking mat?

Spray or grease your baking pans or cookie sheets with an aerosol spray oil like PAM. High-quality non-stick pans may need nothing.

Random Thoughts: If you need a dessert after a nice meal, one or two of these cookies are perfect. Keep them handy in the freezer (but you might need to hide them, like I do). Here are some more cookies to consider if you like these: Thumbprint Cookies, Pink Shortbread Cookies, and Meyer Lemon Yogurt Squares

Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at saladinajar.com. If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.

finished lemon curd cookies on a serving platePin
Yield: 18 cookies

Easy Lemon Pecan Cookies: Fancy Enough for a Cookie Tray

The traditional jelly thumbprint cookie gets a makeover with a lemon curd filling in a pecan-studded cookie.

Rate this recipe

(5 stars if you loved it)

5 from 4 votes


Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes


  • 1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour
  • cup (72 g) pecans, toasted and chopped (see toasting instructions)
  • teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter
  • cup (66 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 (18 g) egg yolk
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup (56 g) lemon curd homemade or storebought
  • ¼ cup (30 g) confectioners sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C).
  • Place 1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour, ⅔ cup (72 g) pecans, toasted and chopped, and ⅛ teaspoon salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Use an electric mixer to combine ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter and ⅓ cup (66 g) granulated sugar beating until light-colored and fluffy.
  • Add 1 (18 g) egg yolk and ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract, mixing well.
  • Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and gently combine just until the flour disappears. Scrape the bowl a couple of times to ensure no streaks of butter are left unmixed.
  • Roll dough into tablespoon-size balls and place onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. (If dough is too soft to handle, chill for about 30 minutes.)
  • Bake for 2 minutes. Open the oven door and use a small cork, the small end of a round-handled wooden spoon, or your finger to make an indentation in the middle of each cookie. Bake another 8-9 minutes.
  • Working quickly, re-indent the center of each cookie. fill it with a half-teaspoon of ¼ cup (56 g) lemon curd. Return to the oven for another 8-10 minutes until cookies start to brown on the edges.
  • Fill the indentation or cavity with a half teaspoon of lemon curd.
  • Return to the oven for another 8-10 minutes until cookies start to brown on the edges.
  • Allow the cookies to cool for about 15 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack. When completely cool, sprinkle them with¼ cup (30 g) confectioners sugar or ice with frosting (see the notes below).


Powdered Sugar Frosting: Combine 1/2 cup of powdered sugar or confectioners’ sugar with 1-2 teaspoons of milk. Stir together. Drizzle with a spoon or pour the icing into a small zippered plastic bag. Cut a small hole by snipping one corner of the bag. Squeeze the icing over the top of each cookie in any pattern you like.


Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 134kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 55mg | Potassium: 27mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 174IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg

All images and text ©️ Paula Rhodes for Salad in a Jar.com

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    The cookie recipe itself is amazing.
    I opted to forgo the lemon curd and 10x sugar to cut on carbs. Instead, I added about a tblsp of grated lemon rind to dough. Thank you for that base recipe!

    1. Janet, I like your changes. The lemon curd and powdered sugar are mostly for looks anyway. I can imagine the lemon rind gave it much more flavor. I’m going to try that the next time I make these cookies. Thanks so much for writing.

  2. I made these with freshly ground whole wheat flour. They are very good!

  3. Jules @ Everyday Mommy says:

    I can’t stop staring at these cookies.

  4. Jules @ Everyday Mommy says:

    Okay. That’s it. Your photos are just plain dangerous. Your blog needs a warning label 🙂

  5. Great looking cookies. Now I know how that extra jar of lemon curd in the pantry will be used for Christmas baking.

  6. Sounds delicious and I agree with Scooter-I love lemon and am sure they are a welcome change to everything chocolate- although I love that too. Will have to try these for the holidays!

  7. I made these for a cookie exchange and was a little afraid because not everyone likes lemon the way I do. I think folks were so tired of chocolate that these were among the first to go. I will definitely make them again. I also want to put Rob on my speed dial.

  8. mmm…I know these would be one of my favorite since I really like lemon curd. Great food styling.

  9. Lucky decorator! These look soooo…. good!

  10. TheKitchenWitch says:

    Girl, you KNOW that you had me at lemon! These cookies are so pretty!

  11. I just made thumbprints cookies myself and love that you have posted a new and great recipe to an old favourite! Sounds as if everyone came out on top of this cookie-tree decorating swap!

  12. These sound so delicious! Thanks for all the very useful tips at the end!

  13. Good post. :+) I am still wanting more cookies right now. You have absolutely the best freezer I have ever raided. Not only are the contents good, but it is actually organized. Thanks for being a great hostess, as always –

  14. Rob Fisher says:

    Your decorator thinks these cookies are AWESOME!!!!! I did have to share.

  15. I can’t wait to try these. Thumbprints are a favorite around here, but I think they’re a pain to make because there are so many steps, coating them with nuts (first, the egg whites, then the ground nuts . . .) My son read your recipe over my shoulder and said, go for it!

  16. I wanted to post a picture of my tree but couldn’t get a picture to do it justice. You two have the magical touch when it comes to Christmas decorating.

  17. I can’t wait to see the tree! Rob said these were delicious!

  18. Well, I can’t steal these from your freezer, but I can steal the recipe, right? Thank you…anything lemon has my attention immediately. Anything that look this good in a photo also have my immediate attention. Looking forward to making and eating these!

    1. Of course you can steal the recipe, Kayte. If your family likes lemon, they will love these.

  19. I like such cookies and these looks really delicious 🙂

    have a great weekend,