These Lemon meringue cookies are made with fresh lemons and are so easy to make. They have a melt in your mouth shortbread cookie crust, a lemon curd filling, and are topped with a light meringue. Follow the step by step instructions to make these delicious cookies!
Why this cookie is amazing
This is not your average cookie, it’s more of a compilation of some of my favorite desserts compiled into one cookie. As a trained pastry chef I love coming up with fun cookie creations! This is just like a lemon meringue pie cookie!
First we have the actual cookie which is a shortbread type. It really holds it’s shape when baked, but once it hits your mouth it crumbles and just melts away!
Then we have the lemon curd. I dont think I can say this loud enough. I LOVE LEMON CURD. All I really need is a spoon to enjoy it but putting it on a cookie makes it so much better.
Next we top the lemon curd with some sweet meringue and toast it away. The cloud like texture when you bite into it is making my mouth water as I write this.
- Butter- you’ll need softened butter for the cookies. Learn how to soften butter quickly if you forgot to leave it out! You’ll need cold butter for the lemon curd.
- Confectioners sugar– this is what gives the cookies the melt in your mouth feel.
- Flour– for bulk
- kosher salt– for flavor
- vanilla extract– for more flavor
- lemons – because this is a lemon cookie!
- eggs– you will use both the yolks and the whites but in separate ways.
For the lemon curd, we’ll be using fresh lemons so you need 5 medium sized lemons and 5 eggs yolks.
For the meringue- Save the whites from the eggs to make the meringue topping!
How to make this recipe
Step one- make the shortbread crust
- Combine the softened butter and confectioners sugar in a medium sized bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream for 1 minute until light and fluffy. You can use a spatula or a hand mixer here too.
- Add in the extract and mix lightly. Next add in the dry ingredients and mix until a firm dough forms. Shape the dough into a disc and chill for 1 hour. Then roll out, cut with a round cookie cutter and bake for 10-12 minutes on a cookie sheet at 350°F.
Step 2- make the lemon curd
- Separate the egg yolks from the whites extremely carefully. Because we want to keep the whites for the meringue, there can’t even be a tiny part of yolk left in the whites. If there is, they won’t whip up at all!
- Zest a lemon, then measure out the juice into a large measuring cup. Add in the zest, egg yolks, and sugar. Whisk to combine.
- In a heavy bottomed pan, over low- medium heat, pour in the egg-lemon mixture. Stir with a spatula for 10 minutes until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Dont rush this step! It’s tempting to raise the heat or walk away for a few minutes but that can cause the eggs to cook and we don’t want that. If it happens and there are some cooked pieces, you can strain the curd after it’s done.
- Take the lemon curd off the heat and immediately add in the cold butter. Stir until melted. The butter will help thicken the curd when chilled.
- Store the lemon curd in a container with a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the curd to prevent a film. Then cover it with the containers cover.
- Allow the curd to chill for 1 hour.
Step 3- make the meringue
- Add the egg whites and cream of tartar to the bowl of a hand or stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment.
- Whip the eggs on high, adding in the sugar a little at a time until you have glossy stiff peaks.
Step 4- assemble the cookies!
- Take a shortbread cookie and spread some lemon curd on top- about 1 teaspoon.
- Then either pipe the meringue on top of the cookies using a piping bag or just spoon some on top. I used a spoon because I liked how rustic it looked.
- Torch the meringue with a kitchen torch and your cookies are ready to eat!!!
Getting stiff meringue peaks
This is an important step because if you don’t whip the egg whites enough then it will be too runny to top the cookies with. The sugar also needs to dissolve when whipping so it might take a few minutes- usually around 5.
How to make these if you don’t have a kitchen torch
No worries! I tested out these cookies by adding the meringue to the cookies first and broiling it in the oven for only 30 seconds – 1 minute. Then put the lemon curd on top of the meringue!
Be careful not to go over that 1 minute or the cookies can burn.
You can make the cookies and the lemon curd recipe up to 3 days in advance, then make the meringue right before serving. Breaking up the time to make this will make it easier!
I stored the cookies in the fridge and they lasted for up to 5 days. I don’t recommend storing these on the counter.
You can definitely freeze the shortbread cookies alone without the lemon curd or meringue but I don’t recommend freezing them once they are assembled.
Tips for recipe success
- The way to tell that lemon curd is done is by taking a spatula or a kitchen spoon and dipping it into the curd. Then run a finger across the spoon or spatula. If the line holds it’s shape, it’s ready! Check out the photo above for reference!
- Make sure you don’t get any egg yolks into the whites or they wont whip.
- Use a different shape cookie cutter to make them festive!
- You can make this recipe using pie dough as the base instead of making the shortbread cookies. Roll out the dough, cut out the shapes and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Follow the rest of the recipe from there.
- Buy pre made lemon curd to cut the time down
Want more lemon recipes? Try these!
- Easy Lemon Bars
- Tangy Lemon Shortbread Cookies
- Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting
- Lemon Poppyseed Cake
Easy and Fresh Lemon Meringue Cookies
- Stand or Hand mixer
For the cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened 227 g
- 1/2 cup confectioners sugar 57g
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour 240g
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
For the lemon curd
- 5 egg yolks separated carefully
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar 150g
- zest from one lemon
- 1/2 cup lemon juice 5 lemons
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter cold
For the Meringue
- 5 egg whites saved from the lemon curd yolks
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar 67 g
For the cookie base
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium sized bowl or the bowl of a hand or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the 1 cup butter and 1/2 cup confectioners sugar together on low until light and airy, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Add the 2 tsp vanilla extract and mix lightly to combine. Add in the 2 cups of flour and 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Mix until a unified dough forms.
- Shape the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour. (This is a good time to make the curd below). Unwrap the dough and place it between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1/2" thickness and cut out shapes using a cookie cutter. Repeat the process with scraps. You might have to chill the scraps for a few minutes again before re-rolling. Lift the cookies using an offset spatula onto their baking tray. If the cookies wont lift easily, chill them again for a few minutes then try to lift again.
- Line the cookies 1 1/2" apart on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until firm.
For the Lemon Curd
- Separate the egg yolks from the whites carefully. If any yolk gets into the whites you cant use them for the meringue below. Set the whites aside.
- Combine the 5 egg yolks, 3/4 cup sugar, zest, and 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice in a small bowl or measuring cup and whisk to combine. Pour it into a heavy bottomed pan over low- medium heat. Consistently stir the mixture for 10 minutes until it has thickened. You don't want to rush this part or raise the heat as it will cook the eggs.
- The mixture is done when it coats the back of a spoon. If you take your finger and make a line through the curd on the back of the spoon and it stays in place, it's done.
- Take the pan off the heat and immediately add the cold butter. Stir until melted.
- Pour the curd into a container and place a piece of plastic directly on top to prevent a film. Then cover and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
For the Meringue
- When the curd has cooled and the cookies are done, make the meringue. Add the 5 egg whites and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar to a hand or stand mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment. Whip on high speed for 30 second, then slowly start pouring in the 1/3rd cup meringue. Whip until you have high glossy stiff peaks about 2-3 minutes.
Assemble the Cookies
- Place a teaspoon sized dollop of lemon curd on top of the cookie and spread it out to the edge. Then top the curd with the meringue by either piping it on or spooning it on top. I used a spoon for a more rustic look. Using a kitchen torch, torch the meringue until golden brown. Repeat for all cookies and you're done!