Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

lemon thumbprint cookies 2

My husband has always loved lemon desserts. We all enjoy them, but I don’t make them often.  I guess that makes them extra special when I do.

The other day I was browsing an old issue of Woman’s Day magazine while sitting at the orthodontist office.  (They keeps stacks of magazines and this one was over two years old.)  When I saw of picture of some delightful lemon cookies, I knew I had to adapt the recipe to make it gluten and dairy free.

I also knew it would be a perfect entry for this month’s Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free, which is being hosted at Flip Cookbook.  The theme this month is Garden Tea Party.

In addition to making the recipe gluten and dairy free, I made a couple other changes or additions and used homemade lemon curd in the center. While you can buy lemon curd (be sure it’s gluten free), I like to make it.  I posted a gluten and dairy free lemon curd recipe last week.

I don’t often use all white flours in a recipe, but I occasionally make an exception for a dessert.  This was one of those times.  I wanted the cookies to be light in color and texture.

These lemon thumbprint cookies did turn out nice and light, not too sweet and not too sour.  If you want added lemon flavor and sweetness, just put a little extra lemon curd on top when you eat it like my husband did.

lemon thumbprint cookies 1

One thing that makes these thumbprints different than traditional thumbprints is that the lemon curd is put in the middle of the cookie before it is baked.

The original recipe called for sprinkling the edges of the cookies with powdered sugar.  I found that impossible to do and ended up leaving them plain.  The next time I make these I am going to try rolling the dough balls in granulated sugar before pressing, filling, and baking them.

Lemon Thumbprint Cookies
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 1½ sticks margarine or butter (3/4 cup)
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¾ cup white rice flour
  • ¾ cup potato starch
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • ¼ cup sweet rice flour
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup lemon curd
  1. Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add the vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Mix to combine.
  2. In a separate small bowl, combine the flours, starches, xanthan gum, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, beating with the mixer on low until all the dry ingredients are moistened.
  4. Cover and chill the dough 1 hour.
  5. If you are making lemon curd from scratch, you can do that while the dough is chilling. After the curd has thickened, remove from heat and pour it into a stainless steel pan or bowl and set it on a wire rack to cool, stirring occasionally. The curd should not be hot when you put it in the cookies, but it’s okay if it’s still warm.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°. Use non stick cookie sheets, or sheets lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  7. Roll the dough into small ball and place them about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Press your thumb into the center of each ball making a deep impression.
  8. Place some lemon curd in a zip top plastic bag that has a small bit of the corner cut off. Carefully squeeze the bag to fill the center of each cookie with lemon curd.
  9. Bake for 12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to brown slightly. Cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.


Submitted to:  Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays

Go Ahead Honey

Don’t forget to stop by Flip Cookbook at the end of the month for the Go Ahead Honey roundup.  It’s sure to be great!

About Linda Etherton

Linda has been gluten free since 2000 when I was diagnosed with celiac disease which propelled me into the world of gluten-free cooking and baking. I am convinced that gluten-free food can and should be delicious, and I never apologize for serving it.
Connect with Linda online: Facebook | Google+ | Twitter


  1. My husband loves lemon dessert as well. I even made lemon extract from scratch for him!

  2. Oh Linda, these look absolutely delicious and they’re perfect for a tea party! I love thumbprint cookies, and lemon flavored desserts even more!

  3. francine says:

    I am new at this, sounds interesting. How do you make lemon curd?

  4. What lemon zest did you use? I bought lemon peel at the store but it has sulfites in it. I wanted to make lemon poppyseed muffins, but lemons are expensive right now. Just curious. I want to make these cookies for the family sometime. My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow so we are making a crown cake for her!

    • Hi Sunnie. I used fresh lemon zest. If you leave it out you could try adding some lemon extract to increase the lemon flavor.

  5. Margaret says:

    A little more work than Lemon Bars but -not as much work as the little “pies” I bake in mini muffin tins. These appear to be easier to serve too. They should freeze well too, just thaw in frig covered. ~ Margaret

  6. I love lemon goodies. I’ve seen jam, frosting, and chocolate added to thumbprint cookies, but never lemon curd. Great idea.

  7. Jessica says:

    Question: can I keep the dough in the fridge for more than hour? Have to run around today and won’t have time to bake the cookies until later.

    • Yes, you can keep them in there longer. If the dough it too hard to work with, just let it sit out and warm up a little.

      • Jessica says:

        Thank you! One more question – what’s the best way to store these? I did a confectioners icing instead of lemon curd and I need them for my son’s school on Wednesday. Should I do wax paper and tupperware or just leave them out?

  8. MsMissy says:

    Hi want to know how to adapt this to exclude the potato starch (my girls and I are allergic to nightshades) would i just increase the Tapioca starch or add more rice flour or both??

    • You should substitute a starch, not rice flour. Corn starch or arrowroot starch/flour would probably work best. You could increase the tapioca starch a little, but I would not use it to replace all of the potato starch. Too much tapioca starch results in a very chewy product.

  9. Could you substitute coconut or date sugar for the granulated sugar or even some honey? We are refined sugar free in our household. I LOVE lemon so these are very appealing to me.

  10. Can I just use a flour like Better Batter?

  11. carol anglesey says:

    Hi. I have been trying to find sweet rice flour. I gave regular white rice flour. What is the difference?

  12. Hi there! These look delicious, just wondering what kind of margarine you use to make them dairy free?? Is there a particular brand you prefer for baking? Thank you!

  13. Lorraine says:

    Hi Linda! I baked these on the weekend and they were delicious! I mean…too good! What is also nice is that they freeze well. I’m a fresh food junkie, as far as baked goods are concerned so I froze what I didn’t need in the next day or two and they came out just as delicious. What I did notice (and I think it may be absent on more of your recipes) is how many was it supposed to make? I made about 27 cookies and found I needed to bake them longer but perhaps it was supposed to make more which means mine were a bit too big. Thanks so much. My friend made your Angel Food cake and it was Sooooooo good! I was a good gluten filled baker but I’m lost with GF stuff so I’m glad there’s people like you out there figuring out how to make yummy things again. We appreciate you and all you do!

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