Easy to make lemon biscuits make a delicious tea time treat. Buttery and bright with citrus, these lovely little cookies are an everyday pleasure that can be dressed up for special occasions with a sumptuous lemon cream cheese filling. This lemon biscuit recipe is egg free.
Easy lemon biscuits
I love baking with lemon. It is such an adaptable ingredient, and gives a cheerful lift to any recipe.
These easy lemon fork biscuits pack a double lemon whammy if you fill the dainty cookies with the (optional) lemon cream cheese filling. Delightfully short, they melt in the mouth and are delicately flavoured.
I love an afternoon pause for a cup of tea, and these easy lemon fork biscuits make the perfect accompaniment when made in modest little rounds. Here’s everything you need to know about how to make them.
This recipe for easy lemon fork biscuits takes only a few minutes to make and the results are more than worth it: sweet, but not too sweet. Sharply lemony, but not too sharp. Small, so each one is a delicious mouthful.
A childhood favourite
I have known these easy lemon biscuits all my life. My mother used to make them at least once a week when I was a child. She used a recipe from her old school Domestic Science notebook. Today that school recipe book is getting a little dog-eared, but the recipe is as good as ever.
These lemon biscuits are made with what is essentially a shortbread mix, but like some French versions of shortbread, it uses self-raising flour.
I have spruced up the recipe with a lemon cheese cream filling for when you want something more indulgent, but this is optional. I use lemon curd in my filling but if you want an egg free biscuit recipe, you can just make lemon buttercream instead.
This recipe is ideal for teatime. If you need it, here is a guide on how to make the perfect cup of tea.
Why make these lemon fork biscuits
- They are so easy to make.
- They are, of course, delicious!
- This biscuit recipe is egg free! So many biscuit recipes use eggs but there’s no need for them here.
- They use just 4 everyday ingredients.
- No need to chill between mixing and baking.
- Make ahead and freeze the dough for baking later. Fresh biscuits anytime you want!
Lemon biscuit ingredients
- Butter – Use real butter. If using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt.
- Sugar – I bake nearly everything with golden caster sugar. It adds a little flavour, rather than just sweetness and it gives a lovely warm colour.
Helen’s Fuss Free Tip
Make your own caster sugar from granulated. Add to a coffee or spice grinder, and whizz it up for as long as it takes to say, ‘caster sugar, caster sugar.’ Do not over grind your sugar or you will end up with icing sugar. Do this and the biscuits will be impossibly sweet with a poor texture.
- Flour – Everyday white self-raising flour (never strong bread flour). If you don’t have self-raising flour, use plain and add one teaspoon of baking powder.
- Lemon – As we are using the lemon zest for these biscuits, choose an unwaxed lemon. If you can only get a waxed lemon, give it a good scrub in warm water to remove the wax.
How to make lemon biscuits – step by step
Before you start, read my step-by-step instructions, with photos, hints and tips, so you can make this perfectly every time.
Scroll down for the recipe card with quantities and more tips at the bottom of the page.
Start by getting the butter out of the fridge at least an hour before you start, to make sure it comes up to room temperature. Then preheat the oven to GM 4 / 350°F / 180°C.
Step One – Cut the softened butter into cubes and put into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and then cream with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer, until the mix is pale and fluffy.
Because this is relatively small quantity, I find it is easier to use a hand mixer, rather than a stand mixer.
Helen’s Fuss Free Tip
To soften the butter allow it to come to room temperature, I often stand it in a bowl next to but not on a radiator. Tempting as it may be, it is better not to put it in the microwave, because it is very easy to melt the butter.
Another way to speed up the softening is to put cubes of butter onto a plate and stand them on top of a jug or bowl of hand-hot water. Remember you want to soften, not melt!
Butter is at the perfect consistency if your finger leaves an indent when you press it.
Step Two – Add the flour and salt. Grate the lemon zest in.
Helen’s Fuss Free Tip
A fine Microplane style grater (rather than a box grater) is best here. Take care to grate only the zest, and not the bitter pith underneath.
Step Three – Mix it all together to make a smooth stiff dough. I find that using your hands is easiest, as the warmth from them helps the mixture come together.
Step Four – Roll out into balls of about 2.5 cm / 1″ (about the size of a walnut). Arrange on a lined baking tray. Press lightly on top of each on with a fork to flatten.
Step Five – Bake for about 12–15 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack.
Step Six – For the optional filling, put the cream cheese, lemon curd and icing sugar into a bowl and mix with a fork to make a smooth filling. Cover and keep in the fridge for up to three days for when needed.
Helen’s Fuss Free Tip
When mixing anything with cream cheese, go gently. The harder you mix, the runnier the mixture will get. The filling should be about the consistency of mayonnaise. It will firm up a little in the fridge, but generally cannot be rescued if you over mix it.
Sandwich two of the biscuits together with a teaspoon of the filling when ready to serve.
Perfect at tea time or to serve on the side with lemon curd ice cream.
You can use this lemon fork biscuit recipe as the basis for all sorts of egg-free biscuit recipes. Why not try these:
- Vanilla Fork Biscuits – Leave out the lemon zest and add half a teaspoon of vanilla paste.
- Plain Lemon Fork Biscuits – Leave out the filling and dust with a little icing sugar.
- Orange Fork Biscuits – Swap the lemon for orange zest.
- Lime Fork Biscuits – Swap the lemon for lime zest.
- Dip half of each biscuit into melted dark or white chocolate and allow to set on a piece of parchment paper before serving.
- Double Lemon Sandwich – When you have spread the lemon cheese filling, add a little spot of extra lemon curd in the middle for a luxurious touch.
Storage and freezing
Keep the biscuits in an airtight tin and eat within 5 days.
Freeze – I like to freeze the raw biscuits before baking.
Divide into balls and lay out on a baking tray. You can either flatten into biscuits before freezing or after defrosting. Pop the baking tray into the freezer and, once frozen, pack the raw biscuits into an airtight tub. Allow to defrost at room temperature for an hour before baking fresh from Step Five.
You could freeze the cooked biscuits, but they are so much better baked fresh that it seems a bit pointless.
Hints and tips
- To avoid the biscuits burning on the bottom (common if you have an old fashioned oven which heats from underneath) use a heavyweight baking sheet, and put a heavy roasting tin at the bottom of the oven.
- Freshly baked biscuits are both soft and fragile. For this reason, you should allow them to cool and firm up on the baking tray before transferring to a cooling rack.
- These lemon fork biscuits are very short. You need to really press the mixture together.
Absolutely. Just use plain flour and a level teaspoonful of baking powder.
Yes, though I do prefer the golden caster sugar.
Real butter does give a luxurious flavour, but if you prefer to avoid it, you can use a non dairy spread and a vegan cream cheese substitute in the filling.
These biscuits are egg free, but obviously the lemon curd cream cheese is not. If you want to make an egg free filling, you can make a little butter cream, adding some lemon zest for flavour. Alternatively, add lemon zest and icing sugar to some cream cheese.
- Homemade lemon curd – made in the microwave, with a tot of gin!
- Lemon posset recipe – the classic, so easy to make three ingredient desert
- Yogurt loaf cake – filled with lemon and berries
- Easy biscotti – classic make ahead after dinner treat
- Soul cakes – a classic British bake
- Oat cookies – quick, easy and adaptable
Lemon Biscuits (Lemon Fork Biscuits)
For the biscuits / cookies
- 40 g golden caster sugar
- 80 g butter (softened)
- 100 g self raising flour
- ½ lemon (zest)
- pinch salt (optional, if using unsalted butter)
For the (optional) filling
- 1 tbs full fat cream cheese
- 1 tbs lemon curd
- 1 tbs icing sugar (sifted)
For the biscuits / cookies
- Preheat the oven to GM4 / 350°F / 180°C
- Using a hand-held or stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy.40 g golden caster sugar, 80 g butter
- Add the flour, lemon zest and salt. Mix well to form a stiff dough.100 g self raising flour, ½ lemon, pinch salt
- Roll into balls of about 2.5 cm and space out on a greased baking tray. Press lightly on each one with a fork to slightly flatten.
- Bake for about 12–15 minutes, until pale gold in colour.
- Allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
For the optional filling
- With a fork gently mix all the ingredients together. Do not over mix as the filling can become very runny, it should be the consistency of mayonnaise. The filling will firm up after a spell in the fridge.1 tbs full fat cream cheese, 1 tbs lemon curd, 1 tbs icing sugar
- Sandwich pairs of the lemon fork biscuits together a teaspoon of filling just before serving.
- To make self raising flour add 1 tsp baking powder to 100g plain flour
- Nutrition is per one unfilled biscuit
- Once baked store in an airtight tin and eat within 5 days
- If filling the biscuits eat them that day. Store unused filling in the fridge in a covered tub for up to 5 days.
Update notes – recipe for lemon fork biscuits originally published 2013. Updated July 2022.