Lemon Whoopie Pies

Lemon whoopie pies.  I had seen a ton of whoopie pies on the boards and photography sites lately, but I saw this recipe in a cookie cookbook my older sister gave to me.  I thought the addition of the lemon zest, as well as the lemon cream cheese frosting filling would be a good twist on a classic.  And, seriously, can one go wrong with anything made with cream cheese?  Let’s be honest.

I made a batch for a party that my friend, Christie, had. (Christie, by the way, is a wonderful and great friend to me.) The theme was desserts.  How perfect.  And what I noticed was this:  I think I made these cookies way too big.  Maybe they were a little intimidating.  Towards the end of the evening, people were cutting pieces off the cookies with knives and forks (a la Seinfeld).  It made me smile.  Hopefully these lemon whoopie pies will make you smile, too.

Lemon Whoopie Pies

Servings: 8-10 cookie sandwiches


For the cookies:

1 and a 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 large egg

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk, any fat content

For the lemon cream cheese filling:

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 and 3/4 cups powdered sugar


1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and butter the paper.

2.  For the cookies: Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest until smoothly blended, about 1 minute.  Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.

4. Add the egg, lemon juice, and vanilla, mixing until blended, about 1 minute. (The batter will look curdled-ewwww.)

5.  On low speed, add half the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it.

6.  Mix in the buttermilk.

7.  Mix in the remaining flour mixture just until it is incorporated and the batter looks smooth again.

8.  Drop heaping tablespoons (about 3 level tablespoons each) of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 3 inches apart.

9.  Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops feel firm, about 10 minutes or so. (With the exception of a thin line at the edges, the tops of the cookies should not brown.)

10.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then use a wide spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

11.  For the filling: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice until thoroughly blended and smooth, about 1 minute.

12.  Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth, about 1 minute. (If the filling is too soft to hold its shape, refrigerate until it is firmer, about 30 minutes.)

13.  Turn half of the cookies bottom side up.  Leaving a 1/4-inch plain edge, use a thin metal spatula (or a pastry bag fitted with a tip of your choice!) each one with about 1/4 cup of the filling.

14.  Gently press the flat bottoms of the remaining cookies onto the filling.  ***Try to find matching “partners” that fit each other.

15.  Wrap each cookie in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Serve cold.  The wrapped cookies can be stored for up to 4 days.

A big thank you to all my fantastic friends at this party.  Glad to be back.

Adapted from Big Fat Cookies, by Elinor Klivens.

September 10, 2010 - 8:59 am

Jenny - These were SOOO good and we just finished the leftover that Christie sent us home with the other night. I’m not usually a lemon dessert fan, but these were incredible. And just because we were cutting them in sections doesn’t mean we each didn’t eat a whole one by the end of the night. It just feels better to each the entire thing in 4 sections! 🙂

Thanks for always making and bringing fabulous food to our parties!! 🙂

September 10, 2010 - 9:23 am

RavieNomNoms - WOW!! What a fantastic photo and lemon whoopie pies?! WOWWWWIEEE, yumalicious!

September 10, 2010 - 10:56 am

The Cilantropist - Love that first photo, your filling looks divine!

September 10, 2010 - 11:17 am

May Ling Wu - I’m impressed! I tried to make pumpkin for thanksgiving last year epic fail 🙁

September 10, 2010 - 11:52 am

Sara - ha! I totally failed whoopie pies (but still posted about it). I asked for a good recipe and…here it comes…I have to try this one. Now THESE look like whoopie pies. Beautiful pic, btw!

September 10, 2010 - 1:35 pm

notyet100 - feel like picking one.

September 10, 2010 - 4:09 pm

Joy - hmmmmmmm lemon

September 10, 2010 - 4:30 pm

Susi - I love whoopie pies and your citrus version with the cream cheese filling looks amazing! They are making my mouth water!

September 10, 2010 - 6:09 pm

Laura - These look wonderful. A nice change from the heavy chocolate cream cake. Definitely want to try these, thanks for sharing!

September 10, 2010 - 8:08 pm

Jessica - I love lemon!! They look so good!

September 11, 2010 - 4:08 pm

Joanne - Haha I like my cookies large – no knife and fork for me! These look fantastic, although I am slightly biased as I am a lemon fanatic!

September 12, 2010 - 2:28 pm

Sprinkled with Flour - Yum! Whoopie pies + lemon = deliciousness. These look wonderful, thanks for sharing:)

September 14, 2010 - 8:14 pm

PlateSpiller - Every Tuesday I get together with my team at work for ‘Tea.’ Someone bakes and we gather to talk about everything but business.

I made these for today’s meeting and they were a hit!

September 14, 2010 - 8:33 pm

Shanon Lacy - Oh my gosh…thank you! That kind of comment is why I do this….I love these recipes and want to share. You just made my day! 🙂

September 20, 2010 - 10:46 am

Sophia - I’ve seen so many recipes lately for lemon desserts! So far, I think yours must be the best! The other one I really like is Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake. What do you think? Thanks again for sharing this delicious lemon recipe!

June 15, 2012 - 6:44 am

Janet - YUMMY! This by far looks like the best recipie!! Heading to the store to get everything I need to make them.. YUM!! thanks for sharing !