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LEMON Curd

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This is the BEST recipe for lemon curd! It’s rich, buttery and tart. And you won’t need a double boiler, immersion blender or any special kitchen tools. Discover how to make lemon curd the easy way. In just 20 minutes you’ll have a smooth, luscious mixture that thickens up beautifully in the fridge.

PIN LEMON CURD RECIPE

Lemon curd in a bowl with spoon next to fresh lemons.

2022 RECIPE UPDATE: This lemon curd recipe was originally published in August 2017. Five years and 50 batches later, the recipe has evolved and become perfected. It’s now richer, thicker and more flavorful. I’ve come back to share that goodness, along with learn-by-doing expertise and new tips. Updates include fresh photography and a helpful user-friendly format.

When Meyer lemons are in season, it’s wonderful to use fresh lemon juice and zest for this recipe. The taste, aroma and color are bright and beautiful, just like California sunshine. However, when lemons are not in season it’s okay to use bottled lemon juice and no zest.

Along with measuring cups and spoons, all you’ll need for this easy recipe are 4 kitchen staples: microplane zester/grater (or box grater, or vegetable peeler and knife), 2-quart saucepan, silicone whisk, fine mesh sieve. (If no strainer, no problem. See “Recipe FAQ” section for instructions.) For refrigerating the mixture, use a glass jar with lid or any small bowl.

Homemade lemon curd in a bowl after being thickened in the fridge.

INGREDIENTS

  • Whole Eggs: Give lemon curd a light texture. But we’re not using too many whole eggs as we don’t want the mixture to have an eggy taste.
  • Egg Yolks: Help the mixture to set and thicken while providing it with extra richness. Egg yolks are also more resistant to curdling during the cooking process, and have less of an eggy taste.
  • Granulated Sugar: Adds an element of sweetness to the recipe. And while you might want to reach for caster sugar because it dissolves more quickly, it’s not recommended. Instead of a beautiful sunshiny-bright yellow, caster sugar will give the mixture a dull yellow tone.
  • Sea Salt: Enhances the flavor of the other ingredients.
  • Lemon Juice: Meyer lemons are highly recommended. They’re sweeter than regular lemons, and provide lemon curd with its signature lemony flavor. If using bright-yellow lemons, add in more sugar to taste.
  • Lemon Zest: Enhances the citrusy lemon flavor.
  • Butter: Adds creaminess, buttery flavor, and a smooth satisfying mouthfeel. It also helps the mixture to thicken. Use room temperature butter so it can easily incorporate into the mixture.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract: Enhances the sweetness and lemony flavor. Use the clear type, rather than amber-colored vanilla, if you have it on hand.
Ingredients for lemon curd.

BEST TIPS FOR PERFECT LEMON CURD

  • Use Meyer lemons for a classic lemon curd taste. Small and round, they have a deep yellow skin that’s darker and smoother than other lemons. They’re also much sweeter than bright-colored lemons. Look for plump fruit with no blemishes.
  • Zest lemons first before juicing them. When zesting lemons, avoid extracting the white pith (underlying membrane) with the zest. It has a bitter unpleasant taste.
  • Use good-quality butter for richness and flavor.
  • Be patient during the cooking process. Keep whisking the entire time.
  • Don’t raise the heat to speed things up. If the temperature is too high the mixture will split and the eggs will scramble.
Best-tasting lemon curd in a bowl after mixture was thickened in the fridge.

RECIPE STEPS

  • STEP 1: In a small saucepan, whisk egg yolks and whole eggs. Add granulated sugar and salt. Whisk 1 minute or until the mixture is well combined and pale yellow. Add lemon juice and lemon zest. Whisk to combine.
  • STEP 2: Set the pan on stovetop over medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly about 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium and cook about 5 minutes more, or until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. It should be the consistency of pudding. It’s very important not to raise the heat too high, and to keeping whisking the entire time so the lemon curd doesn’t scorch or curdle. 
  • STEP 3: Once it’s thick, remove the pan from heat. Add butter and vanilla extract. Whisk well to incorporate. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the lemon zest and any bits of egg that may have scrambled during cooking. During straining the mixture will shed some heat. Stir briefly to allow more heat to escape.
  • STEP 4: Transfer lemon curd to a bowl. Cover the surface with a buttered piece of plastic wrap. Press down to make sure the plastic is in direct contact with the surface to block out all air. Refrigerate mixture for 2 to 3 hours before using so it has time to cool and thicken.
How to make lemon curd in 4 easy steps.

how is lemon curd used?

The ways it can be used are endless. Lemon curd is so versatile. But here are the best ideas for using this tasty recipe.

  • FILLING: Use it as a savory tart filling for a variety of desserts. Think lemon tarts, cream puffs, lemon bars, layered cakes, lemon pop tarts, stuffed donuts, lemon-filled cupcakes, and thumbprint cookies.
  • SPREAD: Just like jam, slather it over scones, whipping cream biscuits, warm toast, muffins, crumpets, and crepes.
  • TOPPING: Drizzle it over pancakes, French toast, waffles, oatmeal, granola, yogurt, and ice cream. Swirl it on the top of cheesecakes.

But that’s not all! Make a lemon yogurt parfait, or a homemade version of Hostess lemon fruit pies. It can be used in salad dressings and smoothies, or as a tasty dip for fresh fruit. Add it to breakfast buns. Fold it into homemade whipped cream and it becomes a tangy lemon mousse.

Close-up view of lemon curd texture after refrigeration and thickening.

RECIPE FAQ

These are the most commonly-asked questions when making lemon curd, and the most helpful answers for recipe success.

CAN I SUBSTITUTE REGULAR LEMONS FOR MEYER LEMONS?

Yes, but you may need to add some additional sugar to balance out the flavor, as Meyer lemons are much sweeter than other lemons. Another way to correct the flavor imbalance: add a splash of orange juice.

WHY USE A COMBINATION OF WHOLE EGGS AND YOLKS?

If lemon curd is made with whole eggs only, the consistency would be light and custardy, not as thick. If only yolks are used, the mixture would be super rich and gelatinous. But used together, whole eggs and yolks deliver the ideal texture combination: lightness and richness.

CAN YOU MAKE LEMON CURD WITHOUT ZEST?

Absolutely. The mixture won’t be as tart, but you can still make a delicious batch of lemon curd without the zest. When lemons aren’t available, I’ll make lemon curd with bottled lemon juice and no zest.

I DON’T HAVE A STRAINER. CAN I STILL MAKE THIS RECIPE?

Yes, absolutely. As you crack each egg, pinch off and discard the white cordlike fibers attached to the yolk sac. Do not use lemon zest. Remove all lemon seeds before juicing so seeds don’t end up in the lemon curd. Thicken the mixture on stovetop over low heat to make sure the eggs don’t scramble. These recipe tips will prevent the need for straining.

WHAT CAUSES LEMON CURD NOT TO THICKEN?

If the heat is too low the lemon curd will not thicken. The setting I use on my gas stove is medium-low. Don’t cook on high heat or the mixture may split and the eggs will scramble. If you’re cooking a large batch (with constant whisking) it may take 30 minutes to thicken. Be patient. Keep cooking and whisking until it thickens. The end result is worth it.

HOW TO THICKEN LEMON CURD?

If your lemon curd is too thin, it’s most likely because the mixture was not cooked long enough. You can fix this by reheating the mixture on stovetop, while whisking constantly. You may need to add in another egg yolk while whisking on stovetop, and later add a bit more butter.

WHY COVER THE SURFACE OF LEMON CURD WITH PLASTIC?

Lemon curd thickens as it cools. A layer of plastic wrap applied directly to the surface of the mixture helps block out air and prevents a thick layer of skin from forming on top. This keeps the mixture smooth.

WHY IS SOME LEMON CURD LIGHTER OR DARKER THAN OTHERS?

There are several reasons. The zest of Meyer lemons is a darker color than bright-yellow lemons. The color of egg yolks vary. The colors range from a soft yellow to a bright orange depending on a hen’s diet. Granulated sugar maintains the mixture’s sunshiny yellow, but if caster sugar is used it will greatly dull the color.

HOW LONG DOES LEMON CURD LAST?

When stored in the fridge in an airtight container, homemade lemon curd can stay fresh for up to 4 weeks.

CAN YOU FREEZE LEMON CURD?

Yes, it freezes well. Cool lemon curd completely. Transfer to a freezer-safe container with tight-fitting lid. Leave 1/2 inch of space at the top so there’s room for expansion. Put a layer of plastic wrap in direct contact with the surface to lock out air. Freeze up to 3 months. When ready to use, defrost in the fridge overnight. Don’t try to speed up the thawing process as the curd can split and become grainy.

Homemade lemon curd in a bowl on tabletop with fresh lemon and granulated sugar.

RECIPES TO MAKE WITH LEMON CURD

RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH LEMON CURD

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Homemade lemon curd in a bowl after being thickened in the fridge.

Lemon Curd


Description

Lemon curd is thick, rich and luscious. Use it as a filling for desserts, or as a tea-time spread for baked goods. Make this easy recipe in a saucepan, no double broiler needed! This recipe’s a keeper. 


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 4 large egg yolks (no whites)
  • 2 large whole eggs
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or more if desired
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from Meyer lemons)*
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (the clear type)

*MEYER LEMONS: You’ll need about 4 or 5 large Meyer lemons to extract 2/3 cup lemon juice. It just depends on their size and how juicy they are. Always have extras on hand, just in case. 


Instructions

MESSAGE FROM THE KITCHEN: Lemon curd thickens while cooking on stovetop. But it will continue thickening in the fridge while it cools. After 2 to 3 hours it will be beautifully thick and luscious.

  1. In a small saucepan, whisk egg yolks and whole eggs. Add granulated sugar and salt. Whisk 1 minute or until the mixture is well combined and pale yellow. Add lemon juice and lemon zest. Whisk to combine.
  2. Set the pan on stovetop over medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly about 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium and cook about 5 minutes more, or until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. It should be the consistency of pudding. It’s very important not to raise the heat too high, and to keeping whisking the entire time so the lemon curd doesn’t scorch or curdle. 
  3. Once lemon curd has thickened, remove the pan from heat. Add butter and vanilla extract. Whisk well to incorporate. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the lemon zest and any bits of egg that may have scrambled during cooking. During straining the mixture will shed some heat. Stir briefly to allow more heat to escape.
  4. Transfer lemon curd to a bowl. Cover the surface with a buttered piece of plastic wrap. Press down to make sure the plastic is in direct contact with the surface to block out all air. This will prevent a skin from developing. Before using, refrigerate 2 to 3 hours so the mixture can thicken and cool.

IMPORTANT: Store lemon curd in an airtight container and refrigerate. It can last up to 1 month.

Notes

BEST TIPS FOR LEMON CURD

  • Use Meyer lemons for a classic lemon curd taste. Small and round, they have a deep yellow skin that’s darker and smoother than bright-colored lemons. They’re also much sweeter than other lemons. Look for plump fruit with no blemishes.
  • Zest lemons first before juicing them. When zesting lemons, avoid extracting the white pith (underlying membrane) with the zest. It has a bitter unpleasant taste.
  • Use good-quality butter for richness and flavor.
  • Be patient when cooking lemon curd. Keep whisking the entire time. 
  • Don’t raise the heat to speed things up. If the temperature is too high the mixture will split and the eggs will scramble.
  • Store lemon curd in a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Condiments, Dessert
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: English

Keywords: Lemon Curd, Lemon Curd Recipe, How to Make Lemon Curd, Easy Lemon Curd

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

HOW TO MAKE LEMON CURD > JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Have you ever made lemon curd from scratch? How would you like to enjoy this delicious recipe? As a filling, spread, or topping? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

16 thoughts on “LEMON Curd”

  1. I bookmarked this recipe because I could never say a sunshine sweet lemon curd. Your inspirational food photography just makes it look even more enticing!

    Reply
  2. Oh how I love lemon curd. I had always thought that it was always so difficult to make but II am so pleased to hear that it is not. Totally want some in some pie right now x

    Reply
  3. Wow, its delicious! I am definitely going to try this recipe, I love lemon and lemon curds it sounds really good. Best recipe for summer and spring. Love it. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  4. Guess I’ll be in the kitchen soon. That lemon curd recipe looks deliciously perfect for Spring and Summer. Have you tried spiking it with other flavors like orange?

    Reply

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