Homemade lemon curd is one of the best tangy spreads you can make at home! With just four ingredients and a simple method, it's also an easy recipe to make yourself. Perfect for topping pancakes and cupcakes, or swirling through ice cream.
It's made with just lemons, egg yolks, sugar, and butter. This zesty spread is a fantastic addition to any number of cakes and other sweet treats, and well worth adding to your repertoire.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Lemons: You will use both the zest and the juice, so choose organic, unwaxed lemons for the best flavour. Three medium lemons generally yield about ½ cup (125 ml) of liquid.
- Sugar: Any kind of granulated sugar can be used since it dissolves when cooking, however, white granulated sugar or raw cane sugar are ideal. If you want to use a liquid sweetener, try this honey lemon curd recipe.
- Egg yolks: These should be at room temperature. Keep the whites for other uses or freeze them.
- Make it dairy-free: Use a good vegan butter for dairy-free lemon curd.
Step 1: whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and lemon zest.
Step 2: cook down until thickened, stirring constantly.
Step 3: melt in the butter then stir in the lemon juice.
Step 4: transfer to a glass jar for storage and cool fully before use.
- Keep stirring: it is 10 minutes of constant stirring, but if you don't stir, the curd will scramble. Low and slow is key.
- Don't let the water touch the bowl: as always with a double boiler, the simmering water can't touch the bowl the curd is in. This results in too much direct heat.
- Be patient: it will seem like it's taking ages to thicken, but it'll come together quickly at the end of the cooking time.
Make your life easier and use a thermometer! Cooking the lemon curd to a temperature between 170ºF and 180ºF (77ºC and 82ºC) is optimal.
When finished cooking, the curd should still be quite liquid; It will thicken as it cools.
Constant stirring is the key. As with most egg-yolk-thickened recipes, lemon curd will curdle or scramble if not stirred continuously over low heat.
It is possible to make lemon curd without a stovetop! Kelly has a great whole-egg microwave lemon curd recipe if you prefer a quicker method.
While lemon curd can be processed and canned, we aren't providing instructions for this as it requires a different set of steps.
This is a simple recipe but does require about 15 minutes of active time. You'll be stirring at the stove for 10 minutes, so grab a stool or wear some comfy shoes!
How to Store
Storage: refrigeration is best. Depending on the temperature, it can be refrigerated in a sealed container for a week or two.
Freezing: lemon curd can be frozen for a month or longer in a sealed container. Thaw in the refrigerator before serving.
How to Use Lemon Curd
- Spread on scones or soda bread
- As a filling for choux pastry
- Swirled through blueberry clafoutis
- Topping sourdough pancakes or waffles
- Serve alongside financiers
- Top meringue nests (a great make-along recipe, to use up your egg whites!)
- Add as a surprise filling to blueberry muffins
- Serve with a Dutch baby
Is lemon curd a jam?
It's a preserve rather than a jam or jelly. Curds use a different method than jam and are much richer, but can be preserved like jams.
Why does my lemon curd taste metallic?
This will likely be due to using metal bowls for cooking the curd in. A heat-safe glass bowl is best for the ideal flavour.
Why is my lemon curd bitter?
As with any recipe using lemon zest, it's important not to use any of the pith, or white part, from the peel. Only zest the yellow skin of the lemon and don't go so deep that you take any of the white part, which is very bitter.
More Lemon Treats
If you make this Lemon Curd recipe or any other preserve recipes on the Baked Collective, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more baking, follow along on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
- Fine zester
- Mixing bowl must be heat safe
- Double boiler optional, in place of the heat safe mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Glass jar
- Measuring cups and spoons or a digital kitchen scale
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 egg yolks room temperature
- Zest of a lemon
- ½ cup lemon juice ~3 lemons
- ¼ cup butter, cut into small cubes at room temperature
- Add the sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest, and lemon juice to a heat-safe bowl or double boiler. Whisk to combine.
- Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the base of the bowl touch the water). Cook, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, the curd should be thickened. It’s ready when reduced significantly and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
- Add the butter to the hot curd and whisk to melt and fully incorporate.
- Pour your finished lemon curd into a glass jar and loosely cover. Set aside to cool to room temperature before sealing and refrigerating.
- After refrigerating and cooling fully, the curd should be set and pudding-like in texture. It will keep up to a couple weeks in the refrigerator and can be frozen up to a month.