How to Make Homemade Lemon Curd
Homemade lemon curd is easier to make at home than you might think, and so much better than store-bought. All you need is 4 ingredients and 10 minutes to make this lemon curd recipe!
Lemon curd is a rich, bright, and zesty topping made with egg yolks, fresh lemon zest and juice, sugar and butter.
This recipe has been go-to since 2010 and it never fails to make me swoon every time I make it. Not only does is have deliciously fresh lemon flavor, but it’s smooth and creamy too.
Spoon lemon curd over biscuits, scones, crepes, pancakes, angel food cake, pound cake and more. If you’ve never had lemon curd, or have never made it at home, it’s definitely something you need to try!
Ingredients you’ll need
Here’s everything needed to make the best lemon curd at home. Just 4 ingredients! (Full recipe is at the end of this article)
How to make homemade lemon curd
As I’ve mentioned, lemon curd is a mixture of lemon juice and zest, egg yolks, sugar, and butter. It’s similar to a custard and made over the stove. So let’s get started!
- Juice and zest the lemons. You’ll need about 3-4 lemons to get the required 1 cup of juice.
- Separate egg yolks. See how I separate eggs here. Also, this is a fabulous way to use up leftover eggyolks!
- Heat lemon juice, zest, butter and 1/2 cup sugar. Combine in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.
- Whisk egg yolks and remaining sugar. Combine in a separate bowl.
- Add warm lemon mixture to egg yolks. Add in a slow steady stream while whisking the egg yolkmixture constantly until both are combined, this is called tempering.
- Cook until thickened. Return mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat for a few minutes while stirring constantly, until curd has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
- Strain. Pass curd through a fine mesh strainer to remove the lemon zest and any cooked egg lumps, making it silky smooth.
- Cool and store. Store lemon curd in a jar or airtight container, and keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. You can freeze lemon curd for a month or more, letting it thaw in the fridge before using.
What is tempering?
Tempering is the process of slowly combining hot and cool ingredients together in a safe stable way. By tempering the hot lemon juice mixture into the egg yolks, it slowly brings the yolks up to temperature. If you throw the egg yolks straight onto the stove, you’ll end up with chunky scrambled eggs in the lemon curd. Warming them up gradually and gently keeps them smooth.
More tips for making lemon curd
- You can use salted or unsalted butter. If using unsalted, consider adding 1/8 teaspoon of salt to cut through some of the sweetness.
- If your lemon curd doesn’t seem to be thickening, increase heat a bit and see if that speeds up the process.
- The lemon curd should be barely simmering as it thickens, with just a few bubbles at the edges. Do not boil, and decrease heat if needed.
- I like to cover freshly made lemon curd with plastic wrap placed directly in contact on top of the lemon curd. This prevents a thin form film from forming as it cools. Once lemon curd is chilled, this is no longer needed.
- After the lemon curd is thoroughly chilled, it may seem pretty thick, but giving it a good stir before using will restore its creaminess.
- This recipe can also be used with other citrus such as lime, orange or grapefruit.
- If you have leftover egg whites, you can always make angel food cake or coconut macaroons.
Ways to use lemon curd
So you’ve made a batch of lemon curd, now what should you do with it? (Besides eating it with a spoon, of course.)
You can use homemade lemon curd as a topping or filling for so many things like:
So many delicious options! Enjoy!
Shop tools for this recipe
Note: This recipe was originally published April 2010.
- ½ cup unsalted butter (113 grams), cut into cubes
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (237 ml), about 3-4 lemons
- Zest of 3 lemons
- 10 large egg yolks
- Add butter, 1/2 cup sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice to a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- In another bowl, combine the egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Slowly add the hot lemon juice mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously. When fully combined, return the mixture to the saucepan and continue to cook over medium heat until thickened and the whisk leaves a trail in the curd.
- Remove from heat and pass through a mesh strainer set over a bowl to remove the zest and any egg clumps. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the curd and let set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Store in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Lemon curd can also be frozen for several month.