Recipes » Dressings, Sauces & Dips » How to Make Lemon Curd (Easy)

How to Make Lemon Curd (Easy)

Jump to Recipe
5 from 6 votes

Once you taste homemade lemon curd, you’ll understand why the extra 20 minutes to make it is worth every second. Creamy, intensely lemony, and sweet-tart, this lemon curd is an irresistible topping for cakes, cookies, pies, scones and more.

It’s the essence of everything that’s amazing about lemons; it’s lemon curd. It’s oh-so creamy, sweet yet not too sweet, tart yet not too tart, and of course, deeply lemony from fresh lemon juice and just the right amount of zest. I like to slather it on a slice of Olive Oil Cake after dinner or on a thick stack of pancakes or a piece of toast to start the morning. Better yet, picture the perfect Lemon Poppy Seed Scones with a generous dollop of homemade lemon curd and a cup of tea for some afternoon “me-time”. Yes, yes, and yes please.

While you can absolutely make lemon curd ahead, there’s no way it will last that long before it’s gobbled up. The secret to making lemon curd last? Store it in the back of the fridge where only you know its hiding place.

Lemon Curd Recipe Video

Watch me make this easy lemon curd, with only a few simple ingredients in less than 20 minutes!

What is Lemon Curd?

Lemon curd is a sweet yet tangy spread or filling made from lemon juice, zest, sugar, butter, and eggs. It has a smooth, ultra-creamy and velvety texture with a vibrant yellow color, thanks to the lemon and eggs! Lemon curd is cooked on the stovetop until it thickens, and then chilled to help it thicken more before enjoying. There’s really no “bad” way to use lemon curd, but some of my favorites are fillings or toppings for tarts, pastries, or cakes like Strawberry Pound Cake, and as a spread on Blueberry Pancakes, Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, toast, or my famously delicious Drop Biscuits.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Fresh lemon juice – since lemons are the star of the show, using real lemons is key! 2-3 large lemons will yield the perfect amount of juice for lemon curd.
  • Lemon zest – not sure how to zest a lemon? Use a zester, grater, or microplane to remove the outer yellow part of a large lemon before juicing it. Try to stay away from zesting any of the white part below the yellow, which is bitter.
  • Granulated sugar – plain old white sugar is perfect. It will add just the right amount of sweetness and help achieve a creamy texture.
  • Large eggs – use whole eggs, not just the yolks! The yolks thicken lemon curd, adding richness while the whites lighten up the curd, making it not so heavy.  
  • Unsalted butter – butter adds flavor and velvetiness.
  • Vanilla extract – everything’s always better with vanilla. You can use a splash of almond extract for something different.
  • Salt – salt intensifies flavor.
Lemon curd recipe ingredients

How to Make Lemon Curd

Learn how to make lemon curd! Full instructions in the recipe card; this is an outline!

  1. Add.

    Use a medium saucepan that is nonstick or stainless steel. Add eggs, sugar, and salt. Whisk together well.Whisk together eggs, sugar and salt.

  2. Combine.

    Wash lemons. Zest 1 large lemon and juice 2-3 lemons to yield ½ cup juice. Add both, and whisk.Add the zest and lemon juice.

  3. Melt.

    Add butter, and turn to medium heat. Use a wooden spoon (not metal!), to constantly stir until it completely melts.Add the butter and let it melt while stirring.

  4. Thicken.

    Once completely melted, continue to constantly stir over medium heat. Mixture will steam slightly but should not simmer. Curd is ready when it just coats the back of the spoon, and when you drag your finger through the coating, there is a visible line where your finger swept the coating (2-6 minute process).Perform the wooden spoon test to make sure lemon curd has thickened while cooking.

  5. Stir.

    Remove pot from heat. Stir in vanilla.

  6. Strain.

    Place a sieve over a bowl. Add curd to the sieve and use the spoon to push curd through the sieve.Strain lemon curd into a bowl.

  7. Cool.

    Cool at room temperature, before refrigerating or enjoying!Let lemon curd cool at room temperature before refrigerating.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does lemon curd taste metallic?

In order to avoid that metallic taste, use a stainless steel or nonstick saucepan, and a wooden spoon for stirring. The metallic taste is cause by metal utensils or pots reacting with the lemon juice. No thanks!

Why is my lemon curd runny?

Chances are the curd was not cooked long enough! Perform the wooden spoon test (curd should coat the back of the spoon and a line should stay visible when you swipe your finger across it) to ensure the curd is heated long enough but not too long.

Do I need to strain lemon curd?

You don’t need to strain it, but it’s recommended. There will be little bits of cooked egg and lemon zest that will make the curd lumpy, if not strained out.

Why is my lemon curd grainy?

Grainy curd is a sign it’s been over-cooked. It can also be a sign that it wasn’t covered tightly in the refrigerator. When air gets into the curd, it can get grainy over time.

How long does lemon curd last?

Lemon curd will keep well for about 10 days. Over time, the curd may get a bit grainy.

Can you freeze it?

Yes, absolutely. Lemon curd will keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before stirring and enjoying.

How to Use Lemon Curd

Need some serving suggestions? Here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy lemon curd:

More Lemon Recipes You’ll Love!

How to Make Lemon Curd (Easy)

Once you taste homemade lemon curd, you’ll understand why the extra 20 minutes to make it is worth every second. Creamy, intensely lemony, and sweet-tart, this lemon curd is an irresistible topping for cakes, cookies, pies, scones and more.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Sauce & Dips
Cuisine: English
Keyword: spring, summer
Servings: 12 servings (1.5 cups total)
Calories: 134kcal
Author: Tastefully Grace

Equipment

  • Medium stainless steel or nonstick saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Fine mesh sieve

Ingredients

  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice 2-3 large lemons
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest about 1 large lemon
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick) cut into small cubes
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extract if preferred
  • teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Use a medium saucepan that is nonstick or stainless steel (this is crucial so the curd does not have a metallic aftertaste). Add eggs, sugar, and salt. Whisk together until well-combined.
  • Wash lemons thoroughly. Zest 1 large lemon and juice 2-3 lemons to yield ½ cup juice. Add zest and juice, and whisk until well-combined.
  • Add butter, and turn to medium heat. Use a wooden spoon (not metal!), to constantly stir butter into the mixture until it completely melts.
  • Once completely melted, continue to constantly stir over medium heat. Mixture will steam slightly but should not simmer. Curd is ready when it just coats the back of the spoon, and when you drag your finger through the coating, there is a visible line where your finger swept the coating. This will take 2-6 minutes after the butter melts.
  • Remove pot from heat, and stir in the vanilla.
  • Place a sieve over a bowl. Add curd to the sieve and use the spoon to push curd through the sieve, leaving any lumps behind.
  • Cool at room temperature to allow the lemon curd to thicken more, before refrigerating or enjoying!

Video

Notes

  • It is crucial to use a nonstick or stainless steel saucepan/pot and wooden spoon! Stay away from other metals that will infuse your lemon curd with an unpleasant metallic taste. I find metal whisks work fine to mix together ingredients since there isn’t enough exposure to compromise the taste of the curd.
  • If you don’t have a wooden spoon, you can try using a silicon spatula. Be aware that the curd might slide off the spatula when performing the “wooden spoon test” in step 4, so wooden spoons are the way to go if at all possible!
  • Constantly stir lemon curd while it’s cooking and do not crank up the heat.
  • Keep testing the curd (wooden spoon test) after the butter melts, because overly cooked lemon curd is grainy whereas undercooked curd is runny. No thank you!
  • While straining lemon curd is not imperative, there will be bits of cooked egg and lemon zest if you don’t strain it!
  • How do I zest a lemon? Use a zester, grater, or microplane to remove the outer yellow part before juicing it. Stay away from zesting the white part underneath the yellow, which is bitter.
  • Use whole eggs, not just the yolks! The yolks thicken lemon curd while the whites lighten it up, making it not so heavy.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving (2 tablespoons) | Calories: 134kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 46mg | Potassium: 34mg | Fiber: 0.05g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 316IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 0.3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
picture of grace eating

Never Miss A Recipe?

FREE SUBSCRIPTION: SIGN UP TO RECEIVE THE LATEST RECIPES FROM GRACE, PLUS SOME EXCLUSIVE UPDATES ONLY SHARED WITH SUBSCRIBERS!

We don’t spam! Read our Privacy Policy for more info.

Follow:
Share:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Featured On:


Looking for Something?