Making your own Lemon Curd is actually quite simple! This easy, homemade recipe is bursting with sweet and tangy citrus flavor and only four ingredients!
Table of Contents
Why this Recipe Works
Making this at home is SO MUCH better than buying a jar from the store. Especially if you’ve recently made a white cake and are wondering what to do now with all those egg yolks.
What is Lemon Curd?
Lemon Curd is a sweet dessert spread made using egg yolks, sugar, lemons, and butter.
While the word “curd” can sound negative, or gross to some…lemon curd, when made correctly, is smooth and creamy. Our version incorporates lemon zest so it has some flecks of flavor (much like the difference between preserves and jelly).
Bursting with lemon flavor, it’s a delicious preserve that’s perfect when paired with cookies, cakes, tarts, toast, etc.
Today’s lemon curd is quite easy. You’ll only need FOUR ingredients.
- Fresh Lemons. Start with 4 juicy lemons. You’ll need to zest them, and then juice them. You’ll use 1/3 cup of the lemon juice. And you’ll use about 1/4 cup loosely zested lemon. Depending on the size of your lemons you’ll need anywhere from 2-4 lemons. Use our tips and tricks on how to zest a lemon.
- Granulated Sugar– provides the structure you need for a thick and sweet curd.
- Unsalted Butter – cut into Tablespoon pieces.
- Egg Yolks – I use large eggs for today’s recipe. Some egg yolks are more yellow and some are more orange. This may change the final color of your curd…whether it’s pale yellow or bright yellow (like my photos)! Save the egg whites for our favorite white cake recipe or a batch of meringue cookies.
How to Make Lemon Curd
- Double Boiler. In a small pan with a double boiler, heat an inch of water in the pan to boiling. In the double boiler, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together.
PRO TIP: If you don’t have a double boiler, find a glass bowl that will fit over the sauce pan.
- Whisk. Add lemon juice and lemon zest to the sugar mixture and continue whisking over the boiling water for about 8-10 minutes. The lemon curd will begin to slightly thicken.
- Add Butter. Remove from heat. Add in butter, one tablespoon at a time, whisking until melted and smooth. Once all the butter has been added, pour into a bowl (or glass jar), and cover loosely with a lid.
- Chill. Refrigerate lemon curd until thickened and cooled. At LEAST 2 hours or overnight.
Lemon Curd can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to two weeks.
You can also freeze lemon curd! Place in an airtight, freezer safe container with at least 1/2 inch of room at the top. Freeze for up to 6 months for best results. To thaw, refrigerate frozen lemon curd for 24 hours. Stir and enjoy.
If your lemon curd has an eggy taste, it could be a couple of things. First, make sure you have properly separated your egg yolk and egg white. Any bits of egg white can give you that eggy flavor. Also, using a glass bowl or porcelein double boiler gives best results and prohibits the acidic lemon from causing the metal to leach into the flavor of the lemon curd.
One lemon equals approximately 1 1/2 Tablespoons of zest. Loosely measured. Be sure to zest only the yellow part of a lemon.
1 lemon is approximately 1 1/2 Tablespoons of juice. Some provide more, some provide less.
Lemon Curd Uses
So now that you’ve made this homemade Lemon Curd recipe, what next? Think of it as a jam or jelly, and that’s how you can use it.
- Spread lemon curd on toast, bagels, or English muffins for a tasty citrus treat in the morning! Spread on a slice of Amish bread!
- You could also make easy Lemon Curd Hand Pies by spreading the homemade lemon curd in the center of the pie crust and bake. Sprinkle with powdered sugar for a tasty treat.
- Add a layer of homemade lemon curd to my favorite Lemon Cake recipe! Or try our Coconut Lemon Cake with a sweet layer of curd. Our lemon cheesecake and lemon cheesecake bars have a lovely layer of curd on top!
- Stir a spoonful of lemon curd into whipped cream, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, or on top of vanilla ice cream!
More Easy Lemon Desserts
- Lemon Coconut Cupcakes
- Lemon Meringue Pie Fudge
- Lemon Pudding Cake
- Lemon Coffee Cake
- Italian Lemon Cake
- Lemon Ricotta Cookies
- No Bake Lemon Cheesecake
Lemon Curd Recipe
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup lemon zest up to 4 lemons
- ⅓ cup lemon juice up to 4 lemons
- ½ cup unsalted butter cold
- Get all your ingredients measured and ready before beginning. Slice butter into 1 Tablespoon chunks, and keep in refrigerator until ready to use. Zest and juice your lemons. You’ll need 1/4 cup zest, and 1/3 cup juice. Depending on the size of your lemons, this can be anywhere from 2-4 lemons needed.
- In a small sauce pan with a double boiler, heat one inch of water to boiling. In double boiler (or a metal bowl to go over the saucepan of water) whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.
- Measure out 1/3 cup lemon juice (discard any remaining juice or save for another use) and add juice and 1/4 cup lemon zest to sugar mixture. Continue whisking over heat for about 8-9 minutes. It will begin to thicken slightly.
- Remove from heat. Add butter, one tablespoon at a time, whisking until melted and smooth. Once all butter has been added pour into a bowl, covered, and refrigerated until thickened and cooled. Mine took about 2 hours to chill. Store for up to two weeks in refrigerator. ENJOY.
- Lemon Juice- make sure to use fresh lemons and not bottled juice. Fresh lemon juice has no preservatives and no bitterness.
- Egg Yolks- It’s easiest to separate eggs while they are cold. Use the egg whites in my wedding cake cupcakes!
- Thicker Curd- Some people have added a tablespoon of cornstarch after the addition of butter to thicken the curd to use immediately. I prefer to refrigerate and allow it to naturally thicken.
- Strain or No Strain- With my recipe you do not need to strain the curd. The flecks of lemon zest add color and flavor, you can hardly tell the difference in texture. If you prefer smooth though, you can push the lemon curd through fine mesh strainer.
- Lemons- zest only the yellow part of a lemon. You will need about 1/4 cup loosely zested lemons. This can be anywhere from 2-4 lemons.
- Glass bowl/ Double boiler- if using a glass bowl, you may need to cook the curd closer to the 10 minute mark.
- Simmering water- make sure while you’re cooking your curd that your water in the pan is simmering (at a very low boil/bubble). If you’re not simmering correctly, the curd can begin to cool and you will have trouble getting the desired thickness.
- Adding butter. Add ONE tablespoon at a time, until completely melted, whisking continuously. Do not speed this process.
- Alton Brown recipe. See blog post for more recipe tips and tricks
Easy Homemade Lemon Curd Recipe bursting with citrus flavor. Perfect on cakes, tarts, and more!