How to Make Lemon Curd

How to Make Lemon Curd

Here's how to make lemon curd the simple way. You only need 5 ingredients and it comes together on the stove in 10 minutes!

If you love lemon as much as I do... lemon bars are your main squeeze and lemon blueberry cake is your dream come true... then you're going to flip for this creamy, thick, dense, intensely flavorful, from-scratch lemon curd. A millions times tastier than store-bought lemon curd, which has likely been sitting on the shelf for too long and is filled with ingredients we can't pronounce. Store-bought lemon curd doesn't even taste like real lemon curd.

But if you're not familiar, let me explain what lemon curd is.

WHAT IS LEMON CURD?

Lemon curd is a very rich dessert topping or spread. It's ridiculously buttery with intense sweet-tart lemon flavor. Like jam, but creamy. It's made from simple pantry and refrigerator items and comes together quickly on the stove.

Lemon lovers, this is your jam.

Get it? Get it?

How to make deliciously simple lemon curd on sallysbakingaddiction.com
Homemade lemon curd for lemon berry trifle on sallysbakingaddiction.com
How to make deliciously simple lemon curd on sallysbakingaddiction.com

HOW TO MAKE LEMON CURD

Here's how we make DIY lemon curd. The full recipe and instructions are at the bottom of this post.

You need 5 ingredients for lemon curd: egg yolks, fresh lemons, sugar, salt, and butter. Each ingredient serves a critical purpose in the making, thickening, and flavoring of lemon curd. The egg yolks thicken the curd, much like a custard or pudding. The fresh lemons are for flavor. You need real lemons; we'll be using both the juice and the zest in my lemon curd recipe. The sugar supplies sweetness and structure, while the salt balances out the flavors. The butter is added after the curd is finished cooking on the stove-- it's stirred in right after you remove the curd from heat. The butter is what makes lemon curd sooooo creamy.

Lemon curd must be constantly whisked in a pot over simmering water. I use my double boiler. You can craft a makeshift double boiler by placing a heatproof bowl or small pot on top of a larger pot. Just make sure the bottom of the top pot or bowl does not touch the simmering water. Lemon curd should never be cooked on direct heat. The reason? The egg yolks will heat too quickly.

USES FOR LEMON CURD

How to make deliciously simple lemon curd on sallysbakingaddiction.com
lemon-curd-recipe
strawberry-buttermilk-pancakes-with-lemon-curd

Lemon Curd

YIELD

1 and 1/2 cups

PREP TIME

5 minutes

COOK TIME

10 minutes

TOTAL TIME

1 hour, 15 minutes (includes cooling)

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup (134g) granulated sugar
  • lemon zest from 2 lemons
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
Special Equipment
  • Double boiler (I own and love this one)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Fill the bottom pot of your double boiler with 1-2 inches of water. Place on high heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce heat to low to keep the water at a simmer.
  2. Place egg yolks, granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt into the top pot of your double boiler. Whisk until completely blended, then continue to whisk as the curd cooks. Constant whisking prevents the egg yolks from curdling. Whisk and cook until the mixture becomes thick, resembling the texture of hollandaise sauce, about 10 minutes. If your curd isn't thickening fast enough, gently turn up the heat and constantly whisk.
  3. Remove pan from heat. Cut the butter into 6 separate pieces and stir each piece into the curd 1 at a time. The butter will melt from the heat of the curd. Pour curd into a jar or bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top so it is touching the top of the curd. This prevents a skin from forming on top. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Once cool, the plastic wrap can be removed.

Make ahead tip: Refrigerate the curd for up to about 10 days. For longer storage, you can freeze the curd up to 3-6 months. Simply thaw in the refrigerator overnight before enjoying.

RECIPE NOTES

  1. Do not use bottled lemon juice. Use fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
  2. You can use salted butter instead of unsalted butter-- simply omit 1/8 teaspoon salt in the recipe.
  3. If you do not own a double boiler, you can simply place a small pot or heatproof bowl over a saucepan-- you will cook the curd in the top pot/bowl.
  4. I don't strain the lemon curd; you simply don't have to with this recipe. The zest is very tiny and has been cooked, so you can hardly detect its texture. It's really just there for flavor. Feel free to run the finished lemon curd through a fine mesh sieve if you want to take the extra step.

© SALLY’S BAKING ADDICTION. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

125 Comments

Comments

  1. Sarah C. on November 7, 2017 at 12:08 am

    The first time I made this is was super easy and sooooo delicious. Second attempt didn’t turn out so well for some reason, it was thin and turned green. I ended up remaking several times to finally getting a usable result that tasted great, was bright yellow, but was a little thin. I just attempted again, and it turned green AGAIN! What am I doing wrong?!  It was so perfect the first time and ever since I just can’t get it right!

    • Caro on November 8, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      Uhm … green? Maybe the eggs are the problem? Or did you use limes? Limes turn your Curd green (more or less). 🙂

    • Sarah on May 18, 2018 at 5:55 pm

      Copper will react with the acid in lemon juice and can potentially turn it green, as it did in your case, the addition of salt increasing the chemical reaction, leading to an even greener curd. It’s safe to eat, as the oxide doesn’t absorb well in the body anyway.
      Aluminum will also discolor food, to a gray color, as will steel (not stainless type) and iron will turn into a rusty color. Anondized aluminum cookware, such as Calphalon, can handle some acid but not ideal and best skipped over in the long run.

      Glass, stainless steel, porcelain and enameled cookware will not react. Hope that helps.

  2. laura on November 25, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    i made and it is delicious, this is just the first part for my lemon coconut cake!. everithing in tour website is delicious!

  3. Suzanne on December 5, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    If your curd is turning green it could be the bowl you use. The acid in the lemons may react to a metal bowl.

  4. Tatjana on December 20, 2017 at 10:33 am

    So so good! It’s a thick smooth curd. So delicious! Thanks for sharing your recipe. 

    • Sally on December 20, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      You are welcome, Tatjana! Happy you like it 🙂

  5. Connie on May 30, 2018 at 7:49 pm

    I followed step by step and it came out perfect and delicious. I used the curd to fill up Macarons. Thank you Sally for both recipes. You are right, practice makes perfect!.

    • Sally on May 31, 2018 at 12:57 pm

      Oh goodness – lemon curd macarons sound delish!

  6. Jules on June 10, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    This recipe is so delicious! One question, when you put the saran wrap on top to keep a crust from forming, do you have to wait until it’s cooled? Do you have to wait to refrigerate when it’s completely cooled, or can you put the wrap on and put it in the fridge while it’s still warm? – Please use this in many recipes – soooooo yummy!!

    • Sally on June 11, 2018 at 5:45 am

      Hi Jules! You can put the Saran Wrap on while the curd is still warm. Thank you for trying my lemon curd!

  7. Lee on June 14, 2018 at 1:56 am

    Hi Sally, I love this lemon curd! It’s perfectly sweet and tart and creamy. I’m planning on filling your vanilla cupcakes with it and would also like to add some to vanilla buttercream. I remember you mentioned that somewhere before, but I can’t find it. How much lemon curd should I add to your vanilla buttercream recipe? Thank you!

    • Sally on June 14, 2018 at 10:47 am

      Hi Lee! I recommend adding 1 Tablespoon of lemon curd at a time until you reach the flavor and consistency that you desire. 🙂

  8. Chris Carson on June 20, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    I’ve never made this before – two questions: (maybe foolish ones) do you have to wait 10 days before using??? And can this be used as a filling in a layer cake.
    Thank you,

    • Sally on June 21, 2018 at 6:23 am

      Hi Chris! 10-ish days is simply how long I would store it before discarding. And yes, you can use this homemade lemon curd as a cake filling.

  9. Carla Slaughter on July 9, 2018 at 1:43 am

    Hi Sally!
    Can I use this lemon curd in a hand pie? Thanks!

    • Sally on July 9, 2018 at 9:17 am

      Definitely!

  10. Safa on July 18, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Hi sally
    My curd has metallic taste..what went wrong? Did the lemon react wth the pot?

    • Sally on July 18, 2018 at 10:08 am

      Hi Safa! It’s most certainly the pot. Aluminum and copper pots are typically the culprit.

  11. Brittany on July 25, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    I just made your lemon curd not even five minutes ago. It is the most delicious and most wonderful tasting curd I have ever tasted. One question as to the plastic wrap. Do you always keep it on top even in the fridge or freezer just removing to eat some or only until it cools down initially before popping it into the fridge? Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

    • Sally on July 27, 2018 at 9:22 am

      Hi Brittany! Thank you so much for making my lemon curd recipe! The plastic wrap can be removed once the lemon curd is cool and you can store it normally with a jar/lid in the refrigerator or freezer.

  12. Pat on July 27, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    I make this in an electric pressure cooker directly in the jars perfect every time

  13. Charlotte H on August 15, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Just made this (first time making lemon curd) and it came together beautifully and is SO delicious. Thank you!

    • Sally on August 15, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      I’m glad you tried it, Charlotte!

Reviews

  1. Connie on May 30, 2018 at 7:49 pm

    I followed step by step and it came out perfect and delicious. I used the curd to fill up Macarons. Thank you Sally for both recipes. You are right, practice makes perfect!.

    • Sally on May 31, 2018 at 12:57 pm

      Oh goodness – lemon curd macarons sound delish!

  2. Jules on June 10, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    This recipe is so delicious! One question, when you put the saran wrap on top to keep a crust from forming, do you have to wait until it’s cooled? Do you have to wait to refrigerate when it’s completely cooled, or can you put the wrap on and put it in the fridge while it’s still warm? – Please use this in many recipes – soooooo yummy!!

    • Sally on June 11, 2018 at 5:45 am

      Hi Jules! You can put the Saran Wrap on while the curd is still warm. Thank you for trying my lemon curd!

  3. Charlotte H on August 15, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Just made this (first time making lemon curd) and it came together beautifully and is SO delicious. Thank you!

    • Sally on August 15, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      I’m glad you tried it, Charlotte!

Questions

  1. Lee on June 14, 2018 at 1:56 am

    Hi Sally, I love this lemon curd! It’s perfectly sweet and tart and creamy. I’m planning on filling your vanilla cupcakes with it and would also like to add some to vanilla buttercream. I remember you mentioned that somewhere before, but I can’t find it. How much lemon curd should I add to your vanilla buttercream recipe? Thank you!

    • Sally on June 14, 2018 at 10:47 am

      Hi Lee! I recommend adding 1 Tablespoon of lemon curd at a time until you reach the flavor and consistency that you desire. 🙂

  2. Chris Carson on June 20, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    I’ve never made this before – two questions: (maybe foolish ones) do you have to wait 10 days before using??? And can this be used as a filling in a layer cake.
    Thank you,

    • Sally on June 21, 2018 at 6:23 am

      Hi Chris! 10-ish days is simply how long I would store it before discarding. And yes, you can use this homemade lemon curd as a cake filling.

  3. Carla Slaughter on July 9, 2018 at 1:43 am

    Hi Sally!
    Can I use this lemon curd in a hand pie? Thanks!

    • Sally on July 9, 2018 at 9:17 am

      Definitely!

  4. Safa on July 18, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Hi sally
    My curd has metallic taste..what went wrong? Did the lemon react wth the pot?

    • Sally on July 18, 2018 at 10:08 am

      Hi Safa! It’s most certainly the pot. Aluminum and copper pots are typically the culprit.

  5. Brittany on July 25, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    I just made your lemon curd not even five minutes ago. It is the most delicious and most wonderful tasting curd I have ever tasted. One question as to the plastic wrap. Do you always keep it on top even in the fridge or freezer just removing to eat some or only until it cools down initially before popping it into the fridge? Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

    • Sally on July 27, 2018 at 9:22 am

      Hi Brittany! Thank you so much for making my lemon curd recipe! The plastic wrap can be removed once the lemon curd is cool and you can store it normally with a jar/lid in the refrigerator or freezer.

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