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 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
- 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
- Double boiler (I own and love this one)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- Do not use bottled lemon juice. Use fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
- You can use salted butter instead of unsalted butter-- simply omit 1/8 teaspoon salt in the recipe.
- 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.
- 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.
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