How to Make Lemon Curd
I know it’s nothing groundbreaking, but, my baking buds, this lemon curd is completely miraculous.
If you love lemon as much as I do… as in, 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 better than store-bought, which is filled with all sorts of sketchy ingredients. Here we have nothing but pure lemon goodness.
Insert 15 heart-eyed emojis.
If you’re not familiar, let me explain what lemon curd is.
Lemon curd is a spread/dessert topping. It’s ridiculously buttery with intense sweet-tart lemon flavor. Like jam, but much creamier. It’s made from simple pantry and refrigerator items. Nothing complicated or fancy and it comes together on the stove in about 10 minutes.
And lemon curd is so versatile! My favorite ways to enjoy this incredibly rich spread/dessert topping? Let me count the ways:
- Spread it onto warm scones (blueberry perhaps?)
- Stuff it into homemade crepes
- Layer into cakes
- On top of buttermilk waffles or whole wheat waffles
- Beat 1/3 cup it into vanilla frosting (that will be the best frosting you’ll ever have)
- Enjoy it on top of pancakes or toasted english muffins
- Spoon it on top of angel food cake or pavlovas
- Swirl it into Greek yogurt
- Stuff it into pastry pies (instead of the cherry!)
- EAT IT STRAIGHT UP
You get the idea!
You only need 5 ingredients: egg yolks, fresh lemons, sugar, salt, and butter. Each ingredient serves a crucial 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 the flavor. Whatever you do, do NOT use bottle lemon juice. You need real lemons; we’ll be using both the juice and the zest. 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 after you remove the curd from heat.
The Most Important Part
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 cook and curdle. It’s not pleasant.
Here’s a tip: pour the cooked curd into a jar or bowl and place plastic wrap directly on top of the surface so that it’s touching. Otherwise, the curd will develop a skin on top as it chills in the refrigerator. Um, how gross was that sentence?
I don’t strain my lemon curd because I don’t find the need. However, you certainly can!
The best part about homemade lemon curd (besides eating it!) is gifting it. Make a few batches at a time, fill adorable jars, and give them as hostess or holiday gifts. It’s a sincerely appreciated gesture because lemon curd unique and special.
The next best part? On top of warm strawberry buttermilk pancakes.
Let me know if you try it!
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup (134g) granulated sugar
- zest from 3 lemons
- 1/3 cup (80ml) fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)1
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature2
- Double boiler (I own and love this one)3
- 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-- and 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. But remember to 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. If doing so, 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. Cook the curd in the top pot/bowl.
Did you make a recipe?
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