How to Make Lemon Curd

Store-bought lemon curd doesn’t even deserve to share the same name as homemade. This from-scratch lemon curd is deliciously tangy, creamy, and sweet. You only need 5 ingredients and it comes together on the stove in 10 minutes! Lemon curd is perfect for scones, crepes, angel food cake, quick breads, pound cake, and so much more.

Lemon curd in a glass jar with spoon

Let’s talk lemon.

If your answer is YES to all of the above, you’re going to flip for this creamy, dense, intensely flavorful spread. Homemade lemon curd is 1 million times tastier than store-bought, which is filled with ingredients we can’t pronounce and has likely been sitting on the shelf for too long. Spread the blissful homemade version on scones, biscuits, and so much more. This is the recipe you never realized you needed!

Lemon curd in mason jar

Video Tutorial: How to Make Lemon Curd

If you’re not familiar, let’s review.

What is Lemon Curd?

Lemon curd is a very rich dessert topping or spread. It’s buttery and sweet with intense tart lemon flavor– like a creamy lemon version of jam. Lemon curd is made from simple ingredients and comes together quickly on the stove. Lemon lovers, this is your jam.

Get it? Get it? 🙂

Lemon curd on mixed berry scones on a pink plate

How to Make Lemon Curd

Here’s how we make DIY lemon curd. The full recipe and instructions are below.

You need 5 ingredients for lemon curd recipe: egg yolks, fresh lemons, sugar, salt, and butter. Each ingredient serves a critical purpose for thickening and flavoring. The egg yolks thicken the curd, just as they do in creme brûlée or butterscotch pudding. Use real lemons; you need both the zest and juice. The sugar supplies sweetness and structure, while the salt balances out the flavor. Add the butter after the curd finishes on the stove. Butter makes it super creamy.

Make lemon curd on the stove. Make sure you are constantly whisking as the mixture thickens– we’re talking about 10 minutes of whisking. The good news? That’s the only step in this recipe: whisking!

Use a Double Boiler

I strongly recommend cooking the lemon curd in a double boiler because mixing these ingredients over direct heat quickly leads to burning. Don’t fret! If you don’t have a double boiler, craft a makeshift double boiler by placing a heatproof glass bowl on top of a larger pot. (You can see my DIY double boiler in my baked alaska post!) Make sure the bottom of the top pot or bowl does not touch the simmering water. It’s worth repeating: lemon curd should never be cooked on direct heat.

2 images of butter for lemon curd on a cutting board and in a double boiler

Why Does my Lemon Curd Taste Metallic?

Lemon curd may have a metallic aftertaste if you cook it in a metal double boiler. It’s a result of the eggs and lemon reacting with the pan, but is easily avoidable! Use a non-metal double boiler (this one has a porcelain insert) or the much cheaper glass bowl option I mention above. While you’re at it, use a silicone whisk too!

Lemon curd in jar

Uses for Lemon Curd

There are so many ways to enjoy lemon curd. Here are a few suggestions:

Lemon curd in a jar with a spoon

492 Comments

  1. Does this recipe yield enough to fill a 3-layer cake (keeping in mind I will use frosting as well to fill b/c the curd won’t stay in place)?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Erin, this recipe yields about 1-1.5 cups of curd, which should be plenty to use between layers of your cake. Enjoy!

  2. I LOVE this recipe – but I love it so much I use it quickly! Does this recipe lend itself to being doubled well?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Liz, you can make double batches of this lemon curd without any changes.

    2. I’ve just made my 2nd batch of a 3x recipe and the only step with any sort of change is the cooking duration is extended because of the volume being heated otherwise tripled up as is. Well, the prep time, all those lemons to zest and juice… My sense is this is somewhat forgiving and not fussy but most important, the double boiler! I went out and bought a set of glass bowls to use and glad for the reason frankly.

  3. Michelle Chiovetta says:

    How long does this last in the refrigerator?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Michelle! About 10 days. For longer storage, you can freeze the curd up to 3-6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before enjoying.

  4. I loved this recipe! No fuss and delicious results. I substituted lemon juice for a mixture of 70% lime juice and 30% passion fruit pulp. Sensational!

    1. Oh that sounds amazing! Going to write that down to try. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Cathy Epton says:

    the mixture so far hasn’t set???

    1. You probably didn’t cook it long enough. It should’ve gotten thick as soon as you added the butter.

      1. Same for me. Looked good on top but when I poured it off was still very eggy on the bottom. Taste is very eggy too. Not a great success, should have cooked longer.

      2. Quick video for recipe like this would be handy to better illustrate when emulsified 🙂

      3. Mine is taking a lot longer too. I doubled the recipe and they’re saying here that that shouldn’t matter for time, but when you’re cooking a custard what actually really matters is temperature. 170 to 180 Fahrenheit is what you’re looking for.

    2. Cathy Epton says:

      wasn’t 15 minutes enough? I thought I put too much lemon juice and I thought butter was put in after it came off. do let me know. thanks

      1. Maybe your heat wasn’t high enough? I made this today and I ended up cooking it for 20 minutes because the heat was too low.

  6. This is my second time making it and it turned out well both times! Easy great recipe! Highly recommend!

  7. How would I use this in your lemon bar recipe? Excited to try it for spring.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Suzie! The curd is too thin to use in our lemon bar recipe. Best to follow the recipe there!

      1. Hi Sally,

        First of all- your recipes are awesome. I love all of them and I am a big fan.

        Now-I accidentally used lemon curd for lemon bars . Its cooling now. Fingers crossed.

        Will let you know how they turn out.

  8. Hi Sally,

    Should I make it thicker (as per your note #2) to put in a layered cake, or will it be good at the normal consistency?

    1. Hi Alexa, thicker fillings are always more ideal for layering in cakes. The thinner version works, but you’ll probably have better luck using the thicker version noted.

  9. is there a different way to make a DIY double boiler if you don’t have a glass heatproof bowl? I seem to only have plastic (melmime-sp?) or ceramic bowls.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Meredith! Unfortunately, these are the only methods we trust enough to recommend. Other readers have reported success very carefully cooking the mixture in a pot, but you run the risk of cooking the eggs too quickly – let us know if you give it a try!

  10. Barbara Burkham says:

    DELISH! It will be a regular. I used it to top a cheesecake.

  11. Sanaa Fatemah says:

    Can this be used as a filling in lemon cupcakes?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sanna, absolutely! Simple cut a hole in the top middle of your cupcakes and fill with curd. Enjoy!

  12. Made a pavlova and was wondering what to do with all the egg yolks. Thought I’d give this a try and oh my goodness! This is food for the gods – so amazing! I was slightly short on lemon juice so added the juice of one lime. It adds a little extra zing that’s delicious.

  13. This curd is so beautiful. I made a batch to accompany a simple lemon cake that I baked today for my mother’s birthday. Its a perfect mixture of tart, sweet and creamy. I replaced two yolks with a full egg to make it thicker. I was terrified the entire time that I’ll cook my eggs scrambled but it worked wonderfully – and it was my first time making anything like this!

  14. I opted for the thicker version(as you mentioned), and put a bit more lemon juice. I also cut the sugar down some, as I used it for a cake filling. Oh, it was delicious! I made a lemon layer cake, with a lemon syrup lightly brushed on the layers, then made a lemon cream cheese frosting, placed some of this curd in the middle, and finished the cake with the lemon cream cheese frosting, and used the curd to drip down the sides. It was a hit on Easter(even with those not fond of lemon treats)! It was my 1st time making anything like this, and it was a breeze! Will definitely be using this again, thank you!

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