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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, homemade English muffins, and so much more. This is the recipe you never realized you needed!

Lemon curd in mason jar

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

Print
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Lemon curd in a glass jar with spoon

Lemon Curd

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes (includes cooling)
  • Yield: 11.5 cups 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

You only need 5 simple ingredients for homemade lemon curd– and the recipe comes together on the stove in 10 minutes! If you know how to whisk, you can make this delicious spread.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 large egg yolks (see note)
  • 2/3 cup (134g) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) fresh lemon juice (about 23 lemons)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

Instructions

  1. Fill the bottom pot of your double boiler with 1-2 inches of water. (Or use the DIY double boiler method listed in the notes.) Place on high heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce to low heat 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. Using a silicone whisk, 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 curd isn’t thickening, turn up the heat and constantly whisk.
  3. Remove pan from heat. Cut the butter into 6 separate pieces, then whisk into the curd. 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.
  4. Refrigerate the curd for up to about 10 days.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: For longer storage, you can freeze the curd up to 3-6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before enjoying.
  2. Thicker Lemon Curd: For thicker lemon curd, replace 2 of the egg yolks with 1 whole egg. This means you will use 2 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg. Keep the rest of the recipe and instructions the same.
  3. Lemon Juice: Do not use bottled lemon juice. Use fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
  4. Butter: You can use salted butter instead of unsalted butter. Simply omit 1/8 teaspoon salt in the recipe.
  5. No Double Boiler? No Problem! If you do not own a double boiler, you can simply place a small heatproof glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water– you will cook the curd in the top pot/bowl.
  6. No Straining: I don’t strain the lemon curd. The zest is very tiny and has been cooked, so you can hardly detect its texture. It’s really just there for flavor. However, feel free to run the finished lemon curd through a fine mesh sieve if you want to take the extra step.

Keywords: scones, topping, sauce, filling

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Hello could you heat/thicken the lemon butter in the microwave in increments? instead over the boiler. I do this for custard and its so much easier. I dont have to watch it like a hawk. Thank you.

    1. Super easy and delicious. Better than the expensive brands I buy in the store. Thanks for posting this recipe.

    2. I cooked all ingredients in the microwave for about 2 minutes (one batch) using the two yolk/one whole egg option. I stirred the butter in after cooking while still hot. Worked great. Be careful. Depending on the wattage of your microwave, it has a tendency of boiling over.

    1. Hi Bri, it’s actually already in the bowl at :08. But we can make sure text is included.

  2. Great recipe. Easy hack: whisk eggs and sugar together, add rest of ingredients, cover with parchment and stick into instant pot on a trivet for 10 minutes. DONE

  3. I just wanted to say thank you for this wonderfully easy and tasty recipe. I made it exactly as directed (no hacks or gimmicks), using your suggestion of a non-metallic bowl over a pot. It was incredibly easy, even for a first-timer. Thank you again; A+++!!

  4. Hey just wondering what the purpose of a silicone whisk is and if it will affect the curd if i use an ordinary metal one as i don’t have a silicone

    1. Hi Alice! The lemon curd may have a slight metallic taste if using a metal whisk.

  5. I’ll start out by saying I. Am not a big baker as I prefer savory recipes that allow me to improvise. I used the modification for a thicker curd and I doubled the recipe. I ended up using a rectangular Pyrex left over container over a pot of boiling water. With all these items being reasons for the recipe to go awry, I it turned out beautifully & tastes delicious. I put it in mini tarts w/fresh berries and mint-divine. Looks elegant and tastes great. A major keeper recipe!’ Thank you.

  6. I made this recipe a while ago for a grooms cake filling. It turned out beautifully and was a huge hit. Your recipes are always amazing.

    1. Why would you ask HER to figure that out? You can do that on your own. She gave you the recipe.

  7. Love this recipe! Sally, is it possible to make orange curd by substituting orange juice for the lemon juice? Would it be a one-to-one substitute?

    1. Hi Tyler, you can definitely make orange curd with this recipe. We recommend using at least *some* lemon juice with the orange juice for best flavor.

  8. Thanks, Sally for teaching me to bake! I don’t usually comment on these things, but I felt you should know I’ve been using your recipes religiously for years!! You’ve taught me so much.

    I made this again as the topping for your angel food cake recipe. I usually make it with your angel food cupcakes, but I decided to switch it up. Tomorrow is my Father’s and my birthday! He’s diabetic so I cut the sugar a bit. Huge hit.

  9. What do you freeze the curd in? Can I use ball canning jars? Your recipe sounds amazing and I’m ready to make it, but just not sure how to freeze it.

    1. Hi Sue, we typically freeze it in mason jars, but any sort of container with a tightly sealed lid should work. Hope you enjoy it!

  10. Absolutely delicious! If I double or triple,do the measurements also dbl or triple? Also,is there a way I can. can this? Pressure can I would guess,or can I waterbath it ?This would be a wonderful addition to my holiday gift baskets!

    1. Hi Danielle, you can make double batches of this lemon curd, and cooking time should be about the same. We haven’t tested those other methods for cooking the curd. Enjoy!

    1. Hi Kathie, eggs are a key ingredient in this lemon curd recipe and we aren’t aware of any replacements. It may be best to search for a recipe that was specifically formulated to be egg-free. Let us know if you find one you enjoy!

    1. Hi Christine, we don’t recommend using all whole eggs, but here is an option for a thicker curd that utilizes one whole egg: For thicker lemon curd, replace 2 of the egg yolks with 1 whole egg. This means you will use 2 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg. Keep the rest of the recipe and instructions the same.

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