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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

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

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. Will this yummy looking recipe make enough for a lemon meringue pie or should I double it to get a “full” pie? TIA and I can’t wait to try this!

    1. Hi Terri, we’d recommend following this lemon meringue pie recipe instead. It’s very similar, but the filling is a bit thinner. Let us know if you give it a try!

  2. Can I double this? Will the proportions work? I LOVE lemon curd (and passion fruit curd for that matter) and want to make extra to stash in my freezer

    1. Hi Jania, you can make double batches of this lemon curd, and cooking time should be about the same. Enjoy!

    2. I used this recipe after making the Angel Food Cake. I used 8 egg yolks, zest from 3 lemons and juice from 4 lemons – I didn’t measure the juice. But this thickened up nicely. I used 10 Tblsp of butter . It’s so tart and delightful!

  3. If thickened with the egg white, do you think this would make a good topping for your angel food cupcakes? Trying to use up those yolks!

    1. Hi Kyle, definitely! See recipe notes about thickening the curd with a whole egg + 2 egg yolks.

  4. I’ve made this recipe a couple times as is and love it. Wanted to make a key lime version this time. Should I substitute key lime juice and leave all other measurements the same or can I increase key lime juice to make more tart or decrease sugar or will this ruin the consistency?

    1. After successfully using this recipe for lemon curd, I came back to see if lime would work as well. Not seeing an answer to your question, I decided to try it. It worked perfectly!

  5. Could the curd be ‘reheated’ – I’d like to try it in a blintz but am not sure if it will hold when it is heated in the pan?

    1. Hi Nancy, This curd won’t hold it’s shape as well. You could try using the filling from our lemon meringue pie which has the same great taste but is sturdier.

  6. Would the recipe still work if I used a butter substitute such as Melt Butter Sticks, to make it dairy free?

    1. Hi Sarah, we haven’t tried this recipe with any dairy-free alternatives so we’re unsure of the results, but you can certainly give it a try. If you do, please let us know how it goes!

    2. I made this with dairy-free margarine and it was great!

  7. Really love this recipe. My third of forth time making this recipe. I am doubling it today as I make Macrons and have egg yokes to use. I am going to be using some of this curd in the filling of my lemon macrons I am making today and going to be making a Lemon Romoulode with a lemon and whip cream filling. I have chickens so my eggs are always fresh and the yokes look gorgeous when I use them for this recipe. 🙂

    1. Hi Faye, yes, you can refrigerate the lemon curd for up to 10 days. For longer storage, you can freeze the curd up to 3-6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before enjoying.

  8. I have done this a couple of times and it’s been great, only this time I put the butter in when heating it up, and it now won’t thicken. Can I use something to thicken it now

    1. Hi Sheena, sorry for the late reply. Usually a thin curd just needs to be cooked longer – next time you could try putting it back over the double boiler to thicken the curd up. Make sure you continue to whisk to avoid any lumps!

  9. Cooked for 30 minutes. Never did thicken. Followed recipe exactly.

    1. Hi Karen, usually a thin curd just needs to be cooked longer – next time you could try putting it back over the double boiler to thicken the curd up.

  10. Can frozen egg yolks work in this lemon curd? I have 5 frozen egg yolks and I’d like to use in a lemon curd?

    1. Hi Rita, We have never tested this recipe using frozen egg yolks, but we don’t see why it would be an issue. You can thaw them overnight in the refrigerator. Let us know if you try it!

  11. My curd turned out lovely and I put some in the freezer. I have just taken it out of the freezer to defrost in the fridge and have noticed that it is not frozen solid. Is that normal?

    1. Hi Tina, lemon curd generally freezes well, so I’m not sure about this. How long did you freeze it for? And in what kind of container?

      1. It was frozen in a sealed plastic container , like the ones you get with a take-away , for about two months. I have left it the freezer for now and will see what happens when I freeze some of my next batch.

    1. Hi Tovah, we haven’t tried this recipe with any butter alternatives (like a plant-based butter) so we’re unsure of the results, but you can certainly give it a try. If you do, please let us know how it goes!

  12. Why a silicone whisk? What becomes irretrievably damaged if I use a traditional steel whisk?

    1. Hi Adam, the metal whisk will react with the acidic lemon juice and could leave a metallic taste in your curd.

  13. Preferred the BBC version using whole eggs, came out much creamier.

  14. So I just made this recipe tonight and it’s very good. I also did X 7.5 the recipe and it worked out no issues. I will definitely make it again. Of I was going to be super critical I’d probably like it a little more thicker but that’s just personal preference. Great recipe thank you.

  15. I love this recipe! But I’d like to mix things up with oranges instead of lemons. How should I adjust this recipe for oranges?

    1. Hi RM, you can definitely make orange curd with this recipe. We recommend using at least *some* lemon juice with the orange juice. Reducing the sugar will prevent the curd from thickening, so that’s why we recommend a little lemon juice. Let us know how it goes!

  16. Fabulous recipe!!! Thank you for posting it and others. I have your angel food cake sitting upside down as I type. I have chickens and am always looking for egg recipes. I had to cook the custard close to 30 minutes for it to thicken. I judged by when it coated the back of a spoon. I’ll be following you’re recipes closely and thanks again.

  17. I have made this many times. Sometimes doubling it. Works perfect. I have spread it on a shortbread torte and topped with my blueberry sauce! Always with rave reviews. For summer i put in small mason jars , 4 oz., and top with fresh berries to serve.

  18. I want a hot lemony sauce to drizzle over cupcakes (that are not frosted). Could I warm up the curd?

  19. Hey there! If I want to use this as a filling inside cupcakes, would you recommend hollowing them out and adding it in after they’ve baked or trying to put them into a well in the batter once the liner is filled?

    1. Hi Lisha! Add lemon curd after the cupcakes have baked and cooled.

  20. Followed this to the letter and it turned out perfect. If you’re not having success with this recipe look in the mirror, because it is perfect.

  21. I made this after my second angel food cake (your recipe!) and wanted to find something to use up the yolks from my backyard chicken eggs. Since I had 12 yolks I just tripled the recipe. It took a few more minutes to get set but everything seems awesome as it’s cooling now.

  22. I have made this before using the yolks from making an angelfood cake. So it is a triple batch. The first time I used a double boiler and it turned out fabulous. Just took a long time, like an hour, to make. This time I put it in a porcelain lined pan using a silicone coated whisk on med heat directly on the stove. I did tend it much more closely but so much faster (like 10-15 min) and just as delicious. Thanks again for the recipe!

  23. Made lemon curd for the first time ever and it turned out real good. I’m saving this recipe. Didn’t use a double broiler and I really don’t think it’s necessary if you’re patient and use a pot on low heat.

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