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, angel food cake, quick breads, pound cake, and so much more.

Lemon curd

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

But 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

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.

Lemon curd butter

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

245 Comments

  1. I started making my lemon curd in the microwave, but the last couple of times I noticed the butter separating from the rest. Any ideas?

    1. HI Elaine, I recommend following my stovetop method. You need to stir the mixture as it cooks so the butter doesn’t separate.

    1. I know you say not to use bottled lemon juice, and while I understand that’s usually the case, now there are amazing organic options where there are no additives or preservatives added. It’s just 100% juice. What would be the downside to using that?

  2. Just made this recipe and it turned out beautifully! I wanted a thicker curd, so I used one whole egg and two whites per the suggestion. I stirred continuously in my diy double boiler. I’m so grateful for the clear instructions and tips! Well done!

  3. Hi Sally
    I was going to make your angel food cupcakes, can I feel the middle with this lemon curd, or do you have a better ideal for a filling?
    Thank you

  4. MADE IT! With yolks leftover from pavlova. Didn’t have a silicone whisk so alternated between metal whisk and rubber spatula. This is so delicious I could eat it out of the jar (and so pretty). Someone else said the magic starts happening around minute 10 – totally agree. I feel so fancy with my homemade lemon curd! Thank you Sally!!!

      1. Hello! I’m eager to try this recipe! Do you think you can substitute the white sugar with brown sugar?
        Thanks!

      2. Hi Ana! I haven’t tried it, but I fear the curd may not set up properly with the extra moisture from the brown sugar.

  5. Made this to go in a lemon meringue cheesecake and kept the whites aside for the meringue. The curd tastes great and I was able to save wasting 4 egg yolks

  6. The lemon curd is delicious ! I made the DIY double boiler, any suggestions on how to remove the glass bowl from the pot? ☹️

  7. Hi Sally. I just made your lemon curd recipe exactly as instructed. It took me nearly 20 minutes to thicken it to a Hollandaise-like texture but this is probably because my pan had a lip which let air and heat escape around my top pot (a glass bowl). However the result is delicious! Wow! I’m using it tomorrow at our annual family Christmas after-party to construct your berry trifle. So far so good! And thank you!

  8. Thanks Sally for this simple recipe. The first time I made it, the curd turned out perfectly! Just like the picture, which never happens. I have tried it 4 more times and the consistency keeps turning out wrong, almost like stretchy taffy. I can’t think of anything I’m doing differently than the first time. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Tiffany, Are you using just the egg yolks (no whites?). Make sure the bottom of the top pot or bowl does not touch the simmering (not boiling) water and keep whisking the entire time it’s cooking!

  9. Hi Sally,
    Do you think that eggs cook properly or at least least get pasteurized? Worried they don’t get enough heat and stay raw
    Thank you,
    Sara

    1. Hi Sara! You can always take their temperature with an oil/meat or candy thermometer. See best safety temperatures here: https://www.incredibleegg.org/egg-nutrition/safe-food-handling-tips/#4

    1. Hi, Maureen – I haven’t tried this recipe with any dairy-free alternatives, but you can certainly give it a try. If you do, please let me know how it goes!

  10. Incredible, just wanted to take a spoon to the bowl! Made this for little tartlets and your recipe didn’t disappoint. Thank you.

  11. Making the Angel Food cake for husband’s birthday and using yokes for Lemon curd, both his favorite’s for his 65th birthday this Thursday the 16th can’t wait! I am glad for the tip to read the entire recipe first, great idea in this case and also the tips at the end, as I am going to make ahead and bring to restaurant the next day. Always make day before, just in case I have a problem

  12. Tripled the recipe yesterday using Meyer lemons, and 6 yolks and 3 whole eggs. Came out perfect. Took longer to thicken though given the extra mass. Tried to get it to 170 degrees but got stuck at 160ish. Consistency seemed ok though so I removed from heat. Strained the curd before jarring. Been looking for a good curd recipe that isn’t grainy and can use whole eggs! Thank you!

  13. Can I double this recipe? I have 9 egg yolks in a bowl leftover from making your strawberry cake (four delicious layers!) Hoping to make a big batch of lemon curd to share. Would it be better to make two smaller batches?

  14. I just made this to surprise my husband with a vanilla cake with lemon curd and coconut cream cheese frosting. I don’t know if the lemon curd will make it to the cake, I just might eat it with a spoon! So delish!!!

  15. Hey Sally! I make your recipes ALL THE TIME! Honestly- probably multiple times a week. Thank you for your amazing blog! I tried this curd today, and I failed miserably. 🙁 . Cooked on the double boiler for 15 minutes and was still thin as water. Turned up the heat for another 8 minutes and it never thickened, and then became grainy. I am a pretty experienced baker and was so surprised I couldn’t do this. Is there a standard problem when curd never thickens? Did I not get it hot enough? I whisked the *entire time*- was I supposed to do that? I literally cannot think of what I might have done. Am I just bad at Curd? :-/

    1. Hi Renee, Thank you for using my recipes so often! Did you use only the yolks of 4 eggs for your 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.

  16. Decades ago an English friend introduced me to lemon curd. I’m mortified to report that I ate an entire jar with a spoon. I have avoided it since, for obvious reasons.
    Now, I have moved South and I have two Meyer Lemon trees that provide me with 50 or 60 lemons each winter. How many preserved lemons, or how much lemon marmalade can one make? So this year I tried your curd recipe. Excellent!! Better than I even remembered! ( I have hidden every spoon in the house. lol.) can’t wait to try a lemon coconut cake.

  17. I’m delighted! So easy, so smooth, excellent and very detailed explanation (with cups and spoons but also with grams and millilitres for us Europeans) ! Thank You, dear Sally and very happy New year! Greetings from Belgrade, Serbia!

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