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

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 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

386 Comments

  1. This recipe is great! Super easy and delicious. Only thing is I still get the metallic taste even with a glass bowl double boiler and a silicone whisk. I stored the curd in a mason jar, do you think the acid could have reacted with the top of the mason jar to get the metallic flavor?

    1. First attempt was a success … And speaks a lot of this recipe

  2. My daughter has a Meyer lemon tree in her yard that we used for this recipe and it was was delicious. This will be her go to recipe for the lemons.

  3. Hello Sally!

    Will it be possible to swop out equal parts lemon juice for passion fruit juice? I really loved how this lemon curd recipe turned out and would like to try a passion fruit variant! Can’t wait to hear back, thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, absolutely! Enjoy!

    2. I did this with passionfruit last week and it was great!!

  4. Hi Sally! Would this work between layers of your white cake instead of using buttercream? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Haley, Lemon curd is delicious with the white cake! However, the curd is too liquid-y to use by itself, so it’s best to pair it with a thin layer of frosting. You can see an example of how we used it between the layers of this Lemon Coconut Cake.

  5. Is it possible to bath water can lemon curd to give as Christmas presents?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Laura, Many readers have canned this in the same manner you can a jam or jelly. We haven’t personally tested it though.

  6. Would it be possible to use plant (avocado) butter in place of dairy butter?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sara, We haven’t tried this recipe with any dairy-free alternatives, but you can certainly give it a try. If you do, please let us know how it goes!

  7. I have made the lemon curd and now want to make a lemon meringue pie. Can I use this lemon curd for that?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Adrienne, We don’t recommend using this curd in a big tart or pie since it will not slice neatly. You can follow the recipe for Classic Lemon Meringue Pie instead.

  8. Linda S Williams says:

    I need to make a Key Lime curd for filling a cake. Can I swap out the lemon zest and then key lime juice? Also … would I be better to use the whole egg substitute to have it a little thicker to hold up between the layers (3 -9″) of the cake? Thanks as always 🙂

  9. Gina Terzino says:

    I found this recipe and used it to flavor my semi freddo, since it uses egg yolks and sugar beaten over a double boiler in it as well. Wow!! The lemon flavor is amazing!! I am going to make it as lemon curd as well for topping on baked goods. It has a strong lemon flavor plus just enough sweetness. Thanks, Sally! 🙂

  10. To make double the quantity, do I just double the ingredients?

    1. I just did a few minutes ago. It’s gorgeous.

  11. Why not use bottled lemon juice- other than flavor.

  12. This recipe worked perfectly for me! I have to admit it took more than ten minutes for the curd the thicken up, but that might be because I used raw unrefined sugar instead of white granulated. Thanks for the great recipe!

  13. Looks delicious, thank you! If I were to use this in a thumbprint cookie recipe and it was baked, would the cookies need to be refrigerated? And would you recommend the thicker version? I’d like it to be as un-eggy as possible. 🙂

  14. Just gave jars of this amazing recipe to my co-workers, labeling it “Holiday Sunshine Lemon Curd,” then sent them all an email with the link to this page and Dorie Greenspan’s lemon meringue cookie recipe because this curd is so bomb spread on her shortbread cookies warm from the oven. Your recipe is so easy to make, and tastes like a summer explosion of yum! Thank you, and love your website!

  15. Awesome as usual! Sally’s recipes are perfectly sweet without being overbearing or losing the integrity of the recipe. I’d definitely recommend this recipe 🙂

  16. Do you thicken this recipe for macarons?

    1. If using this as a filling for macarons, I don’t thicken it but I do recommend waiting for it to completely cool then refrigerating it. It thickens as it cools.

  17. For years I’ve used lemon curd to top ricotta cheesecake (marthastewart.com/354099/ricotta-cheesecake) The way they complement each other is quite indescribable. I’d recommend duck eggs for both.

  18. Delicious taste but the curd split when I poured it into the jars with a clear yellow layer at the bottom. What did I do wrong? Were the jars too warm when I put the curd in?

  19. Janet Kompare-Fritz says:

    Happy New Year Sally!
    Can I double or triple this recipe? I want to make at least 4-6 batches and was wondering if I had to do one batch at a time?

    Thank you,

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Janet, Yes, you can make double batches of this lemon curd. Enjoy!

  20. This recipe is amazing! I do whisk it for a long time to get it a little thicker. I haven’t tried replacing 2 of the yolks with one egg yet. I’m wondering if anyone has reduced or replaced the sugar with something else to bring the sugar content down? I’m considering monkfruit or honey.

  21. Second time I’ve made this..gave too much away so must make more! Made 2 batches this time. I confess to an error — when doubling the amounts, I added the amount of lemon juice instead of the sugar….I did increase the amount of sugar, then, by another 1/3 cup. Took a while for it to thicken, and it is cooling now. So, I don’t know yet about the consistency, but it tastes amazing!

  22. Emphasis on the heart-proof bowl – my 1st attempt ended in a sudden crack of glass! Second attempt was very good!

  23. I recently lost my go-to lemon curd recipe after a hectic nove, so I’m looking for a new one. Is this really lemony? Because I don’t enjoy a sweeter lemon curd.

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