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

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


  1. Made these as gifts when we go to friends home for dinner. We have lemon trees so I’m always looking for great lemon recipes. This was a big hit. Thank you

  2. Made this for the first time today and it tastes great! However, I left it in the fridge to cool and (ideally) thicken up some more, but it’s still somewhat runny. I was hoping to use it in a layer cake, but at its current consistency it’s likely too thin to do that.

    I read the part about using a whole egg in place of 2 egg yolks AFTER I was already in progress with all yolks. I’m hoping there’s a way to salvage what I have so I don’t have to start over from scratch. Any thoughts? Is adding it back to the double boiler for more time an option? What about some sort of thickener? Any help would be appreciated, thanks!

    1. Hi Quaid, it gets remarkably thicker after chilling– in fact, I use the egg yolk version all the time as a filling for cakes. If it’s still not thick enough for a layer cake, you can try reheating it on the stove and whisking in 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch.

  3. Question- while whisking my lemon curd turned very foamy, and need up full of bubbles when done cooking. I followed the recipe for the thicker curd in the recipe notes, so maybe the egg white got too whipped in the process? Any other thoughts? Thank you!

    1. Hi Jenny! I’m just seeing your question now, my apologies. I’ve never had this happen to me before, but I’m going to assume it was the constant whisking. Did the bubbles evaporate after storing? Hope you enjoyed it.

    2. The recipe calls for yolks only. I use the whites for the cakel Did I miss something? The butter if melted at high temperature, gets foamy. Have not tried the recipe but the proportions is similar to passion fruit (vined lemon) curd. To die for. My husband dislikes frou frou desert but asks me to make this all.the.time.

    1. Hi Sally, is it possible to substitute the sugar for a non sugar alternative? Could I use stevia? I love lemon curd but being diabetic the sugar content is too high for me!

  4. Hi im wanting to make this for a school project to put in some crepes we’re going to roll. We only have 70 minutes to make it so i was wondering whats the minimum time you would let it cool and be able to use it without being completely runny and being thick enough to hold some crepe pinwheels together.

  5. Made this a few days ago, I would like to make more and freeze
    If I double up the recipe do I have to increase whisk time?

    1. Hi Lorraine! So glad you enjoyed this lemon curd. When working in larger batches, the cook time will need to be slightly extended until it thickens up.

  6. Can I revert the sweetness of the cure once it’s finished? I found it a bit on the sweet side and want to strengthen the lemon flavour without having to discard the first batch?

  7. Do you think this would work out if I used fresh orange juice instead of lemon juice and orange zest instead of lemon? Would it thicken like it should? If not, do you know a good recipe that would work?

  8. Thank you! This was my first time making this to add atop my cheesecake and it turned out perfectly. Took mine 17-18 minutes to reach the desired thickness and I turned the heat way up at 11 minutes as I didn’t notice any thickening at the 10 min mark. Can’t wait to use other citrus to make many more batches!

  9. Soooooo good! Worth the whisking time. My husband even did a little “dance” after tasting it!

  10. Divine! I will say though, I had to cook this closer to 25 minutes, and the water was at a rolling boil the whole time. Not sure why, as I made it exactly to recipe. Also, I did strain it and while it would have still been tasty as it was with the zest inside, straining it just took it up to silly, smooth perfection.

  11. Hi Sally — I made your curd today (using a combination of kaffir limes and a Meyer lemon I had on hand), and I have a couple of observations/questions.

    1) I used a Pyrex mixing bowl for a non-metal top vessel for my double boiler. I got the water boiling (and the bowl heating) even before I started prepping the other ingredients. Still, did not thicken much after 10 minutes of cooking/whisking, so as mentioned in the recipe, I increased the heat (gas) and kept whisking … and kept increasing the heat and whisking! I finally stopped after 40 minutes (!!) It was thicker, but not nearly to what I would call Hollandaise sauce thickness. Is Pyrex too-insulating a material to use for this purpose?

    (Next time I might risk the “metallic” taste and use the stainless steel double-boiler top, which should heat faster, I’d think.)

    2) When I added the butter and stirred the mixture, it seemed that the eggs began to curdle immediately. (They were smooth as silk when I took them off the heat.) When I poured the curd into the Mason jar, it had a top film of clear, watery fluid. What might have caused this separation?

    In retrospect, I’m wondering if I should have whisked in the butter (vs. “stir”, which implies using a spoon, perhaps even gently).

    1. Hi Mike! Thank you so much for reporting back about the lemon curd– I, too, have used a pyrex bowl as a mock double boiler for this with no issues, so I don’t think that the bowl is too thick. How hot was the water beneath? Was it already simmering when you placed the bowl on top and began? Using a whisk when you add the butter could definitely help reduce the risk of curdling. I also believe there was curdling because the mixture (possibly) wasn’t thickened enough. Did you use the only egg yolk option or full egg option? Just curious.

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