How to Make Lemon Curd

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Here’s how to make lemon curd the simple way. You only need 5 ingredients and it comes together on the stove in 10 minutes!

If you love lemon as much as I do… lemon bars are your main squeeze and lemon blueberry cake is your dream come true… then you’re going to flip for this creamy, thick, dense, intensely flavorful, from-scratch lemon curd. A millions times tastier than store-bought lemon curd, which has likely been sitting on the shelf for too long and is filled with ingredients we can’t pronounce. Store-bought lemon curd doesn’t even taste like real lemon curd.

But if you’re not familiar, let me explain what lemon curd is.

WHAT IS LEMON CURD?

Lemon curd is a very rich dessert topping or spread. It’s ridiculously buttery with intense sweet-tart lemon flavor. Like jam, but creamy. It’s made from simple pantry and refrigerator items and comes together quickly on the stove.

Lemon lovers, this is your jam.

Get it? Get it?

How to make deliciously simple lemon curd on sallysbakingaddiction.com
Homemade lemon curd for lemon berry trifle on sallysbakingaddiction.com
How to make deliciously simple lemon curd on sallysbakingaddiction.com

HOW TO MAKE LEMON CURD

Here’s how we make DIY lemon curd. The full recipe and instructions are at the bottom of this post.

You need 5 ingredients for lemon curd: egg yolks, fresh lemons, sugar, salt, and butter. Each ingredient serves a critical purpose in the making, thickening, and flavoring of lemon curd. The egg yolks thicken the curd, much like a custard or pudding. The fresh lemons are for flavor. You need real lemons; we’ll be using both the juice and the zest in my lemon curd recipe. The sugar supplies sweetness and structure, while the salt balances out the flavors. The butter is added after the curd is finished cooking on the stove– it’s stirred in right after you remove the curd from heat. The butter is what makes lemon curd sooooo creamy.

Lemon curd must be constantly whisked in a pot over simmering water. I use my double boiler. You can craft a makeshift double boiler by placing a heatproof bowl or small pot on top of a larger pot. Just make sure the bottom of the top pot or bowl does not touch the simmering water. Lemon curd should never be cooked on direct heat. The reason? The egg yolks will heat too quickly.

USES FOR LEMON CURD

How to make deliciously simple lemon curd on sallysbakingaddiction.com
lemon-curd-recipe
strawberry-buttermilk-pancakes-with-lemon-curd

129 Comments

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  1. The first time I made this is was super easy and sooooo delicious. Second attempt didn’t turn out so well for some reason, it was thin and turned green. I ended up remaking several times to finally getting a usable result that tasted great, was bright yellow, but was a little thin. I just attempted again, and it turned green AGAIN! What am I doing wrong?!  It was so perfect the first time and ever since I just can’t get it right!

    1. Copper will react with the acid in lemon juice and can potentially turn it green, as it did in your case, the addition of salt increasing the chemical reaction, leading to an even greener curd. It’s safe to eat, as the oxide doesn’t absorb well in the body anyway.
      Aluminum will also discolor food, to a gray color, as will steel (not stainless type) and iron will turn into a rusty color. Anondized aluminum cookware, such as Calphalon, can handle some acid but not ideal and best skipped over in the long run.

      Glass, stainless steel, porcelain and enameled cookware will not react. Hope that helps.

  2. I followed step by step and it came out perfect and delicious. I used the curd to fill up Macarons. Thank you Sally for both recipes. You are right, practice makes perfect!.

  3. This recipe is so delicious! One question, when you put the saran wrap on top to keep a crust from forming, do you have to wait until it’s cooled? Do you have to wait to refrigerate when it’s completely cooled, or can you put the wrap on and put it in the fridge while it’s still warm? – Please use this in many recipes – soooooo yummy!!

  4. Hi Sally, I love this lemon curd! It’s perfectly sweet and tart and creamy. I’m planning on filling your vanilla cupcakes with it and would also like to add some to vanilla buttercream. I remember you mentioned that somewhere before, but I can’t find it. How much lemon curd should I add to your vanilla buttercream recipe? Thank you!

    1. Hi Lee! I recommend adding 1 Tablespoon of lemon curd at a time until you reach the flavor and consistency that you desire. 🙂

  5. I’ve never made this before – two questions: (maybe foolish ones) do you have to wait 10 days before using??? And can this be used as a filling in a layer cake.
    Thank you,

    1. Hi Chris! 10-ish days is simply how long I would store it before discarding. And yes, you can use this homemade lemon curd as a cake filling.

  6. I just made your lemon curd not even five minutes ago. It is the most delicious and most wonderful tasting curd I have ever tasted. One question as to the plastic wrap. Do you always keep it on top even in the fridge or freezer just removing to eat some or only until it cools down initially before popping it into the fridge? Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

    1. Hi Brittany! Thank you so much for making my lemon curd recipe! The plastic wrap can be removed once the lemon curd is cool and you can store it normally with a jar/lid in the refrigerator or freezer.

Reviews

  1. I followed step by step and it came out perfect and delicious. I used the curd to fill up Macarons. Thank you Sally for both recipes. You are right, practice makes perfect!.

  2. This recipe is so delicious! One question, when you put the saran wrap on top to keep a crust from forming, do you have to wait until it’s cooled? Do you have to wait to refrigerate when it’s completely cooled, or can you put the wrap on and put it in the fridge while it’s still warm? – Please use this in many recipes – soooooo yummy!!

Questions

  1. Hi Sally, I love this lemon curd! It’s perfectly sweet and tart and creamy. I’m planning on filling your vanilla cupcakes with it and would also like to add some to vanilla buttercream. I remember you mentioned that somewhere before, but I can’t find it. How much lemon curd should I add to your vanilla buttercream recipe? Thank you!

    1. Hi Lee! I recommend adding 1 Tablespoon of lemon curd at a time until you reach the flavor and consistency that you desire. 🙂

  2. I’ve never made this before – two questions: (maybe foolish ones) do you have to wait 10 days before using??? And can this be used as a filling in a layer cake.
    Thank you,

    1. Hi Chris! 10-ish days is simply how long I would store it before discarding. And yes, you can use this homemade lemon curd as a cake filling.

  3. I just made your lemon curd not even five minutes ago. It is the most delicious and most wonderful tasting curd I have ever tasted. One question as to the plastic wrap. Do you always keep it on top even in the fridge or freezer just removing to eat some or only until it cools down initially before popping it into the fridge? Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

    1. Hi Brittany! Thank you so much for making my lemon curd recipe! The plastic wrap can be removed once the lemon curd is cool and you can store it normally with a jar/lid in the refrigerator or freezer.

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