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

201 Comments

  1. Looks so delicious. I have been planning to try this,havent had lemon curd so far. And the pics are so tempting i want to make this right now. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I don’t think I’ve had lemon curd before. But now, I’m so tempted to make it this weekend just so I can serve it with pancakes.

  3. I LOVE lemon curd! I’ve been wanting to try making it for ages. I think it’ll be excellent in a thumbprint cookie or as a macaron filling.

  4. i love lemon curd! and i find that it tastes so much more fresh and lemony when it’s homemade rather than storebought. and your idea to fill strawberry cupcakes with it sounds amazing! will have to bookmark that for summertime when i’m craving strawberry lemonade.

  5. I’ve been meaning to try making my own lemon curd for ever. This does look super easy! I’m such a curd fan – it’s great for the filling in a lemon layer cake instead of frosting. It just makes it so much more lemony. And you can never have too much lemon, right?

  6. I love filling cakes with lemon curd. It’s the best way to bring in the springtime! And really, who owns a double boiler? I wonder. I do it your way with the bowl on top!

    1. I actually own not one, but TWO double boilers! Just because of all the chocolate I melt and/or temper for candy making. But the bowl/small pot on another works like a charm.

  7. Oh I like this recipe WAY better than the one I have! This uses less sugar and butter and more lemon juice which I’m a big fan of. I’ll definitely have to try it with some berries and whipped cream, my favorite! Thanks Sally! <3

  8. Somehow this week you are KILLING IT when it comes to satisfying my cravings. Oddly enough, I’ve been craving lemon curd ALL WEEK but haven’t found the time to whip up a batch. HAPPENING TODAY thanks to this glorious recipe 🙂 PS- great seeing you on Wednesday! 

  9. Hi Sally! You mentioned pavlovas in today’s post…do you have a recipe? I have a coworker who has requested a pavlova for her birthday and I’ve never made one! I know there are a million recipes online but I’d love to see YOURS! :-)))

      1. I love pavlova. The only recipe I’ve ever tried is from Yankee Magazine: http://www.yankeemagazine.com/recipe/pavlova-with-fresh-strawberries-whipped-cream#_  Trust me, you won’t need to try other recipes. This one is it.

  10. Hi Sally! Is it possible to can or preserve this lemon curd? I would like to make some as gifts, but want it to last longer than 10 days. 
    Thanks!

    1. I am absolutely NOT a pro on canning, but I suspect this may not be ideal for canning because of the presence of butter and egg yolks. And I haven’t found much information doing a quick google search on this either. But how about freezing it? You can freeze it up to 3-6 months, simply thaw in the refrigerator overnight before enjoying.

  11. What kind of jar is that?  Its really cute, would love to use it for gifting! 
    Thanks for all your hard work, I really appreciate what you do!

  12. Thank you, Sally! This looks heavenly. You’ve got me on a “lemon kick” lately. Hoping to try your lemon loaf this weekend.

    I have a question about your Lemon Blueberry.
    WHEN DO I START COUNTING THE 5 SECONDS WHEN ADDING THE FLOUR? It says to add it slowly then mix for 5 seconds. Can I keep the mixer on low while I am adding the flour, then start counting after it’s all in? Don’t want to overmix, like you warned us about. Thank you so much for clarifying.

  13. This looks incredible. I love lemon! So fresh. I’ve been looking up lemon recipes lately because the weather is supposed to be unseasonably warm here next week, and spring weather makes me think of lemon cakes and Easter. You ready my mind!

  14. I don’t know why I never thought of having it with crepes.  It is a brilliant idea, thanks Sally.  I just finished making them.  And it is no trainer what I am making next. I can almost feel the taste in my mouth – homemade crepes with filling of a creamy ricotta and tangy & sweet lemon curd. Mmm……

  15. I’m…actually not huge on lemon desserts, but that’s just fine–I don’t bake for me! Lemon bars and your mini key lime pies are particular favorites of my friends. My one friend who is crazy about lemon has a birthday coming up in a couple weeks. She requested that I make her Rice Krispie treats, but I think I know what else I’m giving her!

  16. I think I would want eat this with a spoon!  Pinning and sharing, it looks delicious, I have to try it!

  17. “I mean, it’s… curd.” LOLOL. So is it embarrassing that I still want to make this now? Ha. Sally, I know EXACTLY what you mean when you say it’s important not to expose the curd to direct heat. Ages ago, I was making curd for a lemon loaf cake for Erik (he’s a lemon dessert freak like you. ;)… let’s just say I might’ve produced a lemon omelette instead of the gorgeous lemony topping I was hoping for.

    1. *My comment got cut off* … Lesson learned. On the upside, we had the unique experience of “enjoying” the zestiest omelettes you’ve ever met! Anyway, I love your idea for making homemade lemon curd jars to gift! I can see a big baby blue gingham bow on it right now. 🙂 Have a great weekend Sally! xo

      1. Oh gosh lemon omelettes… I can’t even think about that. Were they good? I don’t think I could stomach it!!

  18. For people who don’t have a double broiler I make lemon curd all the time on direct heat and it turns out wonderful. You just have to temper the eggs. 

  19. I just bought some lemons today, and I was planning to make lemon loaf cake. This lemon curd would be so good drizzled on top, and it looks creamy, buttery, and wonderful.

  20. Yay! Had no idea curd was so simple– I’m totally making this. I love a nice schmear of lemon curd and clotted cream with my scones! (Meanwhile, these names aren’t appetizing. Clot? Curd? Ugh. Good thing they taste so damned amazing!) Blueberry scones with the aforementioned spreads would be THE BEST. I was just saying at breakfast-for-dinner two nights ago that lemon and blueberry are a perfect marriage. (I made lemon ricotta pancakes with a blueberry topping, as it were.) And you know I love your lemon-blueberry cake. Mama! But as much as scones are my jam (did I just say that? Whatevs–I’m going with it), I’m most excited about adding some curd to vanilla frosting. Omigosh! I can’t even stomach the jarred frostings anymore. What poison have they been putting in there? They’re heinous– I absolutely require homemade frostings now, so I’m thrilled you’ve just added another beauty to my arsenal. Thanks, and happy March!

    1. Happy March Natalie! And I laughed many times reading this comment, especially the heinous frosting hahaha. Breakfast for dinner sounds soooo good right now and those lemon ricotta pancakes? Heavenly. My mouth is watering at the thought.

  21. Yummy… I made lemon meringue pie yesterday.. and I guess I’m just scared to over cook it, the last 2x I have made it, it turns into lemon soup pie. It’s edible though. I’m using the B.C. version. I’d like to request a version from you.. more 2016, instead of 1950. Yes that’s the version I have.. it was my Grandma’s and it has all her hand written recipes in it too. 🙂

    I think I would just eat this curd by the spoonful. I love anything lemony. Your lemon cheesecake bars? I ate the whole pan myself… ( I had a lot of workouts to do work those off lol)

    1. I don’t recommend it, but I did have a reader say she’s made lemon curd (not this recipe) with dairy-free butter– the brand is Earth Balance– with success. I’m just unsure if it works with my recipe.

  22. Oh, happy Friday!  My lemon curd recipe comes from my ex’s great grandmother who was still making it with lemons from her lemon trees when she was 97.  Mmm.. But still planning on trying your recipe soon.
    My question relates to lemon curd and frosting.  I recently made lemon macarons and the lemon frosting recipe I found online was a dismal failure.  Made strawberry frosting instead for that batch and used the failed frosting melted down for lemon butter on waffles.  Do you have any suggestions for a lemon frosting that won’t break apart/curdle when I mix it?  Lemon macarons are my favourite and I’m determined to master them instead of paying $3 per indulgence!

  23. I ‘m just a  lemon sorbet type of person,  but my hunny bunny is dying for me to make him a lemon meringue pie. His birthday is in April could I use this curd?  Will it stand up to the heat of I have to put the meringue under the broiler?  If not I may just have to buy one of those torches 😉  if this won’t work do you have a lemon meringue recipie?  
    And would Meyer lemons be ok, a friend had a tree and gives away bags of lemons. 
    Thank you 

    1. Meyer lemons would be FANTASTIC! And this lemon curd would be fantastic in a lemon meringue pie; it will be no problem under the heat.

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