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

346 Comments

  1. Wow!,this is so made-easy and wonderful!..thumbs up sally!..more grease to your elbow 😉

  2. Denise Salas says:

    Delicious! Made some this morning and put it on my english muffin. I will be freezing it to use next month when I make the Coconut Lemon cake for my hubby’s birthday.  

    1. Denise, I’m so glad you tried the curd and loved it. You’ll especially like it in the cake!

  3. Haley D Williams says:

    Hi Sally! I love that you shared a lemon curd recipe. It’s used so often in baking so it’s nice to have a reference on how to do it right! I just made a cheesecake using lime curd and it made it extra creamy. Can’t wait to see what other recipes you use curd in! xx Haley

  4. Whisking this up right now to use as a filling in petit fours and wishing you had a recipe for those!

  5. Sara Anderson says:

    I made your lemon curd yesterday. SO GOOD! I was making minty macarons yesterday for a St. Patrick’s Day party (unfortunately, not your recipe, but the next ones will be for sure), when I was trying to think of how to use the 4 egg yolks I had leftover. I then remembered getting your email for making lemon curd. So glad I thought of it because now I have lemon curd in my freezer to use in future macarons (hopefully for Easter) using your wonderful tutorial. Thanks for all your hard work!

    1. Perfect, Sara– love this homemade lemon curd. And let me know how the macarons go!

  6. This recipe was delicious! Hands down, best I’ve had. I doubled the recipe in the same double boiler and it worked very well. 

    Tried over Belgian waffles with chopped fresh mint and the tiniest drizzle of maple syrup and I don’t think I’ve ever had a better breakfast.

    Next time, I may reduce the sugar a bit. I think it would be just as good with less (and maybe I’d treat myself to it a bit more).

    1. Those waffles! It all sounds amazing!!

  7. Hi Sally,
    made this last week and it was awesome. Instead of melting the butter,i whisked it with sugar till creamy and then added all other ingredients. Turned out really good. Can we store this in freezer for about 2-3months?

    1. You can actually freeze it for much longer, up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Happy you loved it!

  8. made it, and it tasted perfect, except it wasn’t smooth because of the zest… how would you recommend straining it to remove the zest pieces or would it taste as lemony without the zest?

    1. I would definitely still prepare it with the lemon zest, but you can strain it out. You can zest the lemons into large strips so they are easier to strain out, too.

  9. Stephanie says:

    Hi Sally,
    Bit of a strange question, but I know in the post you mention mixing this with vanilla frosting to make delicious lemon-y frosting (which I definitely intend to do ASAP!). I am wanting to make your margarita cupcakes this weekend and have been struggling to find any lime oil/extract short of ordering online (which will not come in time), and I was wondering if it might be possible to make this as a lime curd and mix that into the tequlia-lime frosting? If you think it’s better off simply using the lime juice/zest as recommended in the margarita post, I will simply do that! 🙂

    1. That should work just fine! And this as lime curd is incredible– I just made some using this recipe last week.

  10. Hi Sally, this looks delicious! I was wondering if it would be possible to swap out the lemons in this recipe and make a lime or key lime curd using the same method, or if there would be any changes. Thanks so much, can’t wait to try it!

    1. No other changes at all- in fact, I just made lime curd from this recipe about 2 weeks ago. Just lime juice + zest instead of lemon juice + zest.

  11. I really really really want to make Lemon bars for my fiance… and I think this curd could do a filling (?) and maybe use the shortbread bottom from the Raspberry Bars from here I made… but I am not really more than a complete novice baker and I need to know what temperatures to cook the lemon bars at (the Internet had 1001 answers which means none of them are right).

    Can you give me a guideline?  Please?

    1. Ah, found a recipe for the bars in your book – bought it on the Kindle, going to make that – thanks!

      1. Ok perfect! Let me know how you like them.

  12. Hi Sally! I just tried this recipe last week together with your lemon cupcakes… The whole family just LOVE IT! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! Just some questions though, mine got a *little* too thick.. what could I have done wrong? Also how long is the shelf life if it’s not refrigerated?

  13. Yummy !! Just made my first ever, batch of lelemon curd. This recipe Is simple and delicious. I highly recommend this.

  14. Hi Sally!
    I love your site, and I always search here first when seeking a recipe! I want to do a lemon cake this weekend and saw your recipe for lemon curd. I love lemon curd, the trouble is when trying ones at the store I never know if they’ll taste more of a lemon flavored sugar, or a true, tart, bright lemon-which is my preference. No shade for those who love their sweets, but I don’t like too much sweetness. Can you tell me if your curd tastes very sweet when done or if it is more tart? I’m tired of guessing wrong at the store and would love to make my own! Thanks for the help!
    Sara Jayne

  15. This is amazing!! I am a HUGE fan of anything to do with lemon, and I have been looking for a good lemon curd recipe for a while now. This one is better than good! Thank you so much!

  16. Hi! Tried to make the lemon curd last night, it didn’t turn out very thick. What did I do wrong? I think maybe the step in double boiler, did not wait for eggs to become thicker. 

    1. cookinggram says:

      I made this earlier this a.m. and it is still very warm. However, after 20 min., still wasn’t consistency of hollandaise so will wait till it cools. I made this awesome white almond cake to set in the curd and top with whipped cream. hope it thickens. If not, will add a little gel

  17. Hi Sally! Never gave much thought to lemon curd before (I think I’ve only had/used it once in my life), but I made this over the weekend and it was sooo good and easy to make! Used the leftover egg whites to make your “New Favorite White Layer Cake” then used that + the lemon curd + blueberries + fresh whipped cream to make a trifle for Father’s Day. Let’s just say there weren’t any leftovers… 🙂 Thanks for another great recipe!

  18. Kathleen Hallas says:

    Hi Sally,

    It seems that every time I try a recipe that it turns out just the way you say it will. Your mouthwatering descriptions is what led me to start baking, and I have never considered myself a baker. This lemon curd recipe is no exception. I have been making it and giving it away in little jars all summer. The response has been amazing! When I made your blueberry scones recently I suggested we slather on some curd (I ran out of confectioners sugar for the glaze) and wow what a hit…thanks for introducing me to this new adventure!

  19. Hi! Can i use this lemon curd on a biscuit base with meringue on top and bake them all in the oven?

  20. I made this yesterday and it’s the best thing.

  21. 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. Uhm … green? Maybe the eggs are the problem? Or did you use limes? Limes turn your Curd green (more or less). 🙂

    2. 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.

  22. i made and it is delicious, this is just the first part for my lemon coconut cake!. everithing in tour website is delicious!

  23. If your curd is turning green it could be the bowl you use. The acid in the lemons may react to a metal bowl.

  24. 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!.

    1. Oh goodness – lemon curd macarons sound delish!

  25. 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!!

    1. Hi Jules! You can put the Saran Wrap on while the curd is still warm. Thank you for trying my lemon curd!

  26. 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. 🙂

  27. Chris Carson says:

    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.

  28. Carla Slaughter says:

    Hi Sally!
    Can I use this lemon curd in a hand pie? Thanks!

    1. Definitely!

  29. Hi sally
    My curd has metallic taste..what went wrong? Did the lemon react wth the pot?

    1. Hi Safa! It’s most certainly the pot. Aluminum and copper pots are typically the culprit.

  30. 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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