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

Video Tutorial: How to Make Lemon Curd

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


  1. 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!

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

  3. 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!.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. Just made this (first time making lemon curd) and it came together beautifully and is SO delicious. Thank you!

  7. Made this today to go in your coconut lemon cake and, holy cow, is it delicious! Easy to make, thick and spreadable and I was blown away at its delicious, tart taste. Excellent directions too. It’s going to bring the flavor of the cake to a new level! I’m so pumped for my husband to try it!

  8. Tina Rutkowski says:

    1000 stars!
    Sally saves the day again!

    Perfect curd!

  9. This is my first time making lemon curd and it is absolutely fantastic! So creamy and lemony tart, I could eat it with a spoon. I used it to top my pavlova and it was fabulous!

  10. I made this lemon curd to fill my birthday cake yesterday; while it tasted fabulous, I had a little trouble getting it to thicken. I cooked it for around 20 minutes, increasing the heat after 10 as directed in the recipe, but the curd was still quite thin. I put it in the refrigerator to cool and thicken, and while it did thicken considerably, it was still thinner than the lemon curd pictured in your post. Any ideas? Maybe my stove wasn’t on the right heat, or the water wasn’t at a proper simmer? It still worked though, setting a little more when the cake was refrigerated, and tasted amazing with the lemon cake layers and lemon bavarian cream.

    1. Hi Erin! So sorry you had trouble with the curd thickening right away. I’m glad it could still work as a filling though! One thing I recently noticed– if you replace 2 of the egg yolks with 1 egg, the curd will thicken quicker. So use 2 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg. Keep the rest of the recipe and instructions the same.

  11. Tammy Meese says:

    Sally can this be easily doubled?

    1. Sure can!

  12. Hi Sally,
    I’d love to try an orange curd- can I follow the same recipe or would I need to make changes?

    1. Hi Shanta! You can use this exact recipe to make an orange curd. (Or even a grapefruit or lime curd!)

  13. Hi Sally! I tried making this today….great flavour, but for some reason it ended up grainy. What did I do wrong?

    1. Hi Chelsea! Grainy lemon curd is a result from over-cooking. Try removing from heat a little earlier. That will help for next time.

  14. What took me so long to make this! This is hands down the best tasting stuff ever! I made your coconut cake so I had all these yolks. If you are reading the comments to see if this is really as easy as Sally says, yes it is & stop reading & make this. I used a heat proof glass bowl over a pot of water & used a silicone whisk (I don’t have a double boiler) Like she says, at around the 10 min mark the magic happens!! I wish I could rate this as a 10 & now what to bake so I can use this curd!!

  15. This stuff is beyond amazing! Love your detailed recipe, it was so easy to make and it’s so good! Put it on top of the no bake cheesecake cups and WOW! What a great combination!

  16. Hello I have a lot of lemons, would like to make this recipe for Christmas gifts, will it keep until Christmas if kept in the fridge ?

    1. You can keep this in the refrigerator for 10 days. For longer storage, you can freeze the curd up to 3-6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before enjoying.

  17. I made this recipe for some macarons I made and it tasted AMAZING! I recommend to leave it in the fridge for 24 hours in advance so it can thicken up even more. When I was whisking it in the double boiler, I noticed it wasn’t thickening up that much and formed many bubbles so I switched to a rubber spatula. After taking it off the heat, I kept mixing and it thickened right up! If you are going to use this recipe to fill macarons, I recommend making a ring of lemon buttercream on the outside then fill the middle with the curd so it doesn’t run out when you bite into it.

  18. OMG why did I wait so long to make lemon curd?! I’m a pretty experienced cook but for some reason lemon curd kind of intimidated me. I followed the tip for a thicker curd, and used a glass bowl set over a pan-my bowl said “no stove top” but I had no issues. Mine took a bit longer than 10 minutes to thicken, like 15-17, but that may have been because I was hesitant to turn the heat too high. It turned out great!

  19. My son loves lemon curd! It is very expensive to buy so I thought I would look for a recipe and make it myself. OMG so much better than store bought!

  20. I made this recipe last night. I doubled it. I’m not sure that I cooked it long enough because it did not thicken up as much as I would have liked. I used the trick of one egg and 2 yokes. I think what I will do is add some xanthum gum to it. I worked it for about 20 minutes, too.

    Regardless, it sure does taste good!

  21. Oh my goodness!! Thank you Sally! Lemon curds are so hard to find where I am and when I do, it’s sky high expensive. So I decided to make them and they are so so so so so so so good! I was floored and am literally in tears.. I made them with the alteration to the eggs (1 egg + 2 egg yolks) and added a little bit of corn starch to stabilise the curd (per an Aussie aunt’s recommendation given the high humidity we live in) and they turned out beautifully silky smooth and didn’t even need to sieve it. Literally tangy liquid sun-kissed gold. Coincidentally, I made these for your classic cheesecake recipe, which is chilling in the fridge as I write this. Sorry for the long comment but I’m so overjoyed.
    Question: I have a lime tree in my backyard and am thinking of making lime curd – would it work with the same ratios? Thanks ever so much!

  22. Thank you for the suggestion of using some of the egg yokes left over from making Angle Food cake to make Lemon Curd. Worried it was not thick enough but after a time in the refrigerator it was perfect. You make things seem simple.

  23. Lily Parigi Feagin says:

    My Meyer lemon tree finally made lemons this year. Lucky me that I tried your recipes for both lemon ricotta cookies AND lemon curd! Both recipes turned out perfectly lemony delicious!
    Love them both and can’t wait to share with family and friends this Thanksgiving- and beyond!
    Thanks for the great lemon recipes!

  24. This is EXACTLY what I was looking for!
    I remember this as a topper for gingerbread cake….yum. Thanks for the recipe!

  25. Delicious and very easy. Used 3 egg yolks, modified double boiler and it thickened to the point that it was hard to pass through my sieve even while still warm. Thank you for sharing.

  26. I started making my lemon curd in the microwave, but the last couple of times I noticed the butter separating from the rest. Any ideas?

    1. HI Elaine, I recommend following my stovetop method. You need to stir the mixture as it cooks so the butter doesn’t separate.

  27. Dianne Murphy says:

    Excellent results..thank you

  28. Just made this recipe and it turned out beautifully! I wanted a thicker curd, so I used one whole egg and two whites per the suggestion. I stirred continuously in my diy double boiler. I’m so grateful for the clear instructions and tips! Well done!

  29. Shelley Brower says:

    Hi Sally
    I was going to make your angel food cupcakes, can I feel the middle with this lemon curd, or do you have a better ideal for a filling?
    Thank you

    1. This is an excellent filling for cupcakes, yes!

  30. MADE IT! With yolks leftover from pavlova. Didn’t have a silicone whisk so alternated between metal whisk and rubber spatula. This is so delicious I could eat it out of the jar (and so pretty). Someone else said the magic starts happening around minute 10 – totally agree. I feel so fancy with my homemade lemon curd! Thank you Sally!!!

    1. Hello! I’m eager to try this recipe! Do you think you can substitute the white sugar with brown sugar?

      1. Hi Ana! I haven’t tried it, but I fear the curd may not set up properly with the extra moisture from the brown sugar.

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