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.
Let’s talk lemon.
- Are lemon bars your main squeeze?
- Is lemon blueberry cake your favorite dessert?
- Are you head-over-heels for lemon meringue pie?
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, homemade English muffins, and so much more. This is the recipe you never realized you needed!
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? 🙂
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 brownie 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.
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 glass bowl option I mention above (but make sure it’s heatproof glass, like Pyrex). While you’re at it, use a silicone whisk too!
Uses for Lemon Curd
There are so many ways to enjoy lemon curd. Here are a few suggestions:
- Enjoy on scones, muffins, buttermilk waffles, or whole wheat blueberry pancakes
- Use as a filling for crepes, lemon cupcakes, or lemon coconut cake
- Use as a topping for pound cake or pavlova (uses the egg whites!)
- Fill French macarons, choux pastry, or layer on strawberry shortcake
- Make a lemon berry trifle
- Spread on English muffins, homemade biscuits, toast, croissants
- Mix it with whipped frosting for the fluffiest filling in a citrus cake
- Top your classic cheesecake, lemon cheesecake, or easy cheesecake pie
- Stir in yogurt, cottage cheese, or spoon on ice cream
- Try it on gingerbread waffles (seriously, try this!)
- Use as a filling to add extra flavor to lemon blueberry cupcakes
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes (includes cooling)
- Yield: 1 – 1.5 cups
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
You only need 5 simple ingredients for homemade lemon curd—and the recipe comes together on the stove in 10 minutes! If you know how to whisk, you can make this delicious spread.
- 4 large egg yolks (for thicker lemon curd, see Note on eggs)
- 2/3 cup (134g) granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
- 1/3 cup (80ml) fresh lemon juice (about 2–3 lemons)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into 6 pieces
- Fill the bottom pot of your double boiler with 1–2 inches of water. (Or use the DIY double boiler method listed in the notes.) Place on high heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce to low heat to keep the water at a simmer.
- Place egg yolks, granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt into the top pot of your double boiler. Using a silicone whisk, whisk until completely blended, then continue to whisk as the curd cooks. Constant whisking prevents the egg yolks from curdling. Whisk and cook until the mixture becomes thick, resembling the texture of hollandaise sauce, about 10 minutes. If curd isn’t thickening, turn up the heat and constantly whisk.
- Remove pan from heat. Whisk the sliced butter into the curd. The butter will melt from the heat of the curd as you whisk. Pour curd into a jar or bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top so it is touching the top of the curd. (This prevents a skin from forming on top.) The curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Once cool, the plastic wrap can be removed.
- Refrigerate the curd for up to about 10 days.
- Freezing Instructions: For longer storage, you can freeze the curd up to 3–6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before enjoying.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Egg Separator | Citrus Juicer | Citrus Zester | Non-Metal Double Boiler | Silicone Whisk
- Thicker Lemon Curd: For thicker lemon curd, replace 2 of the egg yolks with 1 whole egg. This means you will use 2 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg. Keep the rest of the recipe and instructions the same.
- Lemon Juice: Do not use bottled lemon juice. Use fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
- Butter: You can use salted butter instead of unsalted butter. Simply omit 1/8 teaspoon salt in the recipe.
- No Double Boiler? No Problem! If you do not own a double boiler, you can simply place a small heatproof glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water—you will cook the curd in the top pot/bowl.
- No Straining: I don’t strain the lemon curd. The zest is very tiny and has been cooked, so you can hardly detect its texture. It’s really just there for flavor. However, feel free to run the finished lemon curd through a fine mesh sieve if you want to take the extra step.
Keywords: scones, topping, sauce, filling
Reader Comments & Reviews
I loved this recipe! I had never made Lemon curd before and this was delicious! thank you
Delish! It was easy and turned out great!
The “looks like hollindaise” comment helped – but I was on 13 minutes with zero thickening. I looked up what to do when your curd doesn’t thicken and it mentioned making sure it got to 170 degrees. So I grabbed a thermometer. Sure enough, the moment that curd hit 170, the curd thickened and oh my gosh, it’s gorgeous. Thank you for a terrific recipe and I hope the extra research and info helps someone else with runny curd. 🙂
Whisking as I type! Thanks for the info, Stephanie- as I’m currently on 12 mins and it’s just starting to thicken! Can’t wait to try it.
This was my first try at lemon curd. I used fresh picked Meyer Lemons from my tree and it is delicious! The instructions were easy to follow, no issues at all. Thank you!
Love this recipe! I accidentally added the butter along with the other ingredients and cooked it all together – stirring carefully throughout. The curd turned out perfect! I used @ 5 yolks – as I had just separated eggs for Angelfood cake. Double boiler option: place ingredients into a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup. Place over a small saucepan with @ 1” water to simmer and slow cook the mixture – using a silicone coated whisk and / or a small spatula – works great!
Delicious even tho I forgot the butter
Can I double the recipe or will that affect the finished product?
You can make double batches of this lemon curd, and cooking time should be about the same. Enjoy!
Hello! I’ve just tried your lemon curd recipe and it is superb! But it tastes a little bit too much of egg. Could it be because I used 2 yolks and one entire egg as you said in the tips to thickened it more? Thanks!
Hi Isabella, It shouldn’t have an eggy flavor so we wonder if it was slightly overcooked. An easy fix for next time, make sure your bowl isn’t touching the water, turn down the heat a little bit, and take it off the heat a minute earlier if the curd has thickened up. So glad you enjoyed it!
Excellent!!!!!!! I made this to use as a topping on my Christmas Pavlova – also Sallys recipe, it took my Pav over the top added to my usual whipped cream, strawberries and kiwi. Takes time and patience, but so well worth it. I used 4 yolks only, but it was plenty thick enough. In fact, by the time I put it on my Pav, it was really thick.
If I freeze a batch of curd, can I thicken it after freezing for a lemon tart?
Can this be baked on an almond flour crust for lemon squares, and what temp and length of time? Thank you!
Hi Lorie, this lemon curd is a bit too thin for lemon squares and will not set properly. We do have a lemon square recipe here, if you’re interested.
How would you recommend “canning” the curd in glass jars for gift giving so that it stays preserved and does not require refrigeration?
Hi Alice, we do not have any experience with canning and haven’t tested it with this recipe. Let us know if you do give it a try!
Can I use whole egg instead of egg yolk ?
Hi Christine, we don’t recommend using all whole eggs, but here is an option for a thicker curd that utilizes one whole egg: For thicker lemon curd, replace 2 of the egg yolks with 1 whole egg. This means you will use 2 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg. Keep the rest of the recipe and instructions the same.
So Good!!!! Thank you so much for posting this recipe
Delicious, just delicious.
This recipe worked perfectly first time out – I’ll be making it again!
Can this recipe be made with egg replacer?
Hi Kathie, eggs are a key ingredient in this lemon curd recipe and we aren’t aware of any replacements. It may be best to search for a recipe that was specifically formulated to be egg-free. Let us know if you find one you enjoy!
Absolutely delicious! If I double or triple,do the measurements also dbl or triple? Also,is there a way I can. can this? Pressure can I would guess,or can I waterbath it ?This would be a wonderful addition to my holiday gift baskets!
Hi Danielle, you can make double batches of this lemon curd, and cooking time should be about the same. We haven’t tested those other methods for cooking the curd. Enjoy!
What do you freeze the curd in? Can I use ball canning jars? Your recipe sounds amazing and I’m ready to make it, but just not sure how to freeze it.
Hi Sue, we typically freeze it in mason jars, but any sort of container with a tightly sealed lid should work. Hope you enjoy it!
Thanks, Sally for teaching me to bake! I don’t usually comment on these things, but I felt you should know I’ve been using your recipes religiously for years!! You’ve taught me so much.
I made this again as the topping for your angel food cake recipe. I usually make it with your angel food cupcakes, but I decided to switch it up. Tomorrow is my Father’s and my birthday! He’s diabetic so I cut the sugar a bit. Huge hit.
Love this recipe! Sally, is it possible to make orange curd by substituting orange juice for the lemon juice? Would it be a one-to-one substitute?
Hi Tyler, you can definitely make orange curd with this recipe. We recommend using at least *some* lemon juice with the orange juice for best flavor.
how much would this make if put into 400 gram
jars? Thank you.
Why would you ask HER to figure that out? You can do that on your own. She gave you the recipe.
I made this recipe a while ago for a grooms cake filling. It turned out beautifully and was a huge hit. Your recipes are always amazing.
I’ll start out by saying I. Am not a big baker as I prefer savory recipes that allow me to improvise. I used the modification for a thicker curd and I doubled the recipe. I ended up using a rectangular Pyrex left over container over a pot of boiling water. With all these items being reasons for the recipe to go awry, I it turned out beautifully & tastes delicious. I put it in mini tarts w/fresh berries and mint-divine. Looks elegant and tastes great. A major keeper recipe!’ Thank you.
Hey just wondering what the purpose of a silicone whisk is and if it will affect the curd if i use an ordinary metal one as i don’t have a silicone
Hi Alice! The lemon curd may have a slight metallic taste if using a metal whisk.
I just wanted to say thank you for this wonderfully easy and tasty recipe. I made it exactly as directed (no hacks or gimmicks), using your suggestion of a non-metallic bowl over a pot. It was incredibly easy, even for a first-timer. Thank you again; A+++!!
Is there any issues with trippeling this recipe? I’m looking to make large batches to jar and sell.
Hi Marie, you can make double batches of this lemon curd, and cooking time should be about the same. Enjoy!
Great recipe. Easy hack: whisk eggs and sugar together, add rest of ingredients, cover with parchment and stick into instant pot on a trivet for 10 minutes. DONE
your video doesn’t include sugar…
Hi Bri, it’s actually already in the bowl at :08. But we can make sure text is included.
Hello could you heat/thicken the lemon butter in the microwave in increments? instead over the boiler. I do this for custard and its so much easier. I dont have to watch it like a hawk. Thank you.
Super easy and delicious. Better than the expensive brands I buy in the store. Thanks for posting this recipe.
I cooked all ingredients in the microwave for about 2 minutes (one batch) using the two yolk/one whole egg option. I stirred the butter in after cooking while still hot. Worked great. Be careful. Depending on the wattage of your microwave, it has a tendency of boiling over.
I’ve been making lemon butter every Christmas as extra gift to some.
It’s family passed down. Cook, over a double boiler. 6eggs(stringy things removed, 2 cups sugar, juice of three lemons, zest of one. Whisk away till thickens then add few pads of butter.
Absolutely the best I have tried.
Takes time so turn the tunes on to keep you company
Thank you Sally for your recipe.
This is an awesome recipe I’ve used several times. I love that there’s no corn starch. I do strain it because there can sometimes be little bits of cooked egg yolk. I like it thick and just noticed the suggestion of adding an whole egg with 3 egg yolks. BTW, I’ve used many of your recipes and all have been terrific I just signed up so I could post about straining but will leave more feedback on other recipes I’ve used. Thank you for putting the recipes out there. 🙂 I did find that a better quality zester made all the difference, making the peelings tinier and “dissolvable”.