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. HI Sally! I’m going to be Making your chocolate chip muffins soon and I know over time you’ve said you sometimes do half granulated sugar and half brown sugar what do you recommend for your chocolate chip muffins? And are there any other tips? These are nice soft, moist muffins right?

      1. Which do you recommend half brown sugar half granulated sugar? Or all granulated sugar?? Which would be the best?

  2. Thanks for the simple recipe and for the recommendation re: double boiler that does not cost a fortune and is a quality piece of equipment. I’m going to try this with Meyer lemons! 

  3. 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.  

  4. 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

  5. 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!

  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).

  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?

  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. I accidentally added the butter into the curd mixture at the beginning ! I’m stirring it and hope it will turn out ok 

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. Hi Sally, I love this recipe!! I have made it several times for a lemon cake I make. I tried using some of the curd in my icing but it made it too thin. My icing has cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar.  I tried adding more sugar but that takes away from the lemon taste.  I didn’t measure the curd that I put in

    1. Hi Cathy, I’m not surprised it got a little thin. I would reduce the amount of butter in the frosting if you try it again.

  14. 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?

  15. I’m sure someone has already asked this question…but I’m preparing for the State Fair (which you’ve helped me get 3 ribbons), and I am prepping to make your lemon coconut layer cake. To make this curd in advance….can I make lots of it and can it? Or do you think it’ll work better to just freeze it? Thank you for everything that you do!

    1. Hi Catherine– I’m NOT a pro on canning, but I suspect this isn’t ideal for canning because of the presence of butter and egg yolks. But you can freeze it up to 3-6 months– simply thaw in the refrigerator overnight before enjoying.

  16. ‘Insert 15 heart-eyed emojis’ – Sally you crack me up every single time, you are hilarious! Thanks for all the laughs and the lovely recipes. Am going to try this one – first time ever making lemon curd!

  17. If I’m wanting to make this as a Christmas gift that has to be mailed, would it work? Or does this really have to be refrigerated right away?

  18. I found this recipe when searching for lemon cream cheese frosting recipes. I saw another cream cheese frosting recipe that uses lemon curd but I really prefer your cream cheese frosting recipe! Should I reduce the butter and/or cream cheese in your standard recipe if I plan on adding the curd? I’m planning to use it for a strawberry lemonade cake for my little girl’s 4th birthday. I love your recipes and always feel like I am in good hands when testing one out!

    1. I would slightly reduce the butter in the cream cheese frosting recipe to make up for the addition of lemon curd. Great question!

  19. 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

  20. 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!

  21. 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. 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

  22. 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!

  23. 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!

  24. 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.

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