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. 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!.

  2. 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!!

  3. 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. 🙂

  4. 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.

  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.

    1. Please give instructions for using the pressure cooker. Cover with water or just use a few inches? Put covers on jars, use canning jars or can I use jelly jars?

  6. I just made two 4 oz jars for Christmas gifts. Should I freeze before giving away?
    Love the taste and texture, by the way. I’ll have to make some for myself 😉

    1. Hi Mary. What a delicious gift! You can refrigerate the curd for up to about 10 days. For longer storage, you can freeze the curd up to 3-6 months. And then be sure to make more for yourself 🙂

  7. Sally this was my 1st try at Lemon Curd and it’s positively delicious! Tart, Sweet, and much easier than I thought. Why oh why did I wait so long to try making this? I used a glass mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water; it did take about 15 minute or so to thicken. I continue to gain baking confidence (I’m a savory gal) w/your sweet treat recipes and especially your great tips. The curd is cooling now with a saran wrap cover. I cannot wait to try this on the Cream Cheese Pound cake recipe you posted today; I have a loaf pan of it cooling on my stove right now!

  8. This is the first time I have made this, I had two leftover egg yolks from another recipe so I thought I would half this recipe. Turned out fabulous! I only wish I had enough eggs to make the whole recipe! I’m going to use in pavlova with blueberries and cream
    Thanks Sally

  9. Would like to fill tassie cups (after baking them) with this lemon curd. Do you think they would be freezable, and if so, how to thaw them before serving?

  10. Amazing foolproof recipe!!
    Can’t wait to try it this weekend however I have a question: does butter and sugar make the curd thicker or thinner?

  11. 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!

  12. I decided to jump in and try this. Question though,if it wouldn’t happen to get thick can I still use it since I’m putting it in the lemon blueberry trifle recipe for the whipped cream?:)

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

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