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. Can lemon curd be canned (like jams & fruit butters) for longer storage?

    1. I have frozen the curd (see recipe notes) but I have never tried canning it.

  2. Donna Wollen says:

    Soooooo good! Worth the whisking time. My husband even did a little “dance” after tasting it!

  3. Divine! I will say though, I had to cook this closer to 25 minutes, and the water was at a rolling boil the whole time. Not sure why, as I made it exactly to recipe. Also, I did strain it and while it would have still been tasty as it was with the zest inside, straining it just took it up to silly, smooth perfection.

    1. I had the exact same experience as you. I attributed it to the thickness of the bottom of glass bowl I was using over boiling water, just taking longer to heat up. The end product was perfect. I can’t say enough about how delicious this is!

  4. Hi Sally — I made your curd today (using a combination of kaffir limes and a Meyer lemon I had on hand), and I have a couple of observations/questions.

    1) I used a Pyrex mixing bowl for a non-metal top vessel for my double boiler. I got the water boiling (and the bowl heating) even before I started prepping the other ingredients. Still, did not thicken much after 10 minutes of cooking/whisking, so as mentioned in the recipe, I increased the heat (gas) and kept whisking … and kept increasing the heat and whisking! I finally stopped after 40 minutes (!!) It was thicker, but not nearly to what I would call Hollandaise sauce thickness. Is Pyrex too-insulating a material to use for this purpose?

    (Next time I might risk the “metallic” taste and use the stainless steel double-boiler top, which should heat faster, I’d think.)

    2) When I added the butter and stirred the mixture, it seemed that the eggs began to curdle immediately. (They were smooth as silk when I took them off the heat.) When I poured the curd into the Mason jar, it had a top film of clear, watery fluid. What might have caused this separation?

    In retrospect, I’m wondering if I should have whisked in the butter (vs. “stir”, which implies using a spoon, perhaps even gently).

    1. Hi Mike! Thank you so much for reporting back about the lemon curd– I, too, have used a pyrex bowl as a mock double boiler for this with no issues, so I don’t think that the bowl is too thick. How hot was the water beneath? Was it already simmering when you placed the bowl on top and began? Using a whisk when you add the butter could definitely help reduce the risk of curdling. I also believe there was curdling because the mixture (possibly) wasn’t thickened enough. Did you use the only egg yolk option or full egg option? Just curious.

      1. Hi Sally — The water was at a full boil, and I’d started it early to be sure the Pyrex bowl would be hot when I added the ingredients. I used egg yolks only; I’ve never made curd with the entire eggs, but maybe I should try it. I figured that after 40 minutes of heating & whisking, it was as thick as it was going to get.

        After the curd cooled, a hard pad had formed on top, almost like the old paraffin seal. I’m thinking that it was unincorporated butter (due to the stirring, not whisking). But we let it come to room temperature and whisked it in the jar (we have a tiny whisk, too) and got it to re-incorporate.

        The flavor on the finished curd, btw, is fabulous. The kaffir lime around and tartness is just what we’d hoped for. Next time, I hope to get the technique down so it doesn’t take so long and doesn’t go through a lumpy phase. 🙂

    2. NATALIE R BRYN says:

      Any recipe that calls for butter to be added to anything hot has the chance of separating! (caramel comes to mind)… When this happens, remove from heat & whisk like crazy to re-incorporate it!

      1. Yes, Natalie! I’m glad Sally edited the recipe to say “whisk” rather than “stir” the butter into the hot egg mixture. I was too gentle in the beginning. (And the mixture was already off the heat, as directed in the recipe.)

  5. I am wondering if any of you have canned this recipe and if so how did you modify it?

    1. Heather Downing says:

      You need to heat your water bath to 180 degrees prior to putting your filled jars into the water. Once your jars are in the 180 degree water, bring to a boil, this should take 25 to 30 minutes. Once it’s boiling process for 15 minutes, then turn off heat and leave the jars in the water for an additional 5 minutes. Allow to cool at room temperature.
      Hope that helps.

      1. Pamela Davis says:

        I believe I read that curd must be pressure canned, not water bath canned. Check USDA guidelines.

      2. According to NCHFP, water bath canning is acceptable.
        https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_02/lemon_curd.html
        https://nchfp.uga.edu/papers/2006/06ift-lemoncurd.html

      3. I’ve done the water bath method a couple times and never had a problem. Just canned two batches. 🙂

  6. followed direction and everthing turned out perfect, however, the second batch there was a foam on the top and the bottom looks like the first batch. it tasts good but does not look good.

  7. I love this stuff! I used the leftover egg yolks after making your strawberry cake recipe, which was delicious! This lemon curd has a great lemon flavor and I put it on almost everything! My attempt at this turned out pretty good but also pretty thick. After sitting in the fridge overnight the consistency is similar to that of cold icing or a paste. Is that typical or did I thicken it up too much?

  8. Can ghee be used in place of butter?

  9. Is it possible to decrease the amount of sugar or will that affect the curd? If so, by how much can it be reduced?

    1. I reduced it to 1/3 c of sugar and it still turned out amazing – just not as sweet, more tart which is what I wanted.

  10. Made this today and was really pleased with the result. I used a metal pan over boiling water and whisked it the entire 10 minutes. Thickened up perfectly, whisked it like crazy to incorporate the butter. Delicious and smooth, very thick. Love the flavor and the texture.

  11. Hi Sally, I made this just now and I’m thrilled with how it came out. I too had to cook it longer (about 15 minutes) but it looked like hollandaise when I took it off. I just wanted to check, I can’t overcook it can I? It’s quite thick, like a cake batter but the taste test I did washing the bowl was lovely! I am a little worried I’ve overcooked it.

  12. Nandini Varghese says:

    Tried it for the first time in life, the result was remarkable, infact I found myself licking my fingers after pouring the content from the blender, touching it ( the blender) now and then. The whole experience was new and wonderful ❤️ . Thanks and love from India.

  13. I used this recipe to make lemon curd for the first time ever and it was delicious! I did use the 3-egg method with 2 yolks and 1 whole egg. The mixture was very foamy while in the double boiler but I was able to mix away the foam once the mixture was cool. I only added 1/3 cup sugar so it was more tart. Turned out thick, super creamy and yummy! My family loves it and we put it on everything!

    1. I’m so happy your family enjoyed it, Kristin! Thank you for trying my recipe!

  14. Prepared this like a Scientist; never got thick enough { cooked over double boiler for 15 min } and stayed very frothy / white. Not sure what happened.

  15. Cheri Gracier says:

    Love this recipe!! I never realised how many different ways to use this. I have canned the curd, it was wonderful although the lid was hard to pry off. I also kept it in the fridge because of the ggs included. I am making another batch today and my next time I am trying lime.

  16. Do you think I could replace the lemon juice with canned pineapple juice (and reduce the sugar slightly)?

    1. I haven’t personally tried it, but I wouldn’t change anything. You can try slightly reducing the sugar. Let me know how it turns out!

  17. Can I use frozen egg yolks for this? I froze my leftover angel food cake yolks with just a wee bit of sugar and would love to use them for this.

    1. Frozen and thawed egg yolks should work just fine.

  18. Awesome recipe! I just used it to make passion fruit curd to use as a cake filling. All I did was swap the lemon juice for an equal amount of Goya frozen passion fruit pulp and it came out perfect!

  19. Christina says:

    I can’t believe how easy this was to make and how delicious it turned out. I will be adding it to the top of a cheesecake along with candied lemons for garnish.

    Thank You!

  20. Rebecca Deneke says:

    I made this last night and it turned out so well! I have 50 lbs of lemons that I’m trying to use. Have you ever made this in a crockpot for larger quantities? Have you ever bottled it?

    1. So glad you enjoy this lemon curd! I haven’t tried either.

  21. Just made this lemon curd this morning. What a delight. I’m going to use this as filling in a lemon cake. I’ve never made curd before and was skeptical but it turned out beautifully. Followed the recipe exactly.

  22. The best dish I’ve ever cooked myself and probably some of the best lemon curd I’ve ever had. I’m not good with trying new things but I tried yours tonight and it’s amazing!! My family loved it. Great recipe

  23. I made your lemon curd yesterday and the recipe was so easy to follow. It came out great. I’ve never been successful at curd before.

  24. I have some egg yolks leftover from seven minute frosting, a small container full. I don’t know how many yolks there are. Is there anyway to measure yolks by the cup or ounces?

    1. Hi Laurie, 1/2 cup of large egg yolks is *about* 8 large yolks, so I would use about 1/4 cup egg yolks here— even closer to 5 Tbsp (1/3 cup) to be safe.

      1. My curd turned out grainy?!?! What did I do wrong??? Please let me know… emily

  25. Sally, that’s very helpful! Thank you!

    1. Delicious..I used this as a substitute for whip cream (only Because I didn’t have any) for angel food cake..nice alternative!

  26. Tamara Andersen says:

    Just starting a second batch of the lemon curd to give as a gift. This recipe is a keeper!

  27. Just made this. Came out really well. Didn’t have cling film so had to put in a killer hat without the rubber seal. Hopefully that works.

  28. Just tried this and its oh so good! And so easy to do and get right! I made the thickrr version.

    Quick question, i also tried your Graham cracker pie crust. Can i just will it in with this lemon curd to make a lemon curd tart? Or do i need to bake it still?

  29. Ok. That was a total disaster. I had doubled the recipe. The Pyrex glass bowl (which is one of a set), that I was using as a double boiler, shattered as I was wisking, and the contents sank into the simmering water below. Total loss, and very dangerous. I have a metal double boiler, which I have used for lemon meringue pie. I might try that next time. I love your website, and your recipes (the pavlova was fab), but this is actually quite dangerous. It is not your fault that my bowl was not up to the task, but I think suggesting I improvise a double boiler is not a good idea.

    1. Hi Carol! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. That’s certainly a scare. I use this mock double boiler method often and haven’t had that happen before but I will certainly look into it. Thank you again.

    2. This also happened to me 🙁 I was luckier and my bowl didn’t shatter, so I was able to save the contents, but it did crack and is now unusable. My bowl was also Pyrex. Still a fan of the recipe (used blood oranges and it’s currently chilling in the fridge) but it might be a good idea to put a disclaimer on your suggestion of the DIY double boiler.

  30. I had 7egg yokes left over from another bake and googled What to do with yokes and found this recipe! It was so easy to follow and the lemon curd turned out perfectly Thanks for the recipe, will be looking up more of your ideas!!

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