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. I made this curd yesterday and it was amazing in my (your) pavlova.
    What, if any modifications need to be made to make blood orange curd?

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

  2. Gina Arnold says:

    Made lime curd. Really easy to do. Turned out great. Going to definitely use again ❣️

  3. I had recently tried this recipe at my home and it is really easy to make and very delicious in taste. Also sharing here another lemon curd recipe. Check out the recipe here: https://www.foodybud.com/perfect-lemon-curd-recipe-the-recipe-critic/

  4. Julie Hardesty says:

    I consider myself a connoisseur of all things lemon. I love lemon curd and make it often. I thought I had the best recipe already, up until now! This is by far the BEST lemon curd I’ve ever made or tasted. Absolutely divine! Thank you, Sally! You get five stars from me for your delicious lemon curd!

  5. Yum. Just made it for the second time. Comes out great! I didn’t have a double boiler so I cooked it on the stove top at a super low temp.

  6. Amazing recipe and so easy. Made both lemon and lime curd and will be making this many more times! Thank you.

  7. Hi Sally! Looking to use this between cake layers, so interested in the “Thicker Lemon Curd” adaptation. A little confused in the recipe modifications that are suggested. It says, “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.” But the original recipe calls for 4 egg yolks. So is it: 2 egg yolks + 2 whole eggs? Or 2 egg yolks + 1 whole egg (i.e. 3 eggs instead of 4)? On that same train of thought, for a super thick cake-filling worthy curd, should I just use 4 whole eggs? Thanks so much for your help; huge fan!!!

    1. Hi Beth, you can use 4 egg yolks for a thinner curd as suggested or 1 whole egg + 2 egg yolks for a thicker curd.

      1. Got it; will do! Thanks for the clarification!

  8. Hi Sally! I’ve been whisking for 20 mins and it’s still very watery. What can I do?

  9. I made lemon curd in advance to fill a cake tomorrow. The curd is in the fridge. How do I warm it up so I can spread it onto my cake layers? It is really thick right out of the fridge, and won’t spread because it’s so cold.

    1. Hi Corinna, you can warm it in a double boiler to thin out to your desired thickness. Though I never usually do since it spreads nicely out of the refrigerator.

  10. Hi sally! Your recipes are my go to ones always want to ask if this lemon curd can be used for pipping filling on mini tarts? Or do i follow the recipe from your lemon meringue pie for it? Which consistency would be better for mini tart filling( pipped)

    1. Hi Joanna, you can use this lemon curd in pre-baked mini tart shells, but I don’t recommend using it in a big tart or pie since it will not slice neatly.

  11. Just a quick question, Sally! If I use it fill the cupcakes – what would be the shelf life of these cupcakes – at ROOM TEMPERATURE ( it is better to keep cupcakes at room t, right?)? Thank you so much for this – and many others! – great recipes!

    1. Hi Evelyn, a day or 2 would be just fine. I’ve used this to fill cupcakes and kept them at room temperature for 1 day, then served the next day and they were just fine. But, as always, you can use your best judgment!

  12. Hello! First off let me just say that your page is OUTSTANDING!

    Is there a way to make cupcakes and fill them with curd and have them not be soggy?

    Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Tay! As long as you fill the cupcakes and serve within 1-2 days, they’ll be just fine.

  13. I’ve never made lemon curd before but this was so easy! It tastes like sunshine in a jar! Thanks Sally!

  14. Another great recipe – as with all the others I’ve tried from this site. I made 2 batches (1 lemon and 1 lime) and both times I had to keep whisking for 20 minutes before the mixture thickened …maybe because my yolks were from fridge.. but just a note for anyone, not to give up as it seems like nothing is happening for almost 19 minutes and then thickens in the last minute. Thanks Sally

  15. Easiest and yummiest lemon curd ever to make!!!!
    Thank you Sally, for the delicious recipe…… Absolutely loved it…..
    The only thing I did different was, as I have very very less patience, I whisked it on low heat around 5min, n then cranked up the gas to high and whisked like crazy, n the curd thickened in seconds, I immediately turned down the heat to low again for a few more minutes…. .. turned out delicious…..

  16. Cricket Rodriguez says:

    It is delicious and easy to make.

  17. Toni Horton says:

    Made the lemon curd for the very first time and it turned out sooo good! Will be using it to top Blueberry Lemon Scones tomorrow. I’ve never tasted a lemon filling so creamy and delicious as this one! So impressed!! Used a pot inside a pot as I don’t have a double boiler. It took bringing the temperature up a bit after 11 minutes or so to get it to thicken, while whisking the whole time. Thank you!

  18. hi! how many cream puffs do you think this would fill? (i would be filling them with half curd, half whipped cream)

  19. Hi, thinking of trying this recipe today. But I don’t know what to do with the leftover egg whites? Any suggestions. Thinking of just buying store bought instead. Thanks

    1. Hi Aysha, I often just use them in my morning omelets 🙂 But you can also search my website by ingredient. Here is a link to all of my recipes that use egg whites.

  20. LOVED this recipe! I am using it for your Lemon Coconut Cake, but the temptation to eat it all with a spoon is tough to resist. I did not use a double boiler, rather I used a pot on relatively low heat and whisked it like crazy and until the texture was right. Thanks again for another winner recipe and your extremely helpful tips!!

  21. Hi Sally
    should egg yolks be at room temperature?
    Thank you!

    1. It doesn’t make a huge difference, but you can definitely bring them to room temperature first.

      1. Thank you so much !
        Love your website!

  22. How do you use this to “fill” a cupcake? I’m making your lemon blueberry cupcake recipe and you mentioned filling it with the lemon curd. I made the lemon blueberry layer cake 2 weeks ago for my husband birthday and it was phenomenal!

    1. Hi Renee, I have a video of how I fill cupcakes in my Sugar Plum Fairy Cupcakes post!

  23. I will try it next week. looks scrumptious

  24. your recipe say prep time 5 min cook time 10 min but it also says time 1 hr 15 min . an error ?

    1. This includes cooling.

  25. Omg I froze my extra lemon curd and it tastes like lemon gelato! Looooove it.

  26. Amazing recipe. Quick question; do you place the curd in the fridge as soon as you finish making it? Or should it cool at room temperature? Thanks

    1. Hi Cara! I recommend room temperature.

      1. NOOO…NEVER put anything warm or hot in the fridge, in response to the lady asking this question, this is the right answer!

  27. Is the thicker version thick enoygh to make a tart?

    1. Hi Nicole, You might like the filling for my creamy lemon pie!

  28. So so good! A thick and very smooth curd. Delicious! Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  29. Hi Sally! I have made this recipe three times now. I have a question about whisking. It takes me about 35 minutes to an hour to make this, and I am wondering – am I whisking too vigorously or too slow? Do you have some visual example of the ideal whisking here? Is seeing froth at the top ok, or do we want to whisk slow enough to avoid that?
    Thank you, this recipe is delicious.

    1. Hi Natalie, I’m glad you enjoy this lemon curd! Try increasing the heat on your stove. Is the pan you’re using particularly thick? A thinner pan and higher heat will cut down on the cook time. I usually whisk it pretty vigorously, but haven’t noticed a difference if I whisk a little slower. Froth at the top is normal!

      1. Thanks so much for your response! I am eating some lemon curd now on top of warm lemon currant scones and it’s amazing.

        I use a round glass bowl on top of a pot – a makeshift double boiler. The froth does seem to settle in the end, but I was also thinking it could affect the color; the first time I made it I whisked slower but for longer, and I believe the color was more striking but maybe it was just the lighting. But that could also be the eggs I used, or the lemons. Can I also ask, then, what factor of the recipe can produce the most intense yellow color?

  30. Made the Lemon Curd today with some pecan meringues and Oh My lemon curd atop some macerated raspberries…My Goodness Sally…you’ve done it again!

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