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, 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
Sally this is the first time you’ve done me dirty. My lemon curd never thickened after 30 mins on the double boiler at medium high heat. I tried to add cornstarch to salvage it and at least thicken it up a little. Also your mobile website is the WORST. It crashes my phone multiple times when I’m looking at recipes, which is not great when you’re doing things in the moment.
I was wondering if this lemon curd would hold up well as a filling for an outdoor summer wedding cake? Adding the extra egg makes the filling thicker, so would that be the best option to prevent a runny (or melting) filling? Thank you so much!!!
Hi Chloe, lemon curd should really be kept chilled. If it’s inside of a chilled wedding cake, it may last a few hours outside, but always do what you’re comfortable with!
Worked great, tasted great. I only had a sauce whisk (a flat one) in silicone and used that, and it worked fine.
This was easy to make ( used the whole egg plus 2 yolks version). Unfortunately although it looked fantastic , it had a strong eggy taste. Since I have never made lemon curd, is this the expected outcome? Did I undercook or overcook it?
Hi Karen! Glad you enjoyed it. It shouldn’t have an eggy flavor so I wonder if it was 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.
Excellent simple make ahead recipe. Made it to serve as topping for pavlova, added a few mixed berries and a sprinkle of toasted flaked almonds and WOW. Nothing left at the end of the night!
Success, mostly! Used a whole egg for thicker curd, and some of the white cooked, so had to fish out those bits with a spoon. Perhaps shoulda mixed all thoroughly first, per other comments (next time!), and/or heat was too high in the bowl? Also, in case this helps others, did successfully use a butter substitute that said it works for baking. Also used half erythritol (the bagged stuff from Costco), and like someone else said, it remained grainy, so don’t try that!
Hi! I would love to make this recipe, but I don’t have enough egg yolks. (I’m using extra egg yolks)
So is it possible for me to half the ingredients in this recipe? or would it affect the lemon curd in any way?
Hi Nyte! If you have three eggs, see recipe notes for using one whole egg plus two yolks for a thicker curd. We haven’t tested halving this recipe, but the times for each step would vary. Let us know what you try!
It took closer to 20 minutes for mine to thicken and got really frothy. Is that normal? Mine also made closer to two cups and definitely seems thicker than the consistency in the video. Can you “overdo” lemon curd and does this sound like what happened?
Hi Bri! 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. Froth at the top is normal! If the final curd was especially thick, it’s possible that it was a bit overdone. Increasing the heat a bit next time should help cut down on the time and thickness. Thanks so much for giving it a try!
Perfect! rich, smooth, creamy, delicious and pretty much foolproof. Two things. Be sure to keep the water in your double boiler barely at a simmer (as the recipe instructs) and your eggs will never scramble. I also use a quick read thermometer to check that my curd has reached 170F degrees to ensure it’s set. Secondly, I think it’s aluminum that reacts with the lemon to give a metallic taste. I use a stainless steel bowl over water to make this and hollandaise and have never had a problem.
This lemon curd was delicious but it would not thicken i kept stirring and stirring. after 15 mins of whisking i added 1/4 of a teaspoon of cornstarch and finally it thickened!
Can I use a metal bowl for the double boil? Or would metal have a weird reaction with the eggs and acid?
Hi Amanda! You’re exactly right, the acidity from the lemons would react with the metal bowl and leave a weird taste. Best to stick with glass for lemon curd!
I want to make this lemon curd as a gift, but how long will it last in a glass jar? do I have to sterilize the jar? and must the jar have a screw-on lid? Can you tell that I’ve never canned anything in my life?
Hi Mary, many readers have canned this in the same manner you can a jam or jelly. We haven’t tested it though. The lemon curd in a glass jar will stay in the refrigerator for up to about 10 days. For longer storage, you can freeze the curd up to 3-6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before enjoying.
When i made it, i used the microwave at 30 seconds at a time, then whisk, then 30 seconds and repeat until right consistency.
Best recipe for lemon curd, hands down!
Perfect with lemons or limes and my favorite.. both:)
Thank you for sharing this recipe!
My suggestion for people having a long wait time is making your double boiler with a wider bowl for more heat distribution. I use my wide medal salad bowl on a pot of boiling water med-high heat, whisking away and it doesn’t take too long, even for double batches.
I went with the thicker curd option and it was so easy, and DIVINE. Literally just eat it by the spoonful.
What a simple recipe. Great lemony flavor but my curd seems grainy once it cooled. Is there a way I can change the texture?
Hi Sylvia, Grainy lemon curd is a result from over-cooking. Try removing from heat a little earlier. That will help for next time!
BRILLIANT! One point – using double boiling takes longer. I didn’t time it, but it seemed like a lifetime. 🙂
Well worth the wait, tho.
I just made this and I love it! Though it took me twice as long to get it thick.
Just wondering how to go about doubling this recipe ?
Hi Amy, you can make double batches of this lemon curd, and cooking time should be about the same. Enjoy!
Will using 2 whole eggs make it thicker than it is with 1 whole and 2 yolks? I’m going to fill macarons with this and I tried it with 1 whole & 2 yolks but it was a bit too runny.
Hi Mihika! To use lemon curd as a macaron filling, we recommend piping a ring of vanilla or lemon buttercream around the outside of your macaron to create a little dam, then fill that ring with lemon curd. It holds everything in place and tastes heavenly!
According to my friend wh makes lemon curda al lot, the instruction of subbing 2 egg yolks for a whole egg doesn’t make it thicker but has the opposite effect as egg white is protein but no fat and its the fat that thickens the curd
Could I just add a bit of gelatin to this to use for a mousse cake?
Hi Kenzie, we haven’t tested adding gelatin to this recipe but let us know if you do! It may be helpful to search for a lemon mousse recipe instead.
The flavor is fantastic but I have tried this curd three times and every time it never gets thick. The last 2 times I doubled the cooking time and had the heat on high and neither worked.
Is this very sweet or more acidic? I want to use this as a cake filling and I wonder if this plus the cake, the icing (which combines milk and lemon juice) and some syurp it calls for will be too much
Hi Maria, it’s both sweet and tangy. We do use this lemon curd in some of our cakes like this lemon coconut cake and our sunshine citrus cake.
HELP! I followed directions (I think)
But my Lemon Curd isn’t getting
Hi Cathy, your curd may just need more time to cook and thicken!
I love this recipe! I have used it for yummy like and orange curd, too. So good and so easy!
Great outcome and easy . Thanks loved it.
Has any one tried this recipe using just limes with success? It was wonderful for lemon curd and now I’d like to try limes! Thank you!
Hi Morgan, You can definitely swap the lemons for limes to make this into a lime curd. No other changes needed. Enjoy!
Hi! Is there a reason that bottled lemon juice won’t work? I have a high-quality bottled juice but no fresh lemons on hand. (And I just made your angel food cake–lovely!–so I have yolks I need to use up quick). I’d have to sub orange or grapefruit for the zest (or leave it out), too.
Hi Jess! Fresh squeezed juice is really best for these bars.
just made this recipe and I think we have a long future together. I make macarons and I have been throwing the yolks away I use so many. There is so much creme burlee I can eat. Found your recipe by accident and realize I can make a ton of this curd. Lemon is my favorite flavor so I am in heaven. The taste and texture is great on this recipe. I have 2 Eureka and 1 Meyers tree I use for limoncello and 4 lime tree’s. Will have to try this recipe with the limes 😉 Thank you!
This was the first time I have ever made lemon curd and this recipe was so easy. I have one beautiful jar but next time I will make more for gifts.
I absolutely love this recipe I make it all the time and give it as gifts and people come back for more. I Have a Meyer lemon tree and I Hot water bath can a gazillion jars of curd while they’re ripe
This recipe looks delicious! I’m making an angel food cake and I was wondering if this would be good to pour over top of it? Do I still leave it to cool in the end or do I pour it over the cake when it’s still warm? Thank you!
Hi Alyssa, It can be spread on top of your cake’s filling (like how we do it for this lemon coconut cake).
How much does this recipe make?
About 1-1.5 cups.
Dena how long do you boil the filled jars when canning?
I would love to try canning some–how long do you process in the water bath?
Does it make a difference if I use refrigerated eggs or room temperature eggs in my lemon curd?
Either is fine!
I’m going to make the lemon blueberry cake in this site. Do you think I could use a combination of frosting and this lemon curd in my layers?
Hi Kelly! Absolutely- we would follow the instructions for chilling the cake after filling so it’s not too unstable with the looser filling.
Followed the recipe exactly but couldn’t get the curd to thicken. Luckily I was squirting it into a cake so it didn’t matter much.