This Easy Lemon Curd Recipe can be made in 15 minutes with just five ingredients. It has the perfect sweet and tart flavor and is so silky smooth. Enjoy the homemade lemon curd on cakes, pancakes, cheesecake, cupcakes, and so much more.
Easy Lemon Curd
Do you feel like buying a jar of lemon curd at the store is easier than making it yourself? Making lemon curd was one of those things that I always thought was way too difficult to do. I just figured it was easier to buy the jars at the store.
What I found out is that homemade lemon curd is actually very easy to make in minutes. It always turns out perfect, and it tastes WAY better than those jars that have been sitting on the grocery store shelves for who knows how long.
My biggest dilemma with making lemon curd from scratch was that most recipes I found only use egg yolks. Since I didn’t want to have leftover egg whites, I created a lemon curd recipe that used whole eggs.
Another difference is that I add the butter at the beginning and melt it with the sugar. The end result is a perfect lemon curd that is silky smooth with a sweet and tart flavor.
What Is Lemon Curd?
Lemon curd is a smooth fruit spread made from cooking lemon juice, sugar, butter, and eggs on the stovetop, then chilled until thickened.
You can also make lemon curd in the microwave by stirring everything together, then cooking it for 4-6 minutes, whisking every 45 seconds.
The buttery and sweet topping has a delicious tart flavor from the lemon juice and zest.
Other popular curd variations include lime, orange, mango, berry, grapefruit, and pineapple.
What You Need to Make Lemon Curd from Scratch
What I love about making lemon curd from scratch is that it uses simple ingredients. All you have to do is cook everything on the stovetop until it has the consistency of custard with a bright lemon color and flavor.
Lemon Juice – you can use bottled or fresh squeezed lemon juice. Either one works in this lemon curd recipe.
Lemon Zest – fresh lemon zest helps to infuse more lemon flavor
Granulated Sugar – sweets the tart lemon juice for the perfect sweet and tart flavor. You can also use a powdered sugar replacement such as Swerve, if you want sugar free lemon curd.
Butter – use a good quality butter for best results. Do not use a butter substitute.
Eggs – this lemon curd recipe uses whole eggs. No need to separate or have leftover ingredients.
How to make Lemon Curd
Making lemon curd at home is very simple to do. It comes together in minutes using five simple ingredients and makes about 1 1/3 cups of lemon curd.
Step One: Zest
- Wash and dry the lemons to remove any waxy residue.
- Use a zester to remove the outer yellow peel of the lemons. Do not zest the white bitter pith!
Step Two: Cook
- Place lemon juice, zest, butter, and sugar in a sauce pan over low heat.
- Stir until melted and dissolved.
- Whisk eggs in a separate bowl.
- Add ¼ cup of the hot lemon mixture into the eggs while whisking. This tempers the eggs so they do not scramble when you add them to the hot liquid.
- Whisk the tempered eggs into the rest of the lemon mixture.
- Constantly stir over low heat for 8-10 minutes until the lemon curd thickens. You should not see any bubbles as it cooks.
Step Three: Strain and Cool.
- Pour the curd through a strainer to remove the zest and any possible scrambled egg pieces.
- Cover the curd with a piece of saran wrap. Press it directly against the top of the hot lemon curd to prevent a layer from forming as it cools.
- Refrigerate for 3-4 hours to chill and thicken the homemade lemon curd.
BRUCREW TIP: You can use any fruit juice to make a homemade curd. Some of our favorites are lime, blackberry, and grapefruit.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Do NOT use a copper pan or aluminum pan to make lemon curd. The acidic lemon juice will react with the pan and may cause your lemon curd to turn green or have a metallic taste.
- When zesting the lemons, only remove the outer yellow peel. The white pith underneath is bitter and will affect the taste of lemon curd.
- Adding the butter WHILE the mixture cooks, results in a lemon curd that is smoother and has a silkier texture.
- Heat the lemon mixture the FULL 8-10 minutes to keep your lemon curd from being runny. Thin and runny lemon curd happens when it has not been heated long enough.
- STRAIN the warm lemon curd to remove any pulp, seeds, or cooked egg pieces. This is not necessary, but it will ensure that your lemon curd is smooth and silky.
- Press a piece of saran wrap DIRECTLY on top of the hot lemon curd to prevent a layer or film from forming as it cools.
- Lemon curd will thicken after cooling in the refrigerator for a few hours. Spoon into jars or containers with tight sealing lids once it cools.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use bottled lemon juice?
Yes, you can. Make sure to buy a bottled juice that is 100% fresh organic juice though. Some bottled lemon juices are from concentrate with added lemon oils. Fresh squeezed lemon juice will always give you a great taste.
How long does Homemade Lemon Curd last?
Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks. It can also be frozen in an airtight container or bag for 1 year.
How do you know when lemon curd is done?
Cook the lemon mixture for 8-10 minutes until it thickens. It is thick enough to remove from the heat when it coats the back of a spoon and leaves a clear path if you pull your finger through it. It should still be pourable when you take it off the heat.
How to Store Lemon Curd
The only problem with homemade lemon curd is that it has a short shelf life. Each batch needs to be used up rather quickly, so it doesn’t spoil. The good thing is that it is extremely delicious, so using it in a hurry is not a problem.
Refrigerator – Spoon the lemon curd into air tight containers and place in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.
Freezer – Fill freezer safe containers or bags and freeze for up to 1 year. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.
Canning – The shelf life for canned homemade lemon curd is only a few months, so it is not recommended. The better option would be to freeze any leftover lemon curd.
What is lemon curd used for?
Lemon curd is very versatile so there are so many delicious ways to use it. It can be used any place that you use jams, jellies, or custards. Although, my favorite way to enjoy it is with a spoon. Wink, wink.
- Use it as a topping for scones, French toast, or biscuits.
- Layer it with granola, Blueberry Sauce, and Greek yogurt to make breakfast parfaits.
- Fill a pre-baked pie crust or graham cracker crust with lemon curd and swirl this Whipped Cream recipe on top.
- Spread it on pancakes and waffles. Check out How to make Blueberry Pancakes or these Strawberry Waffles.
- Dip cookies or graham crackers in it.
- Add it to the top of a Lemon Meringue Cheesecake.
- Use it as a filling for cakes, crepes, homemade donuts, or Puff Pancakes.
- Spoon it into the center of these Lemon Meringue Cupcakes.
Easy Lemon Desserts
- Fruit Dip
- Strawberry Poke Cake
- Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
- Easy Lemon Danish recipe
- Strawberry Cheesecake Salad
- French Toast Roll Ups
- Lemon Dump Cake
- Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars
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- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 medium sized lemon)
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- Stir together sugar, zest, juice, and butter in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until melted and dissolved, stirring occasionally.
- Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl. Whisk in 1/4 cup hot sugar mixture to temper the eggs. Repeat with another 1/4 cup.
- Whisk the tempered eggs into the hot sugar mixture in the saucepan. Cook over low-medium heat, stirring continuously, for 8-10 minutes. Do not let the mixture bubble or boil.
- Remove from heat and pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove the zest and any lumps. Use the back of a spoon to push the mixture through.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap over the warm mixture, making sure it touches the surface of the lemon curd. This will keep a film from forming as it cools.
- Refrigerate until completely chilled and thickened. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks, or freeze for up to one year.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 175Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 19mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 0gSugar: 20gProtein: 1g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and are not guaranteed to be accurate. If you need special diet advice, please see a registered dietician.