Tangy, creamy, and perfect for so many desserts, this homemade lemon curd is delicious alone or as the ideal filling for your next lemon meringue pie.
If you love lemon as much as we do, you have to try this recipe from Nicky at Kitchen Sanctuary. It is the BEST homemade lemon curd ever. And because you only need 4 simple ingredients and 25 minutes to make it, you can whip up a batch whenever the craving hits.
I love lemon curd and I’m always on the lookout for it (and other fruit curd flavors) whenever I visit a farmer’s market. The sweet and tart taste is just a wonderful way to wake up your taste buds in the morning or while indulging in a dessert.
My kids are going crazy for this stuff at the moment. As soon as they get in from school, half a bagel or a couple of crackers with a dollop of lemon curd is the first thing requested when they walk through the door!
Lemon curd is a creamy and dreamy addition to angel food cake, served over quick breads, swirled into your yogurt, or paired with fresh fruit.
And homemade lemon curd is way better than the stuff you get at the store. It’s more flavorful and made with simple ingredients you probably have on hand right now.
I hope you enjoy it, and I’d love to hear if you’ve tried any unusual or interesting fruit curd flavors.
Why You’ll Love This Easy Lemon Curd Recipe
- Made with just 4 simple ingredients
- Creamy, sweet, and tangy addition to many desserts and breakfast items
- More flavorful than the stuff you buy at the store — strong lemon flavor with none of the added
- preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients
- Stores for weeks in the fridge or up to a year in the freezer
- Lemons: You’ll need the juice and zest of several lemons to get that bright, tangy flavor. Don’t try to substitute bottled lemon juice. You need real lemons to get both the zest and fresh lemon juice.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar sweetens the creamy topping and balances out the tart flavor of the lemons.
- Butter: Use unsalted butter that’s been cut into small pieces. Cutting it first helps the butter melt faster and combine with the other ingredients. Butter helps make the curd smooth and creamy.
- Eggs and an extra egg yolk: Eggs and yolks help thicken lemon curd. Using a combination of whole eggs and egg yolk yields a lighter lemon curd. Some cooks use only egg yolks for denser curd.
How to Make Homemade Lemon Curd
- Step One: Set up a double boiler. If you don’t have one, set a bowl over a pan of simmering water, but make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Place the lemon zest, lemon juice, a cup of sugar, and butter into the bowl. Heat over medium heat, stirring every few seconds until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Just heat the mixture to this point — you don’t want it to start boiling.
- Step Two: Mix the eggs and egg yolk together. Pour them into the lemon mixture (that’s still on the double boiler) while stirring with a whisk.
- Step Three: Continue heating the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. This should take 5 to 8 minutes. If it’s not thickening up, turn up the heat a little, still constantly whisking the mixture.
- Step Four: Once the curd is thickened, remove the bowl, and leave it to cool to room temperature. It will continue to thicken as the temperature drops. Give it a stir every 5 to 10 minutes until the mixture is completely cool. Once cooled, place the mixture in a sterilized jar. Screw on the lid and refrigerate until needed or serve immediately.
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What to Serve With This Homemade Lemon Curd Recipe
As well as making an excellent topping for toast, I like to use it in cake fillings, on pancakes (mixed with a little mascarpone) and in desserts – such as this strawberry & lemon fool or these lemon curd coconut macaroons.
Lemon curd can also be used:
- As a filling between cake layers
- In a parfait
- As a tart or pie filling
- In crepes
- Over vanilla ice cream
- Served with fresh berries
- As a dip for cookies
- As a filling in lemon cupcakes
Lemon Curd Tips and Tricks
- Whisk the mixture constantly while it’s in the double boiler. This will help you avoid getting small bits of cooked egg in your homemade curd.
- A double boiler (or a setup mimicking one) is absolutely necessary. Cooking over direct heat will cause the ingredients to burn and curdle, but the indirect heat of a double boiler prevents this.
- To avoid a metallic taste, use a glass heatproof bowl over your pot of boiling water instead of a metal bowl. Lemon can react with a metal pan, which you want to avoid.
- You may want to use a silicone whisk instead of a wire whisk when working with lemons and other reactive ingredients.
- If you see tiny bits of egg in your curd, don’t fret. Just use a fine mesh strainer to get them out.
- Stirring the curd every 5-10 minutes as it cools prevents that thick film from forming on the surface of the curd. You can also cover it with plastic wrap (with the plastic wrap touching the top of the mixture) to prevent this.
Variations and Substitutions
- Try a different citrus fruit, such as tangerine, orange, lime, or grapefruit in place of the lemons in this simple recipe
- Make this luscious lemon curd in the microwave! We haven’t tested this technique, but we’ve seen microwave variations that involve blending the ingredients with a food processor or blender and then cooking in the microwave, stirring every 15-30 seconds until thickened.
- Increase the sugar for a sweeter lemon curd (with more of a custard flavor), or decrease it if you want the tartness of the lemons to be the star of the show.
Store this easy lemon curd in a jar in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.
Can I Freeze Lemon Curd?
Yes, you can freeze prepared lemon curd. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, lemon curd can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for up to a year. For the best flavor, though, you should probably use it within 6 months or so. Thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 hours, and then make sure you use it all within 4 weeks.
What’s the difference between lemon curd and lemon custard?
Although curd and custard may look the same, they taste different. Lemon curd is all about that tart lemon flavor, more akin to the taste of fresh lemons. Lemon custard contains thickeners like cornstarch and has a milder flavor. Both are delicious options for dessert, while lemon curd is much more likely to be used in breakfast items than custard.
Why did my lemon curd not set?
You probably didn’t heat it long enough or at a high enough temperature. If your lemon curd hasn’t thickened up after it cools, return it to the double boiler to try again. Remember to stir constantly, removing the curd only when it’s thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.
Why is my lemon curd foamy?
Lemon curd gets foamy as it cooks. It’s nothing to worry about. As you continue cooking and stirring, the foam disappears.
More Luscious Lemon Recipes
Lemon lovers will adore these bright and flavorful lemon desserts:
If you make the recipe, rate it on the recipe card below and tag me on Instagram and use #simplystacie. I like sharing the photos on my Instagram stories!
- Zest and juice of 4 lemons
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 5 oz unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 3 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- Set up a double boiler – or use a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water though) and place the lemon zest and juice, sugar and the butter into the bowl. Heat on a medium heat, stirring every few seconds until the butter melts and sugar dissolves. Just heat until it’s at this point – you don’t want to boil the mixture.
- Mix together the eggs and egg yolk, then pour into the lemon mixture (still on the double boiler) whilst stirring with a whisk.
- Continue to heat on a medium heat, stirring every few seconds with a whisk until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. This should take 5-8 minutes.
- Once thickened, remove the bowl and leave to cool. Give it a stir every 5-10 minutes until the mixture is cool, then place into a sterilized jar. Screw on the lid and refrigerate until needed (or serve immediately!).
You may occasionally find that you get a few white lumps in your thickened lemon curd – this is due to the egg whites cooking at a slightly different temperate to the egg yolks. I usually leave them in there, but you can strain the lemon curd over a fine mesh sieve to remove if you prefer.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 2285Total Fat: 135gSaturated Fat: 78gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 49gCholesterol: 1047mgSodium: 390mgCarbohydrates: 264gFiber: 10gSugar: 237gProtein: 27g