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Lemon curd is easily made from scratch from fresh lemons, butter, sugar, and egg yolks. The intense citrus flavor is irresistible. This tart dessert spread can be used as a tangy ingredient in sweets, baked goods, or breakfast. Once you make your own, you’ll never go back to store bought!
Why this recipe works so well:
Lemon curd, especially the homemade kind, makes my mouth pucker! So if intense flavor is what you’re looking for, this recipe is for you.
- 4 simple ingredients – Butter, sugar, lemons, and egg yolks are all that’s needed to create this recipe.
- Perfect results – Unlike store bought lemon curd, you can control the thickness of your curd.
- Easy to make – Some kitchen equipment is needed, but the process is simple and no experience is needed with this easy recipe.
What exactly is lemon curd?
Simply put, it is a citrus dessert spread or topping that is made from fresh lemon zest and juice, sugar, butter and egg yolks.
The ingredients are gently cooked together over heat and then allowed to cool. The final result is a smooth, luscious, intensely flavored lemon treat. Similar to a pudding or custard, the rich and creamy egg yolks produce the richest, most flavorful lemon curd.
- Electric mixer: You can use a stand mixer like a KitchenAid or a hand mixer.
- Double boiler: If you don’t have a double boiler, you can make your own with a pan of water and a bowl on top.
- Whisk: Any kind of metal whisk will work and the curd is whisked the entire time it is cooked.
- Zester: I highly recommend using a Microplane.
- Thermometer: You will need to cook the lemon curd to a specific temperature.
Here’s how to make it:
- You’ll start by creaming the softened butter using an electric mixer. You’ll beat in the sugar and lemon zest until it is light and fluffy. Then, you’ll reduce the speed to low and mix in the egg yolks, one at a time. Finally you’ll mix in the lemon juice.
- To cook the curd, you’ll use a double boiler set up on the stove where the steam from gently boiling water heats the curd mixture in the bowl above. Continually whisk the mixture while it heats. It will take about 10 minutes to cook.
- Once the lemon curd hits the desired temperature, you’ll cover it and refrigerate until it’s cool.
Cooking tips for perfect results:
- Gentle cooking: You must be careful to be gentle with the heat which is why I recommend using a double boiler as opposed to cooking in a pan over direct heat. Any time you’re cooking eggs on the stove top, they can curdle if you increase the temperature too rapidly or you don’t whisk it enough.
- Desired thickness: The lemon curd gets thick when you cook it. I stopped cooking when it got to 170°F because I like it on the thinner side. If you prefer it to be thicker, just continue cooking until it reaches 180°F. You can also add an additional egg yolk if you want it thicker.
- Lemon varieties: Standard lemons that are available year-round can definitely be used to make homemade lemon curd. My preference, however, is to use Meyer Lemons. They are sweeter, less acidic, and more aromatic. The downside is that they are generally only available during the first couple months of the year.
Best ways to enjoy lemon curd:
You’ve made your own delicious homemade lemon curd. Now you need to know what to do with it. Here are some great ideas:
- Cut up strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, banana, and raspberries and toss in a spoonful of the lemon curd. The result will be some Fruit Salad. Not only will the curd sweeten it with a tart tang, but the acid in the lemon will keep the fruit looking fresh.
- Transform that lemon curd into lemon meringue pie. All I did was thicken my lemon curd with some corn starch and it created the perfect filling for this citrus classic.
- Use lemon curd on top of vanilla ice cream. A little goes a long way here.
- How about ditching the syrup and topping your lemon blueberry pancakes with lemon curd and warm berries. Mercy.
- Replace the chocolate in s’mores with your homemade lemon curd. Take it to the next level by also making your own homemade marshmallows. It will taste like a heavenly lemon meringue pie, without the work or the dirty dishes.
- And you simply cannot make lemon curd without also making some homemade Buttermilk Lemon Scones or Raspberry Lemon Scones!
- 1/2 cup butter (1 cube) softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- zest from 3 lemons
- 5 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- Using a stand mixer, cream the butter until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and lemon zest and blend until smooth, scraping sides down half way through.
- On low speed, add the egg yolks one at a time. Then add the lemon juice. Mix until combined.
- Add about 1/2 inch of water to a pan and set a non-reactive metal bowl on top. You want a double boiler set up so that the steam from the water cooks the lemon curd; not direct heat.
- Add the lemon mixture to the bowl and heat the water so that it boils, whisking the lemon mixture the entire time. Be sure to use an instant read thermometer. The curd should thicken around 170 degrees F, after about 10 minutes of cooking and whisking, and this will yield lemon curd that is on the thinner side. If you want your lemon curd to be a bit thicker and less runny, bring the temperature up to 180 degrees F before removing from the heat, still constantly whisking.
- Remove the curd from the heat, transfer to a glass container, cover the surface of the curd with plastic wrap so that a skin doesn’t form, and refrigerate until cool.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week or so. Alternatively, you can freeze lemon curd and thaw in the refrigerator before using.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.