The easiest lemon curd recipe you will ever make! It’s the perfect sweet-tart addition to your cakes, pastries, and a variety of other baked goods.
Lemon flavored desserts are my all-time favorite. Whether it’s a lemon flavored cake, pie, or even a simple loaf, I’ll gladly choose that over anything chocolatey.
There’s something about that sweet-tart flavor that is just mouthwatering, and this lemon curd recipe is no exception. I’ll happily eat this with a spoon! (And have).
Lemon Curd is a citrusy sweet custard made with a few simple ingredients. It originated in England in the late 19th century and is traditionally made with:
– Lemon juice (and zest)
– Whole eggs (or egg yolks)
All ingredients are whisked together and cooked over low heat until the mixture thickens into a glorious curd.
Lemon is arguably the most common flavor, but curd can be made with any citrus fruits such as lime, orange, grapefruit, etc. You could also make it with various berries or other fruits like passion fruit or mango.
The uses for lemon curd are seemingly endless when it comes to desserts and pastries. It can be used as a filling for cakes (like this Lemon Cake and Lemon Elderflower Cake), cupcakes, pies, and tarts.
You can also use it as a topping for scones, pastries, waffles, and pancakes. Or you can add it to your favorite buttercream to add a bit of flavor.
In the UK it’s often served as an accompaniment to Afternoon Tea alongside jam and clotted cream.
And, of course, it is the filling for the glorious dessert known as Lemon Meringue Pie.
How to Make Lemon Curd
There are a variety of different ways to make lemon curd.
- Some recipes call for whole eggs, some for yolks, some for a bit of both.
- Some call for beating the butter and sugar first, some say to add the butter at the end.
- Some cook it in a pot, and some use a double boiler.
There is no right or wrong as far as I’m concerned, and all yield an equally delicious result. I like to throw everything into a pot and cook it until it thickens. It’s easy, quick, and requires minimal cleanup.
I also like to use whole eggs in my lemon curd recipe rather than just yolks, because I like my curd a nice subtle yellow color. That didn’t really work out for me this time because my eggs had the most orange yolks ever, which resulted in a super yellow curd.
Oh well! It’s supposed to be yellow, right??
Lemon Curd Tip
If you’d prefer to just use yolks for a richer curd, or maybe you have some yolks leftover from making Swiss Meringue Buttercream, use two yolks for every whole egg.
For this recipe, you’d use 8 yolks. You can also use a combination of whole eggs and yolks. For example, two whole eggs and 4 yolks.
Alright, let’s get into the step-by-step process of making this lemon curd recipe.
Step #1 – Whisk Eggs & Sugar – Place eggs and sugar into a small pot, whisk to combine.
Step #2 – Add lemon juice, zest, and butter – Add lemon juice, zest, and butter, and whisk to combine.
Step #3 – Cook until Thickened – Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (or reaches 170°F). To test if it coats the back of a spoon, dip the spoon in the curd and then run your finger down the middle. The curd is set when it doesn’t drip down.
Step #4 – Chill to Set – Transfer to a glass bowl and lay plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill for 2 hours to set. Makes 2 cups
Should I Strain It?
I usually don’t strain my curd, because I don’t mind the little bits of zest in there.
However, if you want a perfectly smooth curd, or are worried about some potential small bits of egg that may have gotten cooked, go ahead and strain it.
I strained it this time because I had to stop whisking here and there to take pictures, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t have any cooked bits of egg in there.
Sure enough, I did.
Storage & Perishability
I love the fact that I can make this in advance and store it until I need it. If you’re like me and like to space out your baking, it’s a huge time saver.
I like to store mine in a plastic bag in the freezer. I find it takes up less space this way.
Is it weird to get resealable plastic bags from Ikea? I love these ones, better than any brand name ones I can get at the grocery store. They are thick and sturdy, and work so well in the freezer!
Lemon curd will last for 1-2 weeks in the fridge or for 3 months in the freezer.
Certain types of metal can react with the lemon and give the resulting curd a metallic taste. Aluminum and unlined copper pots and bowls seem to be the culprits.
I’ve used stainless steel bowls and whisks and have not had an issue, but I do recommend cooling and storing the curd in a glass or plastic container.
Another reason your curd may have an off-putting or bitter taste is due to the pith in the rind. When you’re zesting your curd, be sure to zest only the outermost part of the rind. Don’t get any of the white stuff.
This zester from Microplane is my favorite. It’s sharp and does a perfectly fine zest without any pith!
If you’re a lemon dessert lover like I am, I hope you try (and love) this lemon curd recipe as much as I do.
Be sure to let me know in the comments if you give it a go!
Tips for making this Lemon Curd Recipe:
- Don’t use aluminum or copper pots/tools, as they can give the curd a metallic taste.
- Don’t zest any of the white pith, this will give your curd a bitter taste.
- If you’d prefer to just use yolks for a richer curd, use two yolks for every whole egg in the recipe.
- Be sure to cook over low heat and stir constantly so the eggs don’t get cooked.
- Don’t let the curd boil.
- Strain your curd if you want it super smooth or are worried about bits of cooked egg.
- Place plastic wrap directly on top of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.
- Store in the fridge for 1-2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon juice fresh squeezed, from one large lemon
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest from one large lemon
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter cubed
- Place eggs and sugar into a small pot, whisk to combine. Add lemon juice, zest, and butter. Cook over medium-low heat whisking constantly until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
- Transfer to a glass bowl and lay plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill for 2 hours to set. Makes 2 cups.
- The curd will last for 1-2 weeks in the fridge or can be frozen for 3 months.