Homemade Lemon Curd
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This homemade lemon curd is delicious and easy to make. Step-by-step pictures show you how to make lemon curd on the stove top in only 15 minutes. Plus ideas on how to use lemon curd and how to fix it if it doesn’t thicken.
Homemade Lemon Curd
Lemon Curd is one of those things I could eat with a spoon! If you’re a citrus addict like me, you’ll love this recipe!
Lemon curd is basically like a jam or spread that you use on toast or biscuits (aka scones). But I’ll share more ideas later on in this post.
This lemon curd recipe is easy to make with five ingredients: sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, butter and egg yolks.
It’s easy to adapt with any citrus fruit: lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges, etc. Imagine the possibilities!
What’s the difference between lemon curd and lemon pie filling?
Lemon curd and lemon pie filling are pretty similar. Both have a sharp citrus flavor, but lemon curd uses more lemons and butter for a richer, concentrated flavor. This intense taste makes it better used in smaller quantities, than a slice of pie.
Lemon pie filling is also made with water to dilute the intensity of the lemon and increase the quantity for pie filling.
Another main difference between the two, is that lemon curd is traditionally thickened with egg yolks, whereas lemon pie filling is thickened with flour or cornstarch.
Ways to Use Lemon Curd
Lemon curd has so many uses: put it on toast, waffles, scones, biscuits, or cheesecake. Layer it in parfaits or use it as a filling for cakes or cupcakes.
Mix lemon curd with whipped cream for a sauce to top berries or pound cake with. Fill donuts, cream puffs, tarts, or cookies with it. I think you’ll find that homemade lemon curd is surprisingly versatile.
Recipes that Use Lemon Curd
Need some more inspiration? Check out these recipes that use lemon curd:
- Lemon Curd Cookie Bars
- Lemon Cream Cheese Pie
- Strawberry Lemon Sweet Rolls
- Lemon Strawberry Shortcake
- Lemon Curd Dessert
How To Make Lemon Curd
Now it’s time to show you just how easy it is to make homemade lemon curd.
You will need two main dishes. A heat-safe bowl with your egg yolks. And a saucepan to cook the curd. You will also need a whisk and silicone spatula.
Simmer the Lemon Mixture
In a medium-size saucepan, continuously stir the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cubed butter with a heat-proof spatula over medium-low heat.
Temper the Eggs
Once the mixture comes to a simmer, temper the egg yolks by SLOWLY pouring the hot liquid into the bowl of egg yolks while whisking constantly, until fully combined.
NOTE: Tempering is a method used to slowly warm the eggs before adding them to your recipe, so they mix smoothly. Be careful to add the hot mixture as slowly as you can, whisking vigorously as you pour, or the eggs may scramble and cook.
Cook Low and Slow
Pour mixture back into the saucepan and continue to cook low and slow. Stir continuously with a spatula (affiliate link) or whisk until the mixture thickens and bubbles start to come to the surface; about 15 minutes.
Do not stop stirring, and don’t rush it. It should take the full time to cook and thicken properly.
Strain the Lemon Curd
Once the curd is thick and starting to boil, remove the pan from the heat, and push the curd through a fine mesh sieve into a clean container.
Cool to room temperature. Then place the curd in the refrigerator until ready to use. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Keep refrigerated.
How to Fix Lemon Curd
The egg yolks should do their job of thickening the lemon curd sufficiently. Make sure to use large or extra large egg yolks. And be patient. It takes the full 15 minutes of cooking.
If you rush the curd and it boils too soon, it might not thicken properly.
If your lemon curd is not thickening after you brought it to a boil and it has cooled to room temperature. A quick way to fix this, is to make a cornstarch slurry of 2 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons of COLD water or lemon juice.
Bring the curd back up to a boil and add the cold cornstarch slurry, whisking constantly. The chemical reaction of cold cornstarch slurry to hot lemon curd will thicken it right up.
Want similar results in shorter time? Try my microwave lemon curd.
How long does lemon curd last?
Lemon curd will keep well in your refrigerator for up to one month. Store it in an airtight container with a lid or a mason jar.
You can also store lemon curd in the freezer for up to 1 year. Be sure to use a freezer safe container. To thaw, transfer the lemon curd from the freezer to the refrigerator 24 hours before you need it.
- 3 large egg yolks (no whites)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
- 3/4 cup lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut up into cubes
- Place egg yolks in a large heat-safe bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium-size saucepan, continuously stir the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cubed butter with a heat-proof spatula over medium-low heat.
- Once the mixture comes to a simmer, temper the egg yolks by SLOWLY pouring the hot liquid into the bowl of egg yolks while whisking constantly, until fully combined.
- Pour mixture back into the saucepan and continue to cook low and slow. Stir continuously with a spatula or whisk until the mixture thickens and bubbles start to come to the surface; about 15 minutes. Do not stop stirring, and don't rush it. It should take the full time to cook and thicken properly.
- Once the curd is thick and starting to boil, remove the pan from the heat, and push the curd through a fine mesh sieve into a clean container. Cool to room temperature. Then place the curd in the refrigerator until ready to use. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Keep refrigerated.
- If curd boils too soon and doesn't thicken: Mix 2 tsp of cornstarch with 2 tsp of COLD water or lemon juice to form a slurry. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the boiling curd mixture; will thicken quickly.
- Store lemon curd in the refrigerator up to one month or in the freezer up to one year. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours prior to using.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 2 Tbsp
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 78Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 63mgSodium: 26mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 2g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix, and is an estimation only.
*Originally published 5/6/14. Updated 1/8/21.