There’s nothing quite like sweet, zingy Homemade Lemon Curd. Easy to make with only 4 ingredients and in under 15 minutes, you'll never buy store-bought again. This creamy lemon spread is both versatile and delicious. Win-win!
My Dad always stuck to his familiar breakfast of toast and lemon curd for years. That's probably where I fell in love with it. It's only in the last 5 years or so that I've been routinely making my own curd as it's such a simple process using my foolproof method.
The result is a spreadable lemon curd that's smooth, sweet, and creamy yet tangy with an intense lemon flavour. It's perfect for all manner of things such as topping on your afternoon tea scones, spread on French toast, or even swirled through ice cream.
I'm going to share with you my fool-proof method that guarantees you perfect homemade lemon curd every time. No grainy or watery curd in your kitchen today!!
❓ What is Fruit Curd?
It's a filling, dessert topping, or spread usually made from citrus fruit such as lemon, lime, and orange. You can, however also make, other fruit curds like raspberry, passion fruit, mango, and even apple curd.
The core ingredients of curd are eggs, sugar, butter, fruit juice, and zest of your fruit. These are cooked on the stovetop until thickened. Once cooled the curd is thick enough to spread on toast, fill cakes with or use it in many different applications.
🌟 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Uses basic ingredients. You only need four ingredients that you probably have on hand already.
- Packed full of flavour. Handmade definitely trumps store-bought in the flavour department. The lemon curd holds the perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess.
- Simple to make. With my simple technique, I can guarantee you perfectly smooth lemon curd every time.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
Even though this curd is made with only lemons, eggs, sugar and butter, I've made some notes below that are worth a read on each of these.
- Lemons - The hero of this recipe! You must use fresh lemons - not concentrated lemon juice. Choose lemons that are bright yellow and the skin has minimal wrinkling. You'll need ½ cup lemon juice which equates to 2 large or 3 medium lemons. Check out my Lemonade Popsicles post where I share how to juice your lemons effectively.
- Eggs - In this recipe, we use a combination of both whole (large) eggs and egg yolks. Curd can in fact be made with just egg yolks which creates a richer more custard-like curd or with whole eggs which makes a player softer set curd. I've gone for a curd that combines the two!
- Sugar - The right amount of sugar offsets the tartness of the lemons.
- Butter - use unsalted butter at room temperature so that it melts, then emulsifies easily with the other ingredients. Also chopping it into small cubes and thin slices helps. It not only adds flavour but also helps with that beautiful smooth shiny appearance.
👩🏻🍳 How to Make
I'm sharing with you the easiest way of making foolproof lemon curd, and that's using a bain marie. After many years of making curd, using a bain marie will guarantee you the best results. What's a bain marie? Simple a bowl sat snugly over a saucepan of simmering water. Tip- the bottom of the bowl must not touch the water.
Why is using a bain marie so great, I hear you ask? The alternative is to make the curd directly in a saucepan. The problem with this is that you can very easily heat the curd too quickly which will result in scrambled bits of egg, or a grainy, split curd.
Heating the curd in a bain marie allows you to heat it at a slightly slower pace allowing you more control. Which allows the perfect curd to be made! And it's only one extra bowl for washing up - which really isn't a lot!!
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
I've shared some images below so that you can follow along visually four how to make this curd. Hope it helps!
STEP 1. Dissolve the sugar and melt the butter. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and butter to a bowl and set it snuggly over a saucepan of simmering water on the stovetop at medium-high heat. The bowl shouldn't touch the bottom of the bowl. (Images 1 & 2) Whisk the ingredients until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted
TIP: Max the lemon flavour by rubbing the lemon zest into the sugar first.
Step 2. Add the eggs. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks together lightly. Then whilst continuously whisking, add them to the lemon mixture in the bain marie.
Carry on whisking the mixture over the heat until it thickens sufficiently. This can take about 10 minutes. Telltale signs of when the curd is ready:
- Use a thermometer - the curd is cooked when it reaches 75C/170F
- Back of spoon method. Coat the back of a spoon with the curd and use your finger to run a pass through it. If the pass remains, then it's set. If not, then carry on heating the curd.
STEP 3. Pass the curd through a sieve and refrigerate. This is actually an optional step. I prefer to remove the zest so that my curd remains smooth, but by all means, skip this step if you prefer.
Pour the curd through a fine mesh sieve discarding the remaining lemon zest. (Image 3 & 4)
Then spoon or pour the curd into a sterilized jar and refrigerate.
That's it!! The lemon curd will thicken as it cools. So if using it to fill cakes or pastries, you must let it cool fully to room temperature, and then chill in the fridge to reach the thickness, otherwise, it will be too runny.
TIP: How to Sterilise your Jars (2 methods)
- In the dishwasher: Run your jars through a hot wash in the dishwasher, but do not use any dishwasher soap.
- In the oven: Wash the jars and rinse well. Place in a preheated oven at 140C/280F until completely dry.
With both these methods- fill the jars with the lemon curd as soon as they're sterilized and seal shut.
🥣 How To Serve
Here are some of my favourite ways to use your homemade lemon curd:
- As a lemon spread simply spooned over toast.
- Dollop whipped cream, then lemon curd onto freshly made sultana scones.
- Go full throttle with the lemon flavour and fill your Lemon Crêpes at breakfast of create a showstopper and add a couple of tablespoons of curd between each layer on a Crêpes Cake.
- Fill Choux Buns with Lemon Curd and Sweetened Cream.
- Spoon into your favourite tart shell for a summery dessert.
This recipe makes 420g / 350ml / 1.5 cups worth of lemon curd.
Can this recipe be doubled? Yes, you can but realise that it will take a while for the curd to cook through and reach the correct consistency. Don't be tempted to turn up the heat to rush the process- remain patient!
💭 Recipe Pro Tips
- Use fresh lemon juice that's been freshly squeezed. Don't be tempted by the bottled stuff!
- Use room-temperature eggs and butter. If you add cold ingredients they will take longer to warm through and emulsify together.
- Whisk constantly. This allows even heating of the lemon mixture and makes sure there are no hot spots.
- Know the visual signs of when the curd is done. It needs to visually turn thicker when you're whisking it and should pass the back of the spoon test I mentioned above.
- Pass the curd through a sieve. Want that shiny texture you get from jarred lemon curd? You'll need to remove the lemon curd b passing it through a sieve to achieve this.
📋 Recipe FAQs
If you heated the curd in a bain marie following my instructions then it really shouldn't be grainy. If it is then it means the curd is overcooked and this could be caused by the bottom of the bowl touching the surface of the water and the water being at a rolling boil rather than simmering.
The curd hasn't been cooked for long enough to reach the correct temperature to thicken. You can actually pop it back on the stovetop and carry one cooking it until it thickens enough.
Yes, you can but I wouldn't reduce it to less than I/2 cup worth. Please note that with reduced sugar the curd will be less sweet and more tangy.
This recipe uses 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks.
You can play around with this to achieve different results. Use 1 whole egg and 3 yolks for a richer curd. OR use 3 whole eggs and one yolk for a lighter, creamier curd.
❄️ Storage and Freezer Instructions
To store: Lemon Curd should be stored in sterilized jars or a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one month.
To freeze: Lemon Curd freezes really well. Store it in a freezer-safe container with a small gap at the top of the container, seal it, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
🍯 More Sauces, Creams, and Jam Recipes
If you tried this Homemade Lemon Curd Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you!
Homemade Lemon Curd Recipe
- 120 ml fresh lemon juice , from about 2 large lemons
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest, from 1 large lemon
- 170 g caster sugar (superfine)
- 60 g unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- Dissolve the sugar and melt the butter. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and butter to a bowl and set it snuggly over a saucepan of simmering water on the stovetop at medium-high heat. The bowl shouldn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Whisk the ingredients until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted.
- Add the eggs and heat the curd. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks together lightly. Then whilst continuously whisking, add them to the lemon mixture in the bain marie. Carry on whisking the mixture over the heat until it thickens sufficiently. This can take about 10 minutes. Lemon curd is cooked when it reaches 75°C/170°F. Alternatively, check by coating the back of a spoon with the curd and using your finger to run a pass through it. If the pass remains, then it's set. If not, then carry on heating the curd.
- Pass the curd through a sieve and refrigerate. Pour the curd through a fine mesh sieve discarding the remaining lemon zest. Then spoon or pour the curd into a sterilised jar, let come to room temperature and refrigerate.The lemon curd will thicken as it cools. So if using it to fill cakes or pastries, you must let it cool fully, and then chill it in the fridge. Enjoy!
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
This Homemade Lemon Curd post was originally published in August 2019 but has been updated with new photos, new content and a revised recipe.