Classic Lemon Curd
This classic lemon curd recipe produces an incredibly tart, silky, and slightly sweet curd. It can be used as a filling for pies and tarts or simply as a topping for yogurt or scones!
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Techniques Used: Tempering Eggs
Lemon curd is an incredibly tart, sweet, rich, and thick custard. It is used in many of the same ways fruit preserves are used. It can be used as a topping for yogurt, a spread on a biscuit, as the lemon layer in lemon bars, or can even be used as the filling for a pie or tart!
Why we Love this Recipe
- We give you the option of making a soft spreadable curd to serve as a topping on desserts such as angel food cake, while also giving you the option of making a thick, sliceable curd to use in recipes such as lemon meringue pie.
- The lemon zest in the recipe gives that bright pop of flavor that every lemon lover is looking for!
- Only a few simple ingredients are needed and it comes together in just a few minutes.
Ingredients and Substitutions
The process of making lemon curd is very quick and comes together in less than 10 minutes! Egg yolks are combined with lemon juice, lemon zest, butter, and sugar and are cooked on the stove until thick.
- Egg yolks, rather than whole eggs, are used in this recipe. The yolks are used to thicken and coagulate the curd, creating a silky texture. Egg whites are left out because they can add more of an eggy flavor, which is not desirable.
- Lemon juice: Using the juice from fresh lemons is the best way to make this recipe. The flavor from fresh makes the absolute best lemon curd. If you want a less tart curd, you can substitute juice from Meyer lemons, or really any other citrus fruit like oranges, blood orange, or lime.
- Lemon zest gives curd its very tart lemon flavor as the lemon rind contains oils that are very concentrated. This can be left out if you prefer a more subtle flavor.
- Sugar sweetens the curd and helps to thicken it as well.
- Salt rounds out the flavors.
- Butter adds richness and helps create a luscious lemon curd.
Why is it called curd? The original recipe for lemon curd referred to the way in which cream forms curds when acid is added to it. It was not at all like our modern-day recipe. Over the years the recipe has evolved for more modern palettes.
Can you buy lemon curd in the store? Typically lemon curd can be found near the jam and preserves section in most grocery stores. However, I find the flavor of store-bought versions to leave a lot to be desired.
What are the uses for lemon curd? The uses are vast! Think of it as a thick dessert sauce or a sliceable dessert filling. You can use it as a cake filling, to make a lemon pie or tart, on top of pancakes or toast, or as a filling for a pastry. My favorite way to enjoy it is spooned on a scone with a hot cup of coffee.
Tips, Tricks, & Techniques
- Eggs coagulate at a fairly low temperature, for this reason, it is very important to keep the heat low and to whisk the curd continuously as you cook it. If you are concerned with cooking the mixture too fast, you can use the double boiler method and add a few extra minutes to the cooking time.
- A fine mesh strainer is a very handy tool when making homemade lemon curd. The sieve will strain out any lumps that occur as well as the lemon zest that’s flavor has already been extracted, making a silky smooth curd.
Refrigerator: I like to store my homemade lemon curd in a glass jar in my refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Freezer: If you would like to store your lemon curd in the freezer for future use, put it in airtight freezer containers and free for about 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Canning: If you are someone who enjoys home food preservation and finds yourself with a bunch of lemons on hand, lemon curd can be canned!
- 145 grams (8 large) egg yolks
- 38 grams (5 tablespoons) cornstarch, *optional- use if you want a curd that will be firm and sliceable once chilled
- 267 grams (1 ⅓ cups) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 340 grams (1 ½ cups, 360 milliliters) lemon juice, from about 6 medium or 5 large lemons
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest, optional
- 85 grams (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cubed
- Whisk the egg yolks (145 grams, 8 large) together in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, whisk the cornstarch (38 grams, 5 tablespoons) if using, sugar (267 grams, 1 ⅓ cups), salt (¼ teaspoon), and lemon juice (340 grams, 1 ½ cups) together.
- Heat over medium-low heat, whisking continuously until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens.
- Once the mixture has boiled for about 1 minute and has thickened, temper the egg yolks by slowly streaming in about a third of the hot liquid while whisking continuously.
- Add the egg yolk mixture into the pot with the rest of the hot liquid and continue heating on medium-low heat while whisking continuously. When the mixture comes back to a boil, cook for about 3 minutes longer. It should coat the back of a spoon and if you trace a line with your finger across the spoon the line should remain visible.
- Pour the curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Add the lemon zest (2 teaspoons) if using and the butter (85 grams, 6 tablespoons) and whisk to combine.
- If not using immediately, place a piece of plastic wrap right on top of the curd to prevent a film from forming. Allow to come to room temperature then place in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- This amount of lemon curd is enough for an 8x8" (20 x 20 cm) or 9x9" (23 x 23 cm) square pan or a 9" (23 cm) round pie dish. Multiply the recipe by 1.5 if you want to use it for a 9x13" (23 x 33 cm) baking dish.
Note: Fruit curd tastes pretty eggy while it is warm. Once it cools down, this taste will subside.