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Easy Homemade Lemon Curd

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Our easy homemade lemon curd recipe tastes like sunshine! It adds zesty lemon flavor to cheesecake, scones, and all kinds of delicious desserts. You won’t want to miss it!

homemade lemon curd in a jar

If there’s one flavor I can guarantee my kids will flip for besides chocolate, it’s lemon. We love lemon recipes of all kinds, from fluffy lemon cake, to lemon cookies, to lemon brownies, drinks, and more. We’ve been working on a delicious lemon cheesecake recipe, and I knew that I wanted lemon curd as part of the topping.

I’m not a huge fan of store-bought lemon curd since they tend to taste flat or overly eggy to me. But I LOVE the sunny, bright flavor of the homemade version!

Our homemade lemon curd recipe uses fewer eggs than some so you cut down on the egg flavor, while still achieving that luscious creamy texture you’re going for.

Are you ready to make a batch? Let’s dive in!

homemade lemon curd in a jar

What Is Lemon Curd?

Lemon curd is a thickened fruit spread, often used as a dessert spread or topping. It can be used as a filling for tarts, cakes, and pastries, and regularly makes an appearance at afternoon tea spreads, along with butter and jam.

The term “curd” comes from the term for acidulating milk–adding an acid to cream or milk, which causes it to separate and form curds, then strained from the whey through cheesecloth (think: cottage cheese!). Interestingly enough, Lemon Curd used to be known as lemon cheese, and was made using a similar method, adding lemon to cream and straining it.

These days, we’re using lemon juice as the acid, and though we’re not forming traditional curds (like cottage cheese), we’re thickening the fruit juice and zest to form a thickened, spreadable sauce.

ingredients for homemade lemon curd

Simple Ingredients For Lemon Curd

If you’re wondering, “what is lemon curd made of?,” I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how simple the ingredients are!

  • Fresh Lemon Zest & Fresh Lemon Juice. You’ll need both the lemon zest (yellow lemon peel) and the fresh lemon juice for making lemon curd. Lemon zest contains the lemon essential oils, which have an intense lemon flavor that makes a big impact. Then, lemon juice provides body and even more lemon flavor!
  • Sugar. Granulated sugar (white sugar) adds sweetness and helps create the silky smooth texture we’re aiming for.
  • Eggs. Some recipes use egg yolks some recipes use whole eggs (egg whites + yolks) and some recipes use a mix. Our recipe uses 4 whole eggs to keep things simple.
  • Butter. Then, butter adds a velvety richness that mimics the effect of cream. I love using salted butter here so I don’t need to add salt later, but you can absolutely use unsalted butter, if you prefer.
  • Vanilla, Maybe. Not 100% necessary, but I love adding a tiny splash of vanilla extract at the end.
making homemade lemon curd step by step
making homemade lemon curd step by step

How To Make Homemade Lemon Curd, Step By Step

  1. Start The Double Boiler. Add 2-3 inches of water to a medium saucepan and bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. You’ll also need a heatproof bowl that can rest on top of the saucepan WITHOUT touching the simmering water below. 
  2. Combine. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, and cubed butter to the heatproof bowl and place over the saucepan of simmering water.
  3. Stir To Thicken. Stir continuously for 20-25 minutes, or until the lemon curd has thickened and reaches 170 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. It should easily coat the back of a spoon at this point. (Keep in mind: you want to stir the whole time to avoid getting any clumps or scrambled egg bits.) 
  4. Strain the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer into a glass bowl or jar to remove any lumps and stir in vanilla extract. 
  5. Cover & Chill. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap or food wrap and press the plastic wrap onto the surface of the lemon curd. (This prevents a film/”skin” from forming on top.) Chill 3-4 hours or until completely chilled through. It will continue to thicken as it cools. 
  6. Serve & Store. Enjoy after chilling and store in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator up to 1 week or freeze up to 3 months. (Thaw frozen lemon curd in the fridge before using.) 

Yummy Ways To Use Lemon Curd

So what do you eat lemon curd with? SO MANY GREAT THINGS!

  • On Biscuits or Scones. Lemon curd is a classic topping for tea scones or biscuits, along with other accompaniments like clotted cream and jam. We love it on these Gluten-Free Biscuits!
  • For Cheesecake! Homemade lemon curd is a luscious topping for cheesecake! We love it on our Gluten-Free Lemon Cheesecake.
  • In Cookies. Try it instead of jam in thumbprint cookies for a fun, sunny take on a classic.
  • In Whipped Cream. You can flavor your own yogurt or whipped cream by adding a little lemon curd!
  • In Ice Cream Or Yogurt! You can flavor your own yogurt or top your ice cream with lemon curd. It’s delicious swirled into homemade ice cream!
  • In Lemon Mousse. Fold lemon curd into whipped cream & layer with more lemon curd and some graham cracker crumbs for an easy treat!
  • Pies & Tarts. A version of this recipe is actually the common filling for lemon meringue pie or lemon tarts! 
  • As Cake Filling. This easy spread is a classic filling for layer cakes, especially paired with fluffy buttercream or fresh fruit!
  • With Waffles or Pancakes. It’s amazing on fluffy gluten-free Belgian waffles with fresh berries!
  • In Crepes or French Toast. Add a dollop of creamy lemon curd and a dusting of powdered sugar to crepes or French toast. It’s delicious!
a spoon scooping homemade lemon curd from a jar

FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The BEst Lemon Curd

Get The Consistency Just Right

To get the right consistency in your lemon curd, the biggest tricks are:

  1. Keep the Cooking Temperature Low (such as in our double boiler!) to avoid scrambling or scorching the eggs.
  2. Stir Constantly. You don’t want to walk away or get distracted while it cooks. This is how lumps and bumps form!
  3. Make Sure It’s Cooked Through. Lemon curd should reach 170 degrees F when finished, to ensure the eggs are properly cooked through.
  4. Look For Visual Cues. Beyond the finished temperature, a properly thickened lemon curd should coat the back of the spoon, rather than simply running off of the spoon as a liquid would. Think of it almost like a custard!
  5. Remember It Will Keep Thickening. Lemon curd gets even thicker as it cools, so keep in mind that it won’t reach it’s fully thickened state until after chilling.

Storage Tips:

  • How Long Does Lemon Curd Last In The Fridge? A batch of homemade lemon curd should keep fresh 1 week in the fridge, but you can freeze it for longer storage.
  • Can You Freeze Lemon Curd? Yes! It’s a great trick to keep in mind, since it will keep for months. You can freeze lemon curd in freezer-safe jars, freezer bags (press them flat for quicker thawing!), or even in ice cube trays (then transfer the cubes to a freezer bag to store for later). Thaw frozen lemon curd in the fridge before using.
PRO BAKING TIP:

5 Ways To Zest A Lemon

You’ll need fresh lemon zest for this recipe, and there are LOTS of great ways you can get it! Our favorite is a microplane zester, but if you don’t have one, we’ve got lots of other options to choose from!

More Recipes For Lemon Lovers

🌟 Leave a star rating below when you try our Lemon Curd recipe! We can’t wait to hear what you think!

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homemade lemon curd in a jar

Easy Homemade Lemon Curd


  • Author: Emily Dixon, Sweets & Thank You
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/2 cups 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

You’ll be AMAZED by how easy it is to make lemon curd from scratch! The flavor is sunny, vibrant, and fresh–SO much better than store-bought!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup sugar (200 grams)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest (pack the zest in a bit!)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (120 ml)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into small cubes (4 Tablespoons/57 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Start The Double Boiler. Add 2-3 inches of water to a medium saucepan and bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. You’ll also need a heatproof bowl that can rest on top of the saucepan WITHOUT touching the simmering water below.
  2. Combine. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, and cubed butter to the heatproof bowl and place over the saucepan of simmering water.
  3. Stir To Thicken. Stir continuously for 20-25 minutes, or until the lemon curd has thickened and reaches 170 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. It should easily coat the back of a spoon at this point. (Keep in mind: you want to stir the whole time to avoid getting any clumps or scrambled egg bits.)
  4. Strain the lemon curd through a fine mesh sieve into a glass bowl or jar to remove any lumps and stir in vanilla extract.
  5. Cover & Chill. Cover the lemon curd with a piece of plastic wrap or food wrap and press the plastic wrap onto the surface of the lemon curd. (This prevents a film/”skin” from forming on top.) Chill the lemon curd 3-4 hours or until completely chilled through. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools.
  6. Serve & Store. Enjoy after chilling and store in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator up to 1 week or freeze up to 3 months. (Thaw frozen lemon curd in the fridge before using.)

Notes

  • ONLY Fresh Lemon Juice. You do NOT want to use bottled lemon juice for this recipe. It ruins the flavor. You’ll need 4-6 lemons to get 1 cup of lemon juice.
  • ZEST FIRST. For ease, zest the lemon before juicing it. Make sure to ONLY get the bright yellow zest, not the bitter white pith underneath.
  • BUTTER. I like using salted butter so I don’t need to add salt later, but if you use unsalted butter, you’ll likely want to add a hefty pinch of salt to the curd as it cooks so the flavors are balanced.
  • VARIATION. For a citrus twist, you can make this using Meyer lemons, which have a flavor between orange & lemon.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: lemon curd, lemon curd recipe, homemade lemon curd, lemon curd from scratch

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