Creamy, buttery, sweet, spreadable lemon – that’s the best way to describe this homemade lemon curd. This is a simple recipe you can have ready in minutes too.
- It takes just 10 minutes to make.
- No preservatives, artificial colours or flavours – this is all natural.
- It tastes so much better than shop-bought.
- This recipe is the easiest and best – big call, but I stand by it.
This recipe was first published here on 29th October 2018 and has been updated with new information and images.
Table of contents
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What is lemon curd
Lemon curd is a spread made from lemons, butter, sugar and eggs that originated in England. With an intense lemon flavour and it’s spreadable form, it’s used for topping toast and pancakes and also as fillings for pies, tarts and cakes.
It’s made a little like making a custard, though it doesn’t contain any milk or cream.
All you need is 4 ingredients – lemons, butter, sugar and eggs.
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
How to make lemon curd
The wonderful part aside from it’s intense flavour is how quick and easy this recipe is to make.
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Simply start by whisking together eggs, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest (photo 1) in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves (photo 2).
- Now add butter a little at a time and stirring (photo 3) until each dissolves before adding more.
- Cook for another 3-4 minutes until it thickens to the point of thickly coating the back of the spoon (photo 4) or if you tip your saucepan to the side, then tip it back again, you will be left with a thick coating on the side of the pan.
- Strain the lemon curd to remove the zest (photos 5&6).
Top tips for perfect lemon curd
- Keep the heat low: There is no need for a double-boiler – this can be made directly in a saucepan but I recommend using a heavy-based saucepan and keep the heat very low so you don’t scramble the eggs. Also, overheating curd can make it turn grainy on setting.
- Don’t stop stirring: It’s only 10 minutes (or less), I promise. You don’t need to stir vigorously, just keep it moving so that it’s heating evenly.
- Add the butter gradually: This allows the fat to incorporate easily and prevents any chance of the fat splitting.
- Strain it: It’s always helpful to strain curd after cooking. This is to remove the zest which is no longer required and any other lumps that may be in it.
Troubleshooting lemon curd
While researching and testing for this recipe, I came across comments like – My curd is too runny. My curd is not thickening. Why is my curd grainy? So, I decided to make a little troubleshooting guide.
Curd too runny
You may have added too much liquid, although if you stick to the ratios in this recipe, that won’t be a problem. In that case, it may be that you have not cooked the curd quite long enough. The fix? You can actually put it back on the stove and cook it a little longer until it coats the back of a spoon and you can draw a line through it that doesn’t run.
Curd is not thickening
Remembering that curd is not meant to be thick like a set custard, it may be that it wasn’t cooked long enough (see above). If you still want it thicker, try adding in another egg yolk (making sure to cook it through as per the instructions).
Why is my curd grainy?
In my research, I felt sorry for the cooks who were saying my curd turned grainy after refrigeration and, despite them knowing it was not due to the eggs scrambling, the only responses they were getting were “sounds like your eggs scrambled”.
My answer to this? Not necessarily true. You will know if your eggs have scrambled. You can see it in the warm curd as you pour it into your jars and they don’t scramble by themselves in the fridge overnight.
The sciency reason: It’s likely the graininess is caused by the breakdown of the emulsification – ie: the fats (in this case butter) and liquids (lemon juice here) not emulsifying properly or that emulsification breaking. This can be caused by not whisking and agitating the mixture enough or by overheating or a combo of both. In any case, I tested this out and it can be fixed. Yay!
How to fix grainy curd:
Add one egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of the juice (in this recipe, lemon juice) to a saucepan and whisk them together fully. Turn the heat on the lowest possible setting. Add one tablespoon of your cold curd back to the pan. Whisk it in well. Continue to do this until all the curd is added back. Now heat it to 75C / 170F on a thermometer or to the point that the hot curd will coat the back of the spoon again. Pour it back into your jars and refrigerate again.
Uses for Lemon curd
With a bold lemon flavor in a spreadable consistency, homemade lemon curd is a magical ingredient you can use in any number of recipes or as a topping for so many treats.
- Top some beautiful danish pastry
- As a filling in pies or tarts
- As a filling in cakes or cupcakes
- Bake into cakes
- Spread directly onto toast or crumpets
- Spread on scones, pancakes or waffles
- As a filling for crepes
- As a filling in cookies, macarons or profiteroles
- Stir it into yoghurt, cream cheese, cottage or ricotta cheese
- Use it to top or swirl through ice cream
- A filling for donuts
How to store it
This easy lemon curd will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks unopened, if stored in a sterilised jar. I love using these small weck jars. Once opened use it up within 7-10 days.
Lemon curd can be frozen for up to 3 months. Freeze it in ice cube trays, then transfer to an airtight container once solid. This means you can defrost just as much as you need.
The recipe yields around 1 ½ cups.
More recipes you’ll love
- Lime Curd
- Creamy Easy Pineapple Curd
- Homemade Passionfruit Curd
- Homemade Blackberry Curd
- Blood Orange Curd
- Lemon Tartlets
Did you try this easy lemon curd recipe?
Leaving a rating and comment below the recipe is so helpful!
MAKES ABOUT 1 1/2 CUPS
- 2 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 150 g caster (superfine) sugar (¾ cup / 5.3oz)
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (notes 1)
- 115 g unsalted butter, cubed and cold (½ cup / 1 stick / 4oz)
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- Fine-mesh sieve / strainer and bowl
- Beat together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, zest and juice. Pour into a small saucepan and stir over low-medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
- Add the cold butter a couple of pieces at a time, stirring until each addition is melted and incorporated. Make sure not to let the curd come to a bubble at any time.
- Continue cooking the mixture another few minutes until it is thickened and coats the back of a spoon or leaves a thick coating on the side of the pan when you tilt it.
- Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl to remove any bits of egg that may not have mixed through.
- Pour into sterilised conserve jars and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Seal the jars and store in the fridge. See notes for how long to keep.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons)
- This recipe makes approximately 1 1/2 cups of curd.
- Cool for half an hour at room temperature, then seal and place in the fridge
- This curd will keep for up to 3 weeks in the fridge, unopened. Once opened use within a week. It will also freeze well.
- To sterilise the jars, boil them in a saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes then set aside to drain, dry and cool. The second way is to wash the jars well with soapy water, rinse and then place them in an oven at 120C / 250F for 10 minutes. Let them cool.
- You can swap the butter for a vegetable based spread if you would like to make this curd dairy free
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