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This easy homemade Lemon Curd is smooth and bright with the best sweet-tart lemon flavor that tastes like a jar of liquid sunshine! There are countless ways to use a batch of lemon curd from filling cookies, cakes, and tarts, to spreading over biscuits and scones!
Easy Lemon Curd
There is nothing like a batch of homemade lemon curd. The store-bought jars of lemon curd just cannot possibly compare!
This really is the best lemon curd I’ve ever tried, and I went through multiple batches, testing lemon curd made with whole eggs, batches using some egg yolks with one or two whole eggs, and batches (like the one I settled on here which is the classic approach) using just egg yolks. I find that the egg yolk approach gives the richest, best flavor and texture.
This lemon curd recipe is one of my favorite things to make when I’m making something like divinity, macarons, or pavlova, which each call for a lot of egg whites. No sense in letting those yolks go to waste!
And if you are facing the dilemma of what to do with egg whites if you are only wanting to make lemon curd, you can always add them to omelettes, or you can even use whole eggs in this recipe without any other alterations if you are adamant about not wasting egg whites.
What is lemon curd?
Lemon curd is a simple fruit spread made with fresh lemon zest and juice, granulated sugar, egg yolks, water, and butter. It can be cooked right in a pot on the stovetop, although my preferred method is in a double boiler so as not to risk scrambling the egg yolks over direct heat. Once thickened from the gentle heat of the double boiler, which you can mimic with just a heat-safe glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water, the lemon curd is cooled completely before serving.
I have always thought of lemon curd as typically British, since it is served in England over scones at tea, but it has so many other uses and is becoming more and more popular elsewhere in the world!
Lemon curd is naturally gluten-free, which makes it allergy-friendly.
Lemon curd uses
There are so many ways to use a batch of lemon curd that you might be surprised how often you find yourself whipping up a batch after this. Think of lemon curd like jam. Almost any recipe that calls for jam or mashed berries on top or in the middle will work well with lemon curd instead!
This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are some ideas that we have tried and loved for ways to use lemon curd.
- Use it to top biscuits, scones, muffins, or toast
- Spoon it over ice cream or yogurt to create a sundae or parfait
- Serve it with whipped cream over a slice of pound cake, angel food cake, or other basic white cake
- Spread it on pancakes, waffles, french toast, or in crepes
- Stir it into your morning oatmeal
- Use it to fill a tart shell, cupcakes, or layer cake
- Mix it with softened cream cheese or whipped cream for an easy fruit dip
- Use as a filling for lemon macarons or linzer cookies
- One of the simplest uses is to just scoop it up with graham crackers like a fruit dip!
How to make lemon curd
Combine sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and egg yolks in a heat-safe glass bowl set over pan of simmering water to create a double boiler.
I recommend the double boiler approach because it is more foolproof than cooking the lemon curd directly over heat on the stove. Although if you want to skip the double boiler and just make this recipe in a pot on the stovetop, you absolutely can. Just be extra careful of the heat to not overcook the egg yolks because nobody likes bits of scrambled eggs in their lemon curd. Just to be safe, you might want to strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer after cooking this way.
Regardless of the approach you decide on, you will heat while whisking almost constantly for about 10 minutes until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Literally stick a spoon down in the lemon curd, then run your finger down the back of the spoon. A noticeable line will be visible, letting you know it is cooked enough. You can also use a thermometer to make sure the temperature of the curd reaches between 160 and 170 degrees F.
Remove the cooked mixture from the heat and the cubed butter until it is completely melted. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools until it is about the consistency of Yoplait yogurt.
Pour the finished curd into a clean bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap right onto it to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold, then serve.
Storing and Freezing Instructions
A batch of this fruity dessert spread will be good in the fridge for up to about 2 weeks if stored in an airtight container.
Or you can freeze lemon curd in a freezer safe container or jar for up to 3 months. Just be sure to leave at least 1/2-inch of space at the top of your container for expansion when sticking the lemon curd in the freezer. Thaw the curd in the fridge overnight, then stir well before serving.
Tips for making homemade lemon curd
- Use fresh lemon juice. Here is my trick for getting the most juice out of lemons: roll the lemon on the counter first, pressing down quite firmly while doing so. This breaks up some of the membranes inside the lemon before you ever even slice into it and helps the juices flower better. If your lemons are cold, you can even microwave them for 15 seconds first to make sure they are juicier.
- When zesting lemons, try to only get the outer yellow rind, not the layer of white pith below, which has a bitter aftertaste to it.
- You can actually make any citrus curd with this recipe using meyer lemons, limes, grapefruit, or even pomelo.
When life gives you lemons, make these lemon recipes!
- Easy Lemon Icebox Cake
- Homemade Blackberry Lemonade
- Lemon Sugar Cookies
- Passion Fruit Lemon Loaf Cake
- Skillet Lemon Chicken & Rice
- Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Coconut Syrup
- Fresh Squeezed Homemade Lemonade
- Lemon Cheesecake
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Combine all ingredients except butter in double boiler over simmering pot of water. Heat, whisking constantly, for 10 minutes until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon (betweeen 160-170 degrees F on a candy thermometer).
- Remove from the heat, then add the butter, whisking until combined.
- Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressed right onto the curd. Refrigerate until cold.
- Storage and Freezing: You can keep the lemon curd in an airtight container in the fridge for up to about 2 weeks. Or freeze for 3 months and thaw in the fridge overnight, stirring well before serving.
- Using whole eggs: I made this recipe with whole eggs instead of just egg yolks and it turned out fine. I just prefer the richer, more concentrated flavor of lemon curd made solely with egg yolks.
- No double boiler? No problem. If you don't have a double boiler and don't want to bother with the bowl nestled in a pot approach, you can make this recipe in a saucepan over direct heat. Just be careful not to overcook the eggs, and consider straining the finished lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer to remove any possible bits of scrambled egg.
- Variations: This recipe will work with other types of citrus as well, including meyer lemons, limes, and grapefruit.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 155Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 50mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 0gSugar: 19gProtein: 1g