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How to Make Lemon Curd (5 Ingredient recipe)

5 from 21 votes

Lemon curd is a versatile and delicious spread that can be used in a variety of desserts. It has a tangy and sweet flavor that is perfect for complementing cakes, scones, and even pancakes for lemon lovers. 

The best part is that it is incredibly easy to make and only requires five simple ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • Granulated sugar 
  • Unsalted butter 
  • Fresh lemon juice 
  • Fresh Lemon zest 

How to make Easy Lemon Curd Recipe

When it comes to homemade lemon curd recipe, there are a few different methods you can use. Each method has its own pros and cons, so it’s up to you to decide which one works best for you.

How to Make Lemon Curd on Stovetop 

The stovetop method is the most traditional way to make lemon curd and that’s the one I’ve used for this recipe today.

To start, I gather my ingredients and a small saucepan. I whisk together egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in the saucepan. It’s important to use real lemons for this recipe as you need both the zest and juice to achieve the perfect flavor. 

The egg yolks serve as a thickening agent, just like they do in creme brulee or butterscotch pudding. The sugar helps to dissolve the egg proteins so they’re less likely to scramble, and the butter adds richness and creaminess to the curd. 

Then, I cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with the back of a wooden spoon until it thickens. This usually takes about 5-7 minutes. Once it’s thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, I remove it from the heat and stir in butter until it’s melted and fully incorporated. 

Finally, I strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps or bits of cooked egg.

How to Make Lemon Curd in the Microwave 

If you’re short on time, the microwave method is a great option. 

I start by melting butter in a glass bowl in the microwave. Then, I whisk together egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in the same bowl. I microwave the mixture on low-medium heat in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until it thickens. 

This usually takes about 2-3 minutes. Once it’s thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, I remove it from the microwave and stir in more butter until it’s fully incorporated. 

Finally, I strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps or bits of cooked egg.

How to Make Lemon Curd Double Boiler Method

The double boiler method is a bit more complicated, but it’s great if you’re worried about the mixture curdling. 

I start by filling a medium saucepan with a few inches of cold water and bringing it to a simmer over medium low heat. Then, I whisk together egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a glass bowl that fits snugly on top of the saucepan. I place the bowl on top of the saucepan and whisk the mixture constantly until it thickens. This usually takes about 8-10 minutes. 

It’s important to keep the heat low to prevent the eggs from curdling and scrambling. If the heat is too high, the curd will become grainy and lumpy instead of smooth and silky.

Once it’s thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, I remove it from the heat and stir in butter until it’s melted and fully incorporated. 

Finally, I strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps or bits of cooked egg. I let the curd cool to room temperature before transferring it to a jar or airtight container. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools, resulting in a creamy curd with a smooth texture.

No matter which method you choose, the most important thing is to keep a close eye on the mixture and stir it constantly to avoid any lumps or curdling. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to make perfect lemon curd every time!

How to Store and Preserve Lemon Curd

After making a delicious batch of good lemon curd, you might be wondering how to store it properly to make it last as long as possible. Here are some tips on how to store and preserve your lemon curd:

Storing in the Fridge

The best way to store lemon curd is in an airtight container in the fridge. This will keep it fresh for up to two weeks. Make sure to use a clean container, and if you’re reusing an old container, wash it thoroughly with warm, soapy water first. You can also cover the surface of the curd with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.

Freezing Lemon Curd

If you want to store your lemon curd for longer than two weeks, freezing is a great option. Lemon curd can be frozen for up to six months. To freeze, simply spoon the curd into an ice cube tray and freeze until solid. Once frozen, pop the cubes out of the tray and transfer them to a freezer-safe container. Label the container with the date and freeze.

When you’re ready to use the frozen lemon curd, simply thaw it in the fridge overnight. You can also thaw it in the microwave, but be sure to do it in short bursts and stir frequently to prevent overheating.

Home Food Preservation

If you’re interested in home food preservation, you can also can lemon curd using the water bath canning method. However, it’s important to note that acidity levels can be tricky to gauge with fresh lemon juice, which is why shelf-stable canned lemon curd recipes use bottled lemon juice. If you’re new to canning, it’s important to do your research and follow proper canning procedures to ensure food safety.

Uses for Lemon Curd

There are so many ways to enjoy lemon curd. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Enjoy on scones, muffins, buttermilk waffles, or pancakes
  • Use as a filling for crepes, lemon cupcakes, or lemon coconut cake
  • Use as a topping for angel food cake, pound cake, madeleines
  • Fill French macarons, choux pastry
  • Stir in yogurt, cottage cheese, or spoon on ice cream

Tips and Tricks for Best Lemon Curd

Avoiding Bottled Lemon Juice

One common mistake when making lemon curd is using bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemons. Bottled lemon juice often contains preservatives and additives that can affect the taste and texture of the curd. To avoid this mistake, use fresh lemons and juice them yourself. This will give your lemon curd a fresh and tangy flavor.

Cooking Temperature and Time

Another common mistake when making lemon curd is cooking it at the wrong temperature or for too long. If the curd is cooked at too high a temperature or for too long, it can become grainy and overcooked. To avoid this mistake, cook the curd over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. The curd should be cooked until it coats the back of a spoon, and the temperature should not exceed 170°F.

Using a Water Bath

Using a water bath is an effective way to prevent the curd from overcooking and becoming grainy. To use a water bath, place the curd in a heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water. Stir the curd constantly until it thickens. This will ensure a smooth and creamy texture.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I thicken my lemon curd?

If your lemon curd is too runny, you can try adding another egg yolk or cooking it for a few more minutes until it thickens. Another option is to add a bit of cornstarch to the mixture, but be careful not to add too much as it can affect the flavor and texture.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when making lemon curd?

One of the most common mistakes when making lemon curd is overheating the mixture. This can cause the eggs to curdle and ruin the texture of the curd. To avoid this, make sure to cook the curd over low heat and stir constantly. Another mistake is not straining the mixture after cooking, which can result in a lumpy texture.

How long can homemade lemon curd be stored?

Homemade lemon curd can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. It can also be frozen for up to six months, but the texture may change slightly after thawing. Make sure to label and date your container so you know when it was made.

Homemade Lemon Curd

Homemade Lemon Curd

Recipe by Adore Foods
5 from 21 votes

How to make Lemon Curd at home with only 5 ingredients, ready in just 10 minutes

Yield

1.5

cups
Prep time

5

minutes
Cooking time

10

minutes
Cooling Time

2

hrs
Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on

Ingredients

  • 4 large 4 egg yolks

  • 2/3 cup 2/3 (134g) granulated sugar

  • 1 tbsp 1 fresh lemon zest

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 (80ml) fresh lemon juice

  • 6 tbsp 6 (86g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into pieces

Directions

  • In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together the eggs, the lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar until well combined.
  • Place the saucepan over medium heat. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and strain the lemon curd through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any lumps or bits of cooked egg.
  • Add the butter in cubes and mix until it dissolves and the texture is creamy
  • Transfer the lemon curd to a clean container and let it cool to room temperature.
  • Once cooled, cover the container and refrigerate the lemon curd until it is chilled and set, at least 2 hours.

Notes

  • Use fresh lemon juice. Avoid bottled lemon juice, because it often contains preservatives and additives that can affect the taste and texture of the curd.
  • Cook the lemon curd over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. The curd should be cooked until it coats the back of a spoon, and the temperature should not exceed 170°F.
  • If your lemon curd is too runny, you can try adding another egg yolk or cooking it for a few more minutes until it thickens. Another option is to add a bit of cornstarch to the mixture, but be careful not to add too much as it can affect the flavor and texture.
  • Homemade lemon curd can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. It can also be frozen for up to six months, but the texture may change slightly after thawing. Make sure to label and date your container so you know when it was made.