Lemon Curd

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Get ready to whip up some citrusy magic in your kitchen with our simple and delicious lemon curd recipe, a must-try for any dessert lover!

Smooth and tangy lemon curd

Recipe At a Glance

Lemon curd is a crowd favorite among fruit curds. It tastes fantastic, is simple to prepare, requires just basic pantry items, and offers numerous ways to use it. Once you’ve mastered the technique, you can explore various curds to enhance your baking adventures.

In essence, it’s a must-know recipe that opens the door to many other similar delights. It’s incredibly straightforward, and if you pay attention, you’re likely to nail it on your first try.

(Lemon pastry cream is another great option if you’re looking for a lemony filling.)

If you’re new to making lemon curd, take a moment to read through the ingredient notes, detailed instructions, and helpful tips. If you’re an experienced maker, feel free to skip straight to the recipe card.

Ingredients Notes and Substitutes

Lemon curd ingredients
  • Eggs.
  • Lemon. Opt for ones free of blemishes and discoloration, as you’ll also need lemon zest.
  • Sugar. Regular white sugar works best, but powdered sugar or sugar alternatives should be okay too.
  • Unsalted butter.

How to Make Lemon Curd

New to curds? Check out my curds 101 article, where I cover different techniques you can use to make curds and other useful tips.

  1. Wash lemon(s). We’ll zest the lemon, so we need to remove any impurities and residue. First, rinse your lemons under running water. Then, if you’re using commercial lemons and want to remove (some) pesticides, soak the lemons for 15 minutes in 2 cups of water mixed with a tablespoon of baking soda.
  2. Zest. Gently peel off half the lemon’s zest using a microplane, a zester, or the fine holes on your box grater, avoiding any discolored or blemished areas. Chop the zest if using a zester. For a more intense lemon flavor, zest three-quarters or the entire fruit.
  3. Squeeze. Extract the juice from the whole lemon and set it aside.
  1. Set up a double boiler. Create a double boiler by placing a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
  2. Cook. Whisk the eggs and sugar in the bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon zest and juice and stir continuously until the mixture thickens. As it cooks, the curd will foam, which will diminish as it thickens. This step is time-consuming due to the gentle heat, so patience is key.
  1. Add butter. Once thickened, remove from heat, add the chopped butter, and stir until it melts and blends in.
Adding the chopped butter
Add the chopped butter
  1. Cover. Place plastic wrap directly on the curd’s surface to prevent skin formation.
Cover with plastic wrap
Cover with plastic wrap to prevent skin formation
  1. Refrigerate. Let the curd cool at room temperature briefly before refrigerating it, still covered.

Tips for Making Lemon Curd

  • Adjust Sweetness: Lemon curd is quite sweet by design. For a less sweet version, use 1/2 to 3/4 of the sugar called for in the recipe. After cooking, taste and stir in more sugar if needed.
  • Adjust Tartness: For a stronger lemon flavor, especially if you plan on mixing the curd with other ingredients like mascarpone or whipped cream, add more lemon zest. Instead of zesting half the lemon, zest the entire fruit.
  • Use a Thermometer: Eggs start coagulating at 170°F to 180°F (76°C to 82°C), so that’s when the curd thickens. If the process is slow and the mixture is taking ages to thicken, check the temperature. If it’s well below this range, raise the stove heat to speed things up.
  • Speed Up. The method described above is called the double boiler method, and while it’s great for beginners, it takes quite a while to make the curd. You can also go with the egg-tempering method, which is faster but a bit more prone to errors. I cover it in the lime curd article.
Homemade lemon curd served in jars
Homemade lemon curd served in jars

How to Use Lemon Curd

Lemon curd is a versatile ingredient that can add a zesty lemon flavor to a wide range of desserts. Here are some delicious ways to serve it:

  1. Tart Filling: Lemon curd is perfect for filling tart shells (both small and large), creating a classic lemon tart. You can also mix it with whipped cream for a lighter texture (and less sweetness).
  2. Cake Filling: Spread it between layers of sponge cake, or use it to fill cupcakes.
  3. Choux Pastry Filling: Fill eclairs with lemon curd for a creamy and citrusy surprise, or mix it with mascarpone cheese and whipped cream and fill your cream puffs.
  4. On Toast or Scones: Spread it on toast, scones, or English muffins for a zesty breakfast treat.
  5. With Yogurt or Ice Cream: Swirl it into yogurt for a tangy twist, or spoon it over ice cream.
Spoonful of homemade lemon curd
A spoonful of homemade lemon curd
  1. Pavlova Topping: Lemon curd makes an excellent topping for Pavlova, complementing the meringue’s sweetness.
  2. Cheesecake Topping: Use it as a topping for cheesecake to add a bright, citrusy flavor.
  3. Trifle or Parfait Layer: For a zesty surprise, add a layer of lemon curd to a trifle or parfait.
  4. With Pancakes or Waffles: Drizzle lemon curd over your morning pancakes or waffles for a sweet and tangy start to the day.
  5. Lemon Bars: Spread over a shortbread base and bake to make lemon bars.
  6. In Smoothies: A small amount can add a nice tang to a fruit smoothie. Remember that lemon curd is pretty sweet, so you’ll probably want to reduce or remove other sweeteners from your smoothie.
Blueberry buns topped with lemon curd
Polish blueberry buns topped with lemon curd


Store your lemon curd in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days and use it whenever you need a burst of lemony goodness.

Smooth and tangy lemon curd

Lemon Curd

Get ready to whip up some citrusy magic in your kitchen with our simple and delicious lemon curd recipe, a must-try for any dessert lover!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Dessert, Spread
Cuisine: American, British
Keyword: Citrus, English Dessert, Fruit Spread, Lemon Curd
Servings: 8.8 oz


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup sugar 2.4 oz or 65 grams
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 1.5 oz or 43 grams


  • Prep Lemons: Rinse lemons under running water. For extra cleaning, soak in a water and baking soda solution for 15 minutes.
    1 lemon
  • Zest Lemons: Use a microplane or grater to remove the zest from half the lemon, avoiding discolored spots. For a stronger flavor, zest more of the lemon.
  • Juice Lemons: Squeeze out the juice from the whole lemon and set it aside.
  • Double Boiler Setup: Place a heatproof bowl over a pot with simmering water, ensuring the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
  • Cook Mixture: In the bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until combined. Add lemon zest and juice, stirring continuously until the mixture thickens.
    1/3 cup sugar, 2 eggs
  • Add Butter: Remove from heat once thickened, add chopped butter, and stir until completely melted and incorporated.
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Cover: Use plastic wrap to cover the curd directly, preventing skin formation.
  • Chill: Let the curd cool at room temperature, then refrigerate while still covered.
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