Homemade lemon curd is one of the best things in the world. Yes, you can buy it in grocery stores or specialty food stores, but homemade will always be much better and it is so easy to make. This lemon curd is creamy, thick, and tart. Since I started the blog I have the goal to make as many fruit curds as possible. So far I've made kumquat, strawberry, cranberry, and rhubarb. You can do almost any citrus fruit in addition to raspberries and blueberries. And the best part- it takes less than 30 minutes to make. See the list at the end of this post for links to the other fruit curd recipes.
Why This Recipe Works
Fruit curd is an indulgent, luscious, tart, creamy fruit spread that is good as a dessert topping, spread on toast, or as a filling for tarts and cakes. This recipe works because it uses almost a cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice to create a tart and lemony curd and egg yolks and butter to create a creamy and thick texture.
Lemon Curd Ingredients
The basic recipe for this lemon curd consists of four ingredients:
- Fresh Lemons
- Whole Eggs and Egg Yolks
- Granulated Sugar
- Unsalted Butter
For the best curd, use real lemons because you want the zest and the kick of real lemon juice. Eggs are used to thicken the curd. The combination of sugar and eggs is needed for thickening and butter makes it extra creamy. You'll need enough lemons to get 1 cup of lemon juice, which can be 4-5 lemons depending on their size or juiciness.
How to Make Lemon Curd
The first time I made lemon curd I made it out of curiosity because I had never had it or heard of it. I was amazed at how easy it was to make and how good it was. Once I made it there was no going back.
The recipe starts with zesting the lemon directly into the sugar. When citrus fruit is zested the oils are released and a lot of the flavor and scent are in the oils. Zesting the fruit directly into the sugar ensures that you are capturing as much flavor as possible.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a 2-quart or 3-quart non-reactive saucepan until the mixture is well blended the sugar starts to dissolve. Next add the lemon juice, egg yolks, whole eggs, and butter and slowly stir the ingredients together. The butter will remain solid until you start to heat the mixture.
Place the saucepan over medium heat and whisk it constantly making sure to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Do not walk away from the curd while you are cooking it or it will burn. If you have to walk away for some reason, remove the pan from the heat.
When the curd has thickened and reached the right temperature strain it through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any solids (little bits of cooked eggs and the zest) so it is extra smooth.
The temperature is listed to ensure that you have cooked the curd enough so it will thicken as it cools. As the curd starts to thicken and steam rises from the surface, check the temperature often. Don't let the curd boil. Boiling curd will cause it to curdle and create a grainy texture.
The directions call for a non-reactive saucepan, which is a pan that will not react with the acid in the lemons. Do not use an aluminum pan, use stainless steel. Using an aluminum pan will produce a metallic taste.
Chill the curd immediately to keep bacteria from forming. Cover the surface of the curd with plastic wrap to keep a skin from forming on the surface of the lemon curd.
The lemon curd is good in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and can be frozen for up to one year. If you freeze it, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator about 24 hours before you're ready to use it.
Lemon Curd - Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, the lemon curd can be frozen for up to a year. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before you're ready to use.
Unfortunately, if the curd is allowed to boil it will curdle the eggs and make the curd grainy. You can try straining it twice through a fine-mesh strainer, but that not remove all the grainy bits.
Yes. If you are allergic to dairy you can make the curd without butter. It will be a little less creamy, but still taste delicious.
No, you cannot make lemon curd without eggs. The addition of eggs is what makes this a curd. You can make a lemon filling which consists of lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch. In this case, the cornstarch is the thickener
Other Fruit Curd Recipes
For other delicious fruit curds and recipes using fruit curd, check out these recipes on the blog:
I hope you try the recipe for this luscious lemon curd. If you do make it please leave a comment or tag me on Instagram @bakesbybrownsugar. If you're looking for ideas on how to use besides eating it by the spoonful check out my recipe for Meyer Lemon Tart.
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 (100 grams) whole eggs
- 4 (80 grams) large egg yolks
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 8 tablespoons (114 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- Place a strainer over a medium-sized bowl near the stove.
- Place the sugar in a small bowl and zest the lemons onto the sugar. Use your fingers to rub the sugar and zest together. Juice the lemons until you have 3/4 cups of juice.
- In a nonreactive 2 quart saucepan, combine the whole eggs, eggs yolks, and sugar and whisk until well blended. Stir in the lemon juice, butter, and salt.
- Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture is thickened. As you cook the mixture the butter will melt. When the mixture has thickened and reached a temperature of 185 degrees F pour it into the strainer. Press the curd through the strainer with a spatula to remove the solids.
- Cover the surface of the curd with plastic wrap, gently pressing the plastic wrap onto the surface of the curd. Place the curd in the refrigerator and chill.
- The lemon curd is good in the refrigerator for 2 weeks and can be frozen for up to 1 year. If freezing the curd package it in a freezer container after it has chilled. When ready to use place it in the refrigerator to thaw for 24 hours before intended use.