Easy lemon curd is bright and full of lemon flavor. Sweet and tart, smooth and creamy, this lemon curd works perfectly as a cake or cupcake filling, a topping for dessert, or a delicious component in other lemon desserts. Never buy store-bought lemon curd again!
Ingredients for Lemon Curd
- Egg yolks – From large eggs. For this recipe, we just need the yolks! Separate the yolks from the whites and save the egg whites for meringue frosting, Swiss meringue buttercream, or classic white cake.
- Granulated sugar – For sweetness and to contrast the tart flavor of the lemon.
- Lemon juice – Fresh lemon juice is best for the best citrus taste! Lemons come in all shapes and sizes, so it is difficult to say how many you will need, but for this recipe, I used the juice of two lemons.
- Lemon zest – Use a bit of fresh lemon zest to punch up the lemon flavor! Be sure to zest your lemons before you juice! Use a lemon zester or a fine hand grater.
- Unsalted butter – Use cold, unsalted butter. Cut the butter into small cubes. The butter adds a silky, creamy texture.
How to Make Lemon Curd
Here is the basic breakdown on how to make homemade lemon curd.
- Whisk together egg yolks, granulated sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan.
- Place over low heat on the stove. Cook, stirring occasionally for approximately 10 to 15 minutes until thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
- Add in lemon zest and remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Add the cubed unsalted butter, one piece at a time, whisking in between each addition until combined and smooth.
- Pour the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer into a heat-proof bowl to remove any lumps.
- Cool to room temperature and then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Lemon Curd Recipe Tips
Fresh is best
For the best and brightest lemon flavor, you will definitely want to go with freshly squeezed lemon juice! If you have bottled juice, you can absolutely use that, but I find the flavor to be the best with freshly squeezed juice. No fancy equipment needed to juice the lemon. I just use a fork!
To enhance the lemon flavor, a bit of lemon zest is added toward the end of the cooking process. I like to add it at the end so that it doesn’t become bitter. The lemon zest is strained out of the lemon curd at the end to create a smooth texture. Use a lemon zester or a fine hand grater to remove the yellow part of the lemon peel.
Low and slow
Cook the curd over low heat. Cooking low and slow allows the mixture to slowly heat and prevents the egg yolks from scrambling. It will take between 10 and 15 minutes for the mixture to heat and thicken, so be patient. Stir occasionally to ensure that the mixture does not curdle or burn.
Strain curd through a fine mesh sieve
To ensure the lemon curd is silky smooth, strain the curd through a fine mesh strainer. This will remove any large pieces of lemon zest and lumps that formed during the cooking process.
Using lemon curd
Lemon curd works perfectly as a lemon layer cake or lemon cupcake filling! You can spoon it over vanilla cheesecake or ice cream! Add to pancakes, scones, crepes, yogurt, waffles, biscuits, or toast for a sweet and tart breakfast! It also makes a delicious lemon meringue pie filling! Check out the recipe for my lemon meringue cupcakes!
Store the lemon curd in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. I love keeping it in a mason jar! The recipe makes approximately 12 ounces of lemon curd.
Easy Lemon Curd
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- ½ cup unsalted butter cold and cubed
- Add egg yolks, granulated sugar, and lemon juice to a medium saucepan. Whisk until combined.
- Place over low heat on the stovetop. Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally for approximately 10 to 15 minutes until the mixture thickens.
- Once the mixture thickens, add in lemon zest and stir until combined.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the cubed unsalted butter, one piece at a time, whisking in between each addition until combined and smooth.
- Pour the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer into a heat-proof container to remove any lumps.
- Cool the lemon curd to room temperature and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. To prevent a "skin" from forming on the lemon curd, you can place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the lemon curd.