Homemade lemon curd is quick to make with just 4 simple ingredients: eggs, sugar, lemons and butter. This recipe creates a lemon curd that’s tart, sweet and super creamy. You’ll never buy store-bought lemon curd again! Keep on reading for a foolproof method that will result in the best lemon curd you’ll ever try. Use this lemony goodness in desserts, as a filling for pies or macarons, as a topping for yoghurt or chia pudding bowls or as a zingy spread for toast or scones.
What is lemon curd?
Lemon curd is a thick, smooth and creamy spread or filling made from lemons (juice and zest), sugar, butter and eggs. It has an intense tart lemon flavour but is also sweet and creamy at the same time. Its bright yellow colour makes it perfect for spring and summer desserts, like this Eton Mess with Lemon Curd and Fresh Berries. You can spread it on toast, use it as a filling for cakes or cookies and simply add a big spoonful of this zingy deliciousness to your favourite dessert.
What you need to make lemon curd
Lemon curd is made with four simple ingredients that you’ll find in any grocery store. There are only four ingredients so try to use the best quality you can find, this really makes all the difference in the end product.
- Lemons: We are going to use both the zest and the juice of fresh lemons. Since we are going to use the zest, make sure to use organic lemons that aren’t sprayed with pesticides. The essential oils in the lemon zest give this recipe an extra zingy lemony flavour. Freshly squeezed lemon juice is what adds most of the lemon flavour to this recipe.
- Sugar: Simple white granulated sugar is what gives this recipe its sweetness. We use white because we want this recipe to be bright yellow. A brown type of sugar would change the colour (and flavour profile) of the lemon curd.
- Eggs: For this recipe we use a combination of whole eggs and egg yolks. This creates the golden combination that creates a curd that is bright yellow, thick and creamy.
- Butter: Butter helps thicken the curd and also gives it a creamy, slightly buttery flavour. It will also give the curd a beautiful satin gloss.
The foolproof method to make lemon curd
So many recipes and so many methods for lemon curd float around the internet. This foolproof method will create the best lemon curd. You need the following utensils: 2 heatproof bowls, one saucepan with boiling water, a lemon zester and juicer and a whisk.
Step 1: Prepare the lemon and sugar mixture
Weigh your sugar and add it to one of the heatproof bowls. Zest one lemon directly on top of the sugar to capture all the essential oils. Now cut your lemons in half and juice them until you have about 150 millilitres of juice (⅔ cup), depending on how juicy your lemons are you’ll need 3-4 lemons. Use a small mesh strainer to add the lemon juice to the sugar and zest mixture. Use a small spoon to push as much of the juice through the strainer. Discard the leftover lemon seeds and pulp.
Step 2: Prepare the eggs
For this recipe we need four eggs. Take out your other heatproof bowl and add two whole eggs and only the yolks of the last two eggs. (Use the remaining two egg whites to make a meringue, add them to an omelette or freeze them for use at a later time). Give the eggs a quick whisk to break up the yolks so the eggs are all mixed together. Put this bowl to the side for later.
Step 3: Prepare your butter
Weigh out your butter and cut it into small cubes of about one centimetre or ½ inch. Place the butter cubes back in the fridge to keep them cold until you need them at the end of the recipe.
Step 4: Create an ‘au bain marie’ double boiler
Bring a layer of water to a simmer in a saucepan, make sure the water won’t touch the bottom of the heatproof bowls if you place them on top of the pan. The heatproof bowl should fit snugly on top without the risk of it falling off or into the pan. A double boiler method creates a gentle, indirect heat which is ideal for creating this curd without cooking the egg.
Step 5: Cook the lemon sugar mixture
Place the heatproof bowl with sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice on top of the saucepan with simmering hot water. Use a whisk to mix until the sugar has dissolved completely.
Step 6: Incorporate the eggs
Now slowly and carefully add a little bit of the hot sugar and lemon mixture to the eggs. Make sure to whisk continuously while adding the sugar mixture to prevent the eggs from cooking. Add a little bit at a time and continue until you’ve added all the sugar to the egg bowl.
Step 7: Cook the curd until thick
Now place the bowl with the egg/sugar/lemon mixture back on top of the the simmering saucepan. Keep stirring the mixture with your whisk. It will be very liquidy at the start, then it will get foamy on top, and lastly, it will start to thicken. Be patient, it will take about 10 minutes. Once the curd thickens the foam will disappear. Use a spoon test to check for the correct thickness.
The spoon test is a simple way to check the consistency of your lemon curd. To perform the spoon test, dip a clean spoon into the curd, then run your finger across the back of the spoon. If the curd is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and the line created by your finger remains distinct, then the curd is ready. If the curd is too thin and the line disappears, it needs to be cooked for a bit longer.
Step 8: Add the butter to the curd
Now that your curd has thickened, remove it from the double boiler. Add the cold butter (a couple of cubes at a time) to the warm curd. Use your whisk to stir them through until they are completely melted and incorporated into the curd. Keep adding your butter cubes until all the butter is incorporated into the curd. It should now be velvety and smooth without any butter chunks.
Step 9: Cool the lemon curd
Pour the thickened lemon curd into a glass container to let it cool completely. Once cold, keep it in the fridge until use. The curd will thicken a bit more as it cools.
Step 10: Enjoy your homemade lemon curd
Your homemade batch of lemon curd will be so addictingly delicious that you might even want to eat it just like that straight from the container! Use it within a week on desserts, as a cookie or cake filling or simply on toast. Keep it in the fridge in an airtight container.
Tips for a foolproof Lemon Curd
Here are some tips for making foolproof lemon curd:
- Use fresh and high-quality ingredients, including organic lemons, good quality butter, and fresh eggs.
- Use a double boiler to cook the lemon curd to prevent the eggs from curdling. Don’t overheat the eggs, or you’ll get scrambled eggs instead of lemon curd!
- Whisk continuously while adding the hot sugar mixture to the eggs to prevent the eggs from cooking.
- Strain the lemon juice through a mesh strainer to remove any seeds or pulp that can affect the texture of the curd.
- Cook the curd until it reaches the desired thickness and passes the spoon test (see step 7 above).
- Add the cold butter gradually while stirring continuously to ensure a velvety smooth curd.
- Cool the lemon curd completely before storing it in the refrigerator.
- The lemon curd will keep for about a week in the fridge (in an airtight container).
The serving possibilities for this lemon curd are endless! Use this lemony goodness in desserts, as a filling for pies, cakes or macarons. Mix it with buttercream to create a delicious lemon curd frosting for cupcakes and pastries. Add a dollop as a topping for yoghurt, oatmeal or chia pudding bowls. You can even use it as a zingy spread on your toast with your morning coffee!
Are you looking for more fresh and light spring recipes?
Here are some sweet spring dessert and brunch ideas:
- Use this lemon curd recipe to make this Eton Mess with Lemon Curd and Fresh Berries. It puts a zesty spin on this classic dessert that makes it perfect for spring and summer!
- Hop into Easter with these adorable and delicious Meringue Nests! They are filled with fresh lemon curd and cute mini chocolate eggs.
- If you love baking you probably use loads of vanilla extract. This Homemade Vanilla Extract is cheaper and tastes way better than most supermarket varieties. It’s also super easy to make with just 2 ingredients!
- Serve these gorgeous Apple Puff Pastry Roses during your next spring brunch or picnic.
Here are some savoury spring recipe ideas:
- Serve this festive Cranberry Brie Crescent Wreath for brunch or as an appetizer, your guests will gobble up this wreath in no time!
- Serve these Truffle Deviled Eggs at your next party! These delicious appetizers can be made ahead of time and a touch of truffle gives them an elegant twist.
- This mouthwatering Spring Risotto with Green Asparagus and Peas is full of fragrant fresh herbs, luscious green spring vegetables and a hint of lemon.