How to Make Lemon Curd

Slathered on biscuits, drizzled over cake or dolloped onto yogurt, lemon curd makes every bite happier, brighter and better. Here's a foolproof method for how to make lemon curd smooth and creamy every time.

Jar of lemon curd

If you love lemon recipes, you’ll want to know how to make lemon curd. It’s smooth, creamy texture and sweet, tart flavor make it unbeatable eaten just by the spoonful or added to other desserts. Lemon curd is easy to make once you know these pro tips that ensure your curd won’t curdle.

Keep it Real

Always use fresh lemon juice when making lemon curd, not the bottled variety. The results are so much tastier, it’s well worth the effort to juice a few lemons.

Pick Your Citrus

Don’t limit yourself to lemons when making curd. This recipe and method will work with any citrus fruit, so try it with limes, oranges or grapefruit for a little variety. If you’re feeling really fancy, use blood oranges to get a lovely rose-colored curd.

How to Make Lemon Curd

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

Instructions

Step 1: Get whisking

Whisking Lemon Curd

In a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, whisk eggs, sugar and lemon juice until blended.

Pro Tip: Don’t use aluminum or unlined copper pans or spoons when making curd. They could react with the acid in the lemons, discoloring the curd and leaving a metallic aftertaste.

Step 2: Add some goodness

Adding lemon zest

Add the butter and lemon peel to the egg mixture.

Step 3: Cook until thickened

Testing the curd with a spoon

Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thickened. You’ll need to stir this pucker-y pot constantly to prevent the protein molecules in the eggs from bonding too tightly. (Read: If you walk away from the stove, it’s likely that your soft, creamy curd will become a sticky solid.)

To test if it’s ready, dip a spoon into the curd mixture and run your finger across the back. If your finger leaves a path, the curd is ready. It will thicken slightly as it cools.

Pro Tip: You can strain the curd after it cools to remove the zest if you want it completely smooth, however the zest does add a lot of flavor. It’s your choice.

What to Do With It

Storing Lemon Curd

Lemon curd can be made up to seven days in advance. Cover the surface with plastic wrap so a skin doesn’t form on top, and store it in the refrigerator. To freeze curd, place it in a plastic zip-top bag and store in the freezer for up to two months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight, and use within one week.

Lemon Curd Tartlets

How to Upgrade Lemon Curd

Now that you know how to make lemon curd, treat yourself by spooning it into tiny tarts and dusting them with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. How about adding a dollop as filling for sandwich cookies? Or slather it between layers of white or yellow cake rounds for a tangy filling. If you’re feeling fancy, swirl it into cheesecake with a knife before popping it into the oven. Or layer it with ice cream in a tall glass for a sweet and tart parfait.

Can’t get enough lemon flavor? Check out these delicious lemon recipes!

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Dana Meredith
Dana is an editor and writer who shares her passion for travel, food and the beauty of American landscapes. When she's not wielding her red pen, she can be found tending her flower gardens, remodeling her house, creating one-of-a-kind jewelry or dancing to "Uptown Funk."