Homemade Lemon Curd Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 20 min. + chilling
A classic lemon curd recipe belongs in every bakers repertoire. Five basic ingredients turn your favorite citrus into a creamy, sweet spread you can use in almost any recipe, from buttered toast to layered cake.

Updated: May 16, 2024

Novice bakers and professionals alike can delight in a good homemade lemon curd recipe. Dolloped onto crepes, baked into lemon bars, piped into meringue shells, layered into a cake—the ways you can use fresh lemon curd seem endless. It’s light, colorful and refreshingly tangy, so you’ll typically find lemon curd in spring desserts and summery sweets.

There are dozens of lemon recipes to fall in love with, but the simplicity of this lemon curd makes us come back to it over and over again. By day, spread it over your morning toast. By night, spoon it into mini tart shells, or layer it into a beautiful raspberry lemon cake to serve for dessert. (Or elevate your favorite yellow cake mix when there’s no time for from-scratch baking—we’ll never tell!)

Oh, and be prepared for your house to smell absolutely amazing.

What is lemon curd?

Creamy and thick, lemon curd is almost like a buttery version of jam. A curd is made with citrus, sugar, eggs and butter. The butter and eggs give the curd its smooth, creamy consistency. Lemon curd can be used as a spread or to flavor various baked desserts.

Ingredients for Lemon Curd

  • Lemon: We recommend using the freshest lemons you can find. Be sure to rinse the peel thoroughly so you don’t run the risk of bacteria or other germs on your zest.
  • Eggs: Eggs help thicken the curd so that it’s not drippy or runny.
  • Sugar: The lemons bring the tartness, and the sugar brings the sweetness! Regular white granulated sugar is the best choice for a curd.
  • Butter: The smooth texture of lemon curd comes from the butter—not to mention a dimension of flavor. We don’t recommend swapping it out for shortening or another fat.


Step 1: Combine the first three ingredients

A Person Stirring a Saucepan With a WhiskTMB Studio

In a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the eggs, sugar and lemon juice until all three are well blended. Be sure the heat isn’t too high, or else the eggs might start to scramble and separate.

Editor’s Tip: A heavy-bottomed saucepan will allow the mixture to heat evenly so that the curd can come together and create the silky texture you’re looking for. A thinner pan could result in burnt bits of curd or pockets of unevenly heated eggs.

Step 2: Simmer and stir until thick

A Person Stirring a Lemon Curd Mixture in a PotTMB Studio

Add the butter and lemon zest, and cook until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a metal spoon. Whisk constantly during this time.

Step 3: Let it cool

Transfer the lemon curd to a small bowl (preferably glass), and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Once cooled, refrigerate it, covered, until cold.

A Group of Jars of Lemon CurdTMB Studio

Lemon Curd Recipe Variations

  • Make it a lime curd: Substitute lime juice and zest for lemon juice and zest. Proceed with the steps as directed.
  • Add it to meringue shells: Meringue shells with lemon curd might be one of the prettiest desserts we’ve ever seen. Keep some fresh berries on hand to top the curd with, and your guests will be complimenting your dessert skills all day long.
  • Layer it in an ice cream pie: Whether a spring birthday party or a summer potluck, a lemon-berry ice cream pie with layers of lemon curd makes for a refreshingly chilled treat.

How to Store Lemon Curd

Homemade lemon curd will last in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed mason jar or airtight container for one to two weeks.

Can you freeze lemon curd?

Yes! You can freeze lemon curd for up to one year in freezer-safe resealable bags or mason jars. Thaw the curd in the refrigerator before using.

Lemon Curd Recipe Tips

How many lemons do you need for the lemon zest?

One medium lemon or two smaller lemons should be enough to produce 1 tablespoon zest. Remember, you just want the outermost yellow part of the peel, not the innermost white part which is more bitter that zesty. Here’s how to zest a lemon five ways.

Can you use bottled lemon juice?

You’ll want the brightest, puckery-est lemon flavor in your curd, so our Test Kitchen says to avoid using bottled lemon juice here. Always use juice squeezed from fresh lemons when making lemon curd for pure lemon flavor.

Why did my lemon curd turn green?

If your lemon curd turned green, it likely had a reaction to something metal. Avoid using a copper or aluminum pan as those will react with the lemon juice and cause the discoloration in the lemon curd, and could even cause a slightly metallic aftertaste.

Watch how to Make Homemade Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

Prep Time 20 min
Yield 1-2/3 cups.


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


  1. In a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, whisk eggs, sugar and lemon juice until blended. Add butter and lemon zest; cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and coats the back of a metal spoon. Transfer to a small bowl; cool 10 minutes. Refrigerate, covered, until cold.

Nutrition Facts

2 tablespoons: 110 calories, 5g fat (3g saturated fat), 52mg cholesterol, 45mg sodium, 16g carbohydrate (16g sugars, 0 fiber), 2g protein.