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Lemon Curd

This lemon curd is so easy to make and so delicious! It’s ready in a flash and is the perfect way to use up leftover egg yolks.

image of lemon curd in a ceramic bowl

How to Make This Lemon Curd Recipe

To make sure this recipe turns out as amazing as possible, let’s walk through each step together! I’ve also included a video tutorial of the process below.

I figured it might be helpful to know what tools I use too, so I’ve shared a list below.

Not all of these are mandatory, but they make the process a lot easier. If you don’t have all these things on hand, feel free to improvise and work with what you have.

One quick thing to note! When making the lemon curd, it’s best to use a saucepan that’s ceramic as opposed to metal. Some metal pans and sometimes even metal whisks can give the curd a metallic taste.

Step 1: Massage the Lemon Zest into the Sugar

Add the granulated sugar and lemon zest into a bowl. Use your fingertips to massage the zest into the sugar to help release the oil in the zest.

image of lemon zest being massaged into sugar

You should be able to smell the oils being incorporated into the sugar.

This gives this lemon curd a bright, citrusy flavor that won’t cook off.

image of lemon zest being massaged into sugar with fingertips

Step 2: Mix in the Remaining Wet Ingredients

Add in the egg yolks and whisk the mixture together until it becomes lighter in color.

Then mix in the lemon juice and salt.

whisking together egg yolks, sugar, and lemon juice in a black saucepan

Step 3: Cook the Lemon Curd

Cook on medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk until the mixture thickens. This usually takes me about 5 minutes.

It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and keep its shape.

image of lemon curd that's been cooked and has thickened to the point of keeping its shape on the back of a spoon

Remove the pan from heat, then add in the cold butter that’s been cut into smaller pieces.

Mix until the butter is fully melted, and the ingredients are combined.

image of butter that's been mixed into hot lemon curd

Step 4: Strain and Cool

Pour the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer into a separate bowl to remove any bits of cooked egg, chunks of zest, or lemon seeds. This gives it a perfectly smooth texture.

image of lemon curd being pushed through a metal strainer to make it smooth

Place the lemon curd in the fridge to cool. If you make the curd in advance, cover it flush with plastic wrap to prevent it from forming a skin and store it in the fridge for up to a month.

Substitutions and Swaps

This recipe uses a few different ingredients and I know you might not have them all on hand. Or if you have food allergies or restrictions, I’ve got you covered.

Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this recipe.

  • Granulated Sugar – You can reduce the amount of sugar by a tablespoon or two if you want this to be less sweet, but I don’t recommend changing it more than that.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice & Zest – These are an absolute must in this recipe. I don’t recommend substituting it with bottled lemon juice or lemon extract.
  • Egg yolks – I usually save my egg yolks after I make macarons, but if you don’t have any leftover yolks to use up you can use 3 large eggs in place of the egg yolks in this recipe.
  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand, you can use it in place of the unsalted butter in this recipe. Just be sure to omit the salt that this recipe calls for. You can also use vegan butter in its place (and also omit the salt)!
image of ingredients laid out to make lemon curd

How Much Lemon Curd Does This Recipe Make?

One batch of this recipe makes a little over 1 1/4 cups of lemon curd.

This recipe can be cut in half, in thirds, or doubled as needed. Note that the cook time will change based on the size of the batch.

What Desserts Can I Fill with Lemon Curd?

The sky is the limit when it comes to how you can use this lemon curd.

I personally love to use it to fill cakes, cupcakes, and macarons, but it would taste delicious on ice cream, pies, or even cookies!

image of lemon meringue macarons filled with Swiss meringue and lemon curd

Tips for Making the Best Lemon Curd:

  • Massage the lemon zest into the sugar, it helps release the oil in the zest and gives this lemon curd an amazing flavor!
  • If you don’t have leftover egg yolks to use up, you can use 3 large whole eggs in place of the egg yolks.
  • Use yolks from brown eggs if possible! They have a deeper yellow color and will naturally give the lemon curd a stronger yellow color.
  • Whisk the mixture continuously as it cooks over the stovetop to prevent the egg yolks from cooking through and to prevent the mixture at the bottom of the pan from burning.
  • Pour the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer once it’s done cooking to remove any bits of cooked egg, zest, or lemon seeds. This will give it a perfectly smooth texture.
  • Let the lemon curd cool fully and thicken before using it to fill desserts.
image of a slice of lemon lavender cake that's been placed on a plate

Making This Lemon Curd in Advance and Storage Tips

The lemon curd can be made up to a month in advance and stored in the fridge.

You can also freeze this lemon curd for up to a month. Transfer it to the fridge to let it gradually thaw before using it.

image of a delicious lemon poppy seed cupcake that's been cut into to show its lemon curd filling

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you make this lemon curd recipe, I’d love to hear what you think of it! Let me know by leaving a rating and comment below.

Tag me @chelsweets and use #chelsweets if you share on social media so that I can see your amazing creations.

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 1 1/4 cups

Lemon Curd

image of lemon curd in a ceramic bowl

This lemon curd is so easy to make and so delicious! It's ready in a flash and is the perfect way to use up leftover egg yolks.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 51 minutes

Ingredients

Lemon Curd

  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest - zest of 2 large lemons (10g)
  • 6 large egg yolks (120g)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice - juice of 2 large lemons (120g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into Tbsp-sized pieces (113g)

Recommend Equipment

Instructions

Lemon Curd

  1. Add 1 cup of sugar into a saucepan. One quick thing to note! When making the lemon curd, it's best to use a saucepan that's ceramic as opposed to metal. Some metal pans and sometimes even metal whisks can give the curd a metallic taste.
  2. Zest 2 lemons into the saucepan and massage the zest into the sugar with your fingertips. This helps release the oil in the zest and gives this curd a bright, citrusy flavor.
  3. Add in 6 egg yolks and whisk the mixture together until it becomes lighter in color. Then mix in 1/2 cup of lemon juice and 1/2 tsp salt.
  4. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk until the mixture thickens. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and keep its shape. This usually takes me 5-7 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from heat, then add 1/2 cup of cold butter that's been cut into small pieces. Mix until the butter is fully melted, and the ingredients are combined.
  6. Pour the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer into a separate bowl to remove any bits of cooked egg, zest, or lemon seeds. This gives it a perfectly smooth texture! Place the lemon curd in the fridge to cool. If you make the curd in advance, cover it flush with plastic wrap to prevent it from forming a skin and store it in the fridge for up to a month.

Notes

Substitutions and Swaps

If you need to make any substitutions or swaps in this recipe, please check out the section on ingredient substitutions in the post above.

How Much Lemon Curd Does This Recipe Make?

One batch of this recipe makes a little over 1 1/4 cups of lemon curd.

This recipe can be cut in half, in thirds, or doubled as needed. Note that the cook time will change based on the size of the batch.

Tips for Making the Best Lemon Curd:

  • Massage the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingertips. It helps release the oil in the zest and gives this lemon curd an amazing flavor!
  • If you don't have leftover egg yolks to use up, you can use 3 large whole eggs in place of the egg yolks.
  • Whisk the mixture continuously as it cooks over the stovetop to prevent the egg yolks from cooking through and to prevent the mixture at the bottom of the pan from burning.
  • Use yolks from brown eggs if possible! They have a deeper yellow color and will naturally give the lemon curd a stronger yellow color.
  • Pour the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer once it's done cooking to remove any bits of cooked egg, zest, or lemon seeds. This will give it a perfectly smooth texture.
  • Let the lemon curd cool fully and thicken before using it to fill desserts.

Making This Lemon Curd in Advance and Storage Tips

The lemon curd can be made up to a month in advance and stored in the fridge.

You can also freeze this lemon curd for up to a month. Transfer it to the fridge to let it gradually thaw before using it.

Nutrition Information

Yield

20

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 78Total Fat 2gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 66mgSodium 91mgCarbohydrates 14gFiber 1gSugar 12gProtein 2g

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Monday 6th of May 2024

[…] macarons are filled with¬†lemon curd¬†and lemon buttercream and are just as delicious as they […]

Kirsten

Monday 15th of April 2024

I made this, but when I added the butter, the whole thing seemed to separate, almost curdle?? Then putting it through the strainer left me with some separated lemon juice and the curd-like material going straight through. What did I do wrong?!

Chelsweets

Monday 22nd of April 2024

I'm so sorry to hear that Kirsten, that's such a bummer! That can happen if the lemon curd is cooked on too high of a temperature. Basically the egg cooks through too quickly and then doesn't act as an emulsifier / prevents the mixture from coming together.

If you make it again, I'd suggest turning down the heat a little bit and seeing if that helps. Hopefully it does!! Keep me posted - happy baking!

Vasie

Thursday 31st of August 2023

Fantastic recipe. I made lemon curd for the first time and it turned out great.

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[…] the lemon curd first so that it has time to cool and […]

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[…] topped with lemon cream cheese frosting, filled with lemon curd, and garnished with an adorable lemon peel […]

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