Easy Lemon Curd
March 15, 2022
Baking Basics is a series on Slumber & Scones all about some of my favorite repeat ingredients that can easily be made at home. See all Baking Basics posts under Guides.
Lemon curd is like citrus magic. It’s a lemony custard that carries an acidic tang, perfect for adding to any sweet dish. You can buy it from the store, but it’s actually super easy to make lemon curd from scratch at home.
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What You Need to Get Started
You can easily find all of the ingredients for a simple homemade lemon curd at your grocery store:
- Fridge: Eggs, Butter
- Produce: Lemons
- Pantry: Sugar, Salt
- Equipment: Double boiler, Thermometer, Whisk, Glass jar, Plastic wrap
How to Make Easy Lemon Curd
The trick to lemon curd is a double boiler, which allows you to gently heat the lemon curd, so it doesn’t break or burn. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can place a heatproof bowl on top of a saucepan. The bowl should be large enough to sit above the water without touching it.
To get started, heat about an inch of water in the bottom pan of the double boiler and bring it to a boil. Once bubbling, lower the heat so it remains at a simmer. The steam from the water will then heat the top pot or bowl.
While the water is coming to a boil, you can zest and juice your lemons. Then combine all of the zest and juice into the top of your double boiler with the eggs and sugar. Whisk everything together to combine it, and then place on top of the simmering water.
Whisk the mixture gently but constantly to keep it moving, and check the temperature as it cooks. Lemon curd does not need a lot of heat to come together, but you will want to make sure it reaches a minimum of 170°F in order to pasteurize the eggs.
The mixture will also begin to thicken and become uniform as you stir. When it’s ready, turn off the heat. Add in the butter, which you will want to have cut into tablespoon-sized slices or even a little bit smaller to increase the surface area. This will help it melt faster.
Stir in the butter until it melts and is fully incorporated into the lemon mixture. Then transfer the lemon curd into a glass jar or bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap, with the plastic touching the surface of the curd. This will help prevent a film from forming on the top.
Chill the completed lemon curd in the fridge for at least four hours to let it thicken up. If possible, leave it there overnight, so you can be sure it is fully cooled throughout.
Once chilled, the lemon curd can be stored in the fridge for weeks, as long as it’s in a sealed container. It no longer needs the plastic wrap touching the surface after it has chilled the first time. For longer storage, you can also freeze lemon curd. Allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight before using it.
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Let’s get back to the basics when it comes to baking and desserts: learn to make homemade lemon curd!
How to Use Lemon Curd
There are so many uses for this smooth and tangy treat! Some are super simple, while others are a little more involved. If you always keep a jar in your fridge, you’ll be able to make some delicious dishes:
- Fold spoonfuls of lemon curd into freshly whipped cream to make a light lemon mousse.
- Drizzle a little bit over vanilla ice cream, or try adding it to a strawberry ice cream sundae.
- Spread some between layers of blueberry muffin pancakes.
- Use it as a glaze on top of a loaf of brown butter banana bread.
- Add a dollop on top of some fun shaped puff pastry or fresh crepes.
Or use your lemon curd as an ingredient one of these decadent dessert or brunch recipes:
Baking Basics: Lemon Curd
- 1 Egg
- 2 additional Egg Yolks
- 2 Lemons zested and juiced, about 1 Tbsp zest and ½ cup of juice
- ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
- 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter sliced into Tbsp-sized pieced
- ¼ tsp Salt
- Heat about an inch of water in the bottom of a double boiler up to a boil, then lower to continue simmering. If you don't have a double boiler, you can place a heatproof bowl on top of a saucepan. The bowl should be large enough to sit above the water.
- Add the eggs, lemon zest and juice, and sugar to the top of the double boiler, and cook, whisking constantly until the mixture reaches a temperature of 170°F.
- Turn off the heat and add in the butter, stirring until it has melted and full incorporated. Transfer the lemon curd to a glass jar or bowl and cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the curd. Chill in the fridge at least 4 hours and preferably overnight. It will thicken as it chills.