Tangy, creamy, and oh so delicious... lemon curd has a multitude of uses in a lemon lovers kitchen! Learn how to make homemade lemon curd from scratch in just 20 minutes using simple ingredients with this easy-to-follow recipe!
We're big fans of chocolatey desserts here at Always Eat Dessert, but if there's one thing that comes close to rivaling our love of chocolate, it's lemon! I'm a huge sucker for lemony desserts - with their bright, fresh, citrusy flavor - and I know you are, too!
If you love all things lemon but haven't yet tried your hand at making homemade lemon curd, what are you waiting for?! Lemon curd takes just about 20 minutes to make from scratch, and it's fresh citrus flavor can't be beat! This tangy and sweet topping is surprisingly versatile, too. Keep scrolling to learn how to make homemade lemon curd and for inspiration for using it in your kitchen!
How to Make Homemade Lemon Curd from Scratch
With a little bit of know-how, you may be surprised just how simple it is to make homemade lemon curd from scratch!
- Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan and add fresh lemon juice and cold water, stirring until smooth. Use fresh lemon juice for the most natural and fresh citrus flavor (plus you'll need lemon zest, too).
- Add egg yolks and butter to the saucepan, again stirring until smooth. The mixture will be cooked, so no need to worry about raw eggs in your curd. The eggs help to thicken the lemon curd, and the butter will add a bit of extra creaminess.
- Add boiling water to the saucepan while stirring constantly until the mixture is cohesive and smooth. The boiling water helps to temper the eggs before the mixture is cooked, which helps to avoid cooking scrambled eggs within your curd.
- Cook the curd over medium heat until it comes to a gentle boil. The curd will thicken as it cooks. When it reaches a boil, reduce the heat and let the curd simmer slowly for one minute.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in grated lemon peel. Transfer the curd to a bowl or jar and let it cool completely.
Why isn't my lemon curd thickening?
If your lemon curd isn't thickening as expected, it most likely needs to be cooked a bit longer, as the heat will thicken the curd. If your curd has not yet reached the consistency of pudding when you're ready to take it off the heat, simmer it for another few seconds to a minute longer, continuing to stir as it cooks and being careful not to burn the curd.
How to avoid lumps when making lemon curd.
These tips will help to avoid lumps from forming in your lemon curd.
- Sift the cornstarch before adding it to the saucepan. Cornstarch tends to clump in its container, so sifting it before adding it to the pan will ensure that you're not starting out with lumps.
- If you notice a few lumps form after you add the lemon juice and cold water to the saucepan, they're likely clumps of cornstarch. Use a rubber spatula to press the clumps against the bottom or side of the pan to squash and remove the lumps.
- If you don't stir the mixture constantly while adding the boiling water, you may notice small lumps after the water has been added which are likely small bits of cooked egg. Avoid this by being sure to stir constantly while adding the boiling water. If you do end up with small bits of cooked egg, you can strain the curd through a fine mesh sieve after it's finished cooking.
Should I strain my lemon curd?
I don't bother to strain my lemon curd because I don't mind a few little bits of lemon zest (which add lots of flavor and nearly imperceptible texture). If you prefer ultra smooth curd, you can strain your lemon curd through a fine mesh sieve.
How do I store homemade lemon curd? How long does lemon curd keep?
Homemade lemon curd can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week, though I doubt it will last that long! I like to use a glass jar with a lid for storing curd.
Uses for lemon curd
If I've convinced you that you need to make your own lemon curd but you're not sure what to do with it, fear not! Here are a handful of ideas for how to use your homemade lemon curd.
- Serve it with breakfast foods. Scones, biscuits, or muffins would be a great choice, and curd can be delicious with waffles or pancakes, too. It would be delicious as the filling in crepe-style pancakes!
- Use lemon curd to fill cakes, cupcakes, or macarons.
- Top elegant desserts with lemon curd, like I did with my blackberry meringues!
- Use it to fill doughnuts or ebelskivers!
- Make lemon meringue pie shooters!
More Lemon Dessert Recipes
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Homemade Lemon Curd
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 3 Tbsp. cornstarch sifted
- ⅛ tsp. fine sea salt
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup cold water
- 2 large egg yolks beaten
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- ¾ cup boiling water
- ½ tsp. grated lemon peel
- In a medium saucepan, add sugar, sifted cornstarch, and salt.
- Slowly add lemon juice and cold water to the sugar mixture, stirring until smooth. If you notice any lumps of cornstarch, use a rubber spatula to press the lumps against the bottom or side of the saucepan to remove them.
- Add the beaten egg yolks and butter to the saucepan and stir until the yolks are thoroughly blended with the lemon juice mixture. (The butter will remain, but it will melt into the mixture in the following step.)
- Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, gradually add boiling water to the saucepan. Continue to stir until all of the boiling water has been added and the mixture is cohesive and smooth.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat and continue to stir the mixture gently until it comes to a gentle boil. The mixture will thicken as it heats.
- When the mixture reaches a gentle boil, reduce the heat to medium-low/low and allow it to simmer slowly for one minute while you continue to stir it gently. At this point the curd should have the consistency of pudding, and it will thicken a bit more as it cools.
- Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in grated lemon peel.
- Transfer the lemon curd to a bowl (so that it does not continue to cook from the residual heat of the hot pan) and let it cool completely. I like to stir it a few times as it cools to avoid a skin forming on top of the curd, or you can place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the top of the curd as it cools to avoid a skin forming.
- Storage: Store homemade lemon curd in an airtight glass jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- It's easiest to zest the whole lemon, before slicing it in half and squeezing out the juice. Be sure to zest just the very outer layer of peel. The white pith underneath the peel is bitter, so you want to be careful not to include it with the zest.
- Be sure to sift the cornstarch to avoid lumps in your curd.
- If your curd has not yet reached the consistency of pudding when you're ready to take it off the heat, simmer it for another few seconds to a minute longer, continuing to stir as it cooks and being careful not to burn the curd.
- I don't bother to strain my lemon curd because I don't mind a few little bits of lemon zest (which add lots of flavor and almost imperceptible texture). If you prefer ultra smooth curd, you can strain your lemon curd through a fine mesh sieve.