Tangy, creamy and sweet, this homemade Lemon Curd is a versatile addition to many types of dessert, and is a summer favorite of mine!
Lemon, sugar, eggs and butter are all you need to make this easy lemon curd!
Tangy, tart flavor of lemon is PERFECT for desserts during summer. Lemonade and lemon sherbet are great options, but I also LOVE keeping a jar of tangy, sweet, creamy lemon curd in the fridge at all times in the summer. Homemade lemon curd slathered on toast is one of our favorite and simple brunch ideas in the weekend, and we often use it to top yogurt and parfaits as well. Or just eating it by the spoon, straight out of the jar works too.
Making lemon curd is easy! My first attempt at lemon curd was Ina Garten’s recipe many years ago. It was great, BUT deathly sweet. And that’s saying something, because I’ve got a vicious sweet tooth. I also like my lemon curd to be thicker than Ina Garten’s recipe.
I’ve tried a number of recipes since then, and especially loved David Lebovitz’s lemon curd recipe. It’s more of a high risk recipe because you cook the lemon curd on medium high heat until it thickens to a jelly-like consistency. I’ve had more hits than misses with this recipe, but I do find that on occasion, I end up with a grainy consistency in my lemon spread (because of the eggs scrambling).
My easy lemon curd recipe is a happy medium of these two. It’s not as thick as Ina Garten’s recipe, and has that strong lemony tangy flavor, without all the sweetness.
What’s the difference between lemon curd and lemon butter?
Well, there is no difference. The names are used interchangeably to describe the same thing – a delicious, spreadable lemon spread.
Some don’t prefer the word “curd” to describe lemon butter, because curd implies a set yogurt-like dessert. Lemon curd is more like a custard, as it’s a mixture of lemon juice thickened with eggs. Plus, this lemon butter/lemon curd is made with butter, and is buttery in taste, and is spreadable like butter too. So lemon butter may be the more appropriate term.
Either way, this lemon curd by any other name would taste just as deliciously tangy, creamy and sweet!
How to make homemade lemon curd
Homemade lemon curd is easy to make, but you do have to stand over the stove stirring the mixture to prevent egg scrambling. But when the whisking is the hardest part of the recipe, you know you have a keeper.
All you need to make lemon butter/lemon curd is,
For every 1/2 cup of lemon juice, I use 1/2 cup of sugar (100 g). I also like to use 1 egg and 3 egg yolks. This helps thicken the lemon curd more, while not diluting the lemon taste. Another trick I like is to process lemon peels with the sugar (like Ina Garten’s recipe), to make the lemon curd extra flavorful.
There’s no creaming butter, sugar and eggs together in this easy lemon curd recipe. Just whisk the eggs and sugar together to get a smooth consistency first, then add all of the other ingredients and heat over medium heat. Then make sure you’re whisking frequently to get a smooth, thick consistency.
Once you reach the right consistency, strain the lemon curd and let it cool down to room temperature. Store your homemade lemon curd in sterilized jars in the fridge to chill overnight, and then it’s ready to be eaten!
What is the consistency of this easy lemon curd?
This lemon butter recipe is heated to about 190 – 200°F, resulting in a luscious, spoonable, thick but loose consistency. The lemon curd is spreadable, but doesn’t hold its shape. It’s perfect to spread on toast, or as a topping for parfaits, yogurt, or even other desserts like panna cotta or ice cream.
This lemon spred is perfect even as a filling for cakes, but please note that it is soft. If you’d like a thicker, more spreadable lemon curd that holds its shape, this recipe can EASILY be adapted for that.
How to make lemon curd thicker?
The best way to make the lemon curd extra thick and spreadable, is to heat it further to a jelly-like consistency. It’s VERY important to keep whisking the lemon curd continuously until you get this consistency to prevent any lumps from forming in the curd.
The lemon curd on the left has been cooked for about 10 minutes (200°F), while the lemon curd on the right has been cooked for 15 minutes for a more jelly-like consistency
You also have the option of adding a thickener like cornstarch or more egg yolks. Both methods are acceptable, but I personally prefer not to add a thickener. Adding cornstarch can cause the lemon curd to form a film on top as it cools down. And adding more egg yolks will thicken the curd, but it will dilute the lemon flavor as well. So cooking it further is my preferred way to make a thicker, pipeable lemon butter or curd.
How long does this lemon curd keep?
We keep our lemon curd in a jar for about 1 week.
If you use sterilized jars, you could keep it for about 1.5 – 2 weeks. However, if you can the lemon curd, then it can be kept even longer. Since I’m definitely not an expert in canning, I would suggest reading this post on canning lemon curd/lemon butter.
How to enjoy lemon butter
- Spread it on warm toast
- Spoon it over yogurt or ice cream
- Spoon it over granola
- Top other desserts like panna cotta
- Mix with vodka for an amazing cocktail
- Perfect to fill layer cakes
- To serve with pound cake slices
- Fill mini pastry cases to make mini lemon meringue pies
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EQUIPMENT I USED FOR THIS RECIPE
WHISK – To stir the lemon curd
SPATULA – To stir the lemon curd
GLASS JARS – to store the lemon curd
Lemon Curd (Lemon Butter)
- Lemon zest from 3 - 4 lemons
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup lemon juice from 3 - 4 lemons
- 1 egg
- 3 egg yolks
- Generous pinch of salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter cut into small pieces
- Zest all lemons, and then squeeze the juice out of all of them to make ½ cup of juice (strained).
- Alternatively, carefully peel the lemon skin (just the yellow part, avoid the white part), and then squeeze out the juice to make ½ cup of strained juice.
- Place the lemon peel and sugar in a food processor and process until the lemon peel is finely processed with the sugar. If you're using a lemon zester, then you can skip this step.
- Place the sugar, lemon zest (or lemon peel processed sugar), eggs, egg yolks, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan. Whisk until you have a smooth and pale mixture.
- Whisk in the strained lemon juice, and add the butter.
- Heat the mixture over medium heat while whisking frequently to melt the butter. Once the butter is melted, increase the heat to medium high and whisk the mixture more frequently, until it registers at 200°F for a total cook time of about 10 minutes.
- For a thicker lemon curd - if you want a thicker lemon curd, cook further until the lemon curd has a jellied consistency, for a total cook time of about 15 - 18 minutes. Make sure you're CONSTANTLY whisking slowly to prevent the lemon curd from scrambling or splitting.
- As soon as the lemon curd reaches the right consistency, strain it immediately into a flat container to cool down quickly. Then place a plastic wrap on top, touching the surface of the lemon curd (to prevent a skin from forming on top), and let it cool down to room temperature.
- Let the lemon curd chill overnight in the fridge.
- Alternatively, transfer the hot lemon curd into sterilized jars, and let them cool down to room temperature, while the surface is covered with plastic wrap (that's touching the surface of the lemon curd), and the jars are closed with lids.
- Once at room temperature, chill in the fridge.
- Use as needed. The lemon curd will keep up to 10 days in the fridge.