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Lifting a spoon full of lemon curd from a white bowl. Colorful cloth as background.

Perfect Lemon Curd (step-by-step recipe)

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Homemade lemon curd is a versatile spread (sauce or topping), sweet and tangy at the same time and can be used in various sweet dishes. By following this simple recipe, you can easily make your own and enjoy its bright and lemony flavor any time. It lasts for weeks and can be frozen.

  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients

Units

You can easily halve this recipe. 

  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (I don't recommend bottled juice)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Large pinch of sea salt
  • A few drops of vanilla extract, optional

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, heat lemon juice and butter over medium-high heat and remove just below the boiling point. 
  • In a large bowl whisk whole eggs, yolks, and sugar to blend.
  • Gradually add the hot lemon mixture to the eggs, mixing well and quickly. Don't add it all at once as you can curdle parts of the eggs. 
  • Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and stir constantly over medium-low heat until it thickens and leaves a path in the back of the spoon (or silicone spatula) that stays put for a few seconds. Be careful it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan so it doesn't burn.
  • Remove from the heat, add salt and vanilla, and stir well. 
  • Strain curd with a fine-mesh strainer to avoid any hard bits that might have formed. This optional step ensures creamy curds, but you can omit it if you feel your mixture is smooth and has no lumps. 
  • Transfer to a shallow bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a freezer sheet touching the whole surface of the curd, and let cool to room temperature. This will prevent a thick layer from forming. 
  • Refrigerate in a jar or airtight container with a lid for a week. Or freeze in freezer-safe containers for up to a month. 

Notes

Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperature, utensils and equipment needed, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier. 

How can you avoid grainy or curdled lemon curd? If you're apprehensive about making this recipe, I recommend using a kitchen thermometer. Monitor the temperature of the lemon mixture and keep it between 170-180°F (76-82°C) so it sets properly. If you go above 185° (85°C), it will become grainy when it’s cooled. 

It's always a good idea to strain the lemon curd through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any lumps or bits of cooked egg that may have formed; do so before covering it and letting it cool down. 

  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: International

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/12
  • Calories: 136
  • Sugar: 17.2 g
  • Sodium: 219.7 mg
  • Fat: 6.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 18.3 g
  • Fiber: 0.1 g
  • Protein: 2.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 102.9 mg