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This easy Lemon Curd recipe is a velvety soft, utterly delicious 4 ingredient lemony spread that is exceptionally easy to make at home, on the stovetop, in 10 minutes. A perfect blending of sweet and tangy goodness. It tastes like springtime in every bite.
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Even if it’s in the heart of winter.
I can’t begin to describe how much I love this lemon curd. It’s so simple to make at home, and so velvety smooth, infused with the sunshine flavor of lemon. Truly… it’s like a taste of heaven on earth in every bite.
Store-bought lemon curd can’t even compare. So I did… with a great brand I happened to have in the refrigerator.
Honestly, there was no comparison, other than convenience. The texture, the rich smoothness, freshness… hands down, homemade curd is amazingly delicious.
But I rather have a store brought curd than none at all!
What is Lemon Curd?
Lemon curd is a very rich and velvety topping or spread with intense tart and sweet lemon flavor. Much like a creamy lemon jam. Using simple ingredients, it’s easy to make at home and perfect to give as thoughtful delicious food gifts.
Origins of Lemon Curd
“Traditional British Lemon Curd… originated in England dating back to the early 1800s.” The recipe, they say, was very different than the lemon curd we know and love today.
“Original recipes advise to ‘rasp hard pieces of sugar’, as it didn’t come in grain form then, against the lemon’s skin in order to remove the zest to extract essence and color.”
Historians believe that lemon custard was the first iteration of the curd we know today. Originally prepared in England by Protestant Quakers, these recipes were then brought to North America in the late 1700s.
Today, the difference between lemon custard and curd is a higher proportion of juice and zest in curd, which gives it a bolder flavor.
Lemon Curd for Afternoon Tea
Although it’s easy to find curd in your market, making a batch of utterly delicious homemade curd is a beautiful and thoughtful hostess gift for the holidays or for teatime.
Yet these Shortbread Tea Cookies with Lemon Curd are a favorite too.
There are many uses for lemon curd and it can be incorporated into a variety of desserts, including tarts, muffins, cookies, and cupcakes.
What Can Lemon Curd Be Used For?
Lemon Curd is a delicious and versatile condiment that has so many uses. Here are a few ideas:
- Crepes: Dollops of curd and crème fraîche is a delicious way to enjoy this treat.
- Scones: Almost any flavor of scones or cream scones benefit from a dollop of curd with Devonshire cream.
- Toast, crumpets, muffins, and pancakes.
- Quicks breads, and anything with blueberries.
- Baked into flaky pastries.
- Lemon Bars
- Lemon Tarts
- Cookies and shortbread
- Brightens up bread pudding or sweet buns.
- …just to name a few!
Is Lemon Curd the same as Lemon Butter?
Lemon curd and lemon butter are virtually the same and can be used interchangeably as a delicious, scrumptious spread.
How Long Does Homemade Curd Last?
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, homemade curd will keep in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to a month.
For longer storage, you can freeze it in freezer containers for up to one year. Be sure to leave about 1/2 inch room at the top for expansion.
Thaw homemade curd in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using it.
Ingredients for Lemon Curd
Here is an ingredient list for homemade curd. The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Fresh lemons (for juicing and zesting)
- Granulated sugar
- Large eggs
- Unsalted butter
Kitchen Equipment Needed
This simple and easy recipe is made with equally simple equipment. Here’s what I recommend:
Heatproof glass bowl and saucepan to make a double broiler: I like to use a heatproof glass bowl that fits into a larger saucepan. This avoids any distortion in flavor as metal can react to lemon and eggs. It also helps ensure a low heat which results in a creamy, velvety texture.
Whisk: You will need to whisk the curds as they cook. A silicone whisk works great, but a stainless whisk is just fine too. In fact, it’s all l have.
Lemon Zester: Finely grated lemon zest results in delicious curd. A zester makes this job super easy. I like to blitz the sugar and lemon zest together in a food processor.
Strainer: I don’t use a strainer because I’ve never had a need using this recipe. However, if you find bits of zest in your curd, it’s easy to use a fine mesh strainer to remove any bits before refrigerating.
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- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 1 cup granulated sugar (*see notes)
- 4 large eggs
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cubed
- Fill a saucepan with 1 to 2 inches of water. Place on high heat and once the water comes to a boil, reduce to low heat and keep the water simmering.
- Add eggs, granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt into a heavy glass bowl that fits on top of the saucepan. Whisk until completely blended and set on the simmering water in the saucepan. Be sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
- Whisk constantly as the curd cooks for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. It will resemble a thick sauce, like Hollandaise. Lemon curd thickens at about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, which takes about 10 to 11 minutes. Once it begins to thicken, it does so quickly.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and toss in the pieced butter and whisk into the curd, it will melt as it is whisked.
- Pour the lemon curd into a jar or bowl and place plastic wrap onto the curd to prevent skin from forming as it cools. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Once cool, the plastic wrap can be removed. Refrigerate.
A More Tart Lemon Curd
- I love lemon curd on the sweeter side. If you prefer your lemon curd a bit more tart and a little less sweet -- reduce the sugar to 2/3 cup and the butter to 6 tablespoons.
Refrigerating Lemon Curd
- The lemon curd can be refrigerated for up to 10 days and makes approximately 2 cups.
Freezing Lemon Curd
- For longer storage, you can freeze for up to 3 to 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.