Homemade lemon curd is a delicious topping with an amazing blend of sweet and tart. It is easy to make, takes only 15 minutes and is ideal for topping off your favorite dessert or just eating right out of the jar!
Making homemade dessert sauces is quick, easy and fun! Homemade sauces taste better because of the simple fresh ingredients.
Why You Will Love Homemade Lemon Curd
- If you love lemon you will love the puckery, tart, citrus taste of this lemon curd.
- The sauce has enough sweetness to balance out the tart, making it the perfect blend of flavors.
- Store bought lemon curd is expensive – I checked last week and a small jar was almost $6 at my grocery store! The ingredients for this, on the other hand, were about $1.50.
- This smooth and creamy sauce makes desserts like cheesecake or pavlova even tastier.
This tart lemon curd recipe has only a few simple ingredients.
- Egg yolks – The egg yolks thicken the lemon curd and help give it a pretty yellow color.
- Lemons – It is worth the small amount of time it will take to juice lemons so you can use fresh lemon juice in this recipe. And since you need lemon zest too you have to buy lemons, so you might as well juice them.
- Sugar – The sugar adds sweetness to balance the tart lemons. My recipe uses less sugar than many other recipes because I like a tart lemon curd.
- Butter – The butter helps make the lemon curd creamy.
How to Make Lemon Curd
1. Juice and Zest the Lemons
Use a lemon zester to zest one of the lemons. You want about 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, which is about 1 lemon. It is easier to zest a lemon that hasn’t been juiced, so zest first.
Then juice lemons until you have 1/2 cup of juice. This will take anywhere from 2-4 lemons, depending on how large they are and how much juice they have.
In a small saucepan combine the egg yolks, sugar and lemon juice. Whisk them over low heat until the sugar dissolves, which should take 2-3 minutes.
Keep the heat on low and whisk the mixture as it cooks. Otherwise the egg yolk can start to scramble, which is not what you want for lemon curd.
Slice the butter into small pieces and add it to the sauce pan, along with the lemon zest. Continue to cook on low heat, stirring, until the mixture until the mixture is thick enough to coat the whisk.
At this point it will have a glossy finish and consistency of pudding. You can also use an instant read thermometer or candy thermometer to test the temperature, which will be 160 degrees F when it is done.
3. Strain and Cool
Take the lemon curd off the stove and strain it by pouring it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Then let the bowl of lemon curd cool to room temperature.
Straining the lemon curd removes the bits of lemon zest and any bits of egg yolk that have scrambled during the cooking process. You don’t have to strain the lemon curd, but it will have a smoother texture if you do.
How to Store
Once the lemon curd has cooled to room temperature pour it into a jar or bowl. I like to put it in a mason jar or a weck jar.
Then put it in the refrigerator until ready to use. The homemade lemon curd will keep for about 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
Lemon Curd Uses
Lemon curd is a versatile dessert sauce. Here are some of my favorite ways to use it.
- Use as a filling in between cake layers or in cupcakes
- Top off cheesecake
- Fill thumbprint cookies
- Stir into plain yogurt
- Use as a dip for sugar cookies or graham crackers
- Top off pancakes or waffles
- Fill a pavlova
Or you can just eat it from the jar with a spoon! Lemon curd is a great dessert sauce to give as a homemade gift, especially if you are pairing it with jars other sauce like strawberry sauce or hot fudge.
Variations and Tips
- If you prefer a sweeter lemon curd then you can increase the sugar in the recipe to 1 cup.
- Whisk the sauce constantly and don’t be tempted to turn the heat up to make it thicken more quickly. It only takes 10 minutes to thicken and slow and steady whisking is key.
- Because this recipe requires consistent stirring get everything ready before you start heating it. You don’t want to be trying to zest a lemon or find a whisk while the lemon curd cooks.
Yes, you can overcook lemon curd. Usually this happens if you turn the heat up too high. This can cause the eggs to curdle. Keep the heat on low.
If the lemon curd doesn’t thicken it is usually because it was taken off the heat too soon. You can try putting it back on the burner and adding a little more butter while you stir. This can make it thicken more.
You can also mix 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 Tablespoon of water and add that while stirring on low heat to thicken it.
But the easiest way to handle lemon curd that won’t thicken is to decide that is lemon glaze. Pour it over a cake or on top of pancakes. It will still taste delicious, it will just be a little runny.
- 4 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
- Juice the lemons so you get 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Zest one of the lemons.
- In a small saucepan combine the egg yolks, sugar and lemon juice. Whisk over low heat until blended.
- Add the butter and lemon zest, still stirring, and cook until thicken enough to coat the spoon, about 10 minutes. You can also use a thermometer and cook until the lemon curd reaches 160 degrees F.
- Strain it through a wire mesh to eliminate the lemon zest and any eggy bits.
- Pour the lemon curd into a bowl or glass jar and let it cool to room temperature.
- Then refrigerate until ready to use.
Because this recipe requires consistent stirring get everything ready before you start heating it. You don't want to be trying to zest a lemon or find a whisk while the lemon curd cooks.
For best results keep the burner on low and keep stirring. Don't try to rush things along by turning up the heat.
If you prefer a sweeter lemon curd then you can increase the sugar in the recipe to 1 cup.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 89Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 25mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 1g
Nutrition facts are estimates.