This quick and easy homemade lemon curd recipe is light, tangy, zesty and creamy. Homemade lemon curd knocks the store-bought variety into the proverbial cocked hat. Once you’ve seen how easy it is to make this 4 ingredient lemon curd at home you will never buy the store bought stuff again!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- This homemade lemon curd recipe is super easy to make, a great introduction to making curds.
- It’s so useful, from tarts and pavlova to spreading on your toast in the morning
- who doesn’t love sunshine in a jar and this makes a great little foodie gift for family or friends
I don’t know about you, but I just need to think of lemons and my mouth waters. I love lemons. From homemade lemoncello to lemon shortbread. Lemon and ginger cake to preserved lemons. Just a squeeze of lemon juice on a sizzling pork chop. Mmmmmmmm I could not live without lemons.
What is lemon curd?
For those more familiar with jams and jellies, fruit curds are another member of the fruity preserve family. Lemon curd dates back to the early 1800’s and hails from England.
Back then it was actually lemon cheese, the lemon juice being added to cream causing the curds and whey to separate. Hence the name lemon curd.
Nowadays lemon curd does not contain any cream at all. It’s luxurious creaminess comes from eggs and butter.
What’s in lemon curd?
There are only 4 ingredients in this super easy recipe. The only ingredients you need to make this traditional curd are lemons (obviously!), sugar, eggs and butter.
That’s it, only 4 ingredients. Make sure you use real lemons (not lemon juice from a bottle) as you need the zest as well as the juice.
Waxed lemons vs unwaxed lemons
You can buy unwaxed lemons in the supermarket. These are lemons that have not been treated with the wax preservative that is sprayed on all our store-bought fruit. If you don’t have the unwaxed type of lemons don’t panic.
How to remove the wax from lemons
To remove the wax from a normal lemon simply wash it in soapy warm water, rinse thoroughly and pat it dry. Voila! You now have an unwaxed lemon and the zest will be so much nicer to use for making your homemade lemon curd.
Use a Bain Marie/double boiler
What the hell is that? Well quite simply it’s a glass or ceramic bowl (don’t use metal as it can leave a slightly metallic taste in your lemon curd) which just sits on top of a pan of simmering water. The water mustn’t touch the base of the bowl. It’s exactly the same way you melt chocolate.
Why use a bain-marie? Because this is a gentler way of cooking instead of using direct heat. If you use a pan directly on the stove you could very well end up with lemon scrambled eggs which is not what we are looking for.
Uses for quick and easy homemade lemon curd
On toast for breakfast or with croissants too
Stirred into Greek yogurt or swirled through ice-cream
As a filling for sponge cakes or tarts
Slathered on a scone with cream on top
Stirred into cream cheese with sugar as a cake frosting
Use in savoury dishes too like lemon chicken
New to preserving? Then don’t panic, I can take you from zero to hero in no time at all.
Just check out these handy articles to get you heading in the right direction fast;
How to make great jam and marmalade
How to make chutney and relish
How to sterilise jars and bottles
Sticky situations – troubleshooting your preserves
The complete list of ingredients and full instructions for making this recipe can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
How do you make lemon curd at home
Lemon curd is super easy to make. If you can hold a whisk and have about ten minutes to spare then you can make this tasty traditional curd.
- To make things a bit quicker start with boiling water from the kettle in your pan and pop the bowl on top. It will warm gently while you are whisking the eggs. The bowl was therefore warmed up nicely before I added the butter, sugar and lemon zest and juice to it and allowed the butter to melt then stirred well so all the sugar and zest were well mixed in.
- Remove the zest from the lemons with a grater and squeeze out the juice
- I whisked up the eggs and egg yolk in a small bowl and then stirred this into the melted mix of butter, sugar and lemon zest in the pan.
- It only took 12 minutes with me stirring it occasionally.
- The curd was ready when I lifted the spoon and it coated the back of it perfectly without dripping off.
- Next strain the curd through a sieve by pressing through with wooden spoon. This gets rid of any tiny strands of egg etc and makes for a lovely smooth curd. This step is optional though.
- Finally I then ladled it into sterilised jars and popped on the lids. The curd will thicken more as it cools.
How much does this recipe for quick and easy lemon curd make? I made 2 medium sized jars.
Lemon curd fixes
If your curd is too thin then try cooking it for longer. Or add a little more butter. Some folks add cornflour but that can make your lemon curd have a nasty taste.
If your lemon curd is too thick then try adding a teaspoon of extra lemon juice and whisking this in.
Lumpy lemon curd? Then strain the curd through a fine plastic sieve. Or blitz with a hand blender.
Can you make lemon curd in a microwave?
Yes you can. Melt the butter in microwave for 30 seconds. Whisk the other ingredients together then add to the butter and stir well. Heat at 1 minute blasts and stir between times till it thickens. Strain through a sieve.
How to make lemon curd in an Aga.
Place all the ingredients (apart from the eggs) into a large ovenproof jug and cover, pop this in the simmering oven for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven, whisk in the eggs then return to simmering oven 9covered) for 1-2 hours.
How long does this curd keep?
Curds aren’t really preserves at all in the true sense of the word. While they sit alongside jams and jelly in the supermarket they don’t have the same shelf life when made at home.
Store lemon curd in the fridge in sealed jars for up to 2 months. However, once the jar is opened it must be used up within 2 weeks. It tastes so delicious mine never lasts long anyway!
Can you freeze curd?
Yes you can. Just spoon it into freezer-proof bags or little plastic boxes or jars (leave about 1cm head space for expansion), label and pop it in the freezer for up to a year. Defrost thoroughly before use.
Need more help
Then check out my How To Make Curds page for full information on how to make these simple sweet treats.
This recipe makes a great foodie gift, so why not check out my post on how to make Christmas hampers.
You can make curds out of any juicy fruit. From lemons and limes to oranges, pineapple and cherries. Here are some of my favourite fruit curd recipes.
Finally, if you do try this recipe don’t forget to leave a comment/star rating below as I just love to hear from readers. Want more Larder Love? Then follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and sign up for my newsletter too of course.
Quick and Easy Homemade Lemon Curd Recipe
- 4 lemons
- 200 g caster sugar
- 100 g butter
- 3 eggs plus one egg yolk
- Heat water in a kettle then pour into a pan on medium heat to keep it simmering, place a heat proof bowl on top of pan and make sure that the water does not touch the base of the bowl.
- Remove the zest from the lemons using a grater and squeeze out the juice
- Add the sugar, lemon zest, juice and butter and stir to dissolve sugar and melt the butter.
- Meanwhile crack eggs into a bowl and whisk well
- Add the eggs slowly to the lemon mixture and stir well to combine
- Continue cooking for about 12 minutes stirring occasionally
- The curd is ready when it coats the back of the spoon and doesn’t drip off
- Press the curd through a sieve if you want the smoothest possible result
- Ladle carefully into sterilised jars and cover with lids
- This will make 2 medium sized jars
Missing step. Do you zest and juice the lemons?
Karon Grieve says
Silly me, I had assumed people would realise that they had to remove zest from the lemons and squeeze out the juice as how else would they get the juice and zest. Have added this step just to make things super clear in case anyone else is confused.
Virginia Ford says
Love this easy recipe, before i start, just wondering if its salted or unsalted butter. I only have salted,
do you think i would get away with that?
Karon Grieve says
i always use unsalted butter but you can use slightly salted butter, it won’t make that much difference really. Hope you try it.
This is absolutely delicious – and so easy to make. I’m on my third batch now. As well as the uses you mentioned above, it is perfect on its own, straight out the jar – who needs toast when you have a spoon
Karon Grieve says
So glad you liked the recipe so much. And yes, straight from the jar is a great way to enjoy this lemon curd!
Sometimes, when I make lemon curd, it doesn’t seem to thicken enough to not drip off the spoon (I’m whisking with a balloon whisk and testing with a metal spoon) – I can be cooking it for half an hour or more.
Is it possibly too much lemon juice?
What is the best way to thicken it at this point? I made the mistake of resorting to cornflour once – not advisable as the taste and texture were awful!
Karon Grieve says
It can sometimes take up to 30 minutes to get curd to thicken. Remember it will thicken as it cools completely. You can always add a little butter at end of cooking.
Thank you Karon.
Karon Grieve says
Glad you liked the recipe.