Luscious, tangy lemon curd doesn’t have to require constant babysitting on the stove – this easy lemon curd recipe is foolproof, silky, and delicious!
Spring has sprung, and it’s time for light, fresh desserts! While I love savory lemon recipes all year, there’s no time like spring for a tangy citrus dessert.
When I was first introduced to lemon curd, I thought it was delicious but wasn’t sure what to do with it. I thought I had to save it for just the perfect thing.
But I was wrong. Just using lemon curd MAKES it the most perfect thing, whatever you use it for. Don’t overthink it. Use it for everything.
Here are some ideas in case you’re stumped.
- Spread on scones
- Spread on ginger cookies
- Use on top of vanilla ice cream
- Layer with whipped cream and berries
- Make it into a nice lemon mousse
- Use in mini lemon meringue pies
- Mix into ricotta cheese as a filling for raspberry lemon crepes
- Use as a tart filling and top with fresh fruit
- Spread between cake layers
- Fill macarons
- Eat it with a spoon
For even more great ideas, check out this roundup of delicious uses for lemon curd!
The best part is how simple this easy lemon curd is to make. There are no hard-to-find ingredients – just butter, eggs, fresh lemon, and sugar. And the result is quite a special indulgence.
I’ve seen many recipes in which you just throw everything together in a non-reactive saucepan (aluminum will make it taste metallic) and whisk frequently over medium until it’s nice and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
I have made it that way and while it does take about 10 minutes less time it’s also more hands-on and the result is not nearly as smooth — despite constantly whisking and straining through a sieve.
You can use this method in a pinch but I’d recommend a different way for a smoother result! Having made one batch with each method, my taste-tester immediately noticed the texture difference.
My tried-and-true technique yields a perfectly silky texture AND is hands-off enough that you can be cooking something else or reading a book while it thickens. No babysitting for this curd. It does take a little longer to thicken up due to the indirect heat, but you don’t have to whisk as frequently and you don’t have to be as vigilant about making sure your eggs don’t scramble in the curd.
It’s the same method I’ve outlined here in my small batch meyer lemon curd, which is also how I make my hollandaise sauce — using a Pyrex measuring cup in an inch or two of nearly-simmering water in a saucepan. It’s like a double boiler, but less finicky.
Melt the butter and sugar together in the Pyrex while you zest and juice your lemons. When the butter mixture is melted, add the lemon juice and zest.
Whisk your egg yolks in a medium bowl and slowly add the lemon-butter mixture while whisking. Adding the hot liquid to the eggs rather than the other way around tempers the eggs, keeping them perfectly smooth so you don’t make scrambled eggs!
After that, it’s easy peasy! Put the whole mixture back in the Pyrex, set it in your simmering water, and cook for about 20 minutes or until it’s thickened. You don’t have to whisk constantly – just every couple minutes to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom or sides. It’s very hands-off.
I like mine extra-thick, so I let it cook a little longer than just “coating the back of a spoon.” Once it starts thickening up after 15 minutes or so, it thickens pretty rapidly! Mine is almost like a thin pudding when I take it off the stove.
Either way you make this easy lemon curd, it will be delicious and is much simpler than you might think! You can leave the zest in or strain the curd using a fine mesh sieve, which will also remove any bits of egg that didn’t fully incorporate.
It will thicken further when it chills in the refrigerator to make it a creamy curd perfect for spreading on scones, using in recipes, or just eating with a spoon.
This will keep in the refrigerator for about a week, or you can freeze it and thaw overnight in the refrigerator when you want to use it.
Make this easy lemon curd at home once and you won’t want to go back to storebought!
Easy Lemon Curd
- 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice about 2 large lemons
- 1 tbsp lemon zest or however much you get from your lemons
- 2 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup butter cut into small pieces
Hands-off, perfectly smooth lemon curd (takes a little longer)
- Bring about 2 inches of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add the butter and sugar to a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup, and sit the measuring cup in your saucepan with the water.
- Melt the butter and sugar together in the Pyrex while you zest and juice your lemons. When the butter mixture is melted, add the lemon juice and zest.
- Whisk your eggs and egg yolks in a medium bowl and slowly add the lemon-butter mixture while whisking. Adding the hot liquid to the eggs rather than the other way around tempers the eggs, keeping them perfectly smooth so you don't make scrambled eggs!
- After that, it's easy peasy! Put the whole mixture back in the Pyrex, set it in your simmering water, and cook for about 20 minutes or until it's thickened to a thin pudding consistency. You don't have to whisk constantly - just every couple minutes to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom or sides. It's very hands-off.
- Strain through a fine mesh sieve, if desired. This will remove the lemon zest as well as any bits of egg that didn't fully incorporate.
- Refrigerate a couple hours or overnight, until cold and thick.
Faster results, constant whisking, but less smooth
- Whisk together sugar, lemon juice, zest, eggs, and yolks in a small or medium non-reactive saucepan (don't use aluminum, or it will make your curd taste metallic). Add in butter pieces.
- Heat over medium, whisking frequently, until butter is melted and curd thickens. This will take about 10-15 minutes. It may take a little while before you start to see a difference, but once it starts to thicken, it will thicken fairly quickly. Remove from heat when it coats the back of a spoon and has the consistency of a thin custard.
- If desired, strain through a fine mesh sieve. This will remove the zest and any little bits of egg that may not have fully incorporated.
- Chill in the refrigerator for a couple hours or until cold and thick.