Small Batch Meyer Lemon Curd
Take advantage of those Meyer lemons with this small batch Meyer Lemon Curd recipe! Just enough for a small jar to go with a batch of scones – or double the recipe if you need more for cake fillings or other desserts!
As a lover of afternoon tea and as someone who’s been making Hollandaise sauce my whole life, I am absolutely astounded that I have never made lemon curd until this weekend.
“What does Hollandaise sauce have to do with it?”, you might be asking.
Let me show you.
Basic Hollandaise sauce ingredients:
- Lemon juice
- Egg yolks
Basic lemon curd ingredients:
- Lemon juice
I thought so.
You see, the foolproof way I make Hollandaise sauce is basically to make a fully-cooked savory lemon custard on the stove. I can take it off when it’s thick enough for my purposes, or if it thickens too much I can whisk in some hot water to thin it out. Refrigerated, it becomes almost like a pudding.
Or, should I say, like lemon curd.
Many recipes for Hollandaise sauce involve pouring hot butter into a blender with egg yolks and lemon, or setting up a double boiler using a bowl set over a small saucepan. But I’ve always made my Hollandaise in a Pyrex measuring cup sitting in a barely-simmering pot of water, like so.
It may be a bit unconventional, but it works like a charm, doesn’t require constant babysitting, and doesn’t trap scalding hot steam underneath your sauce.
I used the same technique for this small batch Meyer lemon curd recipe.
You just melt butter — and sugar — in the Pyrex measuring cup in just-below-simmering water. Then take it off the heat, add freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest, and then slowly pour some of the mixture into a beaten egg while whisking constantly.
Slowly pour the egg mixture back into the Pyrex cup, whisking constantly. Return the Pyrex to the pot of hot water and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until it becomes thick like custard.
The process of slowly mixing a hot liquid into an egg, before adding the egg mixture back into the remaining hot liquid, is called “tempering” the egg.
Instead of shocking a cold egg by mixing it into a hot liquid (which is how you make egg drop soup), you slowly add the hot liquid to the egg instead. This gradually warms up the egg and keeps it from scrambling, allowing you to make a creamy cooked egg dish like custard, Hollandaise sauce, or lemon curd.
Really, the only difference between the technique for making lemon curd and the strange Hollandaise sauce I learned from my mother is the addition of sugar.
How have I missed this my whole life?!
Since regular lemons are available year-round but I only have a small window to use the sweeter Meyer lemons, I decided to make a Meyer lemon curd. Meyer lemons are a hybrid of lemons and Mandarin oranges, so while they’re still tart, they are sweeter than a standard lemon.
If you don’t have Meyer lemons available, you can either add a little extra sugar to make a regular lemon curd, or mix 2/3 lemon juice with 1/3 Mandarin orange juice to make a decent substitute for Meyer lemon juice.
I found this recipe for Meyer lemon curd to get basic ratios, and then applied my own tried-and-true technique to it. This recipe also says to simmer lemon zest along with your other Meyer lemon curd ingredients, and to strain the whole thing through a fine mesh strainer after it’s thickened to get a silky-smooth sauce.
It worked like a charm and it’s so delicious I’m having a hard time not eating it straight out of the jar (ordinarily, I would, but I’m trying to save it for another recipe!)
You could also use the double boiler technique listed in the linked recipe if you’d like – basically mixing all ingredients in a heatproof bowl and setting the bowl on top of a pot of simmering water. I used the Pyrex method since it reminded me so much of the Hollandaise sauce (and it can be less intimidating than a double boiler), and it worked great!
I hate having to throw away unused lemon curd, so if you’re just having a couple friends over for tea or just eating the curd yourself, or you just need enough for a batch of scones, this small batch Meyer lemon curd recipe is the way to go. It will keep up to about a week in the fridge. If you’re using the curd for something more substantial, like filling a cake, you can double the ingredients and use the same technique.
Don’t let lemon curd intimidate you any longer! It’s so stinkin’ easy to make you’ll wish you had been doing it for years!
Want to do more with your Meyer lemon curd than just spread it on scones? Check out this collection of delicious uses for lemon curd!
Small Batch Meyer Lemon Curd
- 2 Meyer lemons
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 egg
- Zest lemons until you have about 1 tsp zest. Then squeeze juice from lemons until you have about 1/4 cup of juice.
- Heat an inch or two of water in a medium saucepan until just below simmering. Put butter and sugar in a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup and set it in the pot. Heat until melted, stirring with a fork until smooth.
- Remove Pyrex from saucepan. Add lemon juice and zest and stir to combine.
- Beat egg in a small to medium bowl. Slowly add about half of the hot butter-lemon mixture into the egg, while whisking constantly. Then slowly pour the egg mixture back into the Pyrex measuring cup, while whisking constantly.
- Return the Pyrex to the saucepan of water. Stir occasionally with a fork, about every minute or so, making sure to scrape the bottoms and the sides of the measuring cup. In about 10 minutes or so the mixture will thicken so it coats the back of a spoon (or your fork). When the curd is thick, remove from heat and strain it through a fine mesh strainer into a jar.
- Try not to eat all the lemon curd hot out of the jar. Refrigerate until thickened.
I have never made homemade Lemon Curd. But after being so pleased with your method for making Hollandaise Sauce, I will take the plunge with confidence in trying my first ever Lemon Curd.
My first lemon curd! I used half bakers sugar and half granulated, so it dissolved completely into the butter. Took about 15 minutes to thicken and came out perfectly. Can’t wait to try it on some blueberry scones I made yesterday 🍋
Sounds perfect with blueberry scones!
Oh my…so easy, so tasty, toothsome, and totally yum!
So glad you loved this!! I just made it again a few weeks ago myself!
Delicious! I have never made curd or Hollandaise from scratch before, yet this came out beautifully. The great instructions kept me on track. I want to give this 5 stars, but my cook times were much longer than indicated in the recipe (35 minutes to thicken). Certainly worth the time for special occasions though. So yummy and pretty.
I’m so glad you liked the recipe! I’ve got some Meyer lemons almost ripe on my tree; might have to make some of this again soon myself!
Would a regular bain-marie method work the same? Instead of putting it inside the water can I make it on a bowl above simmering water?
Absolutely! It may take longer to thicken if it’s not in direct contact with the simmering water but it should work the same.
I made my favorite cheesecake recipe, added a layer of Myer lemon curd, next a thin layer of fresh raspberries w/ a touch of sugar and topped it all with thin layer of sour cream (with vanilla and a bit of sugar).
Spectacular !!!! Oh sooo delicious. I love your curd recipe and plan to use it with summer baking – all the wonderful fruits.
Thank you very much, Pam
Oh my goodness, that sounds amazing! I love lemon with raspberries!
Holy crap! This is such a fantastic recipe. I’ve made lemon curd a million times and this was so easy. I made it with maple syrup instead of the sugar for dietary restrictions and it worked wonderfully. And it’s the perfect amount! Thank you!
Wonderful! I’m glad this worked for you with your substitutions and you can still enjoy lemon curd!
Total fail. Butter did not dissolve the sugar. Then added juice/zest. Ended up with sugar crystals on bottom and butterfat on top. Even after tempering in the egg. I’d dissolve the sugar in the juice, then melt the butter in… then temper egg. Taste is good, but method is a FAIL.
So sorry this didn’t work for you! Yes, dissolving the sugar in the juice first could work too. I like adding the cold or room temp juice to the hot butter before tempering so it’s not quite as steep of a temperature difference with the eggs, so if you dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice first and then melt in the butter just be extra careful when tempering the eggs!
I was gifted some Meyer’s lemon and as I was going through a variety of recipes I came across this lovely lemon curd recipe. Made it already 4x, Super simple and easy. Truly Devine, we like to whip heavy whip cream and fold the curd under, makes a fine mousse
Quick and simple recipe! Since I’m the only one in my household that likes curd, it’s creates the perfect amount…just for me! I’ve also tried making it with blood oranges and it is equally good.
I bet your blood orange version is delicious! So glad you like this recipe!
The flavor was awesome and I really like this method. I have tried making curd with other recipes and this one in terms of quantity and easy will be my go to. As I have a Meyer Lemon tree in my backyard I see frequent usage of the recipe in my future.
I have a Meyer lemon tree on my front porch but don’t get much off of it! Any tips on increasing production of your tree?
Pinch off the buds leading into the next season. Fertilise and get it more sunlight each day. Next year you’ll have so many buds and fruit it’s crazy. Good luck!
Thanks Mell! I transplanted my lemon tree into a larger pot this year so hopefully that will help too.
I have made this recipe many times – works perfectly every time. Easy to make and tasty!
Thanks for sharing! I’m so glad you like this method!
Hi Caroline! I’m going to try your technique, thank you for posting. Do you know if you can freeze lemon curd? I was hoping to do up a few jar portions to give at Christmas, and I have a large bag of meyer lemons now.
Hi Michelle! I haven’t tried freezing lemon curd myself, but according to this article from the National Center for Home Food Preservation, you can! https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/nchfp/factsheets/lemoncurd.pdf
For some reason I feel weird freezing eggs, so if you didn’t want to freeze the whole curd you could always juice and zest the lemons, freeze that, and then make the curd later. Now that I see freezing lemon curd is a thing though (I’ve more often heard of people canning it, but I haven’t yet gotten into canning), I might have to give it a shot. Let me know how it goes!
Love the small batch concept. Will be making this as soon as our lemons are ripe!
Small batch is great for just a few scones but I learned you’ll probably want to double it for use in baked goods! When do your lemons usually ripen?
I love making my own curd, it’s so easy and soooo much better!
Never had meyer lemons (you can’t really get them here), but your curd looks fantastic! I didn’t realise it was basically the same as hollandaise sauce, I’ve never made that.
Your photos are gorgeous!
Thanks Michelle! If you can make lemon curd, you can make Hollandaise sauce, and vice versa! A lot of people’s Hollandaise is less cooked than mine but the traditional double-boiler process (or my weird Pyrex method) and ingredients are pretty much the same. Where are you that you can’t get Meyer lemons? They do have a very short season!