This easy lemon curd recipe is the perfect proof that homemade beats store bought every time!
The beautifully balanced sweet and tangy taste is enough to tantalise your tastebuds, while the luscious creamy texture will make you go “ooooh.” As if that’s enough, there are only five ingredients!
So, make this heavenly homemade lemon curd and spread it on anything from scones and cupcakes to cheesecakes or in yoghurt. Sheer bliss!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- The taste is the perfect blend of sweet and tangy
- It’s so much tastier than shop bought, which is full of preservatives and other ingredients that aren’t good for you
- There’s only five ingredients in this lemon curd recipe
- It’s really simple to make
- There are so many uses for this lemon curd – from cheesecakes and scones to simply spreading it on toast!
EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
There are a few key kitchen items you’ll need to hand for this lemon curd recipe:
- Large saucepan – you’ll need this to create the indirect heat to make your lemon curd
- Heat proof glass bowl – go for glass over metal, as metal can react with the acidity and leave a slight metallic taste
- Whisk – if you haven’t already got one, a whisk is essential
- Jam funnel – the best way to pour your homemade lemon curd into their storage jars is to use a jam funnel
- Storage jars – get yourself a set of jars, which you’ll need to sterilise, so that you can store your lemon curd
HOW TO MAKE LEMON CURD
Fill your saucepan with boiling water and place on a low heat.
Whisk eggs in your heat-proof glass bowl. Add sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and butter.
Place over the saucepan, making sure the bottom isn’t touching the water. Whisk until the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and, using a jam funnel, pour into sterilised glass jars.
Use a heat-proof glass bowl instead of a metallic bowl. Sometimes, you can end up with a slight metallic tang when making lemon curd, as the metal reacts with the acidity of the lemon juice.
WHAT TO DO WITH LEMON CURD
You can enjoy lemon curd with a variety of beautiful desserts. My top tip is to use it as-bake the filling for my delicious no lemon cheesecake!
Other ideas are a lemon meringue pie, lemon cupcakes or simply serve with yoghurt or ice cream.
VARIATIONS FOR THIS RECIPE
- Adjust the sugar to your taste to make it more or less sweet
- Add an extra egg yolk to make it thicker and more velvety
- Add an extra knob of butter to make it richer
- To make it dairy-free, omit the butter
- Swap the lemon juice and zest for orange juice and zest to make orange curd
WHAT IS LEMON CURD?
Lemon curd is a rich, velvety topping for desserts. It’s traditionally made with a few simple ingredients – egg yolks, sugar, butter, fresh squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest. It’s very simple to make and takes a short amount of time to cook on the hob.
IS LEMON CURD THE SAME AS LEMON JAM?
No, there’s a difference. Fruit curds are made by cooking fruit juice with sugar, rather than using the whole fruit. So, you’re left with a thick, velvety texture that makes it perfect for spreading on your favourite desserts.
WHERE DOES LEMON CURD ORIGINATE FROM?
Jolly old England!
In fact, homemade lemon curd goes all the way back to the early 19th century. Back then, however, it was made by leaving lemon to ‘acidulate’ in cream, which would form curds. These curds would be separated from the whey (the remaining liquid) by sieving through a cheesecloth.
The earliest known lemon curd recipe is from the 1800s, found in The Lady’s Own Cookery Book, by Lady Charlotte Campbell Bury.
WHY IS IT CALLED LEMON CURD?
It comes from the term ‘curd’, which is the process of thickening milk with an acid. In the case of lemon curd, it’s the lemon juice that causes the milk to thicken. Modern lemon curd is not technically a curd.
WHEN DO YOU ADD THE BUTTER?
There are different schools of thought on this. Many people say to add the butter after the lemon curd has already thickened. The problem with this method is that you can end up with a slightly grainy texture.
In my opinion, it’s better to add the butter at the same time as the lemon juice, before heating and thickening the mixture. This way, you end up with a perfect velvety, creamy texture.
DO I NEED TO STRAIN LEMON CURD?
Again, there are different opinions on whether you need to strain it. The only reasons would be to remove the zest and to strain out any bits of egg that may have overcooked.
In my opinion, it’s not necessary. The zest is small enough to not be noticed and, provided you follow the recipe, you won’t end up with any unpleasant ‘eggy’ bits.
CAN I USE BOTTLED LEMON JUICE TO MAKE LEMON CURD?
Technically, yes. Although I highly recommend you use fresh lemons.
WHAT’S THE PERFECT RATIO OF LEMON JUICE AND EGG?
For me, the perfect balance is 25ml of lemon juice per egg. Previously, when I’d used less lemon juice than this, the flavour of the lemon curd was too eggy. Obviously, it's not what we want.
Equally, whenever I’ve used a greater ratio of lemon juice, the consistency of the lemon curd is too thin. With a ratio of 25ml to every egg (150ml to 6 eggs in the case of this recipe), we end up with perfectly creamy, luscious lemon curd.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN LEMON CURD IS DONE?
Dip your spoon in the curd and run your finger along the back of it. If the curd holds the trail, it’s thick enough and ready.
HOW DO YOU STORE LEMON CURD?
After the jars are sealed, they are best stored in the fridge, where your curd will stay fresh for up to 3 months.
Once the jar is opened, use it within 3 weeks. I’m willing to bet it won’t last that long though!
CAN YOU FREEZE LEMON CURD?
Absolutely. If you want to store your lemon curd long term, transfer it to freezable airtight containers (allow it to cool fully and leave ½ inch of space at the top) then place in the freezer.
It’ll keep for up to a year without any significant changes to taste or texture. When you’re ready to eat it, defrost your curd in the fridge for 24 hours before serving.
WHY IS MY LEMON CURD TOO THIN?
Either you’ve used too much juice or not enough eggs. If you follow the recipe and are precise with your measurements, you shouldn’t have a problem.
HOW DO YOU THICKEN LEMON CURD?
First of all, remember that your lemon curd will thicken slightly as it cools. So, if it’s only a little thinner than expected, don’t worry.
If, for whatever reason, you end up with finished lemon curd that’s too thin, there is a way you can fix it. Whisk an egg yolk into a bowl. Slowly add a ladleful of warm lemon curd to the egg yolk mixture, continuing to whisk as you do so.
Add this mixture back into the lemon curd and keep whisking. After 5 minutes, you should notice that your lemon curd has taken on a thicker texture.
Add a cornstarch slurry if your lemon curd is still not thick enough. It might change the colour and texture slightly, but the flavour will still be delicious.
If it’s still not thick enough, use it as a sauce or lemon glaze and pour it over your favourite cakes or add to yoghurt or vanilla ice cream.
MORE FABULOUSLY FRUITY CURD RECIPES
- Lime curd – another fruit curd classic, lime curd has that similar deliciously tangy taste
- Strawberry curd – a simple, delicious homemade curd recipe that is wonderful when used in strawberry cheesecakes or when served with ice cream
- Kiwi curd – if you’re looking for something a little offbeat, this could be the one for you