This post shows how to make a great lemon curd recipe using fresh lemon and eggs. It's bright, thick, and full of lemon flavor.
The best lemon curd recipe is zesty and tart, sweet but not too sweet. It really needs to be full of lemon flavor, and be thick enough to spread lavishly over pancakes or waffles, or use it in lemon curd cake or lemon curd donuts, or as a pie filling.
There are different ways to make curd, and this post will show how to make an easy microwave lemon curd recipe or a stovetop method.
The lemon curd ingredients
This easy recipe uses 4 simple ingredients. Eggs (whole eggs and yolks), fresh lemons (fresh lemon juice and zest), white sugar, and butter. You can use salted butter or unsalted butter. If you don't have salted butter, adding in a pinch of salt will bring you to a grand total of 5 ingredients.
You want to use fresh lemon juice for this recipe, not bottled. You'll need around ½ cup of juice. The variety of lemons used will change the tanginess of the curd. You can use regular lemons for a really zingy flavor.
Varieties such as Eureka, Lisbon, or Yen Ben. You can use Meyer lemons too, which are actually a cross between a lemon and an orange so it is sweeter than other varieties. This lemon curd recipe uses 3 egg yolks and one whole egg.
Don’t worry about wasting the remaining 3 egg whites, though. Egg whites freeze very well, and you can use them in future meringue desserts, like this raspberry Eton mess.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, whole egg, and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the lemon juice and lemon zest.
Place the bowl in the microwave and cook in 40-second to 1-minute increments, stirring each time for around 3-4 minutes in total. This time may increase or decrease depending on the strength of your microwave.
Check that the curd is thick enough by dipping in a metal spoon. The curd should easily coat the back of a spoon. Stir the cold cubed butter through the hot lemon mixture and stir until smooth. Pour the finished curd through a sieve into clean jars. It will thicken as it cools. Once cooled, store it in the fridge.
The microwave version of the curd takes less time than the stovetop however there is more of a risk of little bits of egg scrambling. This is because a microwave can heat things inconsistently. To remove any pieces of cooked egg, ensure the curd is passed through a sieve before storing. You'll need to adjust the cooking time depending on the power of your microwave.
The stove-top method
The stovetop method is easy too, but it takes longer than the microwave recipe, and you'll need to set up a double boiler when cooking it. Because the eggs are thickeners in the curd, it's important to control the egg mixture temperature when cooking the curd so you don't accidentally scramble the eggs.
A double boiling method (or bain-marie) is when you make a hot water bath and balance the bowl of curd over this hot water to cook it. This helps to keep the temperature even.
Double boiler method
Set up the water bath by filling a saucepan with about 2 inches (4cm) of water and bringing it to a simmer. Mix all the ingredients except the butter into a heat-proof or glass bowl and set this over the simmering water. Whisk it together over the simmering water for around 12-15 minutes until it starts to thicken.
It won’t thicken a whole lot, but it should a bit. Dip in a metal spoon so it coats the back of a metal spoon. Run a finger through the curd on the spoon. If it leaves a line without the curd running back together it's ready.
Then take it off the heat and whisk in the cold butter.
Storing lemon curd
Pour the curd mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, into a clean jar. The sieve will remove the lemon rind in there and any egg bits that may have overcooked. It makes a much smoother curd.
If you accidentally took it off the heat too soon, and it doesn't thicken in the fridge, it can be reheated over a water bath and cooked a bit longer. Let the curd come to room temperature, then seal the glass jar and store it in the fridge for up to 8-10 days.
Lemon curd can be frozen too and defrosted when you need it. It doesn't freeze very solid so you can scoop what you need straight from the freezer.
Other citrus curds
If you have an abundance of another citrus, like limes, Meyer lemons, clementines, oranges, or grapefruit curd, you can use this recipe for those too! Lime curd and grapefruit curd are delicious and tart.
Orange curd will need the addition of a little lemon or other tart citrus juice to balance out the sweetness.
Uses for lemon curd
Try your homemade lemon curd in donuts, spread over pancakes, poured in a tart shell, or dolloped over ice cream, yogurt, and fresh fruit. It makes a great filling for lemon curd cake and lemon pie.
Looking for more citrus recipes? Check out this cardamom and orange scone recipe for inspiration.
Easy Lemon Curd Recipe
A smooth and luscious lemon curd that is made with eggs as the thickener.
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 large whole egg
- 150g (¾ cup) granulated sugar
- 120g (½ cup) fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 86g (6 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- In a heat-proof bowl add the eggs, lemon juice and zest, sugar, and salt.
- Fill a saucepan with about 2 inches (4cm) of water and bring it to a simmer. Set the bowl of curd ingredients over the simmering water.
- Using a whisk, whisk all the ingredients together and keep whisking for around 12-15 minutes until the curd starts to thicken. Don't rush this step. When a metal spoon is dipped in, it should easily coat the back of the spoon.
- Once thick enough, take off the heat and whisk in the cold butter cubes.
- Pour the curd through a sieve into a clean jar. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two weeks or freeze it for up to three months.
- In a microwave-proof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, and salt until well combined. Whisk in the lemon juice and lemon zest.
- Place the bowl in the microwave and cook in 40-second increments, stirring each time for around 3-4 minutes in total. This time may increase or decrease depending on your microwave strength. There may be little pieces of cooked egg but they will be sieved out later.
- Check that the curd is thick enough by dipping in a metal spoon. The curd should easily coat the back of the spoon.
- Stir the cold cubed butter through the hot curd and stir until smooth. Pour the finished curd through a sieve into clean jars. It will thicken as it cools. Once cooled, store it in the fridge.
Freezing - Lemon curd can be frozen for up to three months.
The cup sizes given are for US cups. Note that these are smaller than metric cup sizes.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 97Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 82mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 2gSugar: 14gProtein: 2g
I absolutely love this recipe!! I have tried several different ones and always have to add corn starch to get the perfect thickness I'm looking for. I didn't have to do that with this one. I did change it up a little by using half lemon and half clementine juice. Only because I didn't have enough lemon on hand. It still turned out great! Love the flavor and consistency. Thanks for sharing 👍
So happy you love it Carrie! Lemon and clementine sounds like a delicious combo too
If I use the stovetop method, do the eggs heat enough to get pasteurized? I’m concerned about eating raw eggs and wondering if I should buy pasteurized eggs for this recipe. Thank you!
They do heat enough on the stove to be pasteurised 🙂