Creamy, zesty and so easy to make – homemade lemon curd is so good, you’ll never want to buy the packaged kind again! My easy lemon curd recipe is made with freshly squeezed lemon juice, eggs and butter. This simple lemon filling needs just 5 simple ingredients and comes together in 10 minutes! Use this ‘Back to Cake Basics’ recipe as a cake filling, or for tarts, cupcakes, cookies and macarons! Check out my recommended recipes below!
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How to Make Lemon Curd
The most important ingredient in lemon curd are the lemons! I love, love to use meyer lemons when they are in season – they are sweeter than regular lemons and have a slightly different flavor. When they’re not in-season, regular lemons work just as well! Using FRESHLY squeezed lemon juice makes all the difference between a mediocre lemon curd recipe and an excellent one! For a smooth and creamy curd, squeeze the lemons over a fine-mesh strainer to get rid of any seeds and pulp.
- The second step to making a great curd is whisking the eggs and sugar to the right consistency. I vigorously whisk my eggs, egg yolks and sugar for a good 4 minutes until the mixture is thick and pale. The more you whisk the egg mixture, the creamier your lemon curd will be. You can use a hand mixer, a regular whisk or a stand mixer for this step.
- Step three is cooking the lemon curd. Combine the egg mixture and lemon juice and cook over medium-low heat – low and slow does it! Stir the lemon curd constantly with a rubber spatula until it thickens, about 3 to 5 minutes. As soon as it starts to bubble and thickens, remove the curd from the heat and add the butter and vanilla. Don’t add the vanilla before; heat will destroy/evaporate the flavor.
- Transfer the lemon curd into a glass bowl or glass jar to cool completely in the refrigerator. Make sure to cover the lemon curd with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming on the top.
Avoiding That Metallic Aftertaste
The number one complaint I hear about any citrus curd recipe is that it has a metallic aftertaste. This can be caused by a few different things. Keep these in mind when making this recipe:
- Do not use any metal other than stainless steel – this includes non-stick pans, cast-iron and/or copper pans. The acid from the lemon juice will strip the metal and it will be mixed into the curd, resulting in a metallic-tasting filling.
- Do not use a wooden spoon, try a rubber spatula instead. Wooden kitchen tools absorb old flavors and seasonings and you will be able to taste them! Use a clean rubber spatula – it doesn’t absorb odors and it works even better at preventing the curd from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
This easy, 5-ingredient recipe can be made with other citrus fruit and even with berry flavors! Try this recipe with other, freshly-squeezed citrus fruits such as grapefruit, lime, or even blood orange. I love lime curd for cheesecakes and cake recipes, like this ‘Coconut Lime Cheesecake’. You can also add raspberry sauce, blueberry preserves, more lemon zest, or strawberry preserves/emulsion.
This recipe yields a very aromatic and flavorful lemon curd filling. If you want to experiment with the recipe, you can add a few drops of lemon oil or even add a bit of lemon zest after adding the butter and vanilla.
Use this easy recipe as a zesty lemon filling as a cake filling and for your favorite desserts! I use this recipe for many of my cakes and treats. Try it for cakes, cupcakes, macarons, tarts or even on toast as a spread. Here are some recipes that are worth trying:
- Lemon Mousse Cake – the best lemon cake with lemon curd, lemon mousse and sponge cake!
- Triple Lemon Meringue Cheesecake – delicate and fluffy cheeseacke with lemon curd and meringue topping!
- Raspberry Lemon Surprise Cupcakes – these sweet cupcakes are filled with lemon and frosted with raspberry buttercream!
- Lemon Meringue Cake from my new cookbook, ‘The European Cake Cookbook’.
- Classic Fruit Tart with cheesecake filling – this one is so good!
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Make sure you use a stainless steel pot for cooking the curd recipe.
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Use this handy lemon juicer to make freshly-squeezed lemon juice in no time.
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Easy Lemon Curd Recipe (video)
- 2/3 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Juice approximately 4 to 5 large lemons over a fine mesh strainer set up over a glass bowl or large measuring cup. Double strain the juice for smoothest lemon curd. Set juice aside.
- In a separate glass mixing bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is thick and more pale in color. It should ribbon off the whisk. Pour the mixture into a stainless steel pot and add the lemon juice; whisk to combine.
- Cook the lemon curd over medium-low heat, stirring constantly along the bottom of the pan. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the curd thickens and starts to bubble lightly. Remove from heat immediately. Add the unsalted butter and vanilla and whisk until the butter is completely melted.
- Transfer the curd into a glass bowl or glass jar and cover with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming over the top. Allow the lemon filling to cool slightly, then place into the refrigerator. Lemon curd can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.