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How to Make Lemon Curd

It’s an awesome party trick. In 20 short minutes (including assembly of ingredients), you can have a bowl of puckery, smooth, rich, perfect lemon curd.

And you can make it without separating egg whites and yolks or owning a double boiler.

lemon curd
Photo: Casey Barber

In fact, there are only 4 basic ingredients needed, and they all go into one bowl. So easy, right?

Well, there is a catch. You’ll have to stir constantly for 12-15 minutes to make it happen, so you might want to plan your lemon curd day in lieu of arm day at the gym.

But armed (ha!) with that knowledge and a whisk (which whisk to use? I like my biggest balloon whisk), it’s really not that hard to make it happen.

Watch the video below to see how the lemon curd magically transforms into liquid gold as you stir.

How to Make Lemon Curd

For equipment, in place of a double boiler you’ll need a stainless steel or aluminum bowl, and a small saucepan into which your bowl can rest comfortably over simmering water.

Make sure there’s enough room between the bottom of the bowl and the bottom of the saucepan, because you won’t want the water to touch the bowl. This will scorch your curd and scramble the eggs, and it’s not very tasty-looking when that happens.

lemon curd
Photo: Casey Barber

Whisk the ingredients together and place over the simmering water.

It will be sloshy at first as the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. The liquid will continue to be sloshy, and you will wonder if you’re doing something wrong. You’re not.

By minute 7 you’ll be frustrated and cursing me, wondering why nothing is changing.

But watch! By minute 8, the color will shift from translucent to opaque and bubbles will appear at the edges.

By minute 10, it will start to thicken and you’ll see the trails of your whisk as it tugs its way around the bowl.

By minute 13, the lemon curd should be fully thickened and you can remove the bowl from the heat.

lemon curd
Photo: Casey Barber

The lemon curd will firm up just a bit more as it cools, to a loose but spreadable consistency. However, I have been known to eat it warm, like a pudding. No shame there.

What else can you do with lemon curd other than eat it straight from the bowl?

lemon olive oil tart
Photo: Casey Barber

Ways to Use Lemon Curd

  • as a tart filling: make your own with no-roll tart crust or use the technique in my dairy-free lemon-olive oil tart
  • between cake layers in my favorite lemon Champagne cake
  • as an ice cream topping
  • or in ice cream: fold the curd into the custard base just before adding to your ice cream maker
  • as a pierogi filling: get the recipe from my book Pierogi Love
  • in place of jam or chocolate as a sandwich cookie filling
  • or just dip shortbread or graham crackers in the curd

And if you happen to have different citrus fruits in the crisper, like grapefruits or oranges, on hand, feel free to swap them in. Make your own blend or a mix-and-match trio of curds as a gift.

lemon curd
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lemon curd

Lemon Curd

Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Make lemon curd in 20 minutes without separating eggs or owning a double boiler. Just whisk eggs, lemons, sugar, and butter and you're done!

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (200 grams; 7 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 3-4 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Fill a small (1 or 1 1/2 quart) saucepan with a few inches of water and bring it to a bare simmer over medium-low heat.
  2. Whisk the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice together in a stainless steel or aluminum bowl until combined, then add in the butter.
  3. Place the bowl over the simmering water and whisk continuously for 12-15 minutes. Think of it as a chance to work your upper arms.
  4. The liquid will begin to bubble after about 8 minutes, and start to thicken after 10 minutes.
  5. Around 13 minutes, it should be completely smooth and thickened. Timing will vary based on your stovetop burner power.
  6. If desired, strain the curd through a fine mesh strainer.
  7. Transfer to mason jars or other lidded jars. The curd will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month, though it never lasts very long around here.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 65Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 24mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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2 Comments

  1. omg i could do this! I have been craving lemon curd. Spread it on a really good graham cracker and you get poor man’s key lime pie. I can’t wait to try this – thanks for posting it!

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