This creamy and dreamy lemon curd recipe is the perfect dessert if you love all things tangy and lemony!
Little Says Sweet and Tangy Like Lemon Curd
Lemon is one of those wonderfully flavorful fruits that I just couldn't do without!
I adore lemon and all things lemon flavored, and use at least a little squeeze of this deliciously juicy and sour citrus fruit in all of my cooking, ranging from desserts, to dressings, to dips, to soups.
Its zippy presence simply brightens everything it's added to, and infuses it with something special!
So it makes perfect sense to me that cool and tangy lemon curd—that smooth, velvety, and creamy dream of a sweet treat—would be a personal favorite of mine to whip up and indulge in, spoonful after rich spoonful.
My husband just so happens to love it as well, so that gives me yet another precious reason to prepare it!
Nothing speaks of sunshine and fresh air quite like the wonderfully cheerful flavor of lemon does, and this easy lemon curd recipe captures that so divinely!
What Exactly Is Lemon Curd?
I like to describe lemon curd this way: it's a sweet topping, filling, or spread made using the juice and zest of lemons.
The other main ingredients found in a classic lemon curd recipe are whole eggs, egg yolks, and sugar, and sometimes a little pat of butter as an enriching finisher.
Lemon curd is delicious used as a spread for tea biscuits, as a component in parfaits, as a tart filling, or as a spread on a rich brioche bread or croissant.
Heck, my personal favorite way to enjoy it is swirled into thick and creamy low-fat vanilla or plain Greek yogurt! It's so refreshingly cool and zingy—the perfect sweet snack!
How to Make Lemon Curd
A lemon curd recipe is similar to a pudding in that the main ingredients—the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar, zest and juice—are whisked together in a bowl and cooked over gentle heat until thick and creamy.
And this is typically done in a double boiler, or by simply placing the bowl with the mixture over top of a small pot with simmering water (making sure the bowl is not touching the water), and gently stirring until the curd is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, or until it's velvety.
The next step is to strain the cooked lemon curd through a fine strainer and into a clean bowl making it silky smooth; at that point you can stir in a touch of butter, and allow the curd to cool.
Here's some simple steps at a glance:
- Combine the sugar with the lemon zest, and whisk to incorporate; add your whole eggs, egg yolks and lemon juice, and whisk gently until completely combined.
- Place your bowl over a pot of gently simmering water (making sure it fits properly and is not actually touching the water). Using your spatula, stir and fold the mixture as it cooks, scraping the bottom and sides as well, until it has thickened and has a pudding-like consistency.
- Once it is thickened, strain the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer, add in your little pat of butter and stir until melted in, then allow to cool.
Tips & Tidbits for Lemon Curd:
- Juicy lemons: Choose lemons that are fresh, bright and fragrant, and that have a thinner skin, as those produce more juice.
- Patience is a virtue: Preparing curd is not necessarily a long process, but it does require some patience and gentleness. Make sure you keep your water at a simmer, and not boiling vigorously under the bowl with the ingredients in it. You want the consistency to be as smooth as possible, and to take care not to scramble the eggs with too much heat. It takes about 12-13 minutes for the lemon curd to thicken, so just be patient, and fold/stir with gentleness.
- Adding butter is up to you: Adding a little touch of butter—maybe a tablespoon or even a little less—is optional, but it does impart a little extra richness and flavor to the curd; simply add it at the end, after you have strained the mixture into a clean bowl, and stir until it melts in.
- Cool things down: You can cool a lemon curd recipe a couple of ways: 1.) You can strain the curd into a clean bowl, place plastic wrap directly onto its surface, and place into the fridge for a couple of hours until chilled; or 2.) (and this one can be a little tricky), you can fill a large bowl with ice, and carefully place the bowl with the curd into it to sit and chill, mixing the curd occasionally to cool it evenly. You must take care with this method, however, that the bowl with the curd doesn't slip around on the ice and turn over, spilling the curd. Make sure it is fixed and steady, and the curd will cool quite rapidly.
- How to store lemon curd: I love to keep my lemon curd in a mason jar with a lid in the fridge; you can also keep it in a bowl and just cover with plastic wrap. Lemon curd keeps well for a couple of weeks, if it actually doesn't disappear before that!
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: 1 ½ cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 2 tablespoon lemon zest
• 3 whole eggs
• 3 egg yolks
• 2/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons)
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
-Into a medium glass or steel bowl, add the sugar and the zest, and incorporate the two together with your fingers; next, add the whole eggs and the yolks, and then the lemon juice, and gently combine with a whisk, just until the sugar is dissolved (be careful not to whisk too hard as you don’t want to incorporate too much air into the mixture).
-Next, set the bowl with the lemon curd mixture over a pot of gently simmering water (double-boiler method), making sure that the bowl is not actually touching the simmering water; using a rubber spatula, continuously and gently stir the lemon curd mixture (it will be quite thin for a while) making sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl for even cooking and to avoid “scrambling” the eggs; cook for roughly 12-13 minutes, or until the curd mixture thickens and has a pudding-like consistency.
-Carefully remove the bowl with the curd from the pot of simmering water and wipe the condensation off of it with a towel.
-Strain the curd into a clean bowl, add in the butter (if using) and stir that in until it melts, then cover the top with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming; place into refrigerator to completely chill. (For quicker cooling, you can strain the cooked curd into a bowl set into a larger bowl filled with ice, just be sure that it’s set securely in the ice and won’t slide around, spilling the curd out; stir with a clean spatula for a few minutes, then once cooled, spoon into your container and place into fridge to keep cold.)
-Enjoy as a spread, as a dip, or swirled into yogurt!