Making Lemon Curd


Lemon curd is an old-time treat that was traditionally served with biscuits or toast. It also finds its way into tarts (and other small pastries), pies, and even cakes. Lemon meringue pie is basically lemon curd in a pie shell. Lemon curd is a very simple concoction of sugar, lemon juice, eggs (sometimes just the yolks, sometimes yolks and whites both), sometimes lemon zest, and often butter. Cream is sometimes also folded in to make a lighter curd.

In making lemon curd, I searched high and low to examine lemon curd recipes, determined to make it the old-fashioned way. I eliminated cornstarch, which crops up in some lemon curd recipes, as a “quick fix” thickener. I like to do things the hard way, like our great-grandmas.

Though if our great-grandmas had had some cornstarch in their pantries, they probably would have used it. They were busy, had to go beat the laundry on the washboard next, and would have wanted to cut down their lemon curd cooking time.

I don’t have to beat anything on the washboard, so I went for the no cornstarch method so I could feel the sisterhood with our great-grandmas. I wanted to know their pain. Actually, it wasn’t difficult to thicken up lemon curd without cornstarch, so never fear!

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How to make Lemon Curd:

2 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup butter, cut up in 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons lemon zest

Note: If you want to add cornstarch for quicker thickening, use 2 teaspoons cornstarch and add to the pot along with the sugar.

Place sugar in a medium-sized pan over a pot of simmering water in a double-boiler. Gradually whisk in lemon juice. (Do NOT substitute bottled lemon juice for fresh in this recipe. It’s just not the same.)

Add eggs and egg yolks, continuing to whisk steadily. Whisk over medium to medium-high heat, 10 to 15 minutes, until mixture thickens. (If it’s not thickening, increase the heat, being careful to continue whisking. I recommend using a double-boiler especially if you’re not using the cornstarch.) It should be about the consistency of hollandaise sauce.

Add butter, whisking to blend. Cook, continuing to whisk, one to two more minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in lemon zest.

Transfer to a bowl and place plastic wrap over it, pressing over the top to prevent a skin from forming.

Chill. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools.

This recipe makes about 3 cups lemon curd. Store refrigerated for one to two weeks. After the lemon curd is thoroughly chilled, you can fold in up to a cup of heavy clotted or whipped cream to lighten the texture and flavor, if you wish.

I’ve got a fabulous cake recipe coming up soon using lemon curd, so get your curd on and get ready for some great cake!

Lemon curd, by the way, is simply the best-known in a family of fruit curds. Other popular fruit curds include lime, orange, raspberry, cranberry, blackberry, and even mango. (Shout-out to the steam juicers among us–fruit curd is another way to use your juice!) To make fruit curd using any other juice, just replace the cup of lemon juice with a cup of other juice and continue with the recipe. If using lime or orange, add the zest of that fruit. If using another fruit, either leave the zest out or add some lemon, lime, or orange zest. Imagine cranberry curd with orange zest! (Yum.)

See this recipe at Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.

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  1. Julie says:

    I’ve made lemon curd before but it was with corn starch and (to me) didn’t taste like the wonderful English lemon curd I usually buy so I’m definitely trying this recipe. We love lemon curd in our yogurt and on gingerbread in the fall/winter. I’m looking forward to seeing the cake you make!

  2. Melissa says:

    My Gramma used to make lemon curd. I have the recipe (and it certainly doesn’t use cornstarch), though I have never made it. I do love it or at least I think I do. I haven’t had any homemade since she was still with us. She passed away in the 80’s. This post really takes me back. I think I will dig out that recipe and give it a try. I can’t wait to see the cake! Thanks for the jogging my memory.

  3. PossumManor says:

    Can it be canned? If so, would I just do it the same way as jam?

  4. greenbelle says:

    Yep, it can be canned! I do it often, to have it year round. I think it’s a 15 min HWB. Although, to can it I think you’re *supposed* to use bottled lemon juice rather than fresh, so the acidity if consistent.

    I love lemon curd, like sunshine in a jar. And SO tasty.

  5. CindyP says:

    Oh, this looks heavenly! Mom used to make the lemon meringue pies from scratch and this looks like it! :hungry:

    It can be canned, we had a discussion over on the forum last winter. NCHFP recommends using 1/2 pint jars, bottled juice (standard acidity), and BWB for 15 min. If canning, make sure you DON’T use the cornstarch!

  6. monica says:

    Oh I can’t wait to try this one after we get back from camping!! We are leaving for niagara falls in about 1/2 hour. Yippee! Little N likes sour tastes–he says it makes him pucker up. :hungry: :shocked:

  7. Kim Gibson says:

    This sounds really fabulous, and I will try it. I hope your son is doing well at Great Lakes… as I am sure he is. And you too! Almost over now!

  8. Joycee says:

    I shell out nearly $4 for the little jar of Dickenson’s Lemon Curd and savor every bite on english muffins! Can’t wait to try this recipe. I’ll say it again…you are my hero Suzanne, thanks a bunch!

  9. Melissa says:

    Can this be canned and, ‘put’ up for much into the future use? I’m sure but not sure how to do it. suggestions welcomed.

  10. AA says:

    Looks and sounds yummy. I may have to try it- you are inspiring me.

  11. susan says:

    Talk about good timing — I have an overload of eggs and was looking for some delicious way to use them. Lemon curd! And thanks for making it seem easy 😀

  12. Kristen E says:

    Thanks, Melissa, for posting the canning info! I’ve been making lemon curd for years – my husband loves it! – but have never found directions on how to can it. Everything I’ve read says lemon curd must be frozen instead, which I know isn’t true, since you can buy it at the store on the shelf! Now I get to can it and give it as gifts! Hooray!

  13. Grandmatotwochicks says:

    Love Love Love Lemon Curd! This last winter my Daughter gave me lots and lots of Meyer Lemons, I taught her how to make lemon curd, we both love lemon. I can’t wait for the CAKE!!!! LOVE lemon CAKE! :hungry:

  14. Miss Becky says:

    that looks so refreshing. and it also looks like a LOT of lemon curd! beautiful stuff :yes:

  15. Denise says:

    I love lemon curd- gonna have to try this recipe!

  16. Laurel says:

    I love lemon curd. I like putting it in tiny tart shells so it’s like I’m eating it with a spoon, but slightly more respectable.

    My lemon tree is just a baby right now, but already I’m dreaming of having more lemons than I know what to do with.

  17. Rachel says:

    this sounds delicious! I’m thinking of making some shortbread thumbprint cookies and putting some of this curd in the print. thanks! for the recipe!

  18. Mag says:

    My grandmother use to make this. I have not heard of this in so long. It was a nice tangy treat. Thanks for reminding me of it again and the recipe.

  19. Rose H says:

    Suzanne, you have inspired me to make lemon curd again – I haven’t made any since I was at school about 40 years ago!
    It turned out perfectly – Thank you so much :happyflower:

  20. Rachel says:

    I did end up making this lemon curd, and it was delicious! I made some shortbread cookies and put the curd on top, also delicious! I still have some curd left over and was hoping you would post that cake recipe you talked about, I’d love to give it a shot!

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