This quick and easy homemade lemon curd recipe is sweet, bright and tangy all in one. It's thicker than store-bought or yolk-only curds, making it perfect to, fill cakes or cupcakes, add to waffles, or mix into whipped cream. This foolproof lemon curd uses whole eggs to produce a thicker curd and a far less eggy taste.
Many lemon curd recipes are made with egg yolks. However, I have found the taste of yolk-only curds to taste too "eggy" and find that using whole eggs provides a lighter and brighter flavor, without that eggy taste.
Using whole eggs also produces a thicker curd, which makes it the perfect lemon curd recipe for cake fillings (since it's sturdier). I also choose to make my curd directly in a pot rather than in a double boiler, and have found this to be the quickest and easiest method. This is truly the best lemon curd recipe!
For more recipes that use this particular lemon curd, check out these Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts, Lemon Filled Donuts (with Meringue Topping), or Lemon Meringue Cake! Or, try your hand at some grapefruit curd with these Individual Mini Pavlova Nests with Grapefruit Curd.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Simple. Making lemon curd from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated. This recipe doesn’t require the separating of eggs or the use of a double boiler. The whole recipe is made in one pot.
Bright and tangy. This whole egg lemon curd uses the juice and zest of 2-3 large lemons, resulting in a pure lemon flavor with a sour kick.
Versatile. This lemon curd can be made and stored in the fridge for up to a month, which is perfect because it has many uses. Spread it on top of toast, mix it into yogurt for breakfast, or serve it with gingersnaps for a light snack or quick dessert.
Lemon Curd Uses
There are many ways to use lemon curd, such as on toast, on pavlova, or as a topping for pancakes or waffles. It also makes a great filling in tarts or pies, sandwiched between layers of cake, or in crepes.
This lemon curd uses only 4 ingredients, requires only one pot and a strainer, and uses full eggs! No separating necessary.
- Large eggs. Three of them! The recipe comes together more quickly if they're at room temperature, but you can also use them straight from the fridge.
- Whole lemons. You'll need about 2-3 large lemons. Both the zest and juice will be used. Do not use bottled lemon juice.
- Granulated sugar. Only ½ cup (100g) is needed.
- Unsalted butter. At room temperature, and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces.
- Vanilla. A small addition of vanilla is optional but can add a nice flavor note to the final dish.
The main tools you'll need are a microplane, a medium-sized saucepan, and a fine mesh strainer. You'll also need a whisk and rubber spatula.
See recipe card for full ingredients list and quantities.
Substitutions and Variations
- This recipe should be followed as is but can easily be doubled or tripled for a larger volume of curd.
How to Make This Recipe
One: Whisk together the sugar, eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest until combined.
Two: Add a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and cut the butter into tablespoon pieces.
Hot tip! Rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingertips until pale yellow and very fragrant. This works all of the oils from the zest into the sugar and creates extra lemon flavor.
Three: Add the egg mixture over medium-low heat and whisk constantly until it becomes very thick and coats the back of a spoon.
Four: Immediately scrape the curd into the fine mesh sieve placed over the bowl.
Five: Using a whisk, spoon, or spatula, pass the lemon curd through the sieve. Any cooked egg pieces and lemon zest will be left behind.
Six: Add the tablespoons of butter and whisk them in until completely combined, melted, and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.
Hot tip! Scrape the lemon curd from the bottom of the of the sieve - quite a bit gets stuck under there!
How to Make a Thinner Lemon Curd
If you'd like a curd that is slightly thinner, once the curd is set and cooled, simply whisk in more fresh lemon juice. Start with 1-2 tablespoons and increase, as desired. Note that this will produce an even tangier curd.
- Rub the lemon zest into the sugar for the most lemony flavor. This helps the oils in the zest come out.
- Cook the curd low and slow, stirring frequently, so the eggs do not curdle.
- Pass the cooked curd through a fine mesh sieve to catch any solids for a creamy finished product. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to get all of the delicious curd.
- Use a thermometer if you have one to guarantee the right thickness (170℉).
- Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice - skip the bottled stuff.
- Wash and dry the lemons since you will be using the zest.
- Whisk the eggs very well so no streaks of white or yolk remain.
This is likely because the curd has not been cooked long enough, or it may need to be cooked at a slightly higher temperature. It can take quite a few minutes for the curd to thicken.
The slow cooking process of the eggs is what naturally thickens the lemon curd. There are no thickeners or leavening agents added to this recipe.
Use full eggs! This is why I specifically make my curds with full eggs instead of solely egg yolks. Curds can have very overpowering egg taste, which can be off-putting. Using full eggs decreases that flavor profile, creates a thicker curd, and lets the citrus flavor shine.
Curd takes about 1-2 hours in the fridge to set. This is mostly allowing the butter to re-firm up, after having whisked it in (in turn melting it) to the curd hot off of the stove.
Yes. In the case of overcooking lemon curd, you will end up with a chunky curd rather than a smooth one because the eggs have scrambled. It is still possible to salvage this. To fix it, you can try to blend the curd in a blender, then pass it through a sieve to remove the remaining chunks.
Storing Lemon Curd
Transfer the lemon curd to a jar or tupperware with a tight sealing lid, adding a piece of plastic wrap directly on the curd. Lemon curd will last in the fridge for one week. Be sure to whisk the curd prior to serving.
Store the curd with a piece of plastic wrap directly on top in a tightly sealed container for up to three months. Thaw in the fridge for 1-2 hours, then give it a whisk before using. Use within a week.
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Easy Lemon Curd Recipe
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons lemon zest
- ½ cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- Zest two to three lemons until you have 3 tablespoons of zest.3 tablespoons lemon zest
- Cut and juice the lemons until there is ½ cup of lemon juice - remove any seeds.½ cup lemon juice
- Cut the butter into tablespoon pieces, set aside, and place a fine mesh sieve on top of a bowl.6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Add the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest to a medium saucepan over medium low to medium heat.3 large eggs, ½ cup granulated sugar
- Whisk constantly until the curd thickens considerably and it just starts to bubble, about 5 minutes.
- Adding one tablespoon of butter at a time, whisk it in completely to combine before adding the next tablespoon of butter. If using vanilla, also add at this time.½ teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- Cover the lemon curd with plastic wrap, placing the wrap directly onto the curd to prevent a skin from forming.
- Chill for at least 2 hours before using.