Filed under: Buttermilk Basics
May 16, 2022

The Best Lemon Curd

Buttery and smooth, this lemon curd starts out sweet and then blasts your tastebuds with unmistakable, sharp lemon. This is an easy recipe (no tempering) and is perfect to use as a spread, in cookies, cakes and pies. 

5 from 21 votes
Yield: 750 g of curd
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best lemon curd

Lemon curd: it’s creamy like a custard, but has that zing that only comes from a deliciously tart lemon. It’s a mixture of eggs, butter and lemon juice & zest. You’ll usually find it near the jams in the store, sealed in a jar but it’s never, ever as good as homemade. You can spread it on toast, pancakes, french toast, scones, english muffins, etc. – it goes well with most breakfast (and dessert!) dishes. 

Lots of fruits can be made into a curd, especially those with a sharp flavor (lemons, limes, grapefruit, pomegranate) but you can also make a blueberry, raspberry or orange curd and these usually have some lemon added to them to give it an edge. 

Recipe origins & why this lemon curd recipe is unique (and the best) 

The roots come from when I made the filling from this french lemon tart. I thought it a wonderful filling but I wanted to create a curd that used whole eggs instead to avoid any eggy taste and save myself some separating. I then spent a few months (and maybe 100 lemons?!) figuring out the right balance of juice/sugar/butter/eggs.

This is unique because of its use of whole eggs but also because I use a considerable amount of lemon juice to make it very sharp (equal in volume to the sugar!). I add cold butter after the curd cooks, so that it incorporates slowly (a trick I learned years ago after reading an interview with a pastry chef – I can’t find the link now!) and it makes the curd silky smooth. 

 

the best lemon curd

 Why this recipe for lemon curd is the best:

  1. It’s very easy to make: there’s no tempering of eggs involved, no beating sugar and eggs together. Everything is either whisked or stirred.  
  2. It doesn’t taste like eggs! Because it uses whole eggs there’s none of that residual eggy taste in the curd and instead, it’s really just a blast of lemon. 
  3. It’s smooth AND sharp: because it is made with quite a bit of lemon juice this has all the tart, bright sharpness of fresh lemon. But it’s also unbelievably smooth, thanks to the right amount of butter and a unique preparation method. 

Lemon Curd Recipe Ingredients 

Eggs: Whole large eggs, no need to separate. 

Lemon: Since we’re using a lot of zest, either buy organic lemons or give them a good wash before you zest to remove any residual chemicals that might be on the peel. How many lemons you’ll need for the juice depends on their size and how juicy they are. 

Butter: Unsalted butter, this is important! We’re already adding salt to the eggs (where we need it) so we want to avoid there being too much in the curd over all.  American or European butter is fine (but European, with its slightly higher butterfat content, would be lovely here).

Sugar: Granulated sugar, fine or organic. You might wonder if you can reduce the sugar here but I wouldn’t as sugar contributes to the consistency and texture just as much as taste. 


Salt: Just a pinch, salt has a magical quality of allowing other flavors to blossom. It’s also important here to break up the egg whites. I use fine sea salt; don’t use table salt which is very ‘salty’ in taste and will set the flavor balance off.

 

How to make Sam’s Best Lemon Curd

Crack all the eggs into a bowl – it’s ok if they are cold. Doing this a bit earlier helps them warm up before they hit the heat.

Set a bowl over a sieve, the butter will go in the bowl but not quite yet. 

 

Into the pot you’ll be cooking in, add the sugar. And then zest the lemons right into the sugar.

 

 

Rub the sugar and zest between your fingers, this helps release the zest’s oils and brings out that lemon flavor even more. Don’t skip this step, since we’re sieving out the zest later on we want to get as much flavor from it as possible. Rub until the mixture is like wet sand.

 

Juice the lemons, you can do this over a scale right into the pot or measure out a full cup. Then pour it into the sugar and mix.

Now whisk or beat the eggs with the salt, I think a fork works well here to break up all those little white bits. Beat it like you would eggs for an omelette or scrambled eggs, really well – all those little white bits you see unmixed will cook just like that (separate from the curd) and we want as few as possible. Pour the eggs into the pot with the sugar and lemon, and whisk well.

 

 

Set the pot over low heat, have a rubber spatula and stir it as it cooks. If you want to be precise (and since you’ve used six eggs and a whole bag of lemons it would be prudent to be so!) use a thermometer for this step.

After about 5 minutes over the heat and while you’re stirring constantly, the curd will begin to thicken on the bottom. Once it reaches 165-170 F and you note that it covers the spatula without running completely off, it’s done, take it off the heat.

Slice the butter into the bowl and set the sieve back over it. 

 

Now pour this mixture over the sieve (use a bigger one than mine, this was too much work!) and work it through into the butter. The goal is to remove the zest and any little bits of white egg that didn’t get broken up. We do this so that we’re left with a very, very smooth, almost translucent curd.

Be sure to scrape the bottom of the sieve for any remaining curd and then stir the curd and butter until the butter is fully melted and incorporated into the curd. Once it’s smooth and no butter bits remain, it’s done.

Pour it into a jar for storing in the fridge. When warm the curd is runny but as it cools it will thicken. 

 

What to do with Lemon Curd: Recipes that Use Lemon Curd 

Besides the aforementioned breakfast spreads that use lemon curd, there are so many ways to incorporate it into baking and desserts (and I am an enthusiast of doing so as you’re about to see!). Of course, there’s lemon meringue pie but also… 

 

Lemon Curd is also very popular to use on pavlovas (in this recipe you could swap out the pomegranate curd), with cake (one variation I have for this Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake is to make a tunnel of curd) and even as a  roll filling (think cinnamon rolls but spread lemon curd on the dough).  

 

How to store lemon curd: Can you freeze it? 

Once it’s done cooking, you can go ahead and pour it into a mason jar and seal it. I’ve read that it can last up to two weeks in the fridge but use your judgment (taste and smell) to see if it’s good. It’ll at least last a week. 

Alternatively, freeze the curd in an airtight container. It’ll keep for months. 

 

Can I halve this recipe? 

Yup – half of all the ingredients. It might cook a little quicker so watch it carefully. 

 

How do I bake  lemon curd into a pie? 

Once its done cooking you can pour it into a par-baked pie shell (that is, a crust that is almost fully baked) and bake it for another 10-12 minutes, until it doesn’t really jiggle when you wiggle the pan. Then chill it, it will firm up nicely after a few hours in the fridge. 

 

homemade lemon curd

 

Recipe for the Best Lemon Curd



The Best Lemon Curd

A quick, easy recipe that results in a buttery smooth, sharply tart lemon curd.
the best lemon curd
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Yields: 750 g of curd
5 from 21 votes

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • 240 g freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 cup
  • 220 g granulated sugar, 1 cup
  • zest of 6-8 lemons
  • 113 g butter, 1/2 cup unsalted
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Method

  • Place the sugar in a pot, and over it zest the lemons.
  • Rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers, this helps release the oils.
  • Pour the lemon juice into the pot and gently stir it into the sugar.
  • In another bowl, crack all the eggs and add the salt. Using a fork, beat very well (try to break up as many white bits as you can).
  • Pour the eggs into the sugar and whisk well. Set the pot over low heat.
  • Cook, stirring constantly until the curd thickens and registers 170 F on an instant read thermometer (or until it coats a rubber spatula).
  • Slice the butter and set it in a bowl. Place a sieve over it.
  • Pour curd through the sieve into the butter to remove zest and any egg bits.
  • Stir until butter is thoroughly melted.
  • Pour the curd into an airtight container and store in the fridge. It should keep for about 2 weeks, longer if frozen.

Notes

Recipe makes 2 1/2 cups or 735g of lemon curd.

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22 comments

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Recipe Reviews




  1. Hi! About how many tablespoons is the zest of 6-8 lemons? I have 2 trees and each lemon is a different size! Thanks!

  2. 5 stars
    This was so incredibly delicious, I made a half batch for the Lemon Curd Cheesecake but now I wish I had made more just for snacking. Very excited to review the cheesecake and meringue bars after a dessert party tonight!
    My only concern is that when I strained the bits of cooked egg out, I also strained all the delicious lemon zest out as well… I used cheesecloth because I don’t have a fine mesh sieve. Is there another way to keep the zest? Does the metal sieve remove the zest also>

  3. 5 stars
    So so good, and, as someone very inexperienced with curds, so easy to make! The flavor is beautiful and the texture is incredibly smooth and nice. I loved this in the lemon rolls and on its own, and will make again and again.

  4. 5 stars
    I dream of this lemon curd. It is the absolute best and worth every effort!! I am going to say I made it for my mom’s dessert for Mother’s Day, but really it’s because I wanted to eat it. Can’t get enough!

  5. 5 stars
    So smooth! So tart! So delicious! I agree that this is the perfect lemon curd and I love that it uses the whole egg. I can’t wait to try using it to make Buttermilk By Sam’s Lemon Curd Cookies! I’m drooling already!!

  6. 5 stars
    I was making the lemon cheesecake recipe and to be sure that I had enough curd I decided to use Sam’s recipe rather than my typical microwave style from another blogger and it was amazing! Much easier than what I’d worried over and not a massive time commitment.

  7. 5 stars
    I’ve made every big name lemon curd on the internet , Sam’s is perfection. Perfect amount of tart (I.e. VERY), perfect consistency and super easy. 10/10

  8. 5 stars
    Best lemon curd! Sam knows best on anything lemon so look no further – and as a bonus you use whole eggs????

  9. 5 stars
    Spectacular flavor!!! The perfect balance of sweet / tart! I did sieve it twice to get ALL the eggy bits but if you had a smaller mesh sieve than I did that wouldn’t be necessary. This also froze better than other curd recipes I’ve made / bought so if you are going to try the curd filled cookies https://buttermilkbysam.com/lemon-curd-stuffed-cookies/ this would be perfect!

  10. 5 stars
    Love this recipe. So far I’ve used it for the lemon curd stuffed cookies and lemon rolls on your site and they were both out of this world good.. I love how much juice this recipe uses bc I have a lemon tree and there is only so much lemonade you can drink!

  11. 5 stars
    Made this for the Lemon Cheesecake recipe, and it tastes amazing. So easy to make and delicious, that my boyfriend wanted to eat it with a spoon. I could imagine it tastes great in ice cream too, so definitely will give that a try.

  12. 5 stars
    This recipe was super easy and has the BEST lemon flavor of any lemon curd I’ve made. Sam gets the perfect balance of sweet and lemony tart. Highly recommend!

  13. 5 stars
    This stuff is AMAZING. It is absolutely perfect as is. I have used this base to make all kinds of tropical fruit curds. Seriously so good straight from the jar

  14. 5 stars
    I made the lemon curd and it is the creamiest/satiny curd I have ever tried, not to mention a perfect flavor balance … wow!
    Thank you! Next, on to the lemon curd cheesecake …

  15. 5 stars
    Not only was the product absolutely delicious, but the detailed steps made the process just as enjoyable ? I was afraid to attempt to make curd before, but these instructions gave me the courage I needed! I’ve used this to make the Lemon Curd Stuffed Cookies, Lemon Meringue Bars and I’ve even eaten it plain with a spoon because it’s just that good! ?