Lemon curd is one of those staple recipes you need at hand. Smooth, silky, tangy and always delicious, it’s surprisingly easy to make. Here I’ll show you how to make it and get a perfect result every time.
How to make Lemon Curd
There are many ways to make lemon curd. My favourite and fool-proof way to make it is using a double boiler or bain-marie. This requires you to place a small amount of water in a pot and have it over medium heat. You place the bowl with (almost) all the ingredients on top of the pot and let them cook slowly. In this way, you reduce notably the chances of it curdling. Once it curdles it goes lumpy and tastes really eggy, so we definitely want to avoid that. This same recipe can be used to make lime curd, raspberry curd, passionfruit curd and more.
How long does lemon curd last?
Once ready, lemon curd can be refrigerated for a week in an air-tight container. This recipe needs to be refrigerated because it has egg in it but also because it’s what gives it the final texture. You can also freeze lemon curd for up to 3 months. To thaw it you remove it from the freezer and into the fridge for 24 hours.
What can lemon curd be used for?
Lemon curd can be used for all sorts of recipes: cookies, cakes, desserts and tarts. Here on the blog, you can find my lemon curd tart with whipped cream on top which is incredible. You can also fill my Linzer cookies with this lemon curd. The lemon curd will add a tangy and silky smooth element to every recipe. You can even spread it on toast or on scones, it’s really the best. I have been known to eat it off the container with a spoon.
Lemon curd is very simple ingredient-wise. We use lemon zest and lemon juice in the recipe. The skin of the lemon is where the oil is and so the zest adds the aroma to the curd. When you zest citrus fruit, you want to take just the coloured part of the skin and leave the white pith behind. For that, you need a fine zester and this is my favourite by Microplane. I like that it’s wider than their classic zester. It helps you get a larger portion of the citrus as you’re zesting, making it much more comfortable.
Another ingredient or part of an ingredient is lemon juice which adds sourness. I have to say that you can also use lime for this recipe or any other citrus you like. The result is always stunning. Then, we have the eggs which make it a curd, that’s the main thickening agent here. Finally, we add the butter that gives it shine, and a silky texture and helps thicken the lemon curd even more when it’s refrigerated.
Hots spots to watch
The one place where this recipe can go wrong is in the cooking process. A fool-proof way to cook it, for me, is using a double boiler or a bain-marie. Curds have to be cooked slowly to prevent them from curdling. Here are a few tips you want to consider:
- Make sure the water in the bain-marie is simmering and not boiling. You don’t want it on maximum heat at all.
- If you want to speed up the process and don’t need as much lemon curd, you can make half the recipe easily.
- Mix the lemon curd with a spatula every couple of minutes to ensure it cooks evenly.
- Don’t overcook it! It’s ready when it looks more gelatinous and you see that the texture stays on top if you fold the mix. Check out the video lines above.
Easy Lemon Curd
- 4 tsp lemon zest from approx 2 lemons
- 120 ml lemon juice 4-5 lemons
- 220 g granulated sugar
- 6 eggs
- 50 g unsalted butter cold and cut into cubes
- Place a pot with water over medium heat. Once it starts to boil reduce the heat until you see only a slight simmer and place a bowl on top. Make sure that the base of the bowl isn't touching the water in the pot.
- Add the lemon juice, zest, eggs and sugar to the bowl. Whisk everything together. Mix every couple of minutes with a spatula until the curd cooks. It's ready when you can see it's more gelatinous. Also, if you draw a shape with the mix on its surface it will stay there. This will take 15-25min. You want to avoid overcooking the curd or it could curdle.
- Remove from the heat and transfer to another bowl through a sieve or colander. The colander will catch large pieces of zest and also any egg that cooked funny. Changing it to another bowl will also stop the cooking process. Add the butter and mix until fully melted and incorporated.
- Let cool completely to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight before using.