6 Tips For Making Lemon Curd And One Classic Recipe

Want to make lemon curd at home? This delicious flavoured sweet treat is a versatile creation that can be used in many different ways. The fruit curd has a bright, citrusy flavour coupled with its creamy texture making it a versatile and beloved addition to numerous culinary creations. Lemon curd's origins can be traced back to nineteenth-century England, where it emerged as a popular accompaniment to afternoon tea. Initially known as "lemon cheese," it was crafted from butter, sugar, eggs, and, of course, lemons. 

From luscious cake fillings to delightful pastry toppings, lemon curd adds some serious flavour to any dessert. Making it at home isn’t all that difficult if you know the basics of making, straining, freezing and storing the lemon curd. Here are some tips that will help if you want to attempt a lemon curd at home

Only Opt For The Freshest Ingredients

The foundation of any great lemon curd begins with quality ingredients. Opt for fresh, juicy lemons with smooth, unwrinkled skin for maximum flavour. Organic lemons are preferred, as they are less likely to be treated with wax or pesticides, ensuring a cleaner taste. Additionally, choose high-quality butter and eggs for a richer, more luxurious texture.

Zesting and Juicing with Precision

The zest of the lemon holds essential oils that impart an intense citrus flavour to the curd. Use a microplane grater or citrus zester to carefully remove only the outermost layer of the lemon peel, avoiding the bitter white pith beneath. When juicing the lemons, roll them on the countertop to break down the membranes and extract more juice. Strain the juice to remove any seeds or pulp that could affect the smoothness of the curd.

Mastering the Cooking Process

Achieving the perfect consistency is crucial when making lemon curd. Begin by gently heating the lemon zest, juice, sugar, and butter in a saucepan over low to medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from sticking or burning. Once the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, gradually whisk in the beaten eggs. Cook the curd until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, being careful not to let it boil, as this can cause the eggs to curdle.

Using the Right Tools

When making lemon curd, using the proper equipment can make all the difference in the outcome. A heavy-bottomed saucepan helps distribute heat evenly, preventing hot spots that could scorch the curd. A whisk is essential for incorporating the ingredients smoothly and preventing lumps from forming. Silicone spatulas are ideal for scraping down the sides of the pan and ensuring that no curd is wasted.

Preventing Curdling

One of the most common pitfalls when making lemon curd is the risk of curdling, resulting in a lumpy or grainy texture. To prevent this, it's essential to temper the eggs before adding them to the hot lemon mixture. Gradually whisk a small amount of the hot liquid into the beaten eggs to raise their temperature slowly, then pour the tempered eggs back into the saucepan while whisking continuously. This gentle process helps ensure a smooth, creamy curd.

Straining for Smoothness

Even with careful preparation, tiny bits of cooked egg or lemon zest may still be present in the finished curd. To achieve a velvety smooth texture, pass the curd through a fine-mesh sieve or strainer before transferring it to a storage container. This step removes any impurities and yields a silky-smooth curd that is visually appealing and delightful to eat.

If you want to try making lemon curd at home, go with this classic recipe. 


4 large lemons (for zest and juice)

1 cup (200g) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 large eggs


Wash the lemons thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt or residue. Zest all four lemons using a fine grater or zester, being careful to avoid the bitter white pith beneath the outermost layer of the peel.

Juice the lemons using a citrus juicer or by hand, straining the juice to remove any seeds or pulp. You should have approximately 3/4 cup (180ml) of lemon juice.

In a medium saucepan, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and room-temperature butter.

Heat the mixture over low to medium heat, stirring constantly until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Do not let the mixture boil. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs until well combined.

Gradually whisk a small amount of the hot lemon mixture into the beaten eggs, stirring constantly. This process helps temper the eggs and prevent curdling.

Once tempered, pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining lemon mixture, whisking continuously to combine.

Cook the curd over low to medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. This should take about 5-7 minutes. Do not let the curd boil, as this can cause the eggs to curdle.

Once thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat and strain the lemon curd through a fine-mesh sieve or strainer to remove any cooked egg bits or lemon zest.

Transfer the strained lemon curd to a clean jar or container and let it cool to room temperature. As it cools, it will continue to thicken. 

Once cooled, seal the jar or container tightly and refrigerate the lemon curd. It will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.