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recipe: lemon curd

Craving some curd? Me, too! ALWAYS! Lemon curd reminds me of happiness in a jar ☀️. I think this is the best way to use leftover egg yolks from Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Any creme brûlée or citrus curd is a wonderful way to use up those remaining egg yolks! It's so easy to make and stores so well. Whenever I have a project that requires my lemon curd.. the hardest thing about the project is waiting until the project is done and ready to share before eating ☺️. BTW, before we move forward. This recipe is FREE OF cornstarch, condensed milk, and gelatin. Why? Because it's already thick AND tastes delicious.

Lemon curd is easy to make, although it does take some elbow grease! Total cooking time is about 20 minutes. Watch this video to see how it’s done, then follow the recipe below to make it yourself!

What does curd go well with? Once the lemon curd is made, you can use it in lots of ways, including:

  • Tarts (4 cups for a 9" tart)

  • Buttercream frosting

  • Yogurt

  • Cake filling

  • Cupcake filling

  • Pie filling

  • Toast

Most asked questions:

  • What should I do with the egg yolks when I make meringue buttercream? Make creme brûlée and/or lemon curd and/or lemon curd! I've even made pineapple curd before - let me know if you're interested in that recipe because I have't shared it here yet.

  • Can I color my lemon curd? lemon curd, lime curd and grapefruit curd are naturally yellow. To get a different color, just add a few drops of food coloring - I outline this in the step by step below.

  • Is this curd thick? Yes! It's thick, creamy, tart and just the right amount of sweet. It's perfect for a cake filling.

  • How quickly should I eat this? I recommend within two weeks. But honestly, I've never had curd last more than three days - I'm a curd monster (:

  • What is the biggest mistake people make when making curd (how do I fix grainy curd)? Sometimes when curd is cooked too hot or too quickly, the eggs start to curdle and turn white. That's ok! Just sieve out little lumps (and seed) before the mixture goes into the butter (please see below).

  • I think it's too thick - can I fix that? Yes! Lemon curd will always thicken in the fridge. My answer is that this depends. Are you trying to pour the curd? Then microwave it for 15 seconds. If it's too thick for your preference, just gradually add more lemon juice 1/4 tsp at a time. If you think it's already pretty tart - add lemon juice (meyer lemon is especially tasty here).

  • How tart is tart? If you want a subtler lemon flavor you can swap out some lemon juice for orange juice. If you'd like something more tart I suggest my lime curd recipe - it's amazing!

  • Can I use bottled lemon juice? I don't recommend this (:.

  • Could I substitute butter? Could I make this dairy free? Yes! I am loving the dairy free Country Crock avocado oil and olive oil bars. I haven't tried the type in a tub - I have a feeling this kind would give a thinner outcome because it's spreadable. The olive oil bars is less neutral than the avocado oil but I don't mind this.


4 cups of Lemon Curd

  • 10 large egg yolks

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (~4 large lemons, more if they’re small!)

  • 1 pinch of pink salt

  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks)

  • 1 TBS lemon zest (optional) [If you do use lemon zest, be sure to mix into sugar so it doesn't dry and strain it out after cooking the mixture because it can become bitter over time.]

2 cups of Lemon Curd

  • 5 large egg yolks

  • 1 large eggs

  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

  • 1 pinch of pink salt

  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (for a dairy free version I love the Country Crock plant based butter stick ) (1 stick)

  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest (optional)


How to make my lemon curd:

Step 1 - juicing lemon. To get more juice from your lemon, and make it easier to squeeze, press down on the lemon and roll it around before juicing. Place a sheet of paper towel on your cutting board to absorb that aromatic (but slippery!) lemon oil that is release when you roll out the lemon.

RoxStarBakes Lime Curd making
pre-juicing lemon

Step 2 - separating eggs. Separate the yolks from the egg whites. If the yolk breaks for some reason, don’t throw out the eggs – you can still use this for the curd.

  • Tip: It’s easiest to separate eggs when they’re cold.

  • Tip: Store the egg yolks in an airtight container for the curd.1. Put about an inch of water into a medium-sized pot.

Step 3 - cooking lemon curd. In a pan over medium heat, simmer about an inch of water. I use a bain-marie technique to cook the eggs and sugar. Place metal mixing bowl over simmering water and whisk non-stop. Add a splash of the citrus and mix, mix, mix. If you're going to add food coloring, do this now. Then gradually incorporate the rest of the citrus while stirring constantly. Also, add that pinch of salt. The mixture will become foamy while remaining liquid. You will feel some light tension. The foam will dissipate slowly as the curd thickens over the heat (you might see some bubbles, but they turn the yellow). Cook on medium for 10 to 12 minutes.

RoxStarBakes lemon Curd making - mixing sugar and eggs
eggs + sugar
RoxStarBakes lemon Curd making - mixing sugar and eggs
keep mixing!
RoxStarBakes lemon Curd making - mixing sugar and eggs
foamy lemon curd during the cooking process

  • Tip: Place a sheet of paper towel on your cutting board to absorb that aromatic (but slippery!) lemon oil that is released when you cut this fruit.

  • Tip: To get more juice from your lemon, and make it easier to squeeze, press down on the lemon and roll it around before juicing

  • Tip for creamy ‘no curdle curd’: Keep the bottom of the bowl from touching the water simmering in the pot. That will help the mixture cook more evenly throughout, without ‘scrambling’ the eggs at the bottom of the bowl.

  • Tip on time: Keep mixing while the bowl is over the simmering water. It may feel like it's taking forever to thickening—but that’s not the case.

  • Tip on storage: Curd can be stored in the refrigerator for two weeks and in the freezer for up to two months.

Step 4 - completing the curd. Place cold butter cubes in bowl. Sieve the mixture to get any curdles or seeds out. The cold butter will stop the cooking process. The color of your curd will depend on the color of your egg yolks. Keep mixing and it will thicken. The mixing process takes three to five minutes. You know it's ready when you pull your finger across the back of a spatula and the curd doesn't come back together after 5 seconds.

RoxStarBakes lemon Curd making - cooking citrus lime curd
sieve citrus to remove remaining seeds or potentially overcooked egg

RoxStarBakes lemon Curd making - cooking citrus lime curd
sieve citrus into the butter
RoxStarBakes lemon Curd making - cooking citrus lime curd
checkin to see if lemon curd is complete against spatula

Lemon curd success!!

Rox ⭐️

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