This lemon curd recipe is not for the faint of heart, it is tart, lemony and super creamy. If you prefer a really sweet lemon curd, you may want to continue your search for another recipe.
I made this recipe after I scored a great deal on a bag of lemons during citrus season. Not that we have a citrus growing season here in the heart of Canada, we just benefit from all the citrus harvested in the US between January and March. Check out all the other citrus recipes I’ve posted over the years.
Tips, Techniques and Shortcuts for Making Lemon Curd
This recipe is a combination of tips and techniques picked up from my classic Better Homes and Garden’s Cookbook, Ina Gartner’s Lemon Curd, the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s Canned Lemon Curd and Fine Cooking’s Foolproof Lemon Curd. Here’s what I learned by reviewing these and a few other recipes for lemon curd.
- You can use whole eggs when making curd. The final product will be a little lighter in color and texture than if you use just egg yolks or a combination of yolks and whole eggs. The lighter color and texture isn’t a make or break deal for me, in fact, I like the slightly lighter texture. If you’re looking for deep color and the most luscious, thick, creamy curd possible – look for a recipe that uses just yolks.
- It’s possible to adjust the amount of sugar in lemon curd. That’s good news for those of us who want the lemon flavor to be front and center. Of course it also means you could add more sugar if you want.
- You don’t need a double boiler or worry too much about curdling. Yes, you have to watch the heat and stir constantly, but there’s a shortcut method to making lemon curd explained in the Fine Cooking post. Ina Gartner uses this technique as well, she just doesn’t explain why or how it works.
- Straining is the best way to get smooth results. I love Ina’s method of processing the sugar and lemon zest – talk about flavor infusion. But my processor still left tiny bits of zest. Not a big deal, but if you want a silky smooth finish, it’s best to strain the curd once it’s done.
- You can preserve lemon curd by canning using a hot water bath or by freezing. Freezing does not compromise the texture of the curd once thawed. The color, flavor and texture stay true for at least a year. With canning, color changes may start to occur after about six months. By this time of year, my freezer has a little room, so freezing extra curd is definitely on my to do list!
Recipe for Lemon Curd
- 4 Tbsp lemon zest* 4-5 lemons
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup lemon juice 4-5 lemons
- In food processor, mix lemon zest and sugar, pulse to a fine powder.
- In separate bowl, cream butter until smooth. Add pulverized sugar and zest.
- Mix in one egg at a time. Until well incorporated.
- Add lemon juice and mix well.
- Pour into a large saucepan and cook over low heat until it thickens. IMPORTANT - Stir constantly, use low heat and do not boil. It will take about 10 minutes to reach 170°F (77°C) when the curd will start to thicken. To check for thickening, dip wooden spoon into curd, remove from heat and run finger across the spoon. If the finger line stays, it is done. Remove curd from heat and press through a sieve using back of spoon or spatula.
- Let cool, stirring several times. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Once cooled store in fridge for up to 4 weeks. Lemon curd can also be frozen or canned.
- Makes: 2 cups
How to Freeze Lemon Curd
Lemon curd freezes beautifully, here’s how.
Allow lemon curd to cool thoroughly before freezing.
Divide into useable portion sizes and pour into freezer grade bags, plastic containers or jars. I like using half pint (8 0z, 1 cup, 150ml) glass canning jars. Tip: – using smaller jars makes it easy to thaw and use just what you need.
When using rigid containers, always leave room for expansion. Remember liquids expand when frozen, so leave a half inch (2 cm) gap between the top of the jar and the lemon curd.
Freeze and use within 1 year for best results.
After thawing, lemon curd will last in the refrigerator for 4 weeks.
How to Use Lemon Curd
Lemon curd is such a tasty treat, fresh or frozen. It’s worthwhile making a big batch because it freezes so well – the taste and texture stays true after freezing and thawing.
We enjoy our lemon curd in various ways, such as:
- mixed with plain yogurt and topped with homemade granola and frozen berries
- as a side for pancakes, french toast, crepes or waffles
- mixed with yogurt and cream cheese as a fruit dip
- filling for tarts, pies, sandwich cookies or cakes
- mixed with whipped cream for cake roll or Swiss roll as shown in photo
- topping for ice cream
- filling for cheesecake
- as a side for scones, shortbread or muffins
- as a layer in parfaits or trifles
- as a filling for meringues or pavlovas
Do you have a favorite way to enjoy lemon curd?
Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist, speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.