This lemon curd just might be your new best friend at the table! With only 4 ingredients, you’ll never believe how easy this recipe for lemon curd is to make. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Lemon curd in a glass mason jar with a twine bow around the rim. A spoon has dipped into the jar and the curd is drizzling off the spoon. Lemon curd ingredients are surrounding the jar on the marble counter.

Many, many moons ago, when this site was just a toddler of a blog, I made Ina Garten’s lemon bars for the first time. In that post, I talked about the all-the-rage-at-the-time Outrageous Brownies and my use of Google Reader.

BTW, if your reading of Smells Like Home goes back as far as the pre-demise of Google Reader, please say HI in the Comments below or send me an email! We’re talking the 2009-era of blogging and I love you for being here for so long!

Out of those lemon bars came an insatiable love for all things lemon. I haven’t baked or cooked much with lemon at home because Kyle wasn’t a big fan but you better get out of my way if we’re at a bakery or coffee shop together and there are lemon scones or lemon poppy muffins in the case!

A lemon curd recipe has been a loooong time coming to this site. I’ve thought about making it MANY times over the years but just never got around to it.

Lemon curd in a glass bowl with a spoon dug into the sauce.

But after a life-changing few months after Kyle’s cancer diagnosis and death, I mustered up the courage to get to making this curd recipe.

What is Lemon Curd?

If you’re a newbie to life with lemon curd, the term “curd” might throw you a little. It reminds some people of curdled milk or the milk curds you end up with when you make cheese, like ricotta.

But lemon curd – and all fruit curds – couldn’t be further removed from curdled milk!

Lemon curd is a lip-puckering, luscious, and silky smooth dessert condiment. It’s kind of a cross between a sauce and a dessert topping.

It’s an amazing tart sauce that is thickened with egg yolks, sugar, the fruit’s natural pectin, and heat. In fact, there isn’t much of a difference between this sauce and my strawberry topping because neither uses an additional thickener like cornstarch or xantham gum.

Lemon curd ingredients on a white marble counter.


Here’s the quick grocery list of ingredients you’ll need for lemon curd. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for the amounts you’ll need for this recipe!

  • Granulated sugar
  • Fresh lemon zest and juice
  • Egg yolks
  • Unsalted butter

When I said quick, I really meant QUICK!

How to Make Lemon Curd

To me, the most wonderful thing about making fruit curd is how the most raw and basic ingredients transform into a dreamy, spoon-worthy sauce after only a few minutes of cooking.

These are the basic steps to making this lemon curd. The full instruction list can be found in the recipe card below so be sure to hop down there for more info!

Lemon curd ingredients on a white marble counter. The lemon zest has been rubbed into the sugar in a glass bowl.

STEP 1: In a heatproof bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar until the sugar moistens. Whisk in the lemon juice and egg yolks.

STEP 2: Place the bowl over a shallow pan of simmering water and heat the mixture, stirring constantly, until it reaches around 175 degrees F. (An instant read thermometer was made for this purpose!)

STEP 3: Remove the bowl from the heat and slowly whisk in the butter until combined. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl (preferably one that you can cover in the fridge).

STEP 4: Cool until almost room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.

Lemon curd ingredients on a white marble counter. The bowl of whisked sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and egg yolks has been set over a pan of simmering water and is ready to cook.

Uses for Lemon Curd

The reason why you make lemon curd is to add it to other things. It’s a dessert condiment that elevates desserts and baked goods! So of course, I’ve got plenty of ideas for how to use lemon curd.

My favorite new way to eat lemon curd is in these mini lemon curd meringues. Talk about an elevated dessert, friends!

Because it’s such a tangy and tart sauce, it makes a wonderful drizzled topping for a sweet cheesecake.

Lots of different curds work well as fillings for cakes and cupcakes too! In place of the fresh raspberry curd in these lemon cupcakes, you can certain use this lemon curd instead.

In the UK, lemon curd is commonly served with scones. My favorite blueberry scones are the most amazing dipper for this curd! These Triple Berry Buttermilk Scones along with some lemon curd is a fantastic idea too!

Baked perfect blueberry muffins lined up on a tray.

It helps that lemons and blueberries are a naturally delicious pair and that I have a ton of blueberry recipes on the site to recommend to go with this sauce. So, aside from the blueberry scones, this lemon curd would also be outstanding drizzled over some Perfect Blueberry Muffins or Mini Blueberry Pies.

More Lemon Recipes

Lemon curd in a glass mason jar with a twine bow around the rim. A spoon has dipped into the jar and the curd is drizzling off the spoon. Lemon curd ingredients are surrounding the jar on the marble counter.

Lemon Curd Recipe

Yield: about 1 ½ cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Chilling Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 22 minutes

Lemon curd is a sweet, tart, and silky smooth sauce that can be used to top cheesecake, scones, muffins, and pie. With only 4 ingredients, you won't believe how easy this lemon curd recipe is to make! You'll never go back to buying the jarred stuff once you try this homemade version!


  • 2 medium lemons, zested and then juiced (about ½ cup juice)
  • ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp (45 g) cold unsalted butter


  1. Ready a small heatproof bowl that will fit over a small saucepan filled with 1-inch of water. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.
  2. Add the sugar to the bowl and work the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingers until they are well-combined and sugar is moistened. Whisk in the lemon juice and egg yolks until fully combined.
  3. Place the bowl over the water on the saucepan and bring the water to a boil. Cook the mixture, stirring slowly and almost constantly with a whisk until it thickens to coat the whisk. The temperature should reach between 172 and 180 degrees F.
  4. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and whisk in the cold butter until it is combined. Partially cover the bowl and let the curd cool for about 20 minutes and then cover completely and transfer to the fridge to cool completely. The curd with thicken as it cools and chills.


adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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Leave a Comment

  • Jacquelynn
    August 12, 2022 at 5:42 PM

    I was wondering if you ever made Orange curd I have abundance of oranges I am going to follow your recipe for lemon curd hope it turns out as well as your lemon curd

    • Tara
      August 15, 2022 at 12:04 PM

      Hi Jacquelynn! Yes, I think oranges will work great in place of lemons for this recipe. Let me know how it turns out! Enjoy!