Lemon Curd

Total Time:
20 min
5 min
15 min

1 pint

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 stick butter, cut into pats and chilled

Add enough water to a medium saucepan to come about 1-inch up the side. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium size metal bowl and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Measure citrus juice and if needed, add enough cold water to reach 1/3 cup. Add juice and zest to egg mixture and whisk smooth. Once water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl on top of saucepan. (Bowl should be large enough to fit on top of saucepan without touching the water.) Whisk until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon. Remove promptly from heat and stir in butter a piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next. Remove to a clean container and cover by laying a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

View All

Cooking Tips
Loading review filters...

    87 Reviews
    0/1000 characters
    Your Rating:
    Sort by: 
    I had never made lemon curd (translation: making lemon curd intimidated me!). This recipe was so easy to follow and the curd turned out perfectly! I served it alongside coconut macaroons as our Easter desert and received many compliments.
    I was not familiar with lemon curd prior to following this recipe. I used 1/3 cup lemon juice (store bought) and no zest (because I didn't have any). The curd is sweet and lemony and spreads like soft butter. I have spread it on cinnamon toast, date nut bread and angel food cake. What do the British traditionally spread lemon curd on?  
    I found this curd mellowed and the sweetness and tartness merged after 24 hours, covered in the fridge. It sets into a smooth, yellow, jell-like consistency and has a glossy sheen. 
    Here's a tip: I have used a small electric coffee bean grinder to transform granulated sugar into powdered sugar and I have used it to grind lemon peel scrapings into lemon zest. The coffee bean grinder is small, requires little cupboard/counter space and is easy to clean.
    Hands down THE best lemon curd recipe. And I've tried several. Perfect balance of tart and sweet. Put mixture through sieve before putting it in large jam jar to strain out zest and extra bits. Don't change a thing.
    Great recipe! Of course most of them are almost exactly alike in ingredients as well as preparation. I made a batch of another recipe that uses whole eggs, the food processor, and adding the butter (already melted) before cooking into the mixture. You still have to whisk over boiling water till 170 degrees like this one, but once it's there you're finished. It's a good bit quicker than this one, but this one tastes a good bit better, and I feel it's definitely worth the trouble! Yum! 
    I love this recipe. I've probably made it a dozen times, and it's never failed. I do cook it for a little longer than the recipe approximates, but want to point out that it says "whisk until thickened" - which I do, and it's perfect every time :) Sweet, tart and rich, I put this on plain Greek yogurt for breakfast, and have recently been filling macarons with this awesome lemon curd. Yum! :D
    I made this recipe 4 years ago for a party (served with shortbread cookies for dipping) and people are still talking about it.
    I suppose I should have read the reviews before making this. The taste is fabulous, but my problem is with my stove-thus maintaining the proper temperature. When I got to 8 minutes, it wasn't even warm--it would not have melted the butter at all! ("simmer" setting apparently means no heat on my stove...so I cranked up the heat and got it back to a slow boil and then continued stirring. It got thick to the point that it was gummy on my scraper when I was pouring it into my jars, however I did notice some separating in the jar (isn't ombre the trend now anyway!?. I have just been shaking the jar covered with plastic wrap as it cools hoping that I can maintain the consistency. I'll try it again, but I'll make sure the temperature is right!!
    That is all. 
    Oh--and simple; a bit of prep work, but deliciously easy. 
    Are there any other variations? Like for lime, vanilla, banana, etc??
    No trouble with it setting up and I admit I put four egg yolks and one egg white simply because I was worried it would be too egg-yolky. I used a wooden spoon as I thought it might taste metallic. Sometimes lemon curd has a metallic taste or an egg yolk taste. I used all the butter. Leave it to the Brits to figure out a way to get butter into another sweet dish. I just wonder if it could be tripled and then put up in a water bath?
    I am with the "it takes longer" camp - I keep my water on what I consider to be a solid simmer, and it takes 15-20 minutes for the curd to thicken. I suppose it's possible that the curd would be usable after thickening for less time, but I don't want to take the chance of having runny curd for my lemon tarts!
    I think this was a great lemon curd recipe. I made a double batch and it thickened in about 10 minutes. I only used one stick of butter for my double batch and I thought it was just right. The key is to taste before each additional pat of butter to get it where you want it. To those who say it took too long to thicken, you need to check under the bowl every once in a while to ensure that the water is actually simmering and adjust the stove temp as necessary. If it's not simmering, it will take forever to reach the proper temp to achieve thickening.
    Worked perfect. Thickened in about 7 to 8 minutes. Lemony tartness. Delicious and easy
    Final results TBD. I noted that many of you said it took much longer for the curd to thicken, the same happened to me. I whisked mine for close to 20 minutes before I could feel the viscosity change. I only used the juice of one lemon to get to 1/3 cup of the juice. I followed the measurements exactly but kept the water at a slow boil and increased the cooking time.
    This recipe isn't spot on. I doubled the recipe because 4 lemons gave me over 2/3 of a cup juice and I had over 10 yolks from an angel food cake. I was afraid to get the bowl real hot because it says to turn the burner to "low" after a "simmer", I heated for over 15 min and had no clue if it was thick enough. I went ahead and put in containers and it began to SEPARATE. It wasn't thick enough!!! i didn't let it get warm enough to thicken. I did some research and decided to try reheating half the batch and went on to do it all and yum : 
    IF IT'S TOO THIN, REHEAT IT OVER SIMMERING WATER WHISKING LIKE CRAZY UNTIL IT'S LIKE PUDDING. I did this even after I had added the butter and the consistency was way better, like a pudding. Good flavor.
    This recipe is spot on, so easy and tastes divine. I only needed two lemons to make 1/3 of juice. I will definitely make this again.
    My Mom told me about this recipe so I had to try it. Delicious! Would expect nothing less from Alton!
    Did not come out right, for some reason it was really watery and the butter separated from the curd when I refrigerated it.
    This is simple and delicious! It is easy to make and the curd comes out thick and silky smooth. It does take a little bit of time for the butter to melt completely, but it's worth it!
    This is the first lemon curd I have made . It was easy to do and turned out great. I followed the recipe exactly, as shown, I did cook for about 10 minutes. Give it a try you won't be disappointed.
    I agree that this recipe is a little confusing, being that you are always going to get more than 1/3 c of juice from 4 lemons unless they are bouncy-ball-sized. That being said, this is a great recipe if you read it properly. I've made it twice and it does take longer than the recipe says to thicken but if you keep at it until it coats a spoon it's really no problem. I wasn't watching the clock quite so intently. I also probably added close to 1/2 or 2/3 cup of juice and still had no trouble thickening this thing; I like my curd really lemony. In the fridge it's still spreadable even! Delicious!
    PERFECT!!!! Read THIS review !!!!!!
     This recipe is the perfect balance of tart and sweet. Recipe works perfectly as is - do not change a thing - but you MUST FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS.
     I'll wager the problems people claim with this recipe not thickening or being too tart stem from the same issue - you are only supposed to use 1/3 cup of the lemon juice! The way the ingredient list is written, I ended up with a full cup of lemon juice. The text states use 1/3 cup and if you don't have *enough* add a little water to make 1/3 cup. The amount of liquid is precise and related to the thickening of the curd - if I added all of the juice from the lemons I would end up with too tart lemon soup. Mine thickend up nicely hitting 190F right around 9 minutes on my double boiler.
     AB strikes again!
    I went to culinary school for awhile and to add more lemon flavor add the lemon zest at the end with the butter. Another way to add thickness is gelatin. Put a tablespoon of powdered gelatin before you heat it or add 1/2 a piece of bloomed sheet gelatin with the butter. (If you're wondering what blooming is, it's simply sticking the sheet gel in ice water for about 2 minutes. It will come out still in a sheet but will feel like jello
    delicious! alton you do it perfect every time!
    I make lemon curd ,in my profession, weekly, and I think I know why some people may have had problems with thickening. I can't believe that some people actually threw out their results, not necessary. What a waste of food. It's not the amount of sugar or the lemon juice. This formula WILL take longer than 8 minutes to thicken. So keep stirring until it does (15 min.Plus, the curd will thicken even more once it cools off. The lemon curd we use in my bakeshop uses whole eggs along with the egg yolks, in equal amounts.As you cook the ingredients over the double boiler, it is the egg yolks & whole eggs ,combined, that will coagulate over the heat, causing the thickening that you're looking for. In making pastries, it is a science, and having the correct measurement of ingredients is most important. Trust me, add equal amounts of whole eggs to this recipe and you will be successful. P.S. Lemon curd is supposed to be sweet, and intense. Don't take out any sugar or lemon..
    It didn't seem to thicken -- maybe a tad less sugar -- but the lemon flavor is wonderful and very strong! It worked for me as a glaze... yumm!!
    Too intense and too sweet for me. It has a nice texture though. I may try it again with less lemon and sugar.
    I've made this twice. The first time it didn't thicken properly and I had to throw it out. The second time I cooked it for an extra two minutes and it still didn't thicken. I turned up the burner to medium heat and cooked it another 5-6 minutes and then it thickened. I think the water in your double boiler has to be more than a simmer. Looking for color change or to "coat the back of the spoon" isn't enough. You need to notice a significant thickening. 
    As far as the number of lemons, you have to adjust for size. I used three large lemons and had over half a cup of juice. 
    In the end, it came out great.
    Very nice, very easy, very flavorful. I made some changes after looking at other recipes: 4 yolks, two lemons, 1/3 c sugar, 1/2 stick butter. Just the right sweetness, I think. I also used Meyer lemons which are not quite as tart. 
    No issues with it being slow to thicken. It was 4 or 5 minutes of stirring in the pot, remove from heat immediately, then whisk in the butter a little at a time.
    Alton, as always, you are my "go-to" guy. I followed the recipe exactly and now I have a pint of delicious lemon curd setting in the fridge. I can't wait to use it for my crepes with fresh berries! Thanks! :)
    Some of the problems people might have with this recipe is that is calls for 4 lemons, juiced and zested, however only 1/3 cup of lemon juice in the actual recipe, and my 4 lemons yielded almost a cup in total. TIPS: reduce lemons to 2, make sure to only use 1/3 cup of the juice, and make sure to zest carefully, the bitter pith will ruin your batch.
    Flag as inappropriate

    Thank you! your flag was submitted.

    Not what you're looking for? Try:

    Lemon Curd Tart

    Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten