Luscious Homemade Lemon Curd

$1.03 recipe / $0.13 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.97 from 51 votes
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Luscious might be an understatement. It’s kind of mind blowing how four of the most basic ingredients in your kitchen can make something so beyond delicious as this homemade lemon curd, but somehow they do. With just a small sauce pot, a whisk, and four simple ingredients you can make a little jar of velvety sunshine to spread or dollop on top of all your food. And now that I know how fast and easy it is, and that you can freeze it, I will never pay $4 for a jar of it at the store ever again.

Overhead view of a jar of homemade lemon curd with a butter knife inside and slices of lemon on the sides.

What is Lemon Curd??

Curd is one of those unfortunate words, like “moist,” that never really sounds appetizing. BUT I promise you, this stuff is heaven. Lemon curd is a dessert spread, kind of like lemon custard, or like a sweet version of hollandaise sauce (I hope I didn’t lose you there). It tastes a LOT like the filling for lemon squares (did I get you back on board?). It’s super rich and smooth, but still light and bursting with fresh lemon flavor. 

What is Lemon Curd Used For?

EVERYTHING. Well, almost. You can use lemon curd anywhere you use jam or preserves, so on toast, biscuits, scones, etc. It’s also a great topper for yogurt (try Lemon Berry Yogurt Breakfast Bowls), oats, parfaits, cakes, pies, cookies, donuts, pancakes, waffles, crepes, cheesecake, need I go on? Anywhere you want lemon flavor, grab a spoonful of your homemade lemon curd.

Homemade Lemon Curd Methods

I made approximately 578 batches (exaggeration) of lemon curd this week, testing all sorts of methods from the microwave to the stove top, adding ingredients in all sorts of different orders, but I found that the method below created the silkiest, lightest, and smoothest homemade lemon curd without an excessive amount of work (only about 10 minutes compared to 2 minutes for the microwave version).

So be aware that there are a million ways to make homemade lemon curd, but the method below is my favorite. It’s actually quite similar to the way I make hollandaise sauce (see Almost Eggs Benedict). 

Homemade lemon curd being lifted out of a jar with a small silver butter knife, lemon slices in the background.

Fresh vs. Bottled Lemon Juice

Freshly squeezed lemon juices is and always will be better than bottled, but during my one million test runs of this recipe, I found that bottled lemon juice did not make my lemon curd any less delicious. I don’t know if it’s all the sugar and butter, but I didn’t notice a massive difference between fresh and bottled in this recipe. So unless you have some lemons in your freezer that you’re trying to use up, save yourself some trouble and pour your lemon juice instead of squeezing it. 

That being said, if you are using fresh lemons, go ahead and zest your lemon before juicing it. Adding lemon zest to the lemon curd will make a marked difference in the flavor. 👍

How Long Does Homemade Lemon Curd Last?

This homemade lemon curd will last in your fridge for 1-2 weeks, but you can also freeze it! You guys know how I love freezing everything. In the freezer, the lemon curd will last at least a few months and the beautiful part is that it only hardens about as much as ice cream, so you can scoop it out as needed. 

And that’s where I’m really in danger. When I scooped a spoonful of frozen lemon curd today to test its freezer durability, it tasted a LOT like a really rich lemon sorbet. So I’m going to have to stop myself from eating this as a frozen dessert. 🙊

Lemon curd being spread onto a toasted english muffin, with the jar of curd and lemon slices on the sides.
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Homemade Lemon Curd

4.97 from 51 votes
This luscious homemade lemon curd only takes four simple ingredients, about 10 minutes, and tastes like velvet sunshine in a jar.
Overhead view of homemade lemon curd in a jar with a small silver butter knife stuck inside, lemon slices on the side.
Servings 8 2 Tbsp each
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 5 minutes
Total 10 minutes


  • 1/4 cup sugar ($0.08)
  • 1 large egg ($0.25)
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice ($0.16)
  • 4 Tbsp butter ($0.54)


  • Add the sugar, egg, and lemon juice to a small sauce pot. Before placing the pot over the heat, whisk the ingredients together until smooth.
  • Place the pot over medium heat and cook while whisking continuously. The mixture will become very frothy as you whisk. When the liquid becomes hot enough to cook the egg, the mixture will begin to thicken and no more liquid will separate from the foam. It will take about 5 minutes of whisking over medium heat for the mixture to thicken, but will vary depending on your cookware. The mixture should be thick enough to coat a spoon (see photos below).
  • Remove the pot from the heat. Add one tablespoon of butter at a time, whisking until it has fully melted into the sauce before adding the next. As the butter is melted into the sauce, it will become less frothy and more silky in texture, and look more glossy rather than foamy.
  • Once all of the butter has been whisked in, transfer the lemon curd to an air-tight container and refrigerate until completely cooled. The curd will thicken further upon cooling.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.


Do not use aluminum cookware, as this can be reactive with the lemon juice.


Serving: 2TbspCalories: 69.04kcalCarbohydrates: 2.76gProtein: 0.81gFat: 6.15gSodium: 53.21mgFiber: 0.03g
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I love spreading my homemade lemon curd on English muffins. Since it already has tons of butter in it, it’s almost like butter and jam rolled into one!

A hand holding an English muffin smeared with homemade lemon curd, a bite is taken out of the muffin.

How to Make Homemade Lemon Curd – Step by Step Photos

I’m adding a few more step by step photos than usual, since I really want you to see the texture changes that occur during this process. Lemon curd is easy to make, but you have to use your eyes to know when it’s time to move on to the next step.

Slice Butter into 1 Tbsp pieces

It can be helpful, but is not critical, to take your butter out of the refrigerator and slice into 1 tablespoon pieces before you begin. Letting it warm up slightly can make it easier to melt into the sauce later.

Lemon juice being poured into a sauce pot with sugar and an egg.

Add 1/4 cup sugar, one large egg, and 1/3 cup lemon juice to a small sauce pot.

Whisked sugar, egg, and lemon juice in the sauce pot, no heat.

Before placing the pot over heat, whisk the sugar, egg, and lemon juice together until smooth.

Half cooked sugar egg and lemon juice in the pot, very frothy from continuous whisking.

Place the pot over medium heat and begin to whisk continuously. You’ll be whisking for about five minutes until the mixture thickens. It will get very frothy as you cook and whisk and will seem like nothing is happening, but once it reaches the magic temperature it will almost suddenly thicken. The photo above is when the mixture was at the half-way point. Very frothy on top, but there was still a layer of liquid under the froth.

Thickened sugar egg and lemon mixture, coating the back of a spoon.

When the mixture gets hot enough, the egg will begin to thicken the sauce and the entire mixture will become thick and frothy, with no layer of liquid on the bottom. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. When you drag your finger through the mixture on the spoon, the sauce should stay put and not run back to fill in the line. 

Thickened sugar egg and lemon mixture close up from the side, running off a spoon.

Here is another view of what it looks like once thickened. It’s still very frothy in texture. There is no liquid on the bottom of the pot. It’s all thick froth. When it reaches this point, remove the pot from the heat.

One tablespoon of butter added to the pot, about to be whisked in.

Whisk one tablespoon of butter into the sauce, making sure it is fully melted (from the residual heat of the sauce) before adding the next tablespoon. As you whisk in the butter the sauce will become less frothy and silkier. It will also look a little more glossy and translucent, and less white/opaque. 

Finished lemon curd dripping off the whisk into the sauce pot.

Here is what it looks like once all of the butter has melted in. More glossy and translucent, less frothy. While the lemon curd is fairly thick at this point, it thickens further once refrigerated. 

Finished lemon curd on a spoon in the sauce pot.

The flavor also mellows a bit as it refrigerates. It’s quite sour at this point but it gets creamier as it refrigerates.

Refrigerated lemon curd on a small butter knife set across the mouth of a jar, lemon slices on the side.

You can refrigerate the lemon curd for 1-2 weeks, OR freeze it for a few months. 

Close up of lemon curd being spread onto a toasted english muffin

You can scoop frozen lemon curd out as needed, and it will thaw quickly at room temperature. I’ve died and gone to lemon heaven. ☀️🥰🍋


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  1. Can you make it with just egg yolks? I have a bunch of left over egg yolks from making angel food cake.

    Also I’ve made it as it before and it’s phenomenal, so yummy.

    1. I think that would be fine! I would do 2-3 yolks depending on the size, just enough that it looks like a whole egg.

  2. I’m thinking of making a larger amount to put in mason jars and give as gifts. Do you think cooking times would change? Size of cooking vessel? How long does it last after making?

    1. Oh gosh, in theory that should work fine, but we only tested in small amounts so I don’t want to give you a 100% that it would work. I think that using a bigger pot and doubling it at least would work fine. It will last in your fridge for 1-2 weeks.

  3. Hi I just found this and I was reading and thinking it sounds easy but are we cooking straight onto to heat or a double boiler please

  4. Super easy! Thank you!!

    It could just be my lemons, but after it set there was a strong metallic after-taste to my curd. Any idea why this might be? I did use salted butter, so that could be it too?

    1. Did you happen to use an aluminum pot or bowl to make it? Lemon juice is very acidic and can react to certain metals, causing a slight metallic taste. Most stainless steel is fine but aluminum is reactive.

    2. I had that exact same thing happen. It tasted amazing at first and then after refrigerating, it tasted like straight up metal. I ended up throwing it away. I used a stainless steel pan and stainless whisk. Maybe my whisk is aluminum and I didn’t realize it. Im going to try again with my stainless steel pan and a wood spoon instead of whisk and see if it tastes different. I don’t know if using a spoon vs whisk will work, or change the texture, but I’m going to give it a try

  5. I have made lemon curd before in more complicated ways, but I love how simple this recipe is to make a small amount for just me in so little time. Waiting for it to set up is the hard part, and sometimes I don’t wait! I took the curd to my book club meeting to spread on my very blueberry muffins which are so good, but also so healthy with oatmeal and lots of blueberries and minimal sugar. Thank you so much for improving my lemon curd loving life!
    PS: I don’t like the taste of bottled lemon juice so I wouldn’t use it, but I have been known to add the True Lemon granules (no sugar only lemon) to enhance lemon flavor in my cooking. Not necessary in the curd though.

  6. Simple recipe with big flavor!!! I mix nonfat Greek yogurt to the lemon curd and freeze. It tastes like a frozen lemon cheesecake/ice. Delicious!!

  7. At what point would you add the zest? Will that give it more ‘pucker power’.😋

    1. Hi Amanda, Add the zest when you take it off the heat, when you begin adding the butter. It will not add much more pucker, as the zest is more floral than sour. xoxo

  8. So fast, so cheap, so easy, so good! I was looking for a cake filling to make and this was THE one! So flavorful, I’m going to try using it for lemon tarts this week instead of canned lemon pie filling.

  9. First time making this and it was a perfect topping to my homemade pound cake. Yummmnnn

  10. I used your recipe to make the lemon curd filling for my MIL 80th bday cake with some minor changes & it was perfect. I doubled the recipe except for the lemon juice which I kept at 1/3 cup since I used the bottled kind & I only used the egg yolks. It was perfect in texture & perfect tasting for the white cake.
    Thank you!

  11. Made this lastnight to use on blueberry pancakes this morning for a special birthday breakfast…this lemon curd makes your mouth water and keeps you wanting more…after the pancakes were done, I decided eating it by the spoonful was just what I needed…its soooo good!

  12. I wonder if this recipe could be made using limes. I live in Baja California where limes are plentiful but lemons are very spendy! Gonna try it!

    1. Hi, Cindy!! You should definitely use limes if that’s what you have on hand or if it’s more budget-friendly for you! It will be so, so, so good! Really, any kind of citrus will work in this recipe. ~Marion :)

  13. Dear Beth,
    The lemon curd recipe looks amazing!
    And freezing it, esp. the Sorbet part, sounds Perfect!
    I’m a control freak so I can’t sign up for weekly stufff, but I will remember you and be looking for great recipes now and then. (Retired)
    Keep up the good work and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

  14. It worked exactly as you said. Very easy. I multiplied it by 6 to make a large batch for gifts.

    BUT I remembered that I don’t like whole-egg lemon curd — tasted too eggy.

    What suggestions do you have to reduce the eggy taste?

    1. Although lemon curd uses eggs the final product shouldn’t taste eggy. If it does, it may mean that you’ve overcooked your eggs. Try adding lemon zest. XOXO -Monti