Lemon curd is an irresistible sweet-tart-tangy fruit spread, and I’m going to show you two ways to make it.
The first is a traditional lemon curd recipe that is a lovely balance of sweet and tart with a buttery finish. The second, which I call “fancy lemon curd” adds creme fraiche and white chocolate to the mix for a tangy treat with a complex and mellow, cocoa butter finish.
Both lemon curd recipes are delicious and hard to stop eating, and I’ll show you how to make both, explain the similarities and differences, and offer suggestions for serving them.
Looking for more lemon goodness? I think you’ll like my deep dish lemon meringue tart or my lemon pudding recipe.
And for ease of browsing, you can find all my condiment and jam recipes in one place. Let’s get to it, shall we?
See my best lemon curd recipe web story here.
Why You Need to Make This Lemon Curd
Unlike some recipes, this curd is made over direct heat and not over a double boiler.
The procedure is very straightforward, and neither version makes so much that you feel like you’re swimming in it.
That said, both recipes scale up beautifully if you want to give some as gifts.
What Sets This Recipe Apart?
I have to say that the basic lemon curd recipe is really pretty traditional. Most curd recipes are based on the same handful of ingredients:
- lemon juice
I think you get a more well-rounded lemon flavor with the addition of zest, but most recipes contain these four basic ingredients in varying proportions.
The fancy lemon curd recipe really stands out from the crowd.
With the addition of extra yolks rather than just whole egg as well as white chocolate and creme fraiche, this recipe is well rounded with the sharp tang you expect up front followed by a mellow dairy and cocoa butter milkiness.
In side-by-side taste tests, I really think there’s no comparison. With just the addition of a couple of extra ingredients, the flavor is much more complex than the traditional curd.
How to Make Either Version
Both curd recipes are made in the same way. If you are already a lemon curd Jedi Master and don’t need all the step-by-step photos and tips, you may jump straight to the recipe.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here’s what you’ll need to make both curds.
Note you’ll see ingredients common to both recipes and then the additional ingredients in the “fancy” version.
I’ll provide substitutions where possible.
- Lemon juice: Freshly squeezed is always best. This is what gives lemon curd its tartness
- Lemon zest: Adds a floral, lemon oil component to the curd. Not strictly necessary, and most gets strained out anyway, but this addition does make for a more well-rounded flavor
- Sugar: For sweetness, texture, and body
- Salt: You don’t need much, but just a pinch helps to focus the flavors and really bring out the butter flavor, especially in the plain lemon curd
- Eggs: Eggs allow the curd to thicken and also help with emulsifying the curd so it doesn’t separate
- Butter: Adds a touch of mellow richness, and the fat in the butter helps to carry the flavor of the curd
Extra Ingredients in the “fancy” curd:
- Egg Yolks: Adds richness and a plush texture
- Creme Fraiche: Adds a bit of milkiness on the back end and lends it subtle tang to the flavor. You can use either sour cream or plain Greek yogurt instead. And there is no need to buy creme fraiche. It’s easy to make with just heavy cream and buttermilk.
- White Chocolate: The cocoa butter in the white chocolate adds an extra dimension to the fat component and lends its dreamy texture to the recipe. I would not use white baking chips unless they contain cocoa butter. I ended up using Ferrero Rocher white chocolate truffles, and that worked out really well.
The procedure for making the curd is exactly the same for both recipes.
- Put butter (or butter/creme fraiche/white chocolate) in a bowl with a strainer over it.
- Cook lemon juice, zest, sugar, eggs (eggs and yolks), and salt together over medium heat, whisking madly the whole time, until the curd thickens.
- Strain curd through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl of additional ingredients, and whisk until smooth.
In this collage, you can see how the curd changes as it heats up while you are madly whisking.
Notice how the curd thickens and becomes opaque as the eggs cook. the bubbles also are much finer in the fourth photo which I took right before I strained the curd into a glass bowl with butter.
Again, the process for making both curds is identical. It’s just a matter of proportions of the common ingredients and, in the case of the fancy version, adding the white chocolate and creme fraiche to the bowl along with the butter.
Jenni Says: Even over medium heat, this process goes pretty quickly, and you probably won’t have time to check the temperature. You can tell the curd is done when it becomes a bit more opaque and the bubbles the whisk has frothed up dissipate. Immediately pour the curd through the strainer.
In order to most efficiently cook the curd and get it into the strainer as soon as it’s ready, have your fine mesh strainer set over your bowl of butter (butter/creme fraiche/white chocolate) right next to the stove where you’re cooking your curd.
The collage below is of me making the fancy version of lemon curd. You’ll note more egg in this recipe.
And also, this collage emphasizes the importance of straining.
One of the magical things about lemon curd is that it is silky smooth, and you can’t get a silky-smooth texture if there are errant bits of egg or large bits of zest in it.
Always strain your curd.
Both versions of this curd can be made with either key lime juice, regular lime juice, or passion fruit puree.
The passion fruit version is arguably my favorite version, especially if you make it with the white chocolate and creme fraiche.
You can also make orange or grapefruit. Any tart fruit will work, so even consider using cranberry juice or sour cherry juice.
For less tart flavors like orange or tangerine, for example, use a portion of either lime or lemon juice to make sure the curd has a nice balance of sweet and sour.
Equipment You May Need
My favorite pan for curds and custards is my saucier, and I highly recommend it. The sloped sides make it very easy to get into the corners when whisking which limits sticking.
I love my OXO saucier very much. I use it when making most custards and curds as well as for smaller batches of soup. It's a very versatile pan.
For storing the curd, I like these 8 oz canning jars.
I love this 8 oz size for everything from jams and syrups to my hot fudge sauce. They're also pretty enough for gifting.
While they are made for canning, I am not a canner and have never canned this curd before.
Tips and Tricks for Success
Cook over medium heat. Curd cooks quickly enough at medium heat, so don’t press your luck and try making it over high heat or you run the risk of curdling it.
Whisk continuously and over the entire bottom of the pan while the curd cooks. And whisk quickly. You want to keep everything moving to control how the eggs set, plus the bubbles that form from quick whisking are a good indicator of when the curd is done. When the bubbles dissipate and the curd thickens, you’re done.
Lemon Curd Q & A
Before you turn on the heat, at 2 teaspoons of cornstarch to the pan with your lemon juice, sugar, and eggs. Once cooled, the cornstarch with help your curd set more firmly.
Yes, you can. Lemon curd freezes well in freezer-safe containers. Thaw overnight in the fridge to use.
You can safely keep lemon curd in the fridge for up to a week. Technically, with all the sugar and acid in it, bacteria shouldn’t want to take up residence, but because there are lots of eggs in it, it is best to err on the side of caution.
Lemon curd is delicious as a condiment, so consider using it as you would any jam or jelly.
Spread it on biscuits, toast, or scones like these lemon poppy seed scones.
Add a smear to your crepes before folding them up, dusting them with powdered sugar, and then drizzling with lemon juice.
Swirl some into your cheesecake batter for a lemon swirl cheesecake.
Use it as a cake filling or whip some into stabilized whipped cream for a light and lemony topping or quickie lemon mousse.
Other Lemon Recipes You Might Enjoy
If you love lemon, I have a few other lemon recipes you may enjoy.
The angel slices recipe is one of my favorites, and the thin, crackly lemon glaze on top is a bright contrast to the mellow, nutty filling.
My lemon pound cake is a sunshiny yellow and is bursting with lemon flavor in both the cake itself and the tangy glaze.
You may also want to try this: swirl some of either recipe of lemon curd into my creamy and easy-to-make lemon ice cream for a lemon swirl lemon ice cream!
And if you’re a fan of crunchy lemon goodness, you cannot go wrong with my lemon cooler cookie recipe. They are a dead ringer for the originals from Sunshine that are no longer made.
If you have any questions about this or any other recipe or post on the site, there are a few ways to get in touch.
You can leave a comment on the post, and I’ll be back in touch within 24 hours.
If your question is more pressing, don’t hesitate to email me, and I should be back in touch within 4 hours (unless I’m asleep) or often much more quickly than that.
A Note About Measurements
This is the kitchen scale that I recommend for home cooks and bakers. Using a scale will help you be more accurate and consistent in your measurements.
It is lightweight, easy to store, accurate, and very easy to use.
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
I hope you’ve learned something from this post or that you’ve decided to make the recipe.
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- 3 eggs
- 85 grams (3 oz. or 6 Tablespoons) lemon juice
- zest from 1 lemon
- 136 grams (4.8 oz or2/3 cup) sugar
- pinch of kosher salt (I use Morton's)
- 28 grams (1 oz. or 2 Tablespoons) butter* (See NOTES)
- Measure your butter into a heat-safe bowl. Place a strainer over the top of the bowl and set aside convenient to the stove.
- Over medium heat, whisk eggs, juice, sugar, salt, and zest together.
- Never stop whisking. Whisk until the mixture thickens and reaches 160 degrees, F, using an instant-read thermometer. If not using a thermometer, you'll know it's done with the curd thickens and the bubbles from the whisk have dissipated.
- Remove from heat, strain into a bowl with the butter. Whisk the butter in.
- Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the curd and allow it to cool, or pour into clean jars and cover.
- Keep for up to a week in the fridge.
- See NOTES below for the "fancy" lemon curd recipe.
Butter Amount in the Traditional Lemon Curd Recipe
For the silkiest texture, you may leave the butter out entirely. I love the buttery flavor in the background, so I usually use about 1/2 oz. The more you use, the more firmly the curd will set up and the richer it will be. But more butter also means a less-smooth curd, so decide what is most important to you and add the butter accordingly.
Fancy Lemon Curd Recipe
Follow the instructions in the main recipe, placing the butter, creme fraiche, and white chocolate in the bowl and combining the lemon juice, zest, sugar, egg, yolks, and salt in your saucepan.
Nutrition Information for the Fancy Lemon Curd
Yield: about 16 oz or 16 1oz servings:
- 101 calories
- 4.3 grams fat
- 2.5 grams saturated fat
- 44 mg cholesterol
- 60 mg sodium
- 15.5 grams carbohydrates
- 0 grams dietary fiber
- Total sugars 15.3 grams
- 1 gram protein
Store lemon curd, tightly covered, in the fridge for up to a week. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge. Once thawed, use within a week.
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1 oz or about 2 Tablespoons
Amount Per Serving Calories 76Total Fat 3.1gSaturated Fat 1.6gCholesterol 46mgSodium 42mgCarbohydrates 11.3gFiber 0gSugar 11.3gProtein 1.5g
Thanks so much for spending some time with me today.
I hope you enjoy the lemon curd, whichever you choose to make. Or make both and conduct your own taste test!
Take care, and have a lovely day.
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