Lemon Curd from Scratch

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I don’t often bake or cook with lemon curd. I’ve bought it a couple of times, and while it’s fine, it always seems a little bitter, and it comes in quantities that never match what I’m trying to make. The other day, though, I got it in my head that I wanted to make lemon-berry tarts, but with our car having issues, I didn’t want to run to the store just for lemon curd. We keep lemons on hand, though, so I thought: how hard can it be? What even goes into making lemon curd?

As it turns out, it’s pretty easy. Lemon curd is basically a custard except with way more juice and zest than a normal custard, for a bolder flavor. And, like a custard, it’s pretty easy to make and all you really need to pay attention to is the temperature, to make sure you don’t cook the eggs and break the curd.

To that end, you need a good candy thermometer to keep a close eye on the temperature of the curd as you temper it. Other than that, it’s just a matter of consistently whisking until the curd is done and ready to be jarred up to store.

Keep in mind that lemon curd won’t last forever, so plan to use it within a few weeks after making it. Fortunately, this recipe makes enough for a good batch of tarts (stay tuned next week for a recipe for those!) with some left over for toast or waffles or whatever else you want to put it on, so it’s a good amount to make for a single batch. Give it a try!

Simple Lemon Curd

Homemade lemon curd, perfect for topping toast or filling a tart.
Servings 12 oz
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Cooling Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Equipment

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Sauce Pan
  • Whisk
  • Candy Thermometer
  • Strainer or Sieve

Ingredients

  • 3 Eggs
  • ½ Cup White Sugar
  • 3 Lemons
  • 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter Cubed
  • ½ Tsp Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  • Prep your lemons. You need the zest from one and the juice from all three; about a teaspoon of zest and 1½ cups of juice.
  • In your sauce pan, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and zest until well mixed and somewhat frothy-looking.
  • Whisk in the lemon juice, then add in the butter cubes.
  • Set your pan over low heat and put your candy thermometer in place. Whisk often/constantly as the butter melts. Keep whisking until the curd starts to thicken, around 9 minutes.
  • Keep going. You're looking for the curd to reach 175℉, to temper the eggs and set the curd without overcooking it. Once it reaches temperature, remove it from the heat.
  • Place your strainer over a clean bowl and pour the curd into it. Whisk it through the strainer until you've strained it all. This removes the largest bits of zest and ensures your curd is smooth.
  • Mix in your vanilla extract and let the curd cool to room temperature. Once cooled, you can transfer it to a jar and keep it fridged until you need it.
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Curd, Lemon

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