Easy Homemade Lemon Curd
As a pastry chef who specializes in wedding cakes, my combo of vanilla cake with lemon curd filling is one of my most popular choices with brides.
Moist vanilla bean cake paired with that sunny lemon curd filling and finished with a light but decadent Swiss meringue buttercream was always an instant hit at tastings. Even clients who aren't always terribly fond of lemon-flavored things often choose that as one or all of their wedding cake tiers.
SO, I’m going to share my lemon curd recipe with you—it’s such an easy yet impressive way to level up your dessert game!
What is lemon curd, anyway? Lemon curd is a delicious creamy/tart/bright fruit spread that can be used for fillings (cake, pies, macarons), toppings (toast, biscuits, scones), or even as snack just straight up out of the jar.
A fruit curd (not to be confused with cheese curds which are a wholly different thing) is simply fruit juice mixed with sugar and thickened with egg yolks and (sometimes) butter. You can pretty much make a curd out of anything; lemon, passion fruit, orange, lime, blueberry, raspberry—I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Fruit curds typically have a lovely silky finish and punchy pop of tartness which makes them a great pairing with other dessert components like cake, meringue, or pie crust because they can cut through those items and provide a welcome contrast to the heavier or sweeter elements in a dish.
Alright, enough chit chat. Here is my recipe for lemon curd:
Samantha Mayfair Lemon Curd Recipe
240 grams egg yolks (approximately 8 large yolks)
140 grams unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons)
200 grams sugar (1 cup)
180 grams lemon juice (2/3 cup)
Zest of 1 lemon
¼ tsp salt
Set up a bowl with a strainer and set aside.
Add egg yolks to pot, and break up with a whisk. Whisk in sugar, making sure to keep stirring so that the sugar doesn’t sit on the yolks too long. Whisk in lemon juice until combined and set over medium heat. Cook, continuing to stir with whisk (this keeps the eggs moving and avoids “scrambling” any of your egg yolks), until mixture begins bubbling, about 5 minutes.
As soon as bubbles appear, immediately remove from heat. Whisk in salt. Whisk in a couple of cold cubes of butter at time, only adding more when you can see that it has been totally incorporated—adding too much butter at once will overwhelm the mixture and you’ll end up with a yucky separated mess instead of a silky smooth spread. Once all your butter has been whisked in, strain your lemon curd into the bowl, this will catch any little bits of egg or big pieces of zest that maybe didn’t break up during cooking.
Cover with plastic wrap touching the surface so the curd doesn’t form a skin, and let cool. Once cool, transfer your lemon curd to a Tupperware or jar. It will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
Yield: Makes approximately 3 cups
I have another version of lemon curd that contains gelatin which you would use in a situation that called for the filling to hold its shape, such as a lemon meringue pie, or piped lemon tartlets. I’ll feature that variation in a different post :)
Give this recipe a try and let me know if you have any questions in the comments below! You can also watch my step-by-step video tutorial to see how I make this pastry staple.