Seriously Lemony Lemon Curd

Lemon curd is a delicious sweet, tart condiment that’s really easy to make with just a few ingredients. You’ll never use store-bought curd again!

This is a repost from a few years back, but we make this curd all the time, and in fact just cooked up a double-batch. We make this for friends, and now some of those friends have started making it for their friends, so our lemon curd is now all over Beacon! Read on for our original inspiration…

I have a confession to make. It’s been weighing me down for some time now.

I love lemon curd – it was a staple in the Clifton household of the 1980s – give me a slice of cheap, white bread slathered with a jar of Robertson’s, and I was in heaven. We only started making our own over the last few years, but the first time I had really good homemade lemon curd was on our honeymoon, in Scotland.

We were on our way to Dunkeld Cathedral, a lovely old 14th-century ruin near Perth. We had written a few postcards to be mailed home, and spotted, along the road, a combined post office and tea room. Perfect! The business was run by a delightful elderly couple and their teenage daughter, and we ordered a round of tea and lemon-curd sandwiches. I tell you, it was curd to die for. Anyway, we finished up, complimented the couple, and remembered that we needed to deal with the postcards. I bought stamps, popped them in the box, and then we waved goodbye to the slightly perplexed-looking couple, thanked them again, and left.

We drove out, very satisfied with ourselves, probably burping little lemon burps, I don’t remember, but it sounds like the sort of thing we’d do. We got about forty minutes out through the mountains, and then a thought struck me. “Em”, I said slowly. “Did you pay them for the tea?” Emily looked at me. “No … I thought you did…”

Lemon Curd can be used like jam, or as a pie or layer cake filling. So many uses!

Oops. We did seriously mean to post some money back to the tea shop, but what with one thing and another, we never got around to it, and at this point we can’t even remember exactly where it was. So, if you run a tea shop in Scotland, and you’ve been about £15 short on the books since 2005, but can’t work out why, it’s us. Sorry about that. It was lovely curd, though, I can tell you that.

So here’s our own homemade lemon curd recipe. It makes us want to commit more curd crimes, hope you feel the same after making it. We use it as the filling in this insanely good  Zucchini Cake.







Testing temperature of lemon curd
Testing temperature of lemon curd

Nerd tips:

  • Since you’re using so much of the peel, organic lemons are a good idea for this.
  • If you forgot to bring your butter to room temperature, use this trick: while it’s still in the wrapper, put it in a ziplock bag and immerse the bag in a tupperware filled with slightly warm water. Make sure the whole stick is submerged. It should be soft enough to use in about 5-7 minutes.
  • If you’re using the homemade lemon curd as a filling for a cake (like the Zucchini Cake), you’ll want to use the cornstarch so it’s a little stiffer. If you want it for other uses, like slathering it on shortbread or eating it out of the jar when no one’s looking, you can leave the cornstarch out.

Seriously Lemony Lemon Curd

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4.15 from 7 votes

Seriously Lemony Lemon Curd

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Servings: 2 cups
Author: Emily Clifton, Nerds with Knives (adapted from Barefoot Contessa)


  • 4 medium lemons' worth of zest peeled with a vegetable peeler - reserve the juice separately
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (optional)


  • Put the peels in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and process until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar. I let it rip for a full minute or so, scraping the bowl down once or twice.
  • In a stand mixer or in a bowl using an electric beater, cream the butter with the sugar and lemon peel mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice, salt and cornstarch, if using. Mix until combined. (Note: It’s going to look like a disgusting, curdled mess at this stage. Do not panic. I promise you it will come together and look delightful).
  • Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. Don’t walk away from it as you do this part or you will have lemony scrambled eggs. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and strain into a bowl through a fine mesh sieve. Add to storage jars and allow to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Curd will get thicker as it cools.


Use the cornstarch if you want a thicker curd, suitable for using as a filling in a layer cake.
Tried this recipe?Mention @NerdsWithKnives or tag #nerdswithknives!


21 thoughts on “Seriously Lemony Lemon Curd”

  1. I haven’t made this yet, but I’m dying to! Tell me, how much does this make? The recipe I’ve used in the past made so much I had to can it. That’s more work then I’m willing to do right now.

  2. Totally delicious. And silky. And not too sweet. Even though I seriously ‘toyed’ with the method due to….well, I won’t go into that but suffice it to say I must have had a senior moment or seven while putting this together.

    Ended up doing the sugar/lemon zest thing in the food processor. Added the eggs one at a time and while they were whirling around, decided to check the recipe again. Butter?! Alrighty then, added the butter. Next up, salt, cornstarch, lemon juice……all whirling away with the eggs… the food processor. Poured into the pan and cooked as directed.

    Remembered reading about things looking seriously Curdled (ha!) and since the mixture never had that look, I read the recipe yet again. Ack! Didn’t switch to a mixer. But have decided that since all’s well that ends superbly, that I’ll probably just continue my mistake in the future. Thanks, Emily for this delicious, easy and successful recipe.

  3. I loved this recipe the first time I made it in September but I used Meyer lemons for a milder flavor. I’ve been playing with it for the holidays and just made grapefruit and lime versions. I used 2 grapefruits and 6 limes for the modifications, but left all the other ingredients and amounts the same.

  4. Also, while I’m here…..

    I have the ChefSteps recipe too (which I haven’t tried yet either). Ingredient-wise I think I prefer yours – less butter and whole eggs instead of just yolks – but I was wondering what you think about using gelatin instead of cornstarch as the thickener. My guess is it would give silkier texture. ChefSteps cook it sous vide (well, they would, wouldn’t they!) which I use a lot, then blitz it for up to a minute in a blender to emulsify it. I’m sure that would work with your much less fat heavy version too. Any thoughts?

  5. It would avoid confusion if the lemon juice was listed separately in the order of use. rather than with the lemon peel.

    Just a suggestion as it caused me to fail yhe recipe.

      • I have made the recipe several times and failed to reach the thickening point successfully. However, putting it back in the pan and rehearing it until it finally thickened worked out. Now I know what to expect as far as thickening time goes. They say practice makes perfect! My family loves this recipe and I can’t wait until the lemon season comes around. I plan to try lime for a change

  6. I just made this recipe and it’s a pale yellow and frothy. What happened? Was going to make lemon bars for a anniversary bbq. What did I do wrong?

  7. Hey! I just made this recipe and it happened the same, i freaked out lol i just increased the fire a little bit and kept it for more 5 min and it started getting better. Hope it helps!

  8. Love the recipe! I used key limes and juice to make the curd which I then swirled through a cheesecake I was baking. Oh my!! The tartness of the curd combined with the creamy, smooth cheesecake is killer! Thanks so much for the recipe.

    I’d like to make the curd more tart and have wondered if I could so by reducing the juice before continuing the recipe. Of course I would increase the amount of juice to start.

  9. 5 stars
    Love the recipe! I used key limes and juice to make the curd which I then swirled through a cheesecake I was baking. Oh my!! The tartness of the curd combined with the creamy, smooth cheesecake is killer! Thanks so much for the recipe.

    I’d like to make the curd more tart and have wondered if I could so by reducing the juice before continuing the recipe. Of course I would increase the amount of juice to start.

  10. Love this recipe. One comment on the tech side. When I try to use the scalable function, all of the measurements don’t scale up. Neither the grams nor the bulk measurements change. So it is always one stick butter and .75 G salt and always the same amount of zest. I’m glad I caught it before I started as I like to do my recipes by weight when possible. It would be great if you could fix that.


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