Staple Corner: How to Make Your Own Lemon Curd

lemon curd

My Mom was always a whiz at baking, able to whip up perfect cookies, squares, pies or tarts seemingly at the drop of a hat. As I've grown older I've lost most of my childhood sweet tooth, but I still occasionally like to try to recreate some of the flavors of my Mom's baking. One of these treats that I fondly recall is her lemon meringue pies — the intense tart and sweet "lemoniness" of the filling is a taste that still resides in my mouth's memories.

Of course a homemade lemon curd seems like a much more "grown-up" way to recapture this intense lemony flavor, especially as a lemon meringue pie filling is essentially only a lemon curd itself but made with cornstarch instead of eggs and butter. And a jar of rich buttery homemade lemon curd is wonderful to have on hand for spreading on a piece of toast or an English muffin without committing yourself to a pie — although it is wonderful for pies, tarts and cakes or as a sauce for pancakes as well. Or better yet some delicious lemon curd ricotta pancakes that I'll be sharing with you soon. It also makes a lovely gift.

Lemon curd is easy to make at home although it takes a little patience to cook over gentle heat. But the most work is in the zesting of the lemons, and a half hour should see you from start to finish. Many lemon curd recipes use only the yolks of eggs or else require straining to remove bits of cooked egg white — which also removes the lemon zest unless you're adding it at the end — but my method makes the best of both worlds by frothing the egg whites before incorporating into the curd so they cook evenly and smoothly. We definitely don't want to lose the lemon zest!

I've also gone a little against the grain by using brown sugar in addition to the customary white sugar. The addition gives this lemon curd a more rustic-looking gold color instead of the typically vibrant yellow, which is why I call it a golden lemon curd. The brown sugar also lends it a scrumptious undertone of caramel. But you may substitute the cup of brown sugar for an extra cup of white if you are looking for a more traditional result. And of course you may also try this recipe with any citrus fruit — think 5 Meyer lemons, or 4 oranges, or even 1 large grapefruit!

Homemade Golden Lemon CurdHomemade Golden Lemon Curd
Recipe by
Published on February 22, 2012

Homemade golden lemon curd with the intense sweet and tart flavor of lemons and with a lovely undertone of caramel — great for spreading on toast or English muffins, for pies, tarts, cakes and sauces, or for giving as a gift

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 to 20 minutes

Print this recipePrint this recipe

  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • fine zest and juice of 4 lemons
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl just until the egg whites are frothy — we don't want peaks, so do not over-beat.

  • Bring a large saucepan of water to a simmer over medium heat and fit a stainless steel bowl or smaller saucepan over so that it is sitting in or just above the water but not on the bottom of the lower pan — the water should be bubbling but not boiling. (Or you can use a double boiler if you have one). In the bowl, whisk together the sugar and brown sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and egg yolks until blended. Cook, stirring constantly to prevent curdling, for 5 minutes.

  • Give the egg whites an extra beat and fold into the sugar and lemon mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick, like sour cream. This takes about 5 to 10 more minutes, but if you find that the mixture is not thickening quickly enough, raise the temperature of the simmering water slightly.

  • Remove from heat and whisk the butter a few pieces at a time into the mixture until the butter has melted.

  • Transfer to a glass or ceramic bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming, and let cool until room temperature.

  • Pour into jars with tight-fitting lids and refrigerate. Use within 3 to 4 weeks.

Makes 3 cups
lemon curd

Other staples you will be sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Tamarind Chutney
Simple Salsa
Shredded Mango and Coconut Chutney


hotpotcooking said...

A different version of spread

Rita said...

Sounds wonderful; i have always wanted to make lemon curd and this recipe might just be what I nee; thank you Lis.

Aarthi said...

yummy yummy