How to make lemon curd – tips and mistakes (2024)

How to make lemon curd – tips and common mistakes

Vibrant yellow, silky smooth and a beautiful tangy sweetness that keeps you coming back for more - lemon curd is like summer sunshine poured into a jar. And there's no end to the ways you can use it, drizzle over a pavlova, dollop onto cake or simply spread over toast, it's always fantastic.

With a good recipe, lemon curd is so simple to make. This recipe for lemon curd only requires 5 ingredients, and with these easy guidelines you can ensure that you don’t make common mistakes and you always get a vibrant and flavourful curd!

Easy lemon curd recipe

How to make lemon curd – tips and mistakes (1)


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) lemon juice
  • 80g unsalted butter, chopped


  1. Place yolks, sugar, lemon rind and juice in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Place in a small saucepan with butter.
  2. Place over medium heat, bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. When it comes to the boil, take off heat and strain through a fine sieve. Refrigerate until cold.

GET THE RECIPE: Classic Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Kiwi Fruit by Australian Eggs

What to do if lemon curd doesn't thicken?

If your lemon curd hasn’t thickened, it may not have been heated enough. It can take up to 30 minutes of constant stirring to cook lemon curd, especially if it’s a large batch. Remember that curd will thicken more once cooled.

If your cooled curd is not thick enough, you can reheat it to thicken. Put it over a low heat, stirring constantly. Ensure it coats the back of a spoon before taking it off the heat.

To make a thicker curd, you can also add another egg yolk to the recipe, or a teaspoon of cornflour mixed into a tablespoon of water and cook until thickened.

How to thin lemon curd?

You can make lemon curd thinner by adding more juice, or reducing the amount of egg.

Can you overcook lemon curd?

Yes, overcooked lemon curd will become lumpy instead of smooth. See how to avoid lumps below.

Why is my lemon curd lumpy?

Lemon curd may become lumpy because it hasn't been continuously stirred or the eggs have cooked in the mixture. If there are only a few lumps in the curd, you can sieve them out.

To avoid lumpy curd:

  • Stir continuously through the whole cooking time.
  • Cook curd in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (double boiler). Ensure the bowl is not touching the water. This technique can take longer to cook the curd.
  • If your curd has gotten too hot, continue stirring and lower the base of the saucepan into a sink of cold water.

How do you know when lemon curd is cooked enough?

Dip a spoon into the curd then run your finger over the back of it. If it leaves a clean line in the curd, it’s cooked enough and ready to cool.

Curd will thicken up more once cooled completely. Spoon into a container, cover and refrigerate.

How thick should lemon curd be?

This depends on what you’re using your curd for and your personal preference. A thick curd is great for spreading on toast, filling cakes and tarts.

A thin, pourable curd is great for decorating pavlova, drizzling over pancakes or pouring on ice cream.

Is lemon curd made with whole eggs or yolks?

Lemon curd can be made with whole eggs or just egg yolks, or even a combination of both. A higher ratio of egg yolks will create a more vibrant, yellow and rich curd than whole eggs.

If you like extra thick curd, you can add an extra whole egg or egg yolk to your recipe.

If you want a thinner, more pourable curd, reduce the amount of egg in your recipe.

Does lemon curd need to be strained?

To strain or not to strain... straining the curd before cooling to removes the zest for a silkier texture, however you can omit this stage if you prefer the taste and texture with the zest.

Can you make curd with other fruits?

Yes, instead of lemon juice try lime, orange, pink grapefruit or passionfruit – or try a combination!

Passionfruit seeds give curd has a crunchy texture, but you can strain them out and just use the pulp if you prefer.

How to make lemon curd sweeter

When making curd, the sweetness of it can change depending on the tartness of the fruit. If you’re unsure, start with less sugar and add more if needed.

Before sweetening your curd, consider what it will be used for. Very sweet desserts like pavlova, a rich cake or ice cream are best with a tarter curd, and vice versa.

You can also sweeten your curd with honey, agave, coconut sugar and even rapadura sugar. Note that these will give a different flavour and colour to your curd.

How long will lemon curd last?

Lemon curd will last up to 4 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

To put it in jars to store or give as gifts, sterilise the jars in hot water or the dishwasher.

Pour in the warm curd and close while still warm. You can also freeze lemon curd.

How to freeze lemon curd

Lemon curd can freeze for up to one year.To freeze:

  1. Fill airtight containers in useable portions, leaving a 1-2cm gap at the top for expansion.
  2. Cover the surface with cling wrap and secure with an airtight lid.
  3. Label and date.
  4. Thaw curd by placing in the refrigerator one day before you plan to use it. Stir and use from cold.

Other types of fruit curd

You can make curd with almost any other fruit, watch how to make pineapple-lime curd, strawberry curd and passionfruit curd below.

GET THE RECIPE: Pine Lime Curd by Australian Eggs

GET THE RECIPE: Strawberry Curd by Australian Eggs

GET THE RECIPE: Passionfruit Curd and Coconut Meringue Jars by Australian Eggs

Use passionfruit instead of lemon juice and you can create beautiful passionfruit curd, treat it the same way you treat lemon curd.

How to make Curd in a Microwave

GET THE RECIPE: Easy Microwave Lemon Curd by Australian Eggs

How to use lemon curd

If you're wondering what lemon curd goes well with, check out some of the recipes below.

GET THE RECIPE: Classic Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Kiwi Fruit by Australian Eggs

Make a pavlova with egg whites and use the extra egg yolks to make lemon curd to go on top!

How to make lemon curd – tips and mistakes (2024)


What is the mistake for lemon curd? ›

Avoid Over-cooking The Curd

Your lemon curd could get chunky and grainy if you let it overcook. One thing you should remember while making lemon curd is that you should never let it reach a point where it starts boiling. The ideal temperature for lemon curd is 170 degrees Fahrenheit, and it shouldn't cross that.

How do you troubleshoot lemon curd? ›

Trouble shooting: Most Lemon Curds are runny because they don't get cooked long enough, to 170 degrees F, to thicken the egg yolks – so cook on! If your curd isn't thickened after 10 minutes, or up to 15 if using a double boiler, then increase the temperature of the stove slightly – and don't stop whisking!

Why did my lemon curd not set? ›

The few reasons to why your lemon curd may not be setting properly are not having enough eggs in the curd, too much liquid/ lemon juice, not enough sugar, not cooked long enough, scrambled eggs, and sometimes too much butter.

How to prevent lemon curd from tasting eggy? ›

Always beat the butter with sugar, eggs, lemon juice, and zest before cooking. This will prevent the curd from tasting eggy. Use a pan with a heavy bottom when cooking the curd. Stay away from aluminum pan.

Why does my lemon curd taste weird? ›

A metallic aftertaste is usually the consequence of the lemon curd coming into contact with a metal (especially while it's hot). This could be a metal whisk, a metal bowl, a metal (or metal-coated) saucepan, or a metal sieve.

How do you fix lemon curd that is too runny? ›

Problem: My Lemon Curd is Too Runny
  1. To thicken runny lemon curd, put the curd back into your saucepan, place over the lowest possible heat, and stir constantly. ...
  2. Alternatively, heat the curd until it's warm to the touch, then remove from the heat and whisk in another few tablespoons of butter.
Apr 2, 2024

Why is my curd not setting properly? ›

Usually the temperature of milk determines how well your curd will set. Too cold or too hot temperature can make the curd setting process tougher. Firstly boil your milk properly and switch off the flame. Once the boiled milk cools down to 20 per cent, then the milk is ready to be set.

How to fix grainy lemon curd? ›

How can I fix curdled lemon curd? If your lemon curd has curdled or looks grainy, it may have been cooked at too high a temperature or for too long. To fix it, remove it from heat and quickly transfer it to a blender or food processor. Blend on high speed until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy.

Why did my lemon curd turn green? ›

If your lemon curd turned green, it likely had a reaction to something metal. Avoid using a copper or aluminum pan as those will react with the lemon juice and cause the discoloration in the lemon curd, and could even cause a slightly metallic aftertaste.

How to know when lemon curd is done? ›

Dip a spoon into the curd then run your finger over the back of it. If it leaves a clean line in the curd, it's cooked enough and ready to cool. Curd will thicken up more once cooled completely. Spoon into a container, cover and refrigerate.

Why is my lemon curd gummy? ›

you basically broke the bonds of the egg protein when you stirred the curd. in any case, this is not uncommon. you can rebake it and it should set back up. if you are trying to use it for a spread then you will need to adjust the recipe to add gelatin or another thickening agent of sorts to use while it's cold.

Does homemade lemon curd need to be refrigerated? ›

In a covered, airtight container for up to one week. It doesn't really freeze well. Lemon curd does contain eggs and dairy (butter), so I'd be ok leaving it out for the day if I plan on serving it, but anything overnight definitely would need to be refrigerated.

Can you overcook lemon curd? ›

Yes, overcooking will make the curd lumpy instead of smooth. If your lemon curd turns out slightly lumpy, first try to put it through a blender, then strain it through a fine mesh strainer. Unfortunately, if this doesn't fix the texture, you may need to discard the curd and start over.

How thick should lemon curd be? ›

Lemon Curd: In a stainless steel bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice. Place over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring constantly to prevent it from curdling, until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream) and coats the back of a wooden spoon (165 degrees F) (74 degrees C).

Why is my lemon curd splitting? ›

Lemon curd can split if it's cooked on too high of a heat. The higher heat can scramble the eggs creating an undesirable texture. Curds are best cooked low and slow!

Why is my lemon curd not bright yellow? ›

The color of the lemon curd is depending on the egg yolks that you use, and if the yolks color is more orange than yellow, then your lemon curd will turn dark yellow- orange color and not bright yellow.

Why did my lemon curd crack? ›

Why did my lemon tart crack? The oven was either too hot or the tart was baked for too long. I recommend using an oven thermometer for baking to determine if your oven temperature is accurate.

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