The Truth About Lemon Curd

July 15, 2013

Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.

Today: Lemon curd may sound and taste fancy, but you can whip it up in less than 10 minutes -- without a double boiler, and without separating a single egg.

Alice Medrich's Easiest Lemon Curd from Food52

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Lemon curd takes less than 10 minutes to make -- and you don't even need to separate eggs for it, if you don't want to.

You can make curd with 3 whole eggs instead of 5 or 6 yolks -- it actually tastes brighter and better than way -- or meet halfway and use 1 whole egg and 3 yolks. 

There is no need for a double boiler and no need to temper the eggs: the sugar and the acid from the lemon juice prevents them from curdling (and straining removes the few inevitable bits of cooked egg).  

Just do this: Put a medium mesh strainer over a clean bowl near the stove. Put all of the ingredients from your favorite recipe (or mine, below) into a heavy non-reactive saucepan, adding the butter last, and whisk briskly over medium heat. After the butter melts, the mixture will thicken and start bubble at the edges; continue to cook and whisk (sweeping the sides and corners of the pot) for another 15 to 20 seconds. Strain into the clean bowl, pressing gently on any solids. Let cool and refrigerate.

That’s all. 

Lemon Curd

Adapted from Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich (Artisan, 2012)

3 large eggs or 1 large egg plus 3 large egg yolks
Zest of 1 medium lemon
1/2 cup strained fresh lemon juice (from about 3 medium lemons)
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Alice's most recent book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, doles out delicious dessert recipes that don't take hours of prep (a lot of them don't even require turning on the oven) -- everything from lattice-free linzer to one-bowl French chocolate torte.


Photo by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Denise Skea
    Denise Skea
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    Alexis Arnold
  • Sweet Goose
    Sweet Goose
  • Pat E. in SLO
    Pat E. in SLO
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).


Denise S. February 23, 2024
I had a glut of lemons and was making 4-5 jars a week using the whole egg plus egg yolk recipe, until my freezer was full of bags of eggwhites. Switched to whole eggs, and I don't strain out the zest and egg bits. I've not had any complaints! To break the delicious monotony of lemon curd, I included lime, passionfruit ( strained the pure frozen passionfruit cubes) and the best find has been Ruby Red Grapefruit curd in the repertoire. The first batch I made with freshly squeezed juice and it showed potential but lacked some oomph. Next batch, I gently simmered the juice to reduce by one third. This concentrated the juice. It's just the bees knees of curd!
Deb T. July 23, 2015
I now make microwave lemon curd and it is fast and delish. In my oven, it's less than 4 minutes and voila! http://www.pbs.org/parents/kitchenexplorers/2014/05/08/7-minute-lemon-curd-recipe/
Alexis A. July 23, 2015
could you do this with limes as well?
Sweet G. January 7, 2015
Hooray, I seldom bake anymore because of the sugar but have spent too much energy drooling over images of other people Yule Logs and watching The new British Baking Show because I Love Sue Perkins, that I have decided to honor my birthday this year with a proper cake, rather than desert with dinner out. So I sat down to look for specific inspirations and your Genius of 2014 collection hit the nail on the head. My Sweet laying hens have provided just enough eggs for me to make a sponge cake with lemon curd and raw blackberry cream, thanks to my local raw dairy farm. I wish thinking about it was enough satiation to get through the next few days, but it is not, Thank you, think you, thank you.
Pat E. December 30, 2013
Without the sugar and zest it is perfect hollandaise
Mama M. July 16, 2013
Nice to know someone else makes lemon curd the "lazy" way besides me. My amounts are slightly different and I beat the eggs first and then strain them into the pan with the other ingredients before cooking but same method for cooking the curd. Also works for all the other flavors of fruit curd.
Cathy G. July 15, 2013
Fantastic! I will be doing this tonight!
Tina D. July 15, 2013
Thanks for a great shortcut to homemade lemon curd!
Hannah N. July 15, 2013
You make it sound so easy! I'll have to try this.
Magda B. July 15, 2013
Gorgeous. Thank you!!!