Sunshine Sweet: Citrus Curd

Lemon Curd via Sweetapolita

Here’s something you might not believe: If I could only eat one type of dessert for the rest of my existence, I would have a hard time choosing (that’s the not part you might not believe), but what I do know is that it would be smothered in, filled with, topped with or made entirely of citrus curd. Who’s with me?

Lemon Curd via Sweetapolita

True, Meyer lemons, limes, Key limes, grapefruit, oranges — they’re all pretty delightful on their own, but marry citrus juice with eggs, sugar and butter and you’ve got a whole new world of awesome. I know citrus curd has been around forever, but I find sometimes it gets overlooked and in some tragic situations, underloved. Even I forget about it sometimes and go about life thinking things are okay, but then I realize that something very zingy-sweet is missing.

La La Lavender & Lemon Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

You might remember these little La La Lavender & Lemon Cloud Cupcakes from last week with their dollops of lemon curd nestled comfortably under Whipped Lavender Frosting. As promised, I wanted to share the recipe I use for my citrus curd, and that’s just it — it’s “citrus” curd because you can use any kind of citrus, switch it up from time to time, and use the same base recipe. It’s so versatile, so incredibly tart and can really add a punch of sunshine to any dessert (or spoon). I would say my favourite of the curd flavours is Meyer lemon (they just pack so much amazing sweet citrus flavour), but since we only get them (imported) in grocery stores for a few short weeks in the winter, I most often use organic lemons, as I did with these cupcakes, but well-washed regular lemons make a dandy curd too.

Triple-Lemon Blueberry Cake via Sweetapolita

As they did for this Triple Lemon Blueberry Cake (while we’re on the topic, this cake makes an incredible Mother’s Day dessert). The intense and lemony curd was just what this cake needed to compliment the sweet frosting on the outside and that’s just it — you can add curd to pretty much anything and it kicks it up a notch. You can even add a few tablespoons (to taste) of lemon curd to a stable, classic frosting and whip it in for a simple and flavourful twist.

I have tried many different recipes for the curd itself, and although they’re all good (I just love experimenting), I most often make the version I included in this post. Some recipes include more eggs and yolks, more or less juice, more or less butter, and zest or no zest, so I’ve ended up settling on a mix of a few recipes I’ve tried for something that falls right in the middle. I make it and freeze (you can freeze for up to 1 month, or so), which comes in really handy when you’re making a dessert that has a lot of components, and you want some make-ahead options.

Lemon Curd via Sweetapolita

This batch in the photo was Key Lime Curd, and I made it for filling a Key Lime Coconut Cake (this was a photo before I completed the cake). The recipe I use does include a few teaspoons of zest, which I personally love, but you could always omit that. If you do opt for filling a cake with it (and really, why would you not), just be sure to pipe a nice stiff frosting dam around the cake first, so that the curd doesn’t ooze out when you add another layer.

This is actually a great idea for anytime you are using a filling that is a little soft or loose, so let’s say you had a really light frosting/filling, you can use a stiffer frosting for a dam and continue with your light frosting inside of it. But, in the case of citrus curd you will always want to pipe the dam — trust me. Just remember that when you’re filling a cake with citrus curd, you then need to keep it refrigerated after a few hours at room temperature because of the eggs that are in it.

So whether you decide to simply eat it alongside cookies and scones, jar it and gift it, add it to frosting, fill a cupcake, place it on top of a cupcake, fill a tart, fill a cake, or do what I do and sit down with the whole lot and a ladle spoon, just know that it will undoubtedly make someone’s life a little brighter. ♥

I will see you much sooner than later, my friends, with an insanely delicious post — you’ll see!

Here’s the recipe:

Citrus Curd           {click to print}

*loosely adapted from Williams Sonoma

Yield: ~ 1-3/4 cups


4 lemons (or 6 Meyer lemons), or 2 oranges, or 5 limes (or 8 Key Limes), preferably organic

2 whole eggs plus 4 egg yolks

1 cup sugar (200 grams) (7 ounces)

4 tablespoons (60 grams) (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small even cubes


1. Wash citrus really well (with a bristled brush under cold water) and using a Zester, remove all of the coloured portion of the peel from the fruit (not the white pith–it’s bitter!) into a bowl or onto a piece of wax paper. Rotate fruit as necessary to get as much of the zest off. Repeat until you have 2 teaspoons (30 mL) of the zest, and set aside.

2. Slice the citrus in half crosswise (I find room temperature citrus is best for juicing) using a sharp knife, and extract as much of the juice as you can using a citrus reamer, or I use a small Citrus Juicer. Just be sure to catch all of the juice in a bowl and to completely strain the seeds before using. Repeat the juicing until you have 2/3 cup (5 fl oz/160 mL) of the strained juice.

3. Get your double boiler ready by filling a saucepan with 1″ of water, then placing a metal bowl on top of the saucepan. You will need to ensure the bowl fits snugly into the top of the saucepan and that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water (important, or your eggs will cook!). You can now remove the bowl and continue with making the curd.

4. Whisk the juice, whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar in the bowl until smooth. Add the butter cubes to the bowl, but don’t stir.

5. Heat the water in the saucepan over low heat until it simmers (not boils) and place the bowl atop the rim. Stirring gently, but constantly, using heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, cook until the curd has thickened and all of the butter has melted and is incorporated, about 10 minutes (this can vary). To test if the curd is thick enough, remove the spatula or spoon from the curd and check that it’s coated.

6. Strain the curd over a bowl using a fine-mesh sieve and then stir in the zest. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly against the curd (to prevent a skin from forming) and chill for at least 3 hours (I like to chill it overnight). It also thickens up a bit more while chilling.

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

You can use the chilled curd right away, keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze the curd in an airtight container with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the curd surface for up to 1 month. To use frozen curd, you can remove from freezer and use immediately–no need to thaw it as it doesn’t really freeze, per se. You can either scoop out what you need and keep the rest in the freezer or use all at once.

Citrus Heaven.

Good luck & enjoy!


Share the Sweetness!


    • says

      I make passionfruit curd exactly the same way. Its my weak-knees, rapid- breathing favorite curd. I put it in phyllo dough cups after it cools or just eat it with a spoon!!!!! It terrific over vanilla ice cream.

  1. says

    I love lemon curd. I wouldn’t know which recipe to try first. I thought piping around the edge of that cake to stop the curd dribbling down the sides was pretty and inspired.

  2. says

    I absolutely LOVE meyer lemon curd! You should check out Pierre Herme’s recipe for Lemon Creme… He whips butter into a delicious curd to create an amazing tart filling. It’s my man’s fave, and an easy update to a classic curd.
    Another good tip for your readers: make sure the metal bowl you use is stainless steel, and NOT aluminum. It will leach into your curd, giving it a horrible, metallic taste.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Michelle says

    Rosie – I just found your blog and have already fallen in love with all of your ideas! You’re extremely creative.
    I would really like to make your triple lemon blueberry cake for my mom for mother’s day this weekend. I also saw your lavender and lemon cupcakes though, which sound really good, too. I’ve never used or eaten lavender (that I know of), but have wanted to experiment with it for a while now. I was wondering if you thought the lavendar frosting (as a single layer of filling) might compliment the lemon blueberry cake or do you think it would be too much with the other flavors? Like I said, I’ve never had it before so I don’t really have an idea of how those might go together. If you have any advice, I’d love to hear back from you. Thank you!

    • says

      Hi Michelle!
      Thanks so much for the kind words. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to reply earlier, but yes, I definitely think lavender frosting would be a gorgeous filling! I hope you had a chance to make some variation of the cake–it’s really a crowd-pleaser. Thanks again!

  4. Jan Oquin says

    The citrus curd is also wonderful on a hot homemade biscuit for breakfast! Yummy! Thanks for the recipe!
    I’m going to also try my hand at making strawberry curd. Any suggestions?

  5. says

    Believe it or not, I was JUST (literally just seconds before I sat down to read your blog) thinking about lemon curd. Because I want to make some lemon curd tartelettes tomorrow and do a blog post on it. And I was just thinking about that. And now I read about your citrus curd here and find myself thinking: Sweetapolita once again knew exactly what I was looking for! Amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Tesei says

    OMGoodness, I recently discovered the magical, soothing perfume of grapefruit and was waiting for a good excuse to squeeze that tangy juice out of them. Your triple blueberry layered cake is the perfect incentive to do it soon, will definitely try your curd, do you think one or two grapefruits would be the right proportion?
    PS-I love the pretty spring dress in the first picture!!!!

  7. says

    So the egg mix is cooked? I always thought it was raw egg like homemade mayonnaise which is why I’ve avoided this kind of recipe. Does it taste very eggy out of interest? :)

    • says

      That’s right, the egg mixture is cooked, and it tastes like pure, creamy tart citrus–no egginess, in my opinion. The eggs just give it a nice thickness and texture. I hope you give it a try!

  8. says

    OH! I remember that blueberry cake! never made it but… jamais trop tard!

    I’m sure that lemon curd will go perfectly with the Jehanne Benoît so yummy little white cake!

    thank for that receipe!! and good ideas!

  9. Dorothy says

    I love lemon curd…I have thought of making curd with something other than lelmon..just have not done it…
    We grow blueberries and they are just ripening I think I will give your blueberry lemon cake a try..
    love your website…

    • says

      Thank you so much, Dorothy! It really is wonderful with any citrus, and of course each citrus variation has something special to offer. And wow, what I’d give for blueberries in my yard!

  10. says

    Hi there Rosie, I love your combo of blueberries and curd, what a great idea! I always feel so happy when I look at your blog, it’s just a little piece of sunshine. Here in New Zealand, meyer lemons are just about the only kind that you find in the shops, and you have to hunt diligently to find any of the sharper,tangier varieties. But given that citrus grows so well here, I often find myself making curd. After years of making it in a double boiler, I finally got fed-up with all that waiting around for it to thicken, got brave, and now just do it over low direct heat, stirring constantly. Done in 5-6 minutes! A strain through a sieve at the end gets rid of all the zest (I add it before cooking) and any stray lumps. I also use Pierre Herme’s technique of adding the butter after the curd is cooked and cooled a little, but rather than whisking it in, I zap it in with an immersion blender.Result: silkiest curd ever. No matter how you make it,curd is delicious, and I’m thrilled with your tip re. freezing it, I never knew that was possible. Thanks for brightening my day. Cheers from the South Seas, Karen

  11. dixie lee says

    Oh speak to my heart. Lemon curd by the spoonful. We once lived in a place where Lemons were $2.00 EACH!! Thankfully we then moved to a place with a very reliable lemon tree in the office courtyard, and I could buy 2 kiles for about 50 cents.

  12. Jill says

    I was just recently introduced to your website and I think it is beautiful! Can’t wait to try some of your delectable sounding recipes!

    I’ve used citrus curd in various ways (cakes, tarts) and it is always luscious! But in a key lime coconut cake I can only imagine how decadent it would be. Please, please post the recipe for it!

  13. Stephanie says

    I tried this lemon curd, I have never done or eaten lemon curd before but according to a friend, the result was delicious. It took me a long time to get it thick and I did strain. Very tangy and tart. I will make a second batch and pour it on a plain homemade cheesecake. Thank you!

  14. says

    Even your un-completed Key Lime Coconut Cake looks divine filled with lemon curd! Another fabulous post from you that makes me kick myself that I don’t make time to bake!

  15. Kiva says

    Hi Rosie, I am in the middle of trying to find a recipe for a lime and coconut cake for my sister’s wedding, I was wondering if I could get the recipe for the Key Lime Coconut Cake you posted?

  16. Morgan says

    I just made a double batch of this for my mom’s birthday. I broke the “rules” and used 1 grapefruit, 2 lemons and 3 limes, then put the curd in a pie crust and topped with lovely meringue. I didn’t think one recipe was enough to fill my dish and I’m so glad I doubled it because now I get to eat it by the spoonful along with it in the pie. This may just be the best citrus curd ever. It is nicely sweet but also has the great tart punch. I will definitely be making this again soon and freezing for use later. I bet a frozen spoonful is great on a hot summer day!

  17. Kris says

    Do you think that this recipe could be used for other non or less citrusy fruits such as strawberry or raspberry juice or does it need the citrus component for this recipe to work. I want to make it for a cake that really needs a less citrus component and was wondering if it would work. Thanks ahead of time :)

  18. says

    Hi Rosie! Did u mean 2 tablespoon of lemon zest rather than 2 teaspoon? Because 2 teaspoon would be 10 ml, not 30 ml… Please clarify! Thanks!! Love your blog!

  19. Mia says

    just made this lemon curd for a lemon-French vanilla layer cake. I was worried at first with the watery texture but ten minutes later was delighted to see the curd finished. tastes delicious and I love it

  20. says

    Hi Rosie
    Just made your lemon curd to put on top of a Ginger Cheesecake, it was amazing, the perfect topping.
    Thank you you’ve done it again and put the cherry on the top of my baking.
    By the way the family love it too.
    Happy baker Sara xxx

  21. Carolyn says

    Hi, can I add some of the citrus curd into the Swiss meringue buttercream? And if so, how much? Thanks, am going to make this soon and it sounds delish!

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