Homemade lemon curd in under 10 minutes: No joke - here's how

So, I was browsing through my Modern Baking magazine last night, and came across the slickest little recipe ever:

Microwave lemon curd.

I mean, I know you can make lemon curd at home, but doesn’t it involve egg yolks, and stirring a pot on the stove, and transferring some of the hot liquid from one bowl to another and back again…

No thanks – too busy!

But THIS lemon curd, made simply by stirring everything together and cooking in the microwave for 7 minutes?

I can do that.

Modern Baking, since I know you’re wondering, is the main trade magazine of bakery professionals: bakery owners and employees, caterers, wedding cake bakers, and anyone who makes their living with flour and sugar and eggs and all that good stuff.

They have a tips column I peruse with avid interest each month, in which a baker in, say, Skokie, Illinois, asks for a foolproof way to keep buttercream frosting from melting.

The column often includes short, simple recipes – short and simple because, when you’re making a living as a baker, the more efficient you are, the better.

The challenge is, most of the time these recipes A) assume a certain level of familiarity with common bakery practices (kind of like recipes used to be written back in the day – no directions, you’re just supposed to know what to do); B) they assume a certain amount of equipment (a dough sheeter, for instance); and C), they make 30 dozen of whatever, when all you want is 2 dozen at the most.

But this lemon curd recipe is different.

It doesn’t use any unusual techniques; no fancy equipment is necessary; and it makes just 1 quart of curd, easily cut back to a more manageable 2 cups.

Did I mention how easy this is?

How about how tasty?

Well, see for yourself; if you have lemons, sugar, butter, and eggs on hand, get out your microwave-safe bowl and let’s get started.

Put 2 large eggs and 1 cup sugar in a microwave-safe bowl.

Make that a BIG microwave-safe bowl; the eggs and sugar should take up no more than 1/4 of the bowl’s capacity.

Whisk to combine, then whisk in 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, which you’ve melted first.

Finally, add 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice. About 4 large, juicy lemons should do it.

Note: Modern Baking calls for the grated rind of the lemons as well as their juice. I prefer a super-smooth curd without stringy little bits of peel, but add it for more assertive lemon flavor, if you choose.

Whisk until everything is thoroughly combined.

Put the bowl on a plate (to catch any bubble-overs), place in the microwave, and cook in 1-minute increments, stirring after each.

High power? Low? I don’t know, my microwave doesn’t have any power levels. The instructions in Modern Baking say 3 to 5 minutes at “full power,” but if your ‘wave doesn’t have power settings – just wing it.

At first, you won’t see much change; as the curd heats it’ll foam up, but it’ll stay quite liquid.

Speaking of foaming up, this is why you put the bowl on a plate…

At some point – for me, it was 8 minutes – you’ll see the curd start to mound just a tiny bit. It’s subtle; it won’t be anywhere near the thickness of finished lemon curd. But it’ll definitely be thicker than it was to begin with.

As the recipe says, it should coat the back of a spoon.

Well, that’s kind of general, isn’t it? Doesn’t ANY liquid coat the back of a spoon?

I decided to take the curd’s temperature, just to make sure the eggs were thoroughly cooked.

At 187°F, they were indeed sufficiently cooked. And the curd was thick enough that it didn’t run right off the spoon, but kind of coated it – I guess.

Anyway, I stuck the curd (a scant 2 cups) in the fridge, and once it was thoroughly chilled… Eureka! It had thickened to a smooth, spreadable consistency, stiff enough to mound nicely when dropped from a spoon.

It’s not as stiff as jarred lemon curd…

…but it’s certainly stiff enough to dollop onto a ginger cookie and enjoy.

Or combine with whipped cream for a lemon icebox pie, or spoon into paczki – both of which I intend to try ASAP.

Stay tuned…

Read, make, and review (please) our recipe for Easy Microwave Lemon Curd.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Pat

    Ok I made this as directed…at four minutes ( new fast microwave) it coated the spoon and instant read thermopen read 187…strained and began chilling…now 4 hrs….pretty cool in fridge, but not thick! Help, a pavlova in oven…will need this in about 4 hours…any fixes?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Pat, it sounded like your curd just needed a few more minutes in the oven. We’ve recently found that the microwave lemon curd tends to take closer to 8-10 minutes to properly thicken, so you might want to add at least 2 to 3 more cooking cycles in the future. In the meantime, you can make a stiffer filling by whipping 1/2 to 1 cup of heavy cream with a few tablespoons of powdered sugar. Whip the mixture until semi-stiff peaks form, and then fold in about half as much lemon curd, to taste, right before serving. This will give the lemon filling body, and it will be absolutely perfect on top of a freshly made pavlova. Good luck and happy baking! Kye@KAF

  2. Anne Black

    I have been looking for a recipe for LEMON CHEESE. As a child we would spread this on toast and also my mom used to make lemon cheese sandwiches for us to take to school. I guess this definitely tells you my age…lol. I have been looking for a recipe for lemon cheese on the internet and of course I can’t find one so I’m wondering if anyone knows if this lemon curd tastes similar or not?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      While we haven’t made Lemon Cheese for ourselves, we were able to find a few recipes online that claim to be the real deal. Here’s one that you might want to try. It looks like it’s a thicker version of lemon curd that comes from England, so you might actually find yourself pleased with the results of this recipe here. If you give it a try and find it is what you were looking for, feel free to let us know. We hope you can recreate those delicious sweet sandwiches of your past. Kye@KAF

  3. Nancy

    I made this to use with store bought phyllo cups, and it was perfect. I am glad I didn’t add zest as it was tart (really tart). I topped each cup with a raspberry and just before serving, dusted them with confectioners sugar to help sweeten them slightly. Parry hit!

    Reply
  4. Debbie

    This is an awesome recipe. Very quick and easy! Work great in my lemon pound cake. Thanks for sharing your recipe. Be blessed!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Mary, the ginger cookie here was a recipe in-testing at the time that we eventually ended up dropping, so there’s no written recipe for this exactly. That said, lemon curd would be just as lovely atop any of our other ginger cookie recipes, which you can find here. Mollie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Diane, a 2 qt bowl is probably big enough for a single batch, but the important thing is to make sure your ingredients fill the bowl no more than 1/4 of the way, in order to leave space for the foaming that will occur during heating. If you have an even larger microwave-safe bowl, we’d go with that. Better to have too much space rather than too little. Mollie@KAF

  5. Joanne Ingram

    I made this yesterday…After probably 8 to 10 minutes the mixture was very runny but did coat a spoon. I refrigerated it and it wasn’t the consistency I was hoping for (a thick pudding). It also tasted gritty. I figured I had nothing to lose and this morning, after reading a lot of other comments, I added 3 tablespoons of cornstarch to the mixture and cooked it again until just boiling. It became a perfect smooth, silky lemon curd. I am thinking I did something wrong yesterday and figure I will always have the fallback plan of adding the cornstarch and reheating if the first go-round fails. This was my first time ever making lemon curd and I will definitely try this recipe again. Thanks, KAF!

    Reply
  6. Hannah

    Thank you for sharing this recipe!! I made this curd a couple nights ago and used it as a thin spread between cake layers. Be very careful when stirring between heating. The mixture will splatter as you stir and it is VERY hot. I was burned and it blistered when a tiny splatter got on my finger but I was ok the next day. I cooked it in 40 sec increments and it got very think and turned a dark yellow color in the end. The next day, it was quite thick so I had to pop it in the micro for about 10 seconds x 2 to make it spreadable. I would make this curd again.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Oh no, Hannah, we’re sorry to hear about the burn! We definitely agree about handling with care and appreciate you sharing this note of caution. Mollie@KAF

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