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Thickening Lemon Curd: Easy Guide for Perfect Consistency

Lemon curd is a custard tart or pie filling, typically made from eggs, sugar, butter, and lemon juice.

The recipe may also include a grated rind of one or two lemons and vanilla extract.

It can be used as an alternative to jams for breakfast on toast or as a dessert filling in tarts.

There are many variations on lemon curd, often making it sweeter and with a softer texture.

However, a classic lemon curd recipe consists of two parts sugar to one part egg yolks and one part lemon juice (or the grated rind of one or two lemons).

According to some experts, traditional recipes for Lemon Curd require thicker than usual custard because the acidity in the lemons causes it to thicken more than custard made with milk.

In this article, we will answer the question of how to thicken lemon curd.

Interestingly enough, it’s not a simple matter as you might think to simply add more pectin.

In fact, that could be a recipe for disaster if done improperly.

How to Make Lemon Curd?

how to make lemon curd

Lemon curd is made by cooking lemon juice and sugar together with butter until thickened.

It can also be used as a topping for ice cream, cheesecake, or other desserts.

The traditional way of making this delicious sauce is to bring everything to almost boiling point before removing it from the heat source.

This is because it prevents the curdling of milk, which can happen if brought to boiling point.

  • To prepare the curd, juice the lemons, then combine with sugar in a saucepan.
  • Cream together butter and sugar together at room temperature until pale; this will make it easier to mix into the lemon.
  • Add to saucepan and stir over low heat until thickened (about 6-10 minutes). Pour into sterilized jars and store in the refrigerator.
  • Lemon curd can keep for about a month in your refrigerator.

Perfect lemon curd should have a thick texture and be pale yellow in color.

It should also be firm to the touch but not hard or crunchy.

Sometimes, bits of fruit will remain un-incorporated into the liquid mixture (typical seeds from lemons).

These should not be included when discerning if your final product is perfect.

Why Your Lemon Curd is Runny & Watery?

why your lemon curd is runny watery

If your curd is watery and runny, there are a few possible reasons.

  • You didn’t cook the mixture long enough for it to thicken. If you make sure it reaches almost boiling point before removing it from the heat source, this shouldn’t be an issue unless you remove your pan too soon.
  • Also, try to add heat slowly and often mix as a hot pot can sometimes burn the mixture before it thickens.
  • You used too much water with your juice. You should never use more than 1 cup of lemon juice for every 1 cup of sugar you put in. This will also affect how runny your lemon curd is.
  • Your recipe is missing part of the ingredients. You mustn’t leave out anything. Make sure your mixture has butter, sugar, some lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Adding more water will make it runny as well.
  • You don’t use enough butter. Lemon curd can be made without butter, but it will definitely taste different. Butter is necessary to give the lemon sauce a creamy consistency. If you don’t use enough butter, your lemon curd will be watery because too much water was used when making the mixture.

Other Mistakes When Making Lemon Curd?

other mistakes when making lemon curd

Although it can be tricky to identify, some other mistakes could make your lemon curd taste different.

Adding the butter too early: This is one of the common mistakes when making lemon curd.

To avoid this mistake, you must heat up the mixture before adding the butter to it and stir together until mixed well.

The same thing applies when using a handheld beater.

Make sure you beat the mixture for about 5 minutes before adding butter.

After melting the butter, make sure that it cools down to room temperature or is slightly warm.

This is because if it is too hot, the lemon juice might curdle and cause your lemon curd to become watery inconsistency.

Lastly, don’t use margarine instead of real butter, even though it is a cheaper option.

Using the wrong lemon: This mistake is rather obvious, but if you use a very sour lemon to make your curd, it will not taste very good.

If you want your curd to be sweet and mild in flavor, use lemons that are not as sour so the sugar can balance out its tartness.

How to Thicken Lemon Curd?

how to thicken lemon curd

The consistency of lemon curd can be improved by cooking the mixture a little more to eliminate excess water and improve its thickness.

This is sometimes done over low heat for about 5 to 10 minutes.

If your curd still becomes runny and watery despite following the correct process, here are a few ways you can thicken it.

1 – Use Cornstarch

If your curd becomes runny after you have chilled it in the fridge, this means that there is still some water leftover in the mixture.

Adding cornstarch will help to absorb the excess water and make it thicker.

  • Whisk one tablespoon of cornstarch into a quarter cup of water until well dissolved.
  • Slowly pour the mixture into your lemon curd while constantly stirring over low heat until it becomes thickened to desired consistency.

2 – Use Gelatin

This is a trick used by restaurants that serve lemon curd. To thicken your lemon curd using gelatin, follow the following steps:

  • Put one tablespoon of powdered gelatin into a quarter cup of cool water and stir well. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes to allow the mixture to dissolve completely. If you place the mixture in hot water, the gelatin will not dissolve completely.
  • Slowly pour the mixture into your lemon curd while constantly stirring over low heat until it becomes thickened to desired consistency.

3 – Use Egg Yolk

This is another trick that can be done at home. If you want to thicken your lemon curd mixture using egg yolk, follow the steps below:

Put one egg yolk into a quarter cup of water and beat well.

Slowly pour the mixture into your lemon curd while constantly stirring over low heat until it becomes thickened to desired consistency.

However, when using this method, you need to make sure that the egg yolk is fresh.

Otherwise, the mixture will not thicken due to its tendency to solidify quickly.

4 – Add Butter and Mix

If you have already added butter into your lemon curd, the best option to thicken it is simply adding more butter and mixing well.

This process will help mix some of the excess water that makes the sauce runny when chilled.

It will also give the lemon curd a creamier texture. If your curd looks lumpy or isn’t as firm as you’d like, it may be too thin.

Transfer it to a saucepan and cook it over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.

The water should evaporate, and the curd will become thick like a regular jam.

You can also strain the curd through a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth.

Why Does my Lemon Curd Taste Metallic?

why does my lemon curd taste metallic

One of the major mistakes you can make while making lemon curd is using a metal bowl.

Lemon juice and butter will react with the metal, which will result in your curd tasting metallic.

To avoid this, all the tools and utensils should be made of plastic or porcelain.

You can make your lemon curd tastier by adding ingredients like orange zest, candied ginger, or even pecans.

If you want a spicier version of your card, you can add a few drops of hot sauce.


In conclusion, lemon curd is a simple dessert made at home with some patience and the right techniques.

The steps to make it are straightforward, although getting the right consistency can be tricky, just like any other type of curd.

The thickeners mentioned above can help improve the consistency of the lemon curd to avoid lumps and clots when it’s chilled in the fridge.

So next time you decide to make some lemon curd, try using the tricks above.

how to thicken lemon curd

How to Thicken Lemon Curd? Easy Guide to Thicken Lemon Curd

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Cooking


  • Lemon curd
  • Whisk or spoon
  • Stovetop
  • Your preferred thickening ingredient


  • Prepare all the required ingredients and equipment in the article.
  • Select and follow your desired method to thicken.
  • Depending on your desired thickness, you can add more or less.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @EatDelights or tag #eatdelights!

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