Light Lemon Curd

When Charles (Five Euro Food) and then A_Boleyn posted Lemon Curd recipes I thought it was high time I presented a lighter version, which might please all those, who, like me, prefer sharper and more intense lemon desserts. I must have heard of lemon curd for the first time a long time ago, but given the amazing rapidity with which I was able to empty a butter- and sugar-loaded jar, this delightful spread was one of the rarely enjoyed sweet treats. When I finally tested its low-fat version I quickly forgot this was a lightened lemon curd and have never come back to the traditional version. In fact, the drastic reduction of fat has resulted in a more intense, sharper and, I would even say, more elegant flavour. (It was a bit like discovering Alain Ducasse’s half-cream, half-milk Crème Brûlée, which has put me off the 100% fatty cream, traditional version forever).

After several batches I slightly modified the original recipe (adapted from this fantastic Polish baker’s blog). I added a small amount of butter instead of the advised oil (I missed a touch of buttery flavour) and found a foolproof and easy method of getting rid of lumps (see below). I have also made this lemon ultralight, partially substituting the sugar with a special cooking sweetener (I wouldn’t advise however substituting all the sugar with a sweetener: the texture is not the same and it simply tastes worse).

Lemon curd is fantastic on any type of sweet biscuit, on toasted bread, on a slice of yeast cake, challah, but it’s also an excellent tart, pie, cake or cookie/biscuit filling (see for example Thumbprint Almond Cookies). It is of course irresistible on its own, eaten directly from the jar.

TIP:  Start with 12 tablespoons sugar and add more, if needed, after the curd has thickened.

Preparation: 15 – 20 minutes

Ingredients (yield: one 300-350 ml jar):

juice from 3 lemons

zest from 1 lemon

12 – 15 tablespoons castor sugar (or 10 tablespoons sugar + 5 tablespoons cooking sweetener which is usually sweeter than sugar)

2 eggs

1 flat tablespoon cornstarch (or potato starch, but cornstarch gives a lighter result)

1 heaped tablespoon butter 

Mix everything in a blender, apart from the butter.

Pour into a small pan, add the butter and warm at low heat, constantly stirring, until it thickens.

Taste and add more sugar if needed. Stir well until the sugar/the sweetener dissolves.

Put into a jar, close the lid and let it cool down.

Keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Serve on toast, bread, use it as a pie or a cake filling (it is delicious in the Thumbprint Almond Cookies).

47 thoughts on “Light Lemon Curd

  1. Barb @ Profiteroles and Ponytails

    I have been craving lemon curd since I saw it on both Charles’ and A. Boleyn’s blogs. I am always up for lighter versions of things, so I’d like to give your version a try. It just feels like you should make lemon desserts in the spring, doesn’t it? I’d also like to try that half-milk, half-cream creme brulee you mention. It is my husband’s all time favourite dessert and his birthday is coming up. I’m made the full-fat version for him any times!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi, Barb. I hope you try this lighter version. The crème brûlée is in fact not even announced as lighter in this famous French cook’s book. It is simply the new French dessert tendency: less fat and less sugar, i.e. more elegant. I even find his lemon tart very… tart compared to standard boring, horribly sweet tarts found in French pastry shops. I remember I realised his crème brûlée version was lighter when I ordered crème brûlée in a French bistro and thought it was horribly fat. Since then I have never ordered it. Isn’t the situation where a lighter dessert tastes better an ideal one?

  2. Sylvia@Peaches and Donuts

    Woo hoo!! I didn’t think that it was possible to make lemon curd without the use of cream!!! I’m suppose to be off dairy so I’m really excited right now! I will definitely be making this soon! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Sylvia. Not only without cream, but also without butter (you can add one tablespoon oil instead).

  3. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Light version of lemon curd! How perfect. I get addicted to lemon curd and put anything with lemon curd. =P Light version sounds even better as long as it tastes delicious! Wish you are in Japan with me – sakura is full bloom now, Sissi!!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Nami. It is not only lighter, but also delicious. Believe me, I wish I were with you now…
      I hope you are having wonderful time with your friends and family!

  4. A_Boleyn

    What a lovely bright jar of lemon curd! I eat curd so rarely that I just had to indulge … though I know could cut the butter in my own recipe in half, if I really wanted to as well.

    I DO make a half 2% milk, half whipping cream version of flan and creme brulee though. :)

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, A_Boleyn. It’s always surprising when a lightened recipe is as good as the standard one (or even better). I’m happy you also make the lighter crème brûlée. You are the first one I meet!

  5. Zsuzsa

    Sissi WOW! Methinks it is time for lemons again! This photo is the most lusciously desirable thing I have ever laid my eyes on…

  6. Jeno @ Week Nite Meals

    Hi Sissi! I’ve probably only had lemon curd on the rare occasion when order a slice of lemon pie in a restaurant, never thought to eat it with a slice bread, though the idea is very appealing! I think you and I have similar taste when it comes to sweets, I love them more tart than heavily sweetened, bet this is yummy!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Jeno. Lemon curd is extraordinary with good basic biscuits or cookies too! If you use at least partially sweetener, this one is really without much danger for the waistline 😉 I also think we have similar preferences.

  7. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles

    Oh Sissi, this looks deliciously inviting. Thank you for the reminder of Charles’ lemon curd and for your gorgeous, healthy addition. Isn’t it amazing how you can cut back on excess sugar and fat without sacrificing flavour? I agree, there’s something about the combination of butter and lemon that just gels right. You don’t need a lot of butter as you suggest but it works better, in my view, for this type of recipe than oil. What a lovely spring hostess gift this would make! I’m pinning this right now :).

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Kelly for so many kind words! The funny thing is that my friend, a big lemon curd fan, who has a perfect figure, excellent health and who can indulge in the standard fatty version as much as she wishes, prefers this low-fat version too! She says it’s lighter in taste and more elegant… In short I’m always thrilled to find light recipes which are delicious at the same time.
      I think oil brought only a bit of smoothness, but the tablespoon of butter not only thickens a bit more the curd, but also smells and tastes a bit buttery. Just the amount one needs to feel happy :-)
      As for the sugar in general, my mum (who didn’t really cook light) used to make low-sugar cakes. She just preferred them this way. Now I see that sugar in sweets is also a question of habit. Most cakes, cookies or desserts made by others have always been and are way too sweet for me.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thanks, Karen. I think you would love it, indeed. My sweetener is mainly composed of sodium cyclamat. It’s a Swiss brand name, but I have read that cyclamat exists also in the US. I don’t use only it, but usually half-half with sugar, which has a nice taste and structure.
      Apparently cyclamat has apparently different concentrations and different sweetening levels. I buy it in a big jar and it’s written “special for cooking and baking”. (I hope I don’t use anything toxic…).

  8. wok with ray

    Must taste wonderful with some crackers and of course not without a hot cup of tea. As always, you share some wonderful recipes out there and thank you, Sissi! Have a great week to you!

  9. Coffee and Crumpets

    Love anything citrusy. I love lemon tarts and lemon bars so maybe I will use this light version next time. I also love the blender bit. If you can throw everything in and whiz it, I am all in!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you. I used to have lumps all the time and this mixing stage resolves it somehow.

  10. Hotly Spiced

    I love lemon curd and if you have plenty of lemons this is a great way to use them up and like you say, lemon curd has so many uses. How handy it is to have some lemon curd in the fridge. xx

  11. Charles

    Hi Sissi – I found the trick to not eat the whole pot is to put half the batch onto the highest shelf in the fridge and hide it behind some vegetables or something. That way you only discover it again after a week or two and by that time it’s ok to indulge a little again, though of course when you do it’s too easy to make a massive layer of the curd on bread, about 1cm thick 😀

    I’m interested by your lighter curd – I have to be honest and say I enjoy “full fat” lemon curd a lot because it’s so tangy, but the butter takes the edge off a lot. Is this as tangy as, for example, the filling in citron tartelettes which you can buy in French patisseries? I find that delicious but exceptionally tangy… it almost makes my face “shiver” sometimes when I taste it for the first time 😀

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi Charles, it’s hilarious, but doesn’t work for me… I always remember where I put things in the fridge and the worst thing is that I’m the only lemon curd fan at home 😉 so he whole jar is for me!
      All depends on how much sugar/sweetener you put here. I frankly make it because the taste is more “lemony” but most of all because whenever I can find a lighter way to eat something I love, I choose it because I already indulge into some things which cannot be lightened (korokke, tempura…). It’s funny because I usually find the French lemon tartlets too sweet! (Definitely we have a different tanginess preference 😉 ). I was surprised the Alain Ducasse’s lemon tart recipe was perfect for my taste because I was prepared it would be too sweet.

  12. mjskit

    I bookmarked Charle’s lemon curd and now I’ve bookmarked yours – both look delicious and the lighter curd is a great idea! Now I HAVE to make lemon curd! It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for quite a long time. Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. juliana

    Sissi, I love lemon curd…and like your light version…will have to try this recipe next time making lemon curd…thank you!
    Hope you are having a fabulous week :)

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