Lemon curd is a delightful dessert sauce that I make on a regular basis. While I consider it to be a dessert sauce because of how well it pairs with desserts, it also makes a regular appearance at my breakfast table, where I serve it with biscuits, scones and other breakfast goodies. Homemade lemon curd is easy to make, but did you know it can be made even more easily in the microwave?
When I first learned about this technique, I couldn’t wait to give it a try. This recipe is a slightly scaled up version of the recipe that I have been using to make lemon curd for years. It works just as well in the microwave as on the stovetop, surprisingly! The microwave trick means that you can shave several minutes off your cooking time and have fewer bowls to clean when you’re done.
While most custards are made with milk and eggs, lemon curd is a custard that is made with eggs and lemon juice – and plenty of sugar to counter that tart juice, too. Like other types of custards, lemon juice is typically cooked on the stovetop and hot liquid is drizzled carefully into the eggs to temper them, thus creating a sauce with a very smooth consistency. Due to the relatively small amount of liquid in the curd, along with the relatively high amount of sugar, the eggs are protected enough to cook into the curd and not curdle on their own in the microwave. In other words, the curd cooks nicely and you don’t need to bother with the tempering step that you need when cooking on the stove!
You will need a microwave-safe bowl to make the recipe. The curd can be whisked together and cooked in the same bowl. While the bowl does not have to be huge, it does need to have some room at the top because the curd will bubble up a bit as it cooks. It takes about 5 minutes to make a batch of lemon curd this size and, if your bowl is clear, you will be able to see the bubbling of the curd slow down (the bubbles will become a bit larger, too) as it thickens. Butter is whisked in after it has cooked to bring some richness to the curd, giving it a more velvety mouthfeel.
After microwaving, butter is whisked into the hot curd. The curd will continue to thicken up as it cools down, so don’t expect it to be as stiff as frosting when it is fresh from the microwave. I recommend straining it while it is still hot to remove lumps that have developed in the curd during cooking. Straining the curd will also remove any pieces of lemon zest, which add a lot of lemon flavor, but take away slightly from the overall texture of the finished curd. That being said, the curd can still be eaten immediately, so if you don’t mind a small lump or two, go ahead and skip the straining. The curd will continue to thicken when it is chilled in the refrigerator and will keep for at least a week in a closed container. It might keep for longer than that, but this is a relatively small batch and I doubt you’ll still have any leftover a week after making it.
Microwave Lemon Curd
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp butter, softened
In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, whisk together sugar, egg and egg yolk until well-combined. Whisk in lemon juice and zest until mixture is uniform.
Microwave on high for 5-6 minutes, until lemon curd has thickened. Lemon curd will start to boil after less than 5 minutes in the microwave, but the bubbles will become slower and larger as it thickens.
Remove curd from the microwave and whisk vigorously to ensure the curd is smooth. Whisk in butter. Strain curd to remove any small lumps or bits of lemon zest. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.
Makes about 3/4 cup.
Need some recipes using Lemon Curd? Try these!