How to make lemon curd without eggs, less sugar, and with a bright tart flavor. This recipe is unusually easy, dairy-free, vegan and makes a lemon curd thick enough to use as a frosting or spread on cake. This lemon curd is especially delicious paired with my healthy Lemon Cupcakes recipe.
How to Make Lemon Curd
Let's talk about how to make lemon curd using healthy ingredients. I love lemon curd, especially as a cupcake filling as I use it here. But the traditional and commercial versions use eggs as a foundation so I decided to make a lemon curd recipe that is free of eggs, dairy and is absolutely vegan. It worked! My version has a wonderful creamy sturdy texture that fills cupcakes beautifully and is strong enough to hold up a cupcake hat in my healthy lemon filled cupcakes.
What is Lemon Curd?
Lemon curd is a smooth lemon creamy spread with a strong flavor: tart, tangy and sweet at the same time. Another name for it is Lemon Cheese. The traditional version is made with butter and eggs, lots of them. Not MY curd. I made mine vegan, free of eggs and dairy. And it came out wonderfully!
What is Lemon Curd Used For?
Lemon curd is traditionally used a condiment spread for toast or cake. This lemon curd is also thick enough to use as a frosting for lemon cupcakes. Here I also filled the cupcakes and gave them a little cake hat with confection sugar, but there are many more uses for lemon curd.
Lemon curd is a wonderful spread for any loaf cake or muffins, pancakes or even toast. Even a great topping for ice cream or yogurt. This recipe uses no eggs and less sugar than traditional lemon curd recipes.
How to Make Lemon Curd Pipable
I can make my lemon curd texture spreadable or unusually thick to make it pipable as you see here on these cupcakes. Making it thick like this also makes it the perfect texture for a bar or lemon pie. I add a special ingredient to make it thick in the pipable version. But not in the spoonable version.
That special ingredient is agar agar. You don't have to add agar agar if you are happy with a spoonable lemon curd that is perfect as a spread, filling, topping, etc. But if you want to fill cupcakes like I did, or use this curd in a bar or tart or pie recipe, you'll want to add the agar. It's a vegan version of gelatin, and a derivative of seaweed, so it's plant-based and nutritious. I buy this brand online and it lasts a long time in my pantry.
My Lemon Curd Uses These Ingredients
There are many recipes for both traditional and vegan lemon curd out there. My recipe is a bit different because my resulting texture is thick and creamy, as opposed to runny. I made it that way so it could hold up my cupcake hat, or a flaky bar top or a lemon pie meringue.
My lemon curd uses the following ingredients:
Lemon Juice: to provide fresh lemon flavor. Squeezing lemons to get the fresh juice is awesome but if you need to buy bottled just be sure to choose organic lemon juice whose ingredients are only lemon, no additives.
Cornstarch or Arrowroot: I used cornstarch here but arrowroot is healthier. I couldn’t use it however because I have a daughter allergic to arrowroot. I think it would work the same as cornstarch in this recipe.
Turmeric: I added only ⅛ teaspoon for color, but it also adds welcome anti-inflammatory powers although with such a small amount, probably not much.
Organic Cane Sugar: I used organic cane sugar which is a bit finer than traditional cane sugar and I always try to use a Fair Trade brand both to ensure of no additives in the sugar and to be sure the workers who gathered the sugar cane were treated humanely and paid fairly.
Coconut Cream: This is the solid portion from one can of full fat coconut milk. To be sure the solid portion has separated out, it is best to refrigerate the can the night before. I didn’t here though, I just used a room temperature can. One can contains about ¾ cup of solid coconut cream so one can is perfect for this recipe.
I also added salt and some people add vanilla and use maple syrup as the sweetener. I didn’t try that here because I knew both ingredients would change the yellow hue.
How to Make Lemon Curd
1. To start, prepare the can of coconut cream. To do that, open the room-temperature or chilled can and scoop out just the solid cream. One can should produce about ¾ cup of solid cream. Add it to a Pyrex glass measuring cup. Put the remaining coconut water in the refrigerate to add to smoothies the next day, or freeze in an ice cube tray to add to smoothies.
2. Now, set that Pyrex measuring cup full of cream into a pot of boiling water. Don’t let the cream get splashed, but stir until the cream has melted into a liquid. Set aside.
3. Now make the lemon curd. Add the lemon juice, cornstarch, turmeric, salt and agar agar (only if you want the curd stiff enough to pipe or use in a pie or tart, otherwise leave the agar agar off), to a pot with a non-stick surface. Turn heat to medium high and set a timer for 2 minutes.
Stir every moment. As the mixture heats, it quickly curdles and turns to a paste. As soon as it turns to a smooth paste, QUICKLY lift the pan off and turn off the heat. This moment was between 1 minute and 2 minutes for me. It will look like this:
4. NOW pour in the liquid coconut cream and sugar, put the pan BACK on the stove and turn it BACK ON to medium heat, and begin stirring again. This second stir-heat session will last between 4 and 6 minutes. Basically you want to be sure everything is combined and fairly smooth and glossy. However, it won’t be perfect. It will be lumpy. Once you feel you have gotten it as combined as it’s going to get, take the pan off the stove, and turn off the heat.
5. Let the lemon curd cool in the pan a bit, stirring off and on for about 5 minutes. Then pour it into your blender jar and blend with the air cap off because the mixture is warm and you don’t want steam building so that the blender cap flies off. If your blender jar doesn’t have a lid with a removable cap, perhaps let your curd cool longer before blending. Here it is after I thickened it on the stove, let it cool and just before blending:
6. Blend the curd until is a beautiful glossy yellow. I blended it in my Blendtec for about 30 seconds. That’s it! You’ve made your lemon curd. Here it is right after blending and before chilling.
You can use it warm like this if you want to use it as a topping. Or, to pipe it or get it a bit stiff, chill it in the refrigerator.
I wanted to use my curd for these cupcakes, so I poured it directly from the blender jar into a piping bag without the tip cut. I let it cool about 30 minutes, then I cut the tip of the piping bag and filled the cupcakes as you see below:
What to Put Lemon Curd On?
Oh, let me count the ways you can use lemon curd.
- Topping for cupcakes, danish, muffins or cakes
- Spread for toasts
- Dip for cookies
- Filling for cookies
- Filling for truffles
- Topping for ice cream
- Topping for yogurt
- Filling for tart or pie crust
- Filling for between pastry layers
How Long Does Lemon Curd Last?
This easy lemon curd is made from heating coconut cream and sugar so it needs to be refrigerated and as such can last about a week. It can be frozen for three months.
Q&A for Healthy Lemon Curd
Google has some questions about lemon curd so I’ll address them here as they pertain to my vegan lemon curd recipe:
1. Does lemon curd contain eggs?
Traditional lemon curd does contain eggs, but my recipe does not. Instead I use a mix of coconut cream and cornstarch or arrowroot to create the structure that eggs create in a non vegan lemon curd.
2. Does lemon curd contain dairy?
Traditional lemon curd recipes use eggs and butter. My recipe uses coconut cream only. No eggs, no butter.
3. Is lemon curd safe to eat?
Both vegan lemon curd and traditional non vegan lemon curd are safe to eat regarding salmonella. Vegan lemon curd is safe because all ingredients are plant-based and no ingredient as the potential to have salmonella as is found in raw eggs. Traditional lemon curd is safe because even though it contains eggs, the mixture is cooked, killing off an contaminates.
4. Which is healthier, vegan lemon curd or regular lemon curd?
The answer by far is vegan lemon curd is so much healthier. It is based on coconut cream and thus carries all the nutritional power behind MCTS.
5. Is lemon curd the same as jam?
Nope, lemon curd contains less sugar and in the case of my vegan lemon curd - coconut cream and cornstarch for creamier structure. Jams are basically all fruit and sugar.
More Healthy Lemon Recipes
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How to Make Lemon Curd Healthy
- 5 Tbsp agar agar (Optional only if you want the curd to be pipable, not just spoonable like a jam)
- Remove the solid portion from a chilled can of full fat coconut milk. Reserve the coconut water for future recipes or smoothies.
- Put the solid cream into a pyrex measuring cup and set that into a pot of boiling water. Stir off and on until the coconut cream has melted into a liquid. Remove from stove and set aside.
Make Lemon Curd
- In a pot, add the lemon juice, cornstarch, agar agar, turmeric, and vanilla and stir on medium heat for about 2 minutes. The mixture should thicken to a shiny paste at almost 2 minutes in. As soon as it does, remove it from heat.
- Off the stove, pour into the pot the melted coconut cream and sugar, put the pot BACK ON THE STOVE at medium heat, and stir until the mixture is thick and creamy. Never stop stirring and stop when you feel you’ve combined all you can. It should look glossy, yellow but bumpy.
- At this point, you can either refrigerate your lemon curd and use it to eat. Or, if you want to smooth it out for a prettier texture, pour a slightly cooled mixture into your blender jar. I waited about 5 minutes before blending. Most blenders don’t like hot mixtures and the top can pop off if you blend them so it’s best the mixture not be steaming. Or you can remove the cap from your blender jar cover if it has one to release any steam.
- Once blended - it only took me about 30 seconds - pour the beautiful glossy lemon curd into a storage jar and set to cool for an hour or so in the fridge.
To Pipe Lemon Curd
- To be sure the lemon curd is pipable for, say, onto cupcakes. Pour the blended mixture directly into a piping bag that has no tip and that has not been cut at the tip yet. Set that bag upright in a tall drinking glass in the refrigerator. To get the pipable structure you see in my healthy lemon cupcakes, I chilled my curd like that for about 1 hour before piping.
- To make my lemon cupcakes with a hat as I did, simply cut a cone out of the top of the cupcake, cut the triangular bottom off the lid, fill the cupcake with curd and swirl it above to cupcake, then set the cap on top.
- I sprinkled my cupcakes with lemon zest and powdered sugar. I store them refrigerated uncovered for about 2 days before they must be eaten.