Homemade Key Lime Curd {how-to}

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Homemade Key Lime CurdHow to Make Homemade “Key Lime” Curd

When spring and summer arrive with warmer weather, and our days are made longer by extended sunlight, we start thinking about making light or light-tasting and bright fresh fruit desserts. And, when we think of using lemon or lime curd in a fruit dessert recipe for some extra citrus kick, we tend to purchase a jar or two.

However, I am here to champion homemade citrus curd and show you how very easy it is to make with our Homemade “Key Lime” Curd recipe. All it takes is a bit of time for prep work, about a half hour of actual cooking time and some extra stirring to incorporate the butter. Furthermore, citrus and fruit curds should not be solely reserved for spring and summer as they can be enjoyed equally during winter months.

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Before my first attempt to make homemade lemon curd, I was a mess…just terrified. What if it scorches? What if it curdles and I end up with lemony scrambled eggs? Even worse, what if I burn it? What if it separates? What if I fail? Oh, the horrors!

Why are we so intimidated by such an easy peasy preparation? And, why does this seemingly fancy schmancy food stuff seem only fit to serve The Queen of England?

Because we are informed about all the pratfalls of making homemade citrus curd upfront, we set ourselves up for a lack of confidence. Then, we feel the added pressure that perhaps we must plan a tea party complete with all the “proper tea” preparations, bring out our finest china and silver, serve crumpets and scones (or “strumpets” as Jim Carrey’s character, Lloyd Christmas, calls them in the film, Dumb and Dumber) and sip our teacups with our pinkies raised. Silly. All of these preconceived notions about fruit curd are just plain nonsense!

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As it turns out, my first batch of lemon curd turned out just fine and I had nothing to fear. That’s right. Nothing. Fear, I believe, is the number one reason we put off doing something fun and challenging in the kitchen. I swear, I thought to myself, “That’s it? That’s all there is to it? I did it!” We all must start from scratch.

It was a good thing I started with a good, well-written and reliable recipe—one that I took the time to read through thoroughly. Like, three times. Of course, this is something Lucy, of I Love Lucy, never did. One of my favorite episodes from season one, “Pioneer Women” (link is to video clip at Hallmark Channel website), is when Lucy misreads a bread recipe as to the amount of yeast and tries to bake homemade bread with Ethel to win a bet with the boys. A GINORMOUS loaf of bread juts out of the oven taking up nearly half her kitchen and eventually has Lucy crouched and pressed up against her lower kitchen cabinets. Hahaha!

lucy bakes bread

Yes, the key to successfully making something you’ve never made before starts from scratch–first, by reading the recipe. By reading the recipe, to include all the tips and “visual cues”, you will know what to expect. Knowing what to expect will certainly put any fears to rest. Then, try visualizing making the recipe as you read. Easy peasy. Lemon squeezy.

For the recipe I am sharing today, I merged together Alton Brown’s methods and, for the most part, Rose Levy Beranbaum’s ingredients ratio for Lemon Curd. For beginners, I believe using a double boiler (Alton’s preferred method) is ideal as it creates a gentle and controlled environment to make the curd thus preventing any scorching or burning.

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So, don’t be fearful. Embrace the opportunity to grow your culinary skillset and enjoy the challenge of making your own homemade citrus or fruit curd, by making our Homemade “Key Lime” Curd. Because, once you do (and eat it by the spoonful as I did!), you will be on Cloud Nine. Just be careful and stop yourself from eating all your homemade curd by the spoon. Or, you just may need a 12-step program!

Homemade fruit curd doesn’t have to be made from all citrus fruit. For instance, have you ever heard of raspberry curd? Strawberry curd? Well, you can make them homemade as well! Here are two great recipes from two fabulous dessert blogs and food bloggers, Laura of Tutti Dolci and Valerie of Une Gamine dans la Cuisine. Laura’s gorgeous Raspberry Curd Tart includes a recipe for homemade raspberry curd made with Meyer lemons. And, Valerie’s recipe for Strawberry Curd is sweet, with just a slight burst of lemon flavor.

Raspberry Curd Tart by Tutti Dolci
Strawberry Curd by Une Gamine dans la Cuisine

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What exactly is fruit curd?

Fruit curd is a dessert filling, spread and/or topping typically made with citrus juices such as lemon, lime or orange. Basic ingredients include a mixture of beaten egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice and zest which are gently cooked until thickened and cooled. The mixture forms a soft and smooth fruit flavored curd. Some recipes include egg whites and butter.

Although fruit curds are used to fill pies and tarts, they are much different from pie fillings and custards in that a higher proportion of juice and zest are used which provide a concentrated or more intense flavor. Fruit curds made with butter will have a creamier and smoother texture. Other pie fillings and custards contain little or no butter and rely on starches (arrowroot or cornstarch) or flour for thickening whereas fruit curds rely on egg yolks for thickening.

More creative fruit curds use citrus fruits such as grapefruits and tangerines as well as berries such as blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries, and tropical fruits such as passion fruit and mango.

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Here are some ways to enjoy homemade citrus or fruit curd:

As a Condiment for Breakfast

  • Spread on Bagels, English Muffins or Toast with Jam and Cream Cheese
  • Spread on Biscuits, Muffins, Scones or Rolls
  • Swirl into Yogurt with Granola and Berries or Dried Fruit
  • Topping for French Toast, Pancakes or Waffles
  • Topping for Oatmeal or Porridge

In Baking & Dessert Making

  • Filling for Cake Layers and Crepes
  • Filling for Cookies and Macarons
  • Filling for Cupcakes and Baked Doughnuts
  • Filling for Mini Meringues and Pavlova
  • Filling for Pies and Tarts or Mini Phyllo Tarts
  • Filling for Profiteroles and Puff Pastries
  • Layered Filling in Parfaits and Trifles or Napoleons
  • Served with Fresh Fruit and Whipped Coconut or Dairy Cream
  • Swirled into Batter for Cheesecakes
  • Topping for Ice Cream Sundaes

Why is our Homemade “Key Lime” Curd wicked good?

Our Homemade “Key Lime” Curd melts in your mouth. It is creamy and smooth due to the addition of butter and bursting with citrus flavor. To create the key lime flavor in our recipe (since it is often difficult to source fresh key limes locally), we used both lemon and lime juices in a 1:1 ratio as well as all lemon zest for a consistent throughout bright yellow color. If you could taste sunshine on a spoon, our Homemade “Key Lime” Curd would be it!

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Homemade Key Lime Curd {How-To}

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: Makes 2¼ cups; about 550 grams or 245 grams per cup.

Homemade Key Lime Curd {How-To}

Our Homemade “Key Lime” Curd melts in your mouth. It is creamy and smooth due to the addition of butter and bursting with citrus flavor. To create the key lime flavor in our recipe, we used both lemon and lime juices in a 1:1 ratio as well as all lemon zest for a consistent throughout bright yellow color. If you could taste sunshine on a spoon, our Homemade “Key Lime” Curd would be it!

Ingredients

  • 7 to 8 large egg yolks (about 130 grams), depending on size
  • 1¼ cups + 2 tablespoons (275 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2¼ fluid ounces (70 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 large lemons)
  • 2¼ fluid ounces (70 grams) freshly squeezed lime juice (2½ limes)
  • Pinch of kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon (6 grams) finely grated lemon zest
  • ½ cup (1 stick or 113 grams) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pats

Directions

Add an inch or so of water to a medium saucepan or bottom pan of a double boiler set. Bring water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, in a medium sized metal bowl (or separate glass bowl) or top pan (insert) of a double boiler set, beat yolks and sugar vigorously with a whisk until smooth and well blended, about 1 minute. (Mixture will be very thick at first, just keep at it.) Add citrus juices and salt, whisk until smooth. If mixed in separate glass bowl, scrape and pour into top pan of double boiler set.

Once the water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl over saucepan or top pan (insert) into bottom of double boiler. Do not allow water to touch the bottom of the metal bowl or top pan (insert) of the double boiler as this could scorch and possibly curdle the mixture. Cook whisking constantly until thickened, about 20 to 22 minutes. The mixture will change from translucent to an opaque light yellow color and will coat the back of a wooden spoon yet still be liquid enough to pour. Do not allow the mixture to boil or it will curdle.

Remove promptly from heat and immediately whisk in lemon zest to release oils. Add butter gradually, one piece at a time, whisking well to combine. Allow each addition of the butter to melt completely before adding more. If straining (this is optional to strain citrus zest and any coagulated egg) for a smooth curd, strain at once into a medium bowl and press strainer with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula until only the coarse residue remains. Discard residue. Allow curd to cool; cover by laying a layer of plastic food wrap directly on top of the surface of the curd. The curd will continue to thicken further upon resting and chilling. If desired, transfer to airtight container and refrigerate.

Recipe Notes

Tips:

Before juicing citrus, heat fruit for 10 seconds in microwave oven on high power. Roll between hands or on work surface, pressing lightly on the fruit. This will release a significant greater amount of juice.

To prevent curdling, be sure to blend the sugar well with the yolks before adding the citrus (lemon and lime) juices. Use a double boiler (or a metal bowl placed over saucepan) with an inch or so of water in bottom pan or heavy nonreactive (non-aluminum) saucepan which conducts heat evenly.

Do not allow the curd mixture to boil. Remove immediately from heat once curd is thickened and, if straining (this is optional to strain the citrus zest), strain at once as the residual heat will continue to cook the curd.

If you have an accurate candy thermometer, check the temperature of the cooked curd. It should be 170ºF. Store curd covered tightly in refrigerator. It will keep up to 2 weeks.

Warning: The reason why a nonreactive (non-aluminum) saucepan should be used is because aluminum will react with the yolks and turn them a chartreuse (green) color.

Recipe Inspiration:

Our Homemade “Key Lime” Curd recipe was adapted by recipes for Lemon Curd by Alton Brown of FoodNetwork.com and award-winning cookbook author, Rose Levy Beranbaum. Rose’s Lemon Curd recipe can be found on page 340 in the highly acclaimed cookbook, The Cake Bible (William Morrow Cookbooks; 8th edition, 1st edition September 20, 1988). We used lemon and lime juice in a 1:1 ratio as well as all lemon zest for a consistent throughout bright yellow color to create a key lime flavor profile.

Recipe Source: WickedGoodKitchen.com

Copyright © Wicked Good Kitchen. All content and images are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words. Alternatively, link back to this post for the recipe.

http://wickedgoodkitchen.com/homemade-key-lime-curd/

Visual Step-by-Step for Making Homemade “Key Lime” Curd

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About Stacy

Stacy Bryce is a recipe developer and member of the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals). Her passion is developing original conventional baking recipes as well as special diet recipes to include dairy-free, gluten-free and grain-free. You can follow Stacy at Pinterest.

Comments

  1. Your curd looks luscious! Thanks for the link love :).

  2. Oh lord have mercy! I want to put this ime curd on… everything!!!

  3. Dalila G. says:

    You make it sound sooo simple!
    I buy my curd in a jar, but after reading your post I am definitely game for making my own.
    Like you said, why fear it? If I do screw up on the first try I still have extra eggs, limes and lemons.
    Thanks for the tip on microwaving the lemons, I never heard of the trick.

    • Thank you, Dalila! I’m so happy to know you are inspired after reading my post. Fruit curd really is easy to make and, if you use the double boiler method, you shall have no worries. The tip for microwaving citrus fruit for 10 seconds prior to rolling and squeezing out the juices comes from Rose Levy Beranbaum on pages 340 and 341 in her cookbook, The Cake Bible (1988). It really is a fabulous kitchen tip! Thanks for dropping by and happy fruit curd making!

  4. I have been DREAMING about key lime pie ever since it’s gotten hot here. This looks delicious. Can’t. Stop. Drooling.

    • Thank you, Anne! Developing a recipe for paleo Key Lime Pie is on top of my to do list! Stay tuned…

      • Paleo and key lime? Oh, that’s my idea of perfect! I’ll definitely stay tuned.

        Can you freeze the curd?

        • Hi there, Jaki! Thank you for stopping by. However, I think you are just a bit mistaken. The “key lime” curd recipe is not paleo as it has plenty of granulated sugar in it. But, yes. You can definitely freeze lemon and lime curds (other curds, too). Cover with plastic food wrap directly over the top in freezing container to prevent a film from forming. Freeze for up to 2 months. After thawing in refrigerator, the curd will keep up to 1 week. Sorry that this recipe is not paleo. Perhaps I will try with agave nectar and see if it tests well. Meanwhile, I hope that I have answered your questions. Thank you for dropping by!

  5. Stacy:
    You have made me a super-happy camper with this recipe! I had bought a hugely expensive All-Clad double boiler and the first two recipes I made in it crashed — a custard sauce and 7-minute frosting.
    I was using your Key Lime Curd recipe as a last test before sadly admitting that I had wasted money on a bad piece of equipment. All-Clad? Faulty? Doesn’t work? Is that even possible?
    The curd came out just beautifully, thanks to your meticulous directions and notes.
    From here on, I am following you religiously. Maybe even stalking, in a nice way!
    (And I am using the remaining egg whites to make crisp little meringue shells that I will fill with the curd…)
    Elisabeth Handler recently posted…Handler PR Gets Involved in C2SV – San Jose’s Answer to SXSW!My Profile

    • Thank you for the glowing feedback, Elisabeth! I truly appreciate it. I’m so glad my curd recipe worked out so well for you. This confirms that we all should not fear making homemade curd, right? 🙂 A good recipe is well tested and put through the paces. Taking the best of all methods, and providing excellent visual cues and tips, is what makes a recipe truly foolproof and ‘tested, tried and true’. Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your success in the kitchen!

  6. ErinElizabeth says:

    Yum. I just made this to use as a filling for my husbands birthday cake tomorrow (vanilla cake with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream then covered with flaked coconut). I tasted it while it was cooking and was kinda of disappointed, the flavor didn’t seem very sharp. But, once it was off the heat and the butter and zest were added I can’t stop myself. I’m so glad I actually followed the recipe and it a very good thing the recipe made way more than I need tomorrow!

    • Awww…thank you for sharing your positive feedback, Erin Elizabeth! It means a lot to me and I am so very glad that you were pleased. Yes, the zest of the citrus (with the natural essential oils) is what gives this curd its extra zing. This recipe was developed to create the closest taste to true Key Lime Curd (which calls for fresh key lime juice), but using both lemon and lime juices. Of course, if you ever have access to fresh key limes, you can easily substitute in this recipe. I hope your husband enjoyed his special cake for his birthday! He has a very special wife to make an extraordinary layered cake for his birthday celebration. It sounds fabulous! Once again, thank you ever so much for stopping by to share your positive feedback with me and fellow readers. Have a wonderful autumn weekend!

  7. Wow, what a delicious success this was! I have both a lemon and a lime tree in the back yard and was sitting looking sadly at the huge number of both that are ready to pick. I love lemon curd but my limes are so sweet and juicy that I wanted to try them in a curd. Your recipe was flawless and the finished product amazing. We enjoyed it with a few ripe raspberries layered in a parfait cup. Not a drop left! Thank you!

    • Thank you, Marki! I appreciate you taking the time to drop by and provide feedback for me and fellow readers on this fun recipe. Sounds like your dessert was divine. So funny (ironic) that you wrote today. I am gearing up to make some homemade lime curd for a St. Patty’s Day recipe. I could use some excess limes from that beautiful tree of yours! 😉 Thanks again for dropping by and have a great week!

  8. Carol Himsworth says:

    Hi Stacy
    I started a few months ago doing pickles and curds. I’ve just made a Lemon & Lime Curd and friends say its delicious and was asked to do a Lime Curd. Come across your recipe and sounds so yummy, sooo just gotta have a go. Don’t know about you but to me if its Lime its gotta be Green in colour, do you think by adding a touch of green colouring it will do something to the taste????

    • Hi there, Carol! My apologies for such a late reply. It was a very busy day today. To answer your question…yes, you may certainly add a touch of food coloring. From my experience in working with artificial food coloring, it will not impact the taste because you won’t be using much. If you use natural food coloring, depending on the ingredients used to make it, it could possibly change the taste a bit. I am experimenting myself this week making a lime curd more green in color, naturally, without food coloring for St. Patty’s Day. I will definitely let you know how it goes! Meanwhile, I hope I have answered your question thoroughly and completely. Best of luck to you and happy lime curd making!

      • Carol Himsworth says:

        Hi Stacy, no probs we all get days like it. Thank you for the info. I’ve made the lime curd without green colouring today just looks like lemon curd but oh well, not tried yet but cant wait to. Def will try with colouring next time. Thanks again.

        • Hi Carol, Thank you for writing. I’m so glad you went ahead and made your own lime curd. Yes, all-natural homemade lime curd is not green. When I buy Key Lime Curd, I buy the Stonewall Kitchen brand. Theirs is not green either. But, green food coloring certainly does make it look prettier…especially for St. Patty’s Day. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by and for providing feedback. Enjoy your homemade curd!

  9. Kelly Stelzer says:

    Hi there. Can you substitute bottled lime juice? If so, any adjustments to recipie? TY

  10. How long does the filling lasts before it expires?

    • Hi there, Tiffany! Thank you for writing. To answer your question, as stated in the Notes section, under Tips, at the bottom of the recipe, “Store curd covered tightly in refrigerator. It will keep up to 2 weeks.” I hope that I have answered your question thoroughly and completely. Meanwhile, best wishes for a happy holiday season!

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