Lemon Apple Curd Recipe

This lemon apple curd recipe is an obvious follow-on to the success of my blackberry curd tart. But this isn’t as complicated a recipe. And there aren’t many ingredients. So patience will reward you with a sweet and tart, silky smooth, lemon apple curd that is delicious whether you enjoy it with a spoon or use it to fill your tart shell.

Tips and tricks for this recipe

I promised a recipe with not too many ingredients. This is it: apples, lemon, sugar, butter, and eggs. Oh, and a pinch of salt is hiding with the sugar.

This was a mix of Envy, Honeycrisp, and Jazz, but you can use any sweet and juicy apples that break down when you cook them. Avoid firm and tart apples like the Pink Lady or Granny Smith.

a jar of lemon apple curd and a spoon.
ingredients for the apple lemon curd on a cutting board.

The first step in making this lemon apple curd is breaking down the apples. Peel, core, and roughly chop the apples. For one or two apples, I just do it by hand. For a large batch of this apple curd or if I’m making apple pie, I use this apple peeler, corer, and slicer.

Put the chopped apples in a small to medium-sized sauce pan with water to cover the bottom (Panel #1 below). Heat them gently until they are soft (Panel #2), and then purée them in a food processor or run them through a food mill (Panel #3). If you don’t care if your curd is perfectly smooth, you can just mash the apples with a potato masher.

six panels showing how apples are added in the apple curd recipe.

Put the sugar, salt, lemon juice, and butter cubes in a medium-sized pot (Panel #4 above). A saucier or other pot with sloped sides helps when you have to stir the apple curd. If you want to add cinnamon or other apple pie spices, add them here. Add the apple purée (Panel #5) and heat until the butter has melted (Panel #6).

Warning. The next step is just the slightest bit tricky. You need to temper the eggs so that they warm up slowly and don’t scramble when you add them to the pot. If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a great explanation of how to temper eggs.

Basically, you take your warm melted butter, sugar, apple, and lemon mixture, and add a little bit at a time to your eggs, whisking constantly (see below). Keep drizzling in a little bit of the warm mixture into the eggs, and keep whisking, until the bowl with eggs is warm.

how to temper eggs.

You can then add the tempered eggs to the pot, always whisking, and return the pot to the heat. I then switch to a silicone spatula, but you can keep using a whisk as long as it isn’t metal. You’re going to be stirring for a bit, and metal whisks can get warm.

Heat the lemon and apple curd mixture over low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly, until it thickens. The classic test of doneness for custard is whether the mixture coats a spoon, and you can draw a line through it with your finger.

two panels showing the lemon apple curd coating a spoon.

Remove the pot from the heat and keep stirring occasionally for a few minutes as it cools slightly. Pass it through a strainer, if you like, and then pour it into a bowl or jar. Cover it with plastic wrap pushed down to the surface of the apple lemon curd to prevent it from developing a skin, and let cool.

a jar of lemon apple curd with a spoon.

FAQs about this recipe

Is this the same as the curd in Little Miss Muffett’s “curds and whey”?

The nursery rhyme refers to a dairy product. Cheese curds can be eaten on their own or are a step in the cheese-making process.

What’s the difference between curd and custard?

Custard is a generic term for a mixture thickened with eggs. Curd is a subset of custards that prominently features fruit juice or zest.

What are the best apples for baking?

It really depends on what you’re making. If you’re making an apple cake, you want firm apples that hold their shape. If you’re making applesauce, you want apples that are sweet and break down quickly. And if you’re making pie, you might want a combination of the two. To make this apple curd, you want a sweet and juicy apple like a Honeycrisp cross. Avoid firm, tart apples like Granny Smith apples unless you want a tart green apple curd.

What to do with apple curd?

You can eat it with a spoon or as a topping for English muffins. Eat it with or swirl it into your ice cream. If you want to make a fancier dessert, you can make the apple curd the star instead of blackberry curd in this blackberry curd tart recipe. Use it as a base layer instead of lime curd in my rainbow fruit tart. Or you can use a curd filling in cupcakes or Linzer cookies or macarons, if that’s your thing.

Can I freeze this lemon apple curd?

Yes. You can keep it in the freezer for a few months before using it. Or you can eat the curd straight from the freezer like a frozen lemon apple custard! Um, I might have done that.

What other fruit can be used to make fruit curd?

Lemon curd is the classic fruit curd. Citrus fruits definitely work well, like lime curd or orange curd. Or, if you made my porn star martini mocktail, a passionfruit curd would be an excellent use of your leftover passionfruit puree.

Lemon Apple Curd

Course Dessert
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 20
Calories 56kcal
Author uglyducklingbakery

Equipment

  • Food processor or food mill

Ingredients

  • 2 apples
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup (100 grams or 3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice from 1 to 2 lemons
  • 4 tablespoons (57 grams or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 pinch salt

Instructions

  • Core, peel, coarsely chop the apples, put them in a small to medium sized pot with a small amount of water to cover the bottom. Heat over medium low heat until the apples start to break down, about 15 minutes.
    2 apples
  • Blitz the softened apples in a food processor or run them through a food mill until smooth.
  • Add the egg and egg yolk to a small bowl and whisk until blended. Set aside.
    1 egg, 1 egg yolk
  • Add the sugar, lemon juice, butter cubes, salt, and 3/4 cup of the puréed apple to a medium sized pan, ideally one with sloping sides. Heat on medium-low heat until the butter has melted and then remove it from the heat.
    1/2 cup (100 grams or 3.5 ounces) granulated sugar, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 4 tablespoons (57 grams or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, 1 pinch salt
  • Temper the eggs by spooning a little bit of the warm apple mixture into the eggs, whisking as the mixture is added. Keep spooning a little bit at a time, whisking constantly, until the eggs have warmed.
  • Now add the egg to the pot with the apple mixture, again whisking constantly.
  • Once all of the egg has been added, return the pot to medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened. The classic test of doneness is when the custard coats the back of a spoon, and you can draw a line through the curd with your finger. This should take about 10-15 minutes but may take longer if you have the heat low. Do not let the apple curd come to a boil or start to steam. If it does, remove it from the heat until it cools slightly and turn down the heat on the stovetop.
  • Once the lemon apple curd has thickened, turn off the heat and continue to stir for a minute or two until it cools slightly.
  • Pass the apple curd through a strainer if you like and pour it into a clean jar or bowl. Place plastic wrap over the surface of the apple curd so it doesn't form a skin and put it in the refrigerator to cool completely. Homemade lemon apple curd can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.

Notes

Variations:
1) Increase the amount of apple to 1 cup to decrease the tartness of the curd.
2) Use apple pie spices like cinnamon, cloves, and allspice to make an apple pie curd.
3) Use lemon apple curd in an apple curd tart or as the base layer for a fruit tart. Or use it as a filling in cupcakes or cookies like Linzer cookies or macarons.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoon | Calories: 56kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 6mg | Potassium: 27mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 105IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg

What’s next?

If you make this apple curd recipe, please leave a comment or rating here. Or share a pic with me on Instagram!

Check out other uglyducklingbakery apple recipes like this strawberry apple pie, blackberry apple pie, or apple muffins. Or how about some savory apple recipes like this apple bourbon pork tenderloin or chicken and apple meatballs?

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the mess of pans and dishes in the sink after making apple lemon curd.

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