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When Your Lemon Curd Fails

What’s as sad as egg whites that won’t whip? Mayonnaise that curdles? Bread that doesn’t rise? Or a cake that sags? Runny Lemon Curd!

YEP! When your triple citrus, hand stirred, homegrown egg curd doesn’t set up. UGH!

This is actually a photo of my Rhubarb Curd that IS set up, that thickness is what you’re going for.

I made a gorgeous batch of Lemon Grapefruit Orange Curd last week for Palmer Food Swap and it flopped. We’re talking liquid-like splashy action when I jiggled the bowl. When I tasted it, it was like drinking water.

SUCH disappointment! My curd was a huge fat flop on my hands AND no swap item to take to my own food swap. I panicked but knew there HAD to be a way to fix it.

When Curd Fails1

I quickly looked up how to fix it and found out that if I cooked the curd again I could save it. BUT I also read up on all the ways to make THE BEST curd and incorporated them in this post.

How to Fix Runny Lemon Curd

  • Turns out MOST curds fail because they don’t get cooked long enough to thicken the egg yolks
  • You CAN reheat it!
  • Put it back in a heavy duty saucepan and put over medium heat
  • STIR STIR STIR with a whisk OR a wooden spoon
  • use a thermometor, you want to get it to 170˚
  • sometimes you need to keep it there or right in that area, at between 170˚-175˚ for several minutes and even up to 30 minutes
  • you must keep stirring or whisking, not boiling it for the entire time it’s on the heat
  • check for doneness with the “back of the spoon” method, dip the back of a spoon in the curd, swip your finger through it, if it’s done the area won’t back fill it will stay clean
  • Once it passes the back of the spoon test pour it through a sieve into a clean bowl, let it cool for couple minutes then cover with plastic wrap and chill
  • Don’t let it set in the pan you were cooking it in, that could continue to heat the curd and give you scrambled eggs

How to Fix Runny Lemon Curd

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5 thoughts on “When Your Lemon Curd Fails”

  1. Thank you for this tip! With quarantine, I’ve been trying knew things, and I made a lemon curd that didn’t set. I was really disappointed, but I followed your tip of just whisking and holding it at 170 for 5 minutes, it’s it’s great! I did continue to whisk in the hot pan, off the heat for a few minutes, just to be sure.

  2. I tried a lemon curd recipe using cornstarch and it was awesome. Then used a sl different recipe in my IP. Massive runny fail. Salvaged it with adding a 1 1/2 T Corn starch slurry and stirring constantly on low heat-perfect again

  3. After cooling my lemon curd in the fridge, when I stirred it the butter had hardened in the bottom of the bowl. What did I do wrong? It tasted good but I scooped out the hardened butter. It felt a little gritty in my mouth. I’ve never had it before so I don’t really know what it’s texture is supposed to be.

    • Sounds like you needed to incorporate the butter into the mixture better. It should be very smooth and velvety no gritty or lumpy bits.


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