The Difference Between Lemon Curd and Lemon Custard

September 10, 2022

The Difference Between Lemon Curd and Lemon Custard

There are so many ways to spice up your lemon-themed desserts and cakes. Some of my go-to’s are lemon curd and custard. Both add a nice creamy texture to your cake, but there are some notable differences that you will want to know about! This post will cover everything you need to know when it comes to the difference between lemon curd and lemon custard.

what's the difference between lemon curd and lemon custard.

Lemon is one of my absolute favorite citrus fruits to bake with. I think part of the reason I love it so much is because it reminds me of my mom. She would always make her world-famous lemon bars and they were a hit every single time. I’ve made several lemon cakes with her lemon bar recipe in mind. My Lemon Bar Cake is even inspired by her lemon bars. 

So, I’ve learned quite a few ways to implement lemon into your cakes and all of them are so amazing. If you want to try adding a lemon curd or custard to your cake, it’s important to note the difference just so you know what to expect for your bake!  

The Difference Between Lemon Curd and Lemon Custard

lemon curd vs. lemon custard.

Lemon Curd

Lemon curd is made from lemon juice, sugar, eggs, egg yolks, and unsalted butter. The texture is supposed to be super smooth, but it takes a special step to get it to its smoothest state. After you make the curd, push it through a fine-mesh sieve with a rubber spatula. This will ensure all the bumps and air bubbles are out of your curd before you add it to your cake layers. 

Your curd will need to be in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before you use it. This will help it stabilize the texture and thicken it up a bit before you add it to your cake. It can also be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, so feel free to make this a day or two in advance and it will have plenty of time to thicken up in the fridge. 

Those are the main things to note for lemon curd, but I have a few more tips you can check out HERE. And you can find my full recipe for lemon curd HERE.

what's the difference between lemon curd and lemon custard.

Lemon Custard

Lemon custard is a lot faster to make than lemon curd, and it’s a lot thicker in texture as well. You make custard by mixing together sweetened condensed milk and water and then adding in a pudding mix. This mixture will go in the fridge for about 5 to 10 minutes to set. While it’s in the fridge, you will beat your heaving whipping cream until stiff peaks form. You will fold this into the pudding mixture and then you’ll have your custard! 

So, the custard is more like a pudding/whipped cream type of texture while the curd is a little bit thinner. You also spread your custard in between your cake layers to add that nice creamy texture to your cakes. 

A couple of my favorite recipes that use my custard recipe are my Layered Pink Pavlova and my Brownie Berry Torte. Both of these are super quick and easy to make! So, if you’re testing out your custard recipe, these cakes are great options to test it out on. 

brownie berry torte with vanilla custard.

The Difference Between Lemon Curd and Lemon Custard

Alright, I hope this post on the difference between lemon curd and lemon custard helped answer some of your questions! I also hope you get the chance to make both and see which one you like to use best. Either way, both are great options for celebrating that lemon flavor in cakes and desserts. You can even have some fun by using these to pair with other flavors that go with lemon. Here are some of my favorites:

Follow me on Instagram @cakebycourtney for more tips and recipes on all things cake!

Join the Conversation

  1. Amy Beasley says:

    Thanks for the lesson on the differences between curds and custards. Do you by chance have a recipe for lemon custard with measurements? I’d love to be able to try it as all the other recipes I’m finding sound very complex! Thanks!

    1. Shoot, I don’t. But you could use my vanilla custard (with my Creme Brulee Cake) and add some lemon juice to it and see what you think.

  2. becky Spain says:

    I love the explanation on curd vs custard, however you don’t give the exact measurement for your recipe on custard. I cannot find anywhere on the web on how to make your custard sound way simple. How can I obtain that?
    Please and thank you

    1. here’s a recipe that has my custard in it!

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