Lemon Curd Filling

Add a punch of lemon to your layer cake.

Lemon Curd Filling
Photo: Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Torie Cox
Active Time:
30 mins
Chill Time:
4 hrs
Total Time:
4 hrs 30 mins
1 ¾ cups

Ready to make Southern Living's 2020 White Cake? For this year's 25th anniversary cake, we pulled out all the stops, not only giving you a recipe for decadent Coconut Cake with Coconut Cream Frosting, but also giving you three different filling options: Lemon Curd Filling, Cranberry Filling, or Whipped Chocolate Ganache Filling. It's a choose-your-own-adventure layer cake for the holidays.

If you love the warm weather and sunshine, this lemon curd is the filling for you. Bright and acidic, this curd packs a lip-puckering punch of lemon flavor, balanced out by silky butter whisked in at the end of the cooking process. The result is a silky-smooth, creamy curd that holds its own between the cake layers, still delivering a little bite. It's important to continuously stir your curd while cooking (otherwise, you may end up with scrambled eggs). Straining the curd makes it super smooth and creamy (and ensures that you don't wind up with any little pieces of egg in your finished curd).

Prepare the filling at least four hours before you plan to make the cake so it has time to chill completely. The lemon curd filling can sit in the fridge for up to 3 days, so this is a step you can execute ahead of time.


  • 6 large egg yolks

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest plus ½ cup fresh juice (from 4 large lemons)

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • ½ cup cold butter, cut into ½-inch pieces


  1. Whisk together egg yolks, granulated sugar, lemon zest and juice and cornstarch in a small heavy saucepan until combined. Cook mixture over medium, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture is thick and coats the back of spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in cold butter until melted and smooth.

  2. Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl; discard any lumps. Place bowl with strained lemon curd in a large bowl filled with ice water. Let stand, stirring often, until mixture is cool, about 20 minutes. Remove medium bowl from ice bath, and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on lemon curd (to prevent a film from forming).

  3. Cover and chill until curd is firm, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

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