Lemon curd is one of those recipes that, at first, might appear hard to veganize because its unique, gooey texture is traditionally created with eggs. But in reality, as one often finds out with baked goods, the eggs are eminently dispensable.
Today I have for you a vegan lemon curd recipe made from scratch that is not just easy, it also needs just six ingredients, and once you have gathered your ingredients in a small saucepan it comes together in under five minutes.
This is a delicious curd: tangy, sweet, creamy. And there are so many things you can do with it:
But first, let's begin with the basics.
What is lemon curd and what is it made of?
Lemon curd is a thick, gooey, usually rich topping or spread. It is comfortingly creamy and startlingly tart, all at the same time.
Lemon curd can be eaten by itself, although it is usually used as a topping or spread in breakfast and dessert dishes.
Ingredients for vegan lemon curd
- Tapioca starch: Traditionally the unique texture of lemon curd is created by heating eggs with other ingredients, like butter and sugar. As the proteins in the eggs heat up, they thicken or coagulate, creating a thick but still slightly runny and gooey curd. For this vegan lemon curd recipe we'll replace the eggs with a starch. I used tapioca starch (corn starch or arrowroot starch are fine too).
- Nondairy milk: Oat milk, which is thick, gives a nice creaminess, so use that if possible. Soymilk is a fine option.
- Lemon juice and zest: A large lemon would yield enough zest and juice (about three tablespoons) for this recipe.
- Sugar: I add six tablespoons because, remember, you want to balance the sweet and the tangy in this recipe. You can add less--or more.
- Vegan butter: Just two tablespoons. It adds creaminess and the richness.
- Turmeric: Albeit an unusual ingredient here, the turmeric adds the beautiful yellow color you would otherwise get from the egg yolks. Don't add a lot--a fourth of a teaspoon is enough to add color and disappear without changing the flavor. Too much turmeric will make the curd bitter.
How thick should lemon curd be?
I tried out the lemon curd with different amounts of starch to vary the thickness, and here's what I found.
A tablespoon and a half of starch make a thicker curd that works great in tarts.
A tablespoon of starch makes a runnier but still thick and viscous curd that is wonderful as a spread for pancakes, waffles, toast, etc. and as a topping for a cake.
In the image comparison below the picture on the left is one made with a tablespoon of tapioca starch and the one on the right is made with a tablespoon and a half. As you can see, the one on the right is more opaque and thicker.
Both taste amazingly good, with a great balance of tart and sweet.
One thing to keep in mind is that the curd will thicken further as it cools down, so it's best to leave it just a bit runnier than you'd like it when you turn off the stove.
Uses for vegan lemon curd
There is no end to the amazing ways in which you can guzzle down this vegan lemon curd.
You can store the vegan lemon curd in an airtight jar or container for three to four weeks in the refrigerator. You can also freeze the lemon curd for longer storage.
Vegan Lemon Curd
- Small saucepan
- 3 tbsp lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1½ tbsp tapioca starch (can use corn starch. Use 1 tbsp starch for a runnier, more spreadable curd and for cake toppings)
- ½ cup oat milk (Soy milk is fine too. Almond milk would work at a pinch but is not as creamy)
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp vegan butter
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- Place the starch in the saucepan with the lemon juice and zest and turmeric and whisk. Slowly trickle in the milk, whisking as you do that, to make a smooth mixture. If you add the milk all at once you might have trouble breaking up the lumps, so always trickle it in slowly.
- Add the sugar and the butter, cut into pieces, to the saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium low heat and stay right by it, whisk in hand. Whisk it a few times as it heats up.
- As soon as you see bubbles appear on the sides of the saucepan, begin whisking the curd. It will start to thicken at this point, and will progress really fast once the curd comes to a boil, so don't walk away.
- As soon as the curd is thick enough to form a ribbon when you drop it from a spoon turn off the heat. Pour into a container.