Is Lemon Curd The Same As Lemon Pie Filling? (Explained)

Is Lemon curd the same as lemon pie filling?  While the two do share several of the same ingredients and, of course, have that lemon taste, they are not the same.  The difference is in the texture and the purpose for which you are using them. Can you substitute one for the other?  Well, that all depends on what you are making and the end result you are looking for. Lemon curd is creamy and not as thick as lemon pie filling. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between these two delicious concoctions. 

Lemon Curd

Lemon curd is a thick, creamy spread that is made by cooking lemon juice, sugar, eggs, and butter together over low heat until it thickens and becomes smooth and glossy.  After it has cooled and set, it can be used as a spread or filling for cakes, cupcakes,  tarts, or scones. Spread it on some toast. Mix with whipped cream to make a great dessert topping or use it for flavoring yogurt or a topping for ice cream. Lemon curd has a tangy flavor that is both tart and sweet.

 I was unable to find it at my local grocery store or Walmart, but I just happened to find a jar at an Amish store. Then out of curiosity, I decided to make my own.  It does sound intimidating, but it was really much easier than I thought.  

The key to making lemon curd is cooking it over low heat and whisking continuously to keep from scrambling the eggs. Many suggest using a double boiler. I don’t have one so I just kept the flame on low and whisked continually.  Once the curd has thickened take it off the heat and add your butter.  This makes the curd oh-so-creamy and smooth. Want to make your own?  Here is a simple recipe

How To Make Lemon Curd

The ingredients you will need are fresh lemon juice.  Yes, I said fresh.  Please do not be tempted to use bottled lemon juice.  You will be disappointed with the results.  Bottled lemon juice has preservatives added and will change the taste of your lemon curd.  Sugar, lemon zest (optional) egg yolks, and butter.  I found using a fork when juicing the lemons really helps.  Slice your lemons in half and slowly twist the fork back and forth in the lemon half while gently squeezing.  I do this over a fine mesh sieve to catch the seeds and pulp. Works better than any special tool.  Saves you money too 🙂


  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest  (two lemons), optional
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice minus one tablespoon, (100mL)
  • 1/2 cup butter unsalted, cold, and cubed


  • Separate eggs. All you need is the yolks. You can freeze the whites to make an angel food cake
  • Zest the lemons if using the zest. Using the zest will give you even more flavor in the lemon curd.
  • Juice the lemons until you have about half a cup of lemon juice. 
  • Strain egg yolks (this will help to separate any of the white that you missed when separating the yolks).into a pot and beat lightly with a wire whisk. Whisk in the sugar and give it a good mix until lighter in color. Stir in the lemon juice gradually.
  • Heat on low, while stirring constantly with a wire whisk until the mixture thickens, just starts to bubble, and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Remove the pot from heat, then add the cold, cubed butter and mix until melted.
  • Transfer the curd to a sealable container or bowl.  Make sure to cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on top.

Lemon Pie Filling

Lemon pie filling is thicker and more gel-like due to the added ingredient of cornstarch.  It is specifically more for pies and any desserts that call for a thicker filling.  Lemon pie filling also does not have butter on its list of ingredients. Lemon pie filling’s taste is not intense as that of lemon curd.  Lemon pie filling can be made using a box mix or you can buy it in a can. I have to be honest here.  I have never made homemade lemon pie filling.  I find it easier to just buy the can. But I have also made it from a box.  My local grocery store doesn’t have canned lemon pie filling but they do have the box mix. 

But if you want to make your own lemon pie filling here is a great recipe for you to try.  In fact, it sounds so yummy I may give it a try myself. 

Can I Substitute Lemon Curd For Lemon Pie Filling?

While lemon curd and lemon pie filling share some similarities, they are not interchangeable in most recipes. Lemon curd is a spreadable topping or filling that is more fluid and creamy, while lemon pie filling is thicker and custard-like, designed to hold its shape as a pie filling.

Substituting lemon curd for lemon pie filling in a recipe that specifically calls for a thick, custardy filling could result in a runny or soupy texture. 

Final Thoughts

While lemon curd and lemon pie filling share some common ingredients and both have that delicious lemon flavor, they are not the same thing. Lemon curd is a creamy spread that can be used as a topping or filling for cakes, cupcakes, tarts, scones, and many other desserts, while lemon pie filling is thicker and more gel-like due to the addition of cornstarch and is specifically designed for pies and other desserts that require a thick filling. Although they may not be interchangeable in most recipes, it is still possible to use lemon curd in some recipes that call for a thinner filling. Making your own lemon curd is easier than it may seem, and it can be a great way to add a tangy flavor to your favorite desserts.

Have you made lemon curd or lemon pie filling?  Please leave me a comment below with your thoughts and experiences. 

And As Always

Keep On Baking


Share the Love

Leave a Comment