This lemon custard is so easy to make and lovely to eat pudding style or enjoy as a cake filling or dessert topping.

Bright, tangy, and bursting with lemony flavor with a texture that is both delicate and rich, lemon custard tastes just like summer.

bowls of Lemon Custard

What is Lemon Custard?

Custard is a sweetened pudding-like mixture often thickened with egg yolk. It can be made thin or thick in consistency depending on the recipe application.

Egg yolks, cream, milk, and sugar (and in this case lemon for flavor). Many custard recipes contain just egg yolk as a thickener however we prefer with the addition of cornstarch for a great texture and how well it holds up in desserts like pies, tarts, and cakes!

  • Serve lemon custard as-is with a sprinkle of fresh raspberries, blueberries or sliced strawberries or as a side to scones with a spot of tea!
  • Make lemon custard in minutes and fill mini tart shells and pies, or use it as a summery, citrusy filling between cake layers.

Lemon Custard ingredients with labels

Ingredients and Variations

LEMONS: The lemon flavor in this recipe comes from fresh lemons (both zest and fresh lemon juice). Swap it out for other citrus fruits like grapefruit, orange, or even lime for lime custard. Other popular custards for pie are banana, coconut, or basic vanilla custard.

SUGAR: Sugar is necessary to balance the tart flavor of lemon and sweeten the recipe.

PRO TIP: Superfine granulated sugar will dissolve faster as it cooks with the other ingredients.

EGGS: Unlike a homemade lemon curd recipe, custard only uses egg yolks to give it that rich flavor and custard-like texture. Large eggs work best, save the egg whites for future meringues or use them to make egg muffins for breakfast!

DAIRY: Always use full-fat dairy milk and cream for the richest flavor and smoothest texture.

CORNSTARCH: An important thickener that binds the ingredients and gives the recipe its signature texture.

process of adding ingredients together to make Lemon Custard

How to Make Lemon Custard

This simple dessert is so deliciously creamy!

  1. Zest cleaned lemons to make 1 tablespoon. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze to make 1/4 cup of juice.
  2. Whisk ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low until thickened.
  3. Remove from heat & stir in butter & lemon juice (as per the recipe below).
  4. Pour custard into a bowl & cover the surface with plastic wrap (this prevents a film from forming on the top).
  5. Refrigerate before serving.

PRO TIP: Warm the lemons in the microwave for 30 seconds for easier juice extraction.

bowls of Lemon Custard garnished with raspberries

Tips

  • Whisk the cornstarch into cold ingredients for a smooth custard.
  • When zesting the lemon, try to get only the yellow part of the skin, the white part is bitter.
  • Custard can be cooked over a double boiler but we find if the heat on the stove is low and you stir constantly, it isn’t needed.
  • Cook over low and slow heat, if you turn it up higher, this can cause the custard to be lumpy.
  • Cool with plastic wrap touching the surface of the custard to keep a skin from forming.

How to Store & Serve

Keep lemon custard covered in the refrigerator with a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard for up to 1 week.

Serve like you would serve a pudding, as a dip for fresh fruit, or fill baked tart shells with custard and fruit and top with whipped cream.

Use it to fill cakes or lemon cupcakes or spoon over ice cream. It’s perfect for toping meringue or even pavolva.

More Ways to Use Custard

What’s your favorite way to use Lemon Custard? Let us know in a comment below!

top view of plated Lemon Custard
4.98 from 46 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Lemon Custard

Homemade lemon custard is an easy-to-make dessert that can be added to so many recipes!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings 4
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Ingredients  

  • 2-3 lemons divided use
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 3 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 ⅓ cups milk
  • ¾ cup light cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • Wash and dry the lemons. Using a fine grater or a zester, zest the lemons to create 1 tablespoon of zest.
  • Cut the lemons in half and juice them to make ¼ cup of juice.
  • Place sugar, cornstarch, and lemon zest in a medium saucepan, whisk to combine. Whisk in egg yolks, milk, and cream.
  • Heat over medium-low heat while whisking until thickened and the mixture starts to boil. This will take about 15 minutes.
  • Once boiling, let bubble for 1 minute while whisking. Remove from the heat and stir in butter, lemon juice, and vanilla. Pour into a medium bowl.
  • Immediately cover with plastic wrap, resting the wrap on the surface of the custard.
  • Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Notes

  • Whisk the cornstarch into cold ingredients for a smooth custard.
  • When zesting the lemon, try to get only the yellow part of the skin, the white part is bitter.
  • Custard can be cooked over a double boiler but we find if the heat on the stove is low and you stir constantly, it isn’t needed.
  • Cook over low and slow heat, if you turn it up higher, this can cause the custard to be lumpy.
  • Cool with plastic wrap touching the surface of the custard to keep a skin from forming.
4.98 from 46 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 407 | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 241mg | Sodium: 117mg | Potassium: 339mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 42g | Vitamin A: 944IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 229mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
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Lemon Custard with lemon garnish and writing
Lemon Custard in bowls and top view with writing

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Comments

    1. For best results, we recommend using a mixture of light cream and milk in this recipe.

    1. I have never tried so I can’t say for sure, Lisa! We would love to hear how it turns out for you!

  1. Just made this. Delicious!
    Though I did not put the egg yolks into the milk(I used 10% cream).
    I beat them separately and added about a cup of the heated milk mixture to the egg yolks while beating, then added it back to the milk mixture, put it on low heat and continued to cook and stir for about 2 minutes more. Removed from heat, added butter, 1/3 cup lemon juice, and vanilla.5 stars

  2. Just made this. Delicious!
    Though I did not put the egg yolks into the milk(I used 10% cream).
    I beat them separately and added about a cup of the heated milk mixture to the egg yolks while beating, then added it back to the milk mixture, put it on low heat and continued to cook and stir for about 2 minutes more. Removed from heat, added butter, 1/3 cup lemon juice, and vanilla.5 stars

  3. Hello, so excited to try this! I don’t have unsalted butter, can I just omit the butter or substitute with a flavorless oil?

    1. Hi Jess, I have not tried using a butter substitute other than margarine so I can’t say for sure. You can use salted butter, unsalted butter, or margarine. Hope that helps!

    1. Hi Joe, you can view the full recipe, including ingredient quantities, but using the jump to recipe button at the top of the page or by scrolling towards the end of the writing. Enjoy!

  4. Help! I followed this recipe exactly but the next day, my custard broke! I served it for dessert and it was grainy in texture so does anyone know what causes that to happen so I don’t repeat a mistake?

    1. Hi Pattie, overheating custard can cause it to break when cooled. We let it boil for one minute while whisking them immediately remove it from the heat to help prevent over cooking. I hope that helps!

  5. Thank you for such a delightful and easy recipe. Very well explained. I used half and half and heavy cream. This delicious custard almost didn’t make it to the refrigerator. I had to restrain myself from eating it all.5 stars

  6. Hi,
    I am making the lemon curd and am wondering if I add the vanilla at the end with the butter and lemon juice?
    Love all your recipes!
    L. LaPointe

  7. I’ve not made the recipe yet and am wondering what is “light cream”? At the store I only saw heavy whipping cream. Thanks in advance for clarification

    1. Hi Erica, light cream is sometimes called coffee cream or table cream but it has lower fat content than heavy cream. Hope that helps!