Dorie Greenspan’s Lemon Custard: A Simple, Delightful Dessert

Dorie Greenspan’s lemon custard is creamy, sweet, and lemony without being tart. If you enjoy custards, you’re sure to love this smooth dessert.

Serves: 6    Time: 3 hrs    Cookbook: Baking From My Home to Yours

Are you looking for an easy but delicious dessert to make? Look no further! Imagine having something bright and cheery to eat when you come home from work or school. I’m talking about Dorie Greenspan’s lemon custard. Custards want to be in your life, and Dorie Greenspan is here to show us how to make that happen.

Jump Ahead:

With only 4 ingredients, Dorrie Greenspan’s lemon custard is sure to bring a dose of happiness to anyone’s day. You’ll also learn a useful skill while you’re at it: tempering eggs. This recipe is one of many variations you can make. Let’s get started!

Who is Dorie Greenspan?

Dorie Greenspan is an incredible baker you might know from her role co-authoring the cookbook Baking with Julia. For years, she was Julia’s right-hand baker, but she is an extraordinary chef all in her own right.

She went from burning down her parents’ kitchen at the age of twelve to getting fired from a baking job after marriage, to a meteoric rise in the culinary world winning James Beard and IACP awards for her cookbooks, magazines, and culinary contributions.

To date, she’s written 14 cookbooks, publishes a digital newsletter twice a week, and maintains her blog, which was voted as one of the top 20 blogs in the world by the Times of London. Her cookbooks are seen as the standard for excellence in baking by culinarians around the world.

Ingredients Needed to Make Dorie Greenspan’s Lemon Custard

Milk, eggs, lemon zest, and sugar

To make Dorie Greenspan’s Lemon Custard Cups, you’ll need:

  • Whole Milk: Whole milk should be used for this recipe.
  • Eggs: You want “large” grade A eggs for this. If using medium eggs, you’ll need five.
  • Sugar: You’ll need white sugar for the custard mixture. We don’t recommend swapping out sugar for sugar substitutes for this particular recipe.
  • Lemon: The lemon zest is what gives the custard its uniquely lemon flavor.
  • Lemon Extract or Lemon Essential Oil: To boost the lemony flavor of this recipe, lemon extract or oil can be added to the liquid mixture.

Equipment Needed In the Kitchen

  • 6 6-ounce Custard Cups or Ramekin Kit: We have the ramekin kit and love it. The ramekins are large enough for custards and single-serve desserts. The included rack keeps the cups off the bottom of the pan and the pan is the right depth for adding water during baking. Best of all, it’s dishwasher safe!
  • Deep Baking Pan or Ramekin Kit: If you don’t have the ramekin kit, you’ll need a deep baking pan to place the custard cups in while they bake.
  • Wire Rack or Ramekin Kit: A wire rack is needed for the custard cups to cool once they come out of the oven if you don’t have a ramekin kit.
  • Large Mixing Bowl: The bowl you use needs to hold the custard mixture. We love our glass bowls since they’re perfect for visually ensuring that everything is mixed together.
  • Fine-Mesh Strainer: You’ll use the strainer to remove the zest from the custard mixture. We have the set featured here and love them. They’re stainless steel and dishwasher safe. Need we say more?
  • Whisk: A good stiff whisk will come in handy for mixing the custard mixture and getting all the ingredients incorporated.
  • Ladle: A ladle will help you spoon the liquid custard into the cups.

How to Make Dorie Greenspan’s Lemon Custard

lemon custard in cups

Follow these step-by-step instructions and you’ll learn how to make lemon custard cups in no time.

Prepare the milk

First, add the milk and lemon zest into a bowl and give it a quick mix. Add them to a saucepan and heat it to the point of a gentle boil. When it reaches this point, take the pan off the heat. Place a lid on the pan and let it rest for 30 minutes. This allows the lemon zest to steep in the milk and infuse the milk with a bright, lemony flavor.

Prepare the baking pan

ramekins in a baking pan

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and ensure the center rack is open.

Next, place two layers of paper towels on the bottom of your baking pan. Place the custard cups on top of the paper towels. This will keep the bottom of the custard cups from scorching when you bake the custard.

If you have a ramekin rack, there is no need to place paper towels down.

Fill a teakettle or large saucepan with water. Allow it to come to a boil while you complete the next steps.

Make the custard

After the milk and lemon zest have steeped for 30 minutes, bring the milk back to a simmer. 

In a heatproof bowl, combine the eggs and sugar with a whisk until the sugar is fully incorporated. 

Once the milk reaches a simmer, take it off the heat. Strain the milk into a glass measuring cup or mixing bowl and discard the lemon zest. Add the extract or oil at this point, and mix well.

Very slowly, begin whisking the hot milk into the egg mixture. This will bring the egg mixture up to temperature and “temper” them so they don’t curdle. Continue whisking together until the milk and egg mixture is fully combined.

Skim off any foam that rises to the top of the custard with a spoon. Then, ladle the custard mixture into the custard cups and put the entire roasting pan into the oven on the center rack. 

Once the pan is in the oven, pour the hot water into the roasting pan so that the level of the water comes up the custard cups halfway. 

Bake the custard

baked lemon custard in ramekins

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The custards are done when you lightly tap the cups and the custard jiggles in the center. 

Place the cups on a cooling rack until they cool to room temperature and then place them into the refrigerator. Cover the cups in the fridge and chill for two hours before serving. 

Custard Variations

dorie greenspans lemon custard in ramekins ready to eat

This base custard recipe works well for a wide variety of variations. Simply omit the lemon and insert other flavorings, as desired.

Vanilla Custard: To create a basic vanilla custard, add 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract to the milk and egg mixture once the eggs have been tempered.

Coffee Lovers Custard: Add one to two cinnamon sticks to the milk while it heats on the stove. Add 2 tsp of instant espresso and whisk when mixing eggs and sugar.

Cardamom Custard: Add 10 cardamom pods (seeds crushed), a pinch of nutmeg, and a cinnamon stick to milk while heating. Allow to steep before straining as per recipe instructions.

Looking for even more desserts? Try these!

Lemon Custard Tips, Tricks, and FAQs

Can I use lemon juice instead of or in addition to lemon zest?

If you want an extra boost of lemon flavor or you don’t have a lemon for zest, you can use lemon extract or lemon oil to provide the flavor you’re looking for. If you don’t have either of those, lemon juice will also work in a pinch.

How long will lemon custard keep in the fridge?

You can store this custard for a good two days in the fridge. Make sure to keep it well covered and away from strong aromatic foods.

What’s the difference between lemon custard and lemon curd?

A custard is a dessert created by combining milk, eggs, and sugar. The base custard can be flavored in many different ways, resulting in recipes like cinnamon-vanilla custard, espresso custard, and lemon custard.
On the other hand, lemon curd is created from the direct result of combining lemon juice with milk. The taste is a bit tangier and in-your-face than custard which is lighter and eggier.

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
a spoonful of lemon custard

Dorie Greenspan’s Delightfully Simple Lemon Custard


Description

Enjoy this delightfully simple lemon custard for a summertime treat. Make it ahead or a few hours before you’re ready to serve for an impressive dessert.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 1/4 cups Whole Milk
  • 4 large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 1/8 tsp Lemon Extract or 34 drops Lemon Essential Oil

Instructions

Prepare the milk

  • Add milk and lemon zest to saucepan.
  • Heat to a gentle boil then remove from heat.
  • Cover pan with lid and let rest for 30 minutes. 

Prepare the baking pan

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and center a rack.
  • Place two layers of paper towels on the bottom of the baking pan. Place custard cups on top of the paper towels. 
    • If using a ramekin rack, the paper towels aren’t needed.
  • Fill teakettle or large saucepan with water and bring to a boil.

Make the custard

  • After milk and lemon zest steep for 30 minutes, bring the milk back to a simmer. 
  • Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl, combine the eggs and sugar with a wisk until the sugar is fully incorporated. 
  • After milk reaches a simmer, remove from heat. Strain milk into a glass measuring cup and discard lemon zest.
  • Slowly whisk a little hot milk into the egg mixture. This tempers them so they don’t curdle. Continue pouring and whisking until milk and egg mixture is fully combined. Add the lemon extract or lemon oil at this step, as well.
  • Skim foam from the custard with a spoon. Then, ladle the custard mixture into the custard cups and put the entire roasting pan onto the oven’s center rack. 
  • Once the pan is in the oven, pour the hot water into the roasting pan so that the water level reaches halfway up the side of the cups. 

Bake the custard

  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Custards are done when you lightly tap the cups and the custard jiggles in the center.
  • Place cups on cooling rack until they cool to room temperature, then place into refrigerator. Cover cups in the fridge and chill for two hours before serving. 

  • Prep Time: 15
  • Chill Time: 2 hrs
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Category: Baking & Pastry
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Dorie Greenspan, Lemon, Custard, Dessert

Join the Conversation

  1. This had the perfect balance of sweetness and lemon! Can’t wait to make again!






    1. Awesome! So glad you enjoyed it!

  2. I made this for a friend that came over for lunch and she (and I) loved it! It was just as good as it looks!






    1. Awesome! I’m so glad you both enjoyed it!

  3. Jere Cassidy says:

    This recipe is just so easy to make. I have two lemon trees and I always need a good recipe to use them up. These custards to perfect for a light dessert.






    1. I love it! Fresh lemons are the best for recipes like this.

  4. This is addictive it’s so good! Thank you for the recipe.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

Like
Close
Cook Like a Master © Copyright 2022. All rights reserved.
Close