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a spoonful of lemon custard

Dorie Greenspan’s Delightfully Simple Lemon Custard


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.


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


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