Hi! Lemon pudding fan here. You? If that sounds like your idea of heaven, stick with me, and I’ll show you how to make the best lemon pudding around.
Rich, silky-smooth, tart, sweet, and creamy, this homemade lemon pudding is magical.
Think of it as a delicious lemon curd made somewhat less intense by adding dairy.
If you love a good pudding, you can find all my pudding and custard recipes in one place. Thanks so much for being here. Let’s get right to it.
Watch my lemon pudding recipe web story here.
Why You Need to Make This Lemon Pudding
I will admit, it’s hard to find a bad homemade lemon pudding recipe.
Still, let me tell you why this is the ONE:
In a Nutshell
✅Easy to make
✅Tart, Rich, and Creamy
All you need to make this dessert is one bowl, one pan, one whisk, and a strainer.
The recipe is very easy to scale up to make six, eight, or more servings. And you can also cut the recipe in half to make 2 servings.
The lemon flavor is well-rounded too. The sour juice lends the pucker while the more floral zest and whole lemon powder (which is optional but is so good) work together to round out the lemon component.
The sourness is nicely balanced by the amount of sugar, and the whole thing gets mellowness and richness thanks to dairy.
This pudding is also easy to customize by varying the type of dairy you use to make it. The richer the dairy, the more lush the final lemon pudding, but even made with whole milk, it’s still really hard to stop eating.
How to Make It
This is a pretty fast recipe to make. Squeezing the lemons is probably the most time-consuming part of the entire operation.
In this section, I’ll go over all the ingredients as well as substitutions where applicable.
I’ll walk you through how to make it, ways to vary it, give you some equipment recommendations as well as some tips and tricks for success.
If you are the kind of person who likes to follow a recipe exactly as written and doesn’t need a lot of extra information, I encourage you to skip these sections and head straight to the recipe.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here’s what you’ll need to make it. Please see the substitutions for different dairy options as well as for info on what/why some ingredients are optional.
- lemon juice: Provides the sourness and the pucker to your lemon pudding. Freshly squeezed and measured after you strain out any pulp or seeds to get maximum lemony goodness
- lemon zest: The zest provides the notes that round out lemon flavor: sweet and floral
- sugar: Sugar more than pulls its weight in this recipe adding sweetness but also helping to control the texture by going into solution with some of the water and keeping the egg proteins from scrambling into a big old mess
- salt: Counteracts any bitterness so you get all of the deliciousness of lemon without the bitterness
- egg yolk: The yolk adds richness and emulsifiers. For a less-intense pudding, you can use whole egg instead of just yolk/s
- cornstarch: Cornstarch further thickens the pudding and binds liquid
- lemon powder: While an optional ingredient, ever since I bought mine to make the lemon coolers, I have been using it in all the lemon things. Since it’s made from whole lemons, you get a well-rounded lemony punch without adding additional liquid (lemon juice) or having to zest more lemons
- heavy cream: The fattiest and richest of all the dairy products you can get in the US, heavy cream lends an utterly magical texture to the pudding. BUT, if you want to save some calories, you can use half and half or even use all whole milk. I’ll show you how to put the pudding together so it won’t curdle, which is often a concern when mixing lower-fat dairy with acidic ingredients
- whole milk: Adds more liquid and milk solids without adding appreciably more fat. You can absolutely make this pudding using all whole milk
- sour cream: Added off the heat, sour cream adds a bit more tang to underscore the lemony goodness. You may also use any of the following: creme fraiche, plain (or lemon) Greek yogurt, or cream cheese
- white chocolate (optional): Just like in my fancy lemon curd, linked in the introduction above, white chocolate brings cocoa butter richness and sweet creaminess to the party. It is not strictly necessary, but if you have some, definitely go for it
Jenni Says: Best way to juice a lemon without having to buy a reamer or juicer? Insert the bowl of a spoon into a cut half of a lemon (or other citrus fruit) and squeeze around the spoon, twisting the spoon occasionally to get out the most juice possible.
Much like any other starch-thickened pudding, lemon pudding is super easy to make. The cornstarch buys you some insurance against the egg curdling, so no worries about cooking this over direct heat.
- Put your sour cream and white chocolate (or substitutes) in a heat-safe bowl and set a strainer on top of that.
- Measure lemon juice, zest, salt, sugar, egg yolks, and cornstarch into a saucepan and whisk very well.
- Measure and add your heavy cream and whole milk (or substitutes) and whisk and whisk over medium-high heat until your pudding comes to a boil. Lower the heat to medium, and boil for 1 minute, still whisking madly.
- Pour through the strainer into the bowl, scraping out all the yum from the pan.
- Whisk until the sour cream and white chocolate are completely incorporated
Jenni Says: After you strain your mixture, don’t forget to scrape the extra pudding from the bottom of the strainer into the bowl.
Whisk lemon juice, zest, salt, sugar, egg yolk, and cornstarch together really well before whisking in the dairy on the heat:
Whisk over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Reduce heat and continue whisking for one minute:
No matter how well you have whisked, you’ll almost always end up with a bit of egg, not to mention all the lemon zest, both of which keep your pudding from silky-smooth.
Always strain your custard, friends.
The easiest way to vary this recipe is to vary the amount of fat, so you can make super lush, high-octane lemon pudding by using all heavy cream, or you can still make a delicious lemon pudding using all whole milk.
Once you hit on your favorite version of the base, you can experiment with swirling in some fruit jam. Strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry are all natural fits.
You can even swirl in some lemon curd and some whipped cream for a short-cut lemon mousse.
Jenni Says: Don’t swirl in any jam until the pudding has chilled. Stir both the pudding and the jam so they are close to the same texture so you get a nice swirl.
Equipment You May Need
But I really do recommend picking up some lemon powder. I have found all sorts of ways to use it, including adding a tiny bit to my popcorn seasoning and adding it to soups and stocks for a little lift.
Lemon Pudding Q & A
The addition of cornstarch and constant whisking impedes curdling, so even if you use whole milk, you’ll end up with a smooth and tart pudding. Again, do not use any dairy with less fat than whole milk.
Yes, pudding is a great make-ahead dessert. Make up to three days in advance and keep them covered in the fridge until you need them.
Keep the pudding, covered in plastic wrap, in the fridge and enjoy within 5-7 days.
Yes. Freeze in single-serve portions, tightly wrapped, for up to a month. Thaw in the fridge. Once thawed, you may need to stir or whisk it a little to restore its creamy texture. Also consider freezing in popsicle molds and eating it frozen like you would a pudding pop.
Tips and Tricks for Success
If you’re filling small jars for serving your pudding consider filling with a funnel to reduce the mess. Either that, or pour your mixture into a spouted pitcher or glass measuring cup.
The best tip I can give you, especially if you are working over higher heat, is this:
Never stop whisking, especially when it starts to boil!
Aside from just eating this lemon pudding straight up (which I am a fan of), consider layering it in individual jars or in a casserole with crushed homemade Graham crackers or vanilla wafers and some berries for a lemon berry parfait.
Use it as a cake filling. In this case, it’s best to use a yellow cake recipe with at least part oil instead of all butter so it will stay soft in the fridge.
Other Pudding and Custard Recipes
Puddings and custards are my weakness, friends.
If you feel the same about pudding, stick with me.
If you have any questions about this or any other recipe or post on the site, there are a few ways to get in touch.
You can leave a comment on the post, and I’ll be back in touch within 24 hours.
If your question is more pressing, don’t hesitate to email me, and I should be back in touch within 4 hours (unless I’m asleep) or often much more quickly than that.
A Note About Measurements
This is the kitchen scale that I recommend for home cooks and bakers. Using a scale will help you be more accurate and consistent in your measurements.
It is lightweight, easy to store, accurate, and very easy to use.
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
I hope you’ve learned something from this post or that you’ve decided to make the recipe.
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- 3 oz sour cream
- 2 oz white chocolate (optional)
- 5.5 oz granulated sugar
- 4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice, measured after straining
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 egg yolks
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon whole lemon powder (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (I use Morton's)
- 8 oz heavy cream
- 4 oz whole milk
- Combine the sour cream and optional white chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and top with a fine-mesh strainer.
- In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, yolks, zest, optional lemon powder, and salt. Whisk very well to combine.
- Over medium-high heat, whisk constantly, and add the heavy cream and whole milk.
- Continue whisking until the pudding comes to a boil.
- Turn the heat down and allow to boil, still whisking constantly, for about one minute.
- Strain the pudding through the strainer into the bowl.
- Use a silicone spatula to force all the pudding through the strainer, catching up any bits of egg and lemon zest to make sure your pudding is smooth and creamy.
- Whisk the pudding, sour cream, and white chocolate (if using) together very well until evenly combined.
- Fills 4 4oz ramekins or jars. Enjoy warm or refrigerate and enjoy it chilled.
For a less-intense pudding, use whole eggs rather than egg yolks. This will also increase the volume of the pudding so you may end up with slightly more than 4 4oz servings
The higher-fat dairy you use, the more lush and rich your pudding will be. Do not use anything with less fat than whole milk, but otherwise, you can use whole milk, half and half, light cream, whipping cream, heavy cream, or any combination of those to equal 12 oz.
Rather than sour cream, you can use any tart, tangy dairy such as cream cheese, plain Greek yogurt, or creme fraiche.
For a lighter (calorie-wise) pudding, make it with all whole milk (12 oz) and leave out the white chocolate.
Nutrional information for lighter version:
Calories 292 Total Fat 9.7g Saturated Fat 5.4g Cholesterol 123mg Sodium 203mg Total Carbohydrate 48.3g Dietary Fiber 0.2g Total Sugars 44.1g Protein 5g
Keep tightly covered in the fridge for 5-7 days. You can freeze it for up to one month.
Lemon Pudding Q & A
Doesn’t lemon juice curdle dairy? Will my pudding curdle? The addition of cornstarch and constant whisking impedes curdling, so even if you use whole milk, you’ll end up with a smooth and tart pudding. Again, do not use any dairy with less fat than whole milk.
Can I make pudding ahead of time? Yes, pudding is a great make-ahead dessert. Make up to three days in advance and keep them covered in the fridge until you need them.
How long will this pudding keep? Keep the pudding, covered in plastic wrap, in the fridge and enjoy within 5-7 days.
Can you freeze lemon pudding? Yes. Freeze in single-serve portions, tightly wrapped, for up to a month. Thaw in the fridge. Once thawed, you may need to stir or whisk it a little to restore its creamy texture. Also consider freezing in popsicle molds and eating it frozen like you would a pudding pop.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving Calories 545Total Fat 33gSaturated Fat 20gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 178mgSodium 140mgCarbohydrates 59gFiber 1gSugar 52gProtein 6g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
Thanks so much for spending some time with me today.
I hope you enjoy the lemon pudding. If I could send you some of mine, I would!
Take care, and have a lovely day.
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