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.

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Three small clear glass jars filled with pale yellow lemon pudding. Two of the jars have a slit whole strawberry on their rims.

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
✅Scalable
✅Tart, Rich, and Creamy
✅Customizable

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.

If this sounds like your idea of the best lemon pudding around, you can go ahead and jump straight to the recipe. Otherwise, I’ll go through how to make it, step by step, so read on.

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.

All the ingredients needed to make lemon pudding, labeled, and shot on a white background. ingredients are: lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, salt, egg yolks, cornstarch, powdered lemon, heavy cream, whole milk, sour cream, and white chocolate.
  • 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.

Procedure

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.

  1. Put your sour cream and white chocolate (or substitutes) in a heat-safe bowl and set a strainer on top of that.
  2. Measure lemon juice, zest, salt, sugar, egg yolks, and cornstarch into a saucepan and whisk very well.
  3. 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.
  4. Pour through the strainer into the bowl, scraping out all the yum from the pan.
  5. 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.

Visual How-To

Whisk lemon juice, zest, salt, sugar, egg yolk, and cornstarch together really well before whisking in the dairy on the heat:

Whisking yellow liquid in a pot on an induction burner.

Whisk over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Reduce heat and continue whisking for one minute:

Whisking pale yellow, thick pudding in a pot.

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.

A close-up of the inside of a fine mesh strainer with tiny bits of cooked egg and lemon zest in the bottom.

Variations

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

If you have a good saucier, a whisk, and a fine mesh strainer, that’s really all you 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.

Jenni's Pick
ORGFUN Freeze Dried Lemon Juice Powder, 7.06 Oz
$14.95

Pure, well-rounded, intense, whole lemon flavor from the zest, pith, juice, seeds: the whole shebang. Zero sweetness, and a little goes a long way. Perfect in my lemon coolers recipe or to flavor tea or even to add to granulated sugar to make a "sour patch kid" type of pate de fruit.

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07/21/2024 11:31 pm GMT

Lemon Pudding Q & A

A square image of a white ramekin of lemon pudding and sliced strawberries on a blue floral plate shot on a bright pink background.
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.

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!

Serving Suggestions

Two white ramekins of lemon pudding, one with thinly sliced red strawberries on top. There are strawberries and a lemon in the background.

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 and strawberry syrup 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.

Custard lightened with a foam (egg foam and/or whipped cream) is mousse, and my lemon mousse is a very tasty example.

For a baked custard, try my creme brulee or, for super decadence, my creme brulee cheesecake.

For other stovetop puddings, consider comforting and homey butterscotch pudding, my rich and no-egg version of chocolate pudding, or smooth and creamy chocolate caramel pudding.

Questions?

A Note About Measurements

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07/22/2024 07:15 am GMT

Love This? Please Share It and Review It!

5 golden stars for rating recipes
A square image of a white ramekin of lemon pudding and sliced strawberries on a blue floral plate shot on a bright pink background.

The Best Lemon Pudding Recipe

Jennifer Field
This is truly the best lemon pudding recipe. It's easy to make and has a well-rounded and punchy lemon flavor along with a creamy-smooth texture that makes it really hard to stop eating. Try it for yourself and see what you think. Enjoy it warm or chilled. It's delicious either way.
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Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Custard and Pudding Recipes
Cuisine American
Servings 4 4-oz servings
Calories 545 kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 oz sour cream 85 grams or about 1/3 cup
  • 2 oz white chocolate 57 grams, optional
  • 5.5 oz granulated sugar 156 grams or about 2/3 cup
  • 4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice 113 grams or 1/2 cup, measured after straining
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 egg yolks
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon whole lemon powder optional
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt I use Morton’s
  • 8 oz heavy cream
  • 4 oz whole milk

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Did You Make Any Changes?

Notes

Ingredient Substitutions

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

Storing 

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

Serving: 1/2 cupCalories: 545kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 6gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 20gPolyunsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 178mgSodium: 140mgFiber: 1gSugar: 52g
Keyword dessert, lemon, Pudding
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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!

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