Lemon Posset

published Apr 12, 2023
Lemon Posset Recipe

A creamy no-bake pudding that bursts with bright notes of zesty lemon.

Serves4

Makes2 cups

Prep10 minutes

Cook10 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Lemon posset in glass cups with strawberries on the top and spoons off to the side.
Credit: Meleyna Nomura

If you’ve come to dinner at my house in the last year, there’s a good chance I served you a lemon posset for dessert. It’s become my go-to dessert, and for good reason — it takes about 10 minutes to put together, it only requires five ingredients (which you probably already have on hand), and there’s no baking required. 

What Is a Posset?

Posset is a classic British dessert with a consistency that lies somewhere between panna cotta, pot de creme, and custard. Like panna cotta, there are no eggs required — a welcoming factor during a time when egg prices have never been higher. Here, heavy cream and sugar get a hit of lemon juice, which stabilizes the cream. After a short stint in the refrigerator, you have a light and creamy, just-set dessert that’s perfect for topping with fresh or macerated berries. 

The History of Posset

The original posset, which dates back to the Middle Ages and was even referenced in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, was a sweet drink akin to eggnog. Milk or cream, sugar, and spices were spiked with booze and topped with gruel, which formed a thick layer over the drink. While it served as a dessert, it was also used as medicine to treat the common cold and served as an aphrodisiac to newlyweds on their wedding night. Somewhere in the late 19th century, the term posset became synonymous with a syllabub, a dessert of sweet cream curdled with acid, which is what it’s thought of today.   

If You’re Making Lemon Posset, a Few Tips

  • Play with flavors. The joy of posset is that it’s really a blank slate in terms of flavor. I love adding a whole vanilla bean to the mixture, but you could add other spices like cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, or even star anise, to gently infuse the mixture. 
  • Switch up with the citrus. Acid is key in making a posset set, but you can get creative and swap lemon out for lime, grapefruit, or orange juice to create a different flavor profile. 
  • Keep an eye on the cream mixture. Watch the mixture as it comes to a simmer and make sure to stir it constantly once it does to prevent it from boiling over.
  • Try different toppings. I like topping the posset with fresh raspberries or macerated strawberries. But if you can’t get your hands on good fresh fruit, then toasted nuts or a dollop of jam or marmalade on top are also lovely.

Lemon Posset Recipe

A creamy no-bake pudding that bursts with bright notes of zesty lemon.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes

Makes 2 cups

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2

    large lemons

  • 1

    vanilla bean pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 cups

    heavy cream

  • 2/3 cups

    granulated sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Fresh raspberries or macerated strawberries, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Finely grate the zest of 1 large lemon (about 1 tablespoon). Juice the zested lemon plus one more as needed until you have 1/4 cup. If using a vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise. Scrape the back of a paring knife along the cut side of each half to scrape out the seeds.

  2. Place the lemon zest, vanilla bean pod and seeds (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract), 2 cups heavy cream, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium low, stirring constantly, and simmer until the mixture begins to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and stir to combine.

  3. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit until cooled to room temperature, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pod if using. Stir and transfer the mixture to a liquid measuring cup.

  4. Pour and divide the mixture between 4 (4-ounce) ramekins or small bowls. Refrigerate uncovered until set, at least 2 hours. Serve chilled topped with fresh raspberries or macerated strawberries if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The posset can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.