Lemon Posset (The Easiest Dessert Ever!)

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Have you ever heard of Lemon Posset? Run, don’t walk to the nearest grocery store pick up some cream…and some lemons!

lemon posset

That’s it, seriously…well and a bit of sugar. I kid you not, Lemon Posset is one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. It’s DEFINITELY the easiest and fastest.

(This post was originally published on July 31st, 2013. As an Amazon Affiliate, I may earn commission on qualifying purchases.) 

Lemon Posset on white tray

A few years ago I was researching pub food for a catering company. Not traditional pub food, like cottage pie or sausage rolls, but fancier gastro pub food. I stumbled across the website of a gastropub just outside of London and was a bit taken back by the menu. Scanning down to the puddings, (desserts) out popped….Posset! “What IS this posset?” 

Lemons on a plate

What is posset?

Possets were originally used for medicinal purposes, as the The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as a, “drink made of hot milk curdled with ale, wine, or other alcoholic liquor and typically flavored with spices, drunk as a delicacy or as a remedy for colds.” While the Folger Shakespeare Library describes it as having eggs and being similar to our modern day eggnog. We do know that posset has been around for hundreds of years and that Shakespeare refers to possets in several of his plays, including this line from The Merry Wives of Windsor…

“yet be cheerful knight: thou shalt eat a posset to-night at my house; Where I will desire thee to laugh at my wife.”

After researching several posset recipes online, my head was swimming in disbelief!

What is posset made from?

While old versions of posset used ale or wine to instead of citrus, most modern possets use citrus. Lemon, sugar and cream. Could a dessert with just THREE ingredients really be THAT good? Yep, that’s it. I was still a bit skeptical…no cornstarch…no flour…no eggs? While this recipe is made with Eureka lemons, you can easily make a Meyer lemon posset. If you’re using Meyer lemons, which tend to be sweeter, you can reduce the sugar slightly if you wish.

lemon zest

How does a posset set?

Well, that’s where the citrus comes in!  After boiling the sugar and the cream together, you add the lemon juice and zest. The lemon juice causes a reaction with the cream resulting in it setting up. The resulting texture is smooth and creamy very similar to a panna cotta.

What’s the difference between panna cotta and posset?

Panna cotta means “cooked cream” in Italian. The difference between panna cotta and posset is that panna cotta uses gelatin, and posset relies on the acid in citrus to help it set. Here’s a recipe for Vanilla Panna Cotta.

Can a posset be made ahead of time?

Absolutely! In fact, while posset only takes a few minutes on the stove, it does require at least an hour or two in the fridge to set. It can even be made the day or night before you are going to serve it.

lemon posset in crystal glass

How long does lemon posset last?

While it only lasts about 3 days in the refrigerator, it never lasts that long around here, as the portions are small, and the recipe only makes 6 servings. This is a rich dessert. So you can also make the portions a bit smaller and serve 8, especially if you add a bit of fruit on top of each serving.

How do You Make Posset?

First zest one lemon. You should get about 2 teaspoons. Next, juice the lemon. You should get about 5 Tablespoons of lemon juice.

lemon juice

Bring the cream and sugar to a boil over a medium high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and continue stirring cream and sugar for 3 minutes, watch the heat and lower if needed to avoid the cream boiling over. Remove cream mixture from heat. Add zest and juice and let cool for about 10 minutes. (This is especially important if you are going to be transferring the Lemon Posset into crystal glasses.)

zest into cream

Can you make sugar free posset?

Absolutely! I wondered if a dessert this easy could be made sugar free! For a sugar free posset which is also low carb and keto friendly, I just substitute erythritol for the sugar. There is virtually no taste difference! Here’s my low-carb posset recipe.

sugar free pudding
Low-carb, keto friendly lemon posset.

What Can You Serve With Posset?

Lemon posset with fresh blueberries.

Lemon Posset is the perfect backdrop for just about anything! Top each serving with a sliver of lemon, a few raspberries, blueberries or blackberries and a spring of fresh mint, or perhaps a shortbread biscuit!

Lemon posset top shot

I hope you enjoy the delicious simplicity this Lemon Posset soon!

Here’s my Lavender, Honey and Orange Posset for a deliciously floral take on the original recipe.

Lavender posset

Love lime? Try Lime Posset with graham cracker crumbs!

Lime posset in glass.

A note about sugar!

Two or three readers have commented that it’s “too sweet” with 3/4 cup of sugar. If you prefer a tarter dessert, try 1/2 cup or 2/3 cup!

lemon posset.

Lemon Posset

Cynthia
This delicious and easy English dessert is made from just three ingredients!
4.98 from 189 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
chill 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine British
Servings 6 servings
Calories 357 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 16 ounces heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar (5.25 ounces)
  • 5 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice and zest about one large lemon

Instructions
 

  • Bring cream and sugar to boil over a medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium, and boil 3 minutes, stirring constantly, adjusting heat as needed to prevent mixture from boiling over. Remove from heat.
  • Stir in lemon juice and zest and let sit for 10 minutes to cool.
  • Stir mixture again and divide among six ramekins or glasses.
  • Cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and chill until set, 1 hour or overnight.
  • Allow to set completely before garnishing Garnish with fresh berries or mint.

Video

Notes

  • Note: a few readers have said that it is "too sweet" with 3/4 cup. If you prefer a tarter flavor, I'd suggest cutting the sugar back to 1/2 cup.
  • Meyer lemons can be used when they are in season.
  • This recipe can easily be doubled. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 357kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 2gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 17gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 21mgPotassium: 89mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 27gVitamin A: 1114IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 53mgIron: 0.2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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230 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I added lime zest and a tiny splash of fresh lime juice to it. it was delicious! I intend to try it with other citrus, like grapefruit or kumquat just to see how it goes.

    lovely recipe. I topped it with a dollar of whipped cream, lemon/lime zest and a basil leaf. it was so nice, thank you

    1. oh my! I’ve never had that issue. Did you use heavy cream? Did you stir it before you poured it into the containers? I’m not sure since it’s just 3 ingredients.

  2. 5 stars
    Just made this delicious dessert this week – so perfect and light for summer ! And not only easy but gluten free is a bonus for our family. I cut the sugar down to 1/2 cup and it was still plenty sweet for us- will probably try 1/3 cup next.

    1. 5 stars
      I tried 1/3 cup + a scoop of sugar and it was stellar! It was tart yet sweet and so smooth! Thank you so much for the advice!

    2. I wish I had cut the sugar down also. It was good, but far too sweet for me. I’m thinking of heating more cream and adding what I made to that to dilute the sugar. I hope it works because I love lemon!!!

      1. Hi Sheliah, you could add another 1/2 cup of cream and maybe a bit more lemon and see how that works. Or just reduce the sugar as Liz suggested?

  3. 4 stars
    My posset was a bit grainy, is there a reason this could have happened or is this how it’s supposed to be. Otherwise I loved it! I added a bit more lemon juice to add more lemony flavor (Is this what impacted the posset?)

    1. Hi June, it’s definitely not supposed to be grainy. It should be very smooth. I’m trying to think what could have gone wrong? You don’t need to boil it for longer than 3 minutes. Just enough to dissolve the sugar and thicken it slightly. “Gritty” sound like the sugar wasn’t completely dissolved? Hope that helps!

      1. 5 stars
        Thank you so much! I think last time I only cooked it for 3 minutes and didn’t let it boil for 3 minutes. It worked out wonderfully! It is amazingly sweet and creamy.

      2. I made this recipe and it curdled. After reading on the internet, that happens if the cream is too hot. So cool it a bit first before you add the lemon juice to avoid that happening.

  4. 5 stars
    Wuper easy and awesome base. Perfect as is or to add other flavors in as well. I love adding Madagascar vanilla extract and some strawberry or raspberry juice then using some preserves as a topper. So great!

  5. 5 stars
    Me and my son made this together. It was simple and everything everyone said it was. My question is how do I get it a little thicker? It set up but was still a little runny after 2hrs in fridge.

    1. Hi Justin, did you boil it for a full three minutes? If you don’t boil it for the full time, It won’t set enough. When that has happened to me, I freeze it and make a lemon ice cream of sorts!

  6. 5 stars
    I have had lemon posset and loved it, but never tried making it. This recipe looks amazing! I didn’t realize how simple it was to make!

  7. 5 stars
    This seems like such a fancy dessert! I can’t believe it’s so few simple ingredients and so easy to make but still so good!

  8. I made this yesterday, following recipe exactly, even allowing it to set up overnight. I still found it very soft. It certainly tasted very nice, but I would prefer something like this much firmer. I looked up some other recipes and noted they called for more lemon juice, a half cup, to the same amount of cream. I wonder if that would help it set up more firm? Frankly, I would just as soon stick with custard.

    1. Hi Debba, I’ve made this over and over for the last 10 years. The only time that has happened to me is when I haven’t boiled the sugar and cream for the full three minutes. You can try more lemon juice, but a 1/2 cup seems like an awful lot! Btw. This recipe is one of the oldest on the internet.

  9. 5 stars
    obsessed with it, thank you! every time i make it for guests they’re super into it too. and so is my wife who isn’t even much into deserts. i usually add the zest and a crushed basil leaf during the ten minute cool down period, it allows the flavors to infuse nicely and then i stir and strain it. i find that we prefer it smooth without the zest. such an easy beautiful desert! don’t understand why i labored on lemon curd all these years 😉

  10. I responded to your question, but you chose to not publish it, I see. The answer is: There’s exactly the same amount of sweetener in your low-carb recipe. So it would’ve changed nothing for Alfredia’s review.

    1. Did you make this recipe and have any problems with it? I’m happy to answer any questions you personally have about this recipe and any problems YOU had.

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