When it comes to simple, elegant lemon desserts, you can’t beat lemon posset. This easy British dessert of lemon cream has just 3 ingredients and minimal prep. 

A lemon posset (lemon cream) served in half of a lemon shell with a raspberry and mint sprig.

Citrus season is the perfect time to make lemon posset. This simple recipe is made with just 3 ingredients. It’s comprised of velvety cream, tangy lemon juice, and just the right amount of sweetness, all harmonizing inside zesty lemon shells.

This easy dessert is fresh, silky, tangy and sweet. Lemon posset is a British recipe you need to add to your repertoire of simple desserts. 

What is a Posset?

Posset, pronounced PAH-sit, is a centuries-old British recipe for silky lemon cream that sets like a custard. It can be served in individual dishes or in lemon shells. 

Three English china dessert plates with lemon shell halves filled with lemon posset. The cream lemon possets are garnished with raspberries and mint. The plates sit on a marble countertop. Origins

The word “posset” has its origins in medieval England and can be traced back to the Latin term “posca,” which referred to a popular Roman drink made by mixing water with vinegar or sour wine. Over time, this evolved into a spiced or curdled milk drink, which eventually transformed into a custard-like dessert.

In medieval England, a posset was a warm, spiced, and often alcoholic beverage made with milk, ale, or wine, sweetened and flavored with spices. It was believed to have medicinal properties and was consumed as a remedy for colds or illnesses. As culinary practices evolved, the posset transitioned into a cold, creamy dessert made with milk or cream, sugar, and acid (such as citrus juice), as seen in the modern Lemon Posset recipe. 

A close-up of a lemon posset served in a lemon shell with a raspberry. Why Choose Lemon Posset?

So, why pick Lemon Posset for your next sweet treat? It’s the perfect dessert for those who crave a burst of citrusy freshness without the hassle of complicated recipes. With just three main ingredients โ€“ cream, lemon juice, and sugar โ€“ you’re on your way to creating a masterpiece that’s both elegant and effortlessly delicious. This recipe can be made in advance, making it a wonderful choice for dinner parties. 

A large glass bowl filled with homegrown California lemons with lots of green leaves still attached. the bowl sits on a white marble counter.

How Lemon Posset Works: A Culinary Alchemy

The acidity of freshly squeezed lemon juice is the key to transforming cream into a custard-like wonder. As the warm concoction of cream and sugar is infused with lemon, the acid triggers the denaturation of proteins in the cream, causing it to coagulate. The sugar not only sweetens the mix but also contributes to the overall richness of the dessert. The mixture sets into its delightful consistency during the cooling process at room temperature and in the refrigerator. 

What’s the Difference between Posset and Panna Cotta?

While Lemon Posset shares similarities with Panna Cotta, the key distinction lies in the setting agent. Panna Cotta, translating to “cooked cream” in Italian, employs gelatin to achieve its firm texture. In contrast, Posset relies on the natural acidity of citrus to induce the setting process, resulting in a velvety custard without the use of gelatin. 

Posset vs. Syllabub: What’s the Difference? 

Although both Posset and Syllabub are British cream-based desserts curdled with acid, there are nuances in both method and texture. Posset, set with acidic lemon juice and the gentle curdling of cream, exhibits a rich consistency. On the other hand, Syllabub achieves its texture through the curdling action of alcohol. It also involves whipping the cream, resulting in a lighter, airier dessert compared to the denser character of Posset.    

Lemon posset ingredients sit on a wooden board on a marble countertop. Ingredients are lemons, fresh lemon juice, Clover organic heavy cream pint, and a bowl of sugar.

What You’ll Need to Make Lemon Posset: 3 Simple Ingredients 

  • Heavy Cream 
  • Sugar 
  • Lemon juice and zest 

How to Make Lemon Posset 

A hand pours fresh lemon juice into a saucepan of hot sugar and cream.

Making lemon posset involves just a few simple steps. 

  1. Simmer Cream and Sugar 
  2. Stir in Lemon Juice 
  3. Cool to set 

A wooden cutting board filled with hollowed out lemon halves and a glass measuring cup filled with lemon posset cream.

Making Lemon Shells 

Lemon posset can be served in individual serving dishes, or in lemon shells. For individual dishes, you can use ramekins, small bowls, or even tea cups. 

To make lemon shells for serving posset, cut lemons in half lengthwise. Use a paring knife to loosen the lemon flesh from the pith and scoop out with a spoon. Save the lemon flesh to use for juice, if you’d like. 

Lemon halves can be wobbly, but a muffin tin can help stabilize them for filling and storing in the fridge. 

Lemon cream is poured from a glass measuring cup into lemon shells in a muffin tin in the process of making lemon posset.

FAQ 

Can I make Lemon Posset ahead of time?
Absolutely! Lemon Posset is an ideal make-ahead dessert. Prepare it a day in advance, allowing ample time for the creamy concoction to set in the refrigerator. This not only enhances the flavors but also ensures a stress-free serving experience.

How should I store leftover Lemon Posset?
Store any leftovers in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap or in a larger airtight container. It maintains its texture and flavor well for up to 2-3 days. 

Can I make a vegan version of Lemon Posset?
Yes, you can create a delightful vegan Posset by substituting traditional heavy cream with unsweetened canned coconut cream. Be sure to use pure coconut cream (rather than coconut milk). We have not personally tested a vegan version of this dessert so we can’t promise results. Check out this Vegan Lemon Tarts recipe

How do I make a keto-friendly Lemon Posset?
For a keto-friendly version, we replace the sugar with Swerve sugar substitute. 

Can I freeze Lemon Posset?
This dish is best enjoyed fresh, as freezing may alter its creamy texture. To thaw frozen posset, transfer to the refrigerator for a few hours. 

What are some creative toppings for Lemon Posset?
Fresh berries, edible flowers, raspberry sauce, a sprig of mint, or a dollop of whipped cream can add a delightful burst of flavor and visual appeal to your Lemon Posset.

A lemon posset in a lemon shell with a scoop taken out with a silver tea spoon. This is a beautiful easy British lemon dessert topped with a raspberry and served on English china dessert plates.

Yield: Serves 6

Lemon Posset

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 18 minutes

This is a classic British lemon posset recipe. Chilled, tangy, silky lemon cream with a custard-like consistency makes a simple yet elegant dessert. All you need is 3 ingredients for this easy lemon dessert. Serve lemon posset in lemon shells or in individual serving dishes.

A lemon posset in lemon shell.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons)
  • Lemons for serving (optional)
  • Fresh berries and mint for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Pour the heavy cream, sugar, and lemon zest into a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Simmer, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes. Cream, sugar, and lemon zest in a saucepan with a wooden spoon on a stove.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Fresh lemon juice is poured into hot cream and sugar to make a posset.
  3. Stir again and pour into prepared lemon halves or serving dishes. If using lemon halves, nestle them into a muffin tin to stabilize them as you pour the lemon cream. Lemon cream is poured from a glass measuring cup into lemon shells in a muffin pan.
  4. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until the custard has set and is chilled, at least one hour.
  5. Serve chilled with a dessert spoon. Garnish with fresh berries and mint, if desired.

Notes

This recipe makes about 2 cups, which fills around 12 medium-sized half-lemon shells. This is a very small serving. The number of servings will vary depending on the size of the dish.

Keto Option: We use Swerve sweetener to make this recipe essentially sugar-free.

Lemon Shells: To make lemon shells for serving, cut lemons in half lengthwise and use a paring knife and spoon to remove the flesh from the pith. Save for lemon juice, if desired. You can prepare these shells while the lemon cream cools.