This lemon tiramisu is tangy, zesty, creamy, and the perfect make ahead dessert. The filling has lemon curd, is so easy to make, and is packed with tangy lemon flavor. It’s a refreshing twist on a classic tiramisu, and you can add or omit limoncello as you prefer. Because this cake has lemon curd in the filling and topping, it’s packed with creamy, zesty, tangy, lemon flavor.
🍋 Why you'll LOVE this recipe
- Lemon curd: The lemon curd in the filling and topping make it ultra creamy and tart.
- Easy: You can use store-bought lemon curd to make it even easier but I recommend making your own as per the recipe.
- Make ahead: This tiramisu needs to set overnight and is even better the next day or the day after.
- Creamy: The mousse-like filling is fluffy and creamy.
For more tiramisu flavors, check out my strawberry tiramisu, oreo tiramisu, and matcha tiramisu recipes.
- 🍋 Why you'll LOVE this recipe
- ❔ What makes this a tiramisu?
- 📝 Key ingredients
- 👩🍳 How to make lemon tiramisu
- Filling and assembly step by step
- 📝 Expert tiramisu tips
- 🥄 Make ahead and storage
- 🍋 Why lemon curd is essential
- 💧 Soaking the ladyfingers
- 🍪 What ladyfingers to use for tiramisu?
- 🍷 What is limoncello?
- 📖 Recipe FAQs
- 🍰 More related recipes
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
❔ What makes this a tiramisu?
Traditional tiramisu filling has a whipped egg yolk filling that’s combined with mascarpone cheese. Whipped egg whites are folded in at the end to make the filling light and creamy.
So that you don’t have to worry about raw eggs, the raw egg yolks are replaced with lemon curd, and the whipped egg whites with whipped cream. You don’t have to worry about the bacteria risks of consuming raw eggs and it’s safe for pregnancy, the elderly, and young children. And it adds so much rich lemon flavor!
This strawberry tiramisu recipe uses strawberry curd instead of lemon curd for a fun berry twist that is also safe from raw eggs.
📝 Key ingredients
Read through for all the tips you will need for success!
Full steps and ingredients in recipe card below.
*butter isn't pictured in the photo but is included in the ingredients*
- Lemons: This tiramisu is infused with lemon curd which is packed with lemon flavor. You will need about 3-4 lemons total. 2-3 for the lemon curd and 1 for the lemon infused syrup for soaking the ladyfingers. Any lemon slices you put on top for decoration are extra!
- Eggs and yolks: The lemon curd is thickened with egg yolks and whole eggs, which creates a silky smooth thick curd.
- Mascarpone: This gives the filling body and creaminess, like a traditional tiramisu. You can use cream cheese if you're in a pinch but it will taste more like cheesecake then. Ricotta won't work, it's too grainy.
- Heavy whipping cream: Use cream that's 35% or higher to ensure that it will whip to stiff peaks. Whipping cream adds air into the filling making it light and creamy.
- Limoncello (optional): lemon infused liquor gives this tiramisu a kick! If you don't want to use it, just omit from the recipe.
- Basil (optional): I infused the lemon syrup with a sprig of basil to add a floral, earthy flavor. It helped to subtly elevate the tiramisu.
Did you know that you can substitute the lemon curd with any other fruit flavored curd? Try making raspberry curd or even blueberry curd!
👩🍳 How to make lemon tiramisu
This recipe is split up into three steps: the lemon curd, lemon syrup for soaking the ladyfingers, and the filling.
Lemon curd step by step
Tip: If using store bought lemon curd you will need 2 ½ cups, 725g, or 26oz by weight.
Step 1: In a medium saucepan, combine egg yolks, whole eggs, salt, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Whisk to combine.
Step 2: Heat on medium heat, whisking or stirring constantly. Let the lemon curd come to a simmer and thicken - approximately one minute after simmering.
Pro lemon curd tip: To avoid a metallic flavor, use a non-metal saucepan or a coated saucepan. Make sure to store the curd in a non-metal container too.
Step 3: Strain lemon curd into a non-metal container for a smoother lemon curd. Add butter, stir, and let sit for a minute to melt. Stir until fully melted and smooth.
Step 4: Cover with a piece of wrap or parchment paper directly on the surface. Refrigerate until cold and thickened.
Lemon syrup step by step
Step 1: While the lemon curd chills, prepare the lemon syrup. Combine water, sugar, lemon juice, peeled lemon zest, and basil (optional).
Step 2: Bring to a simmer on medium heat and let cool. Once cooled, strain out the lemon peels and set aside in a bowl for later. If using limoncello, add it in at this point.
Filling and assembly step by step
Step 1: Chill your mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for 5 minutes. Pour heavy whipping cream into the chilled mixing bowl and whip to stiff peaks (I recommend using an electric mixer).
Step 2: In a large bowl, combine 1 ½ cups of the cooled lemon curd (set aside the rest in the fridge) and all of the mascarpone cheese. Whisk until fully combined and smooth.
Step 3: Add whipped cream into the lemon curd mixture. Gently fold with a whisk or spatula to combine, being careful not to deflate the whipped cream.
Step 4: Have a large casserole dish ready. Dip ladyfingers into the lemon syrup one at a time, placing them in tight rows inside the baking dish.
Step 5: Add half the filling on top, spreading all the way to the edges. Briefly dip ladyfingers into the syrup one by one and place in a single layer on top of the filling. Squeeze them in as tight as possible.
Step 6: Add the rest of the filling on top of the second layer of ladyfingers. Spread it out all the way to the edge of the dish. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight to set.
Step 7: Before serving, top with remaining lemon curd and spread all the way to the edges. Decorate with extra lemon slices (optional). Slice or scoop with a spatula and serve.
📝 Expert tiramisu tips
- Use non-metal dishes and pots when dealing with lemon. The acidity in lemon will react to the metal and give the tiramisu a metallic aftertaste.
- Whip the cream to stiff peaks and fold it into the filling very gently. This helps thicken the filling and sets the tiramisu. It adds a lot of air into the tiramisu giving it a mousse-like texture.
- Chill the tiramisu for 8 hours or overnight to set. This allows enough time for the ladyfingers to soak through and soften up, and for the tiramisu to set.
🥄 Make ahead and storage
Tiramisu is the perfect make ahead cake. It has to sit for at least eight hours or overnight for the ladyfingers to get soft and for the filling to set.
You can also prepare the lemon curd a day or two in advance of making the tiramisu.
This lemon tiramisu will keep well in the fridge for up to four days. Freeze, wrapped tightly, for up to two months. It keeps really well in the freezer and tastes like ice cream when frozen.
🍋 Why lemon curd is essential
Lemon curd gives the tiramisu so much rich lemon flavor! It also substitutes the egg yolks found in traditional tiramisu. I recommend making your own lemon curd (it tastes significantly better) but you can use store bought in a pinch. You will need 2 ½ cups total of lemon curd (725g, or 26oz by weight).
This is my separate lemon curd recipe and it goes into lots of details on how to get the perfect lemon curd every time.
💧 Soaking the ladyfingers
Instead of using coffee and liquor to dip the ladyfingers, this recipe uses a lemon syrup and you can optionally add limoncello.
The syrup is infused with lemon rind, lemon juice for some tartness, and an optional sprig of basil for some herbiness. Simmer, let cool, strain, and add limoncello if using.
You may need to double the syrup, depending on how dry your ladyfingers are and the size of your baking dish. The ladyfingers I used weren't fully dry so I only used one portion.
🍪 What ladyfingers to use for tiramisu?
I used store-bought ladyfingers for a shortcut but if you have the time, homemade is so much better. Ladyfingers are also known as savoiardi or even boudoirs. They’re a dry, finger shaped cookie, made of an eggy sponge cake batter.
I was able to find them at the regular grocery store but you can also find them online.
Depending on the dimensions of your baking dish, you may need more or less ladyfingers. I used two 5 oz (150g) packages of Milano giant ladyfingers.
If you can’t find ladyfingers, you can substitute them for golden Oreos. I used chocolate oreos for this twist on a traditional tiramisu and it is such a great replacement!
🍷 What is limoncello?
Limoncello is essentially sweetened neutral alcohol (usually vodka) infused with lemon peel. It gives the tiramisu a zesty, boozy kick. It’s great for adding into lemon desserts like this tiramisu, or just drinking cold.
📖 Recipe FAQs
About 3-4 lemons total. 2-3 for the lemon curd and 1 for the lemon infused syrup for soaking the ladyfingers. Any lemon slices you put on top for decoration are extra!
You can use golden oreos or vanilla cookies. This oreo tiramisu proves that you don't always have to use ladyfingers!
Substitute the ladyfingers for gluten free ladyfingers or gluten free spongecake.
Yes you can, use your favorite brand or recipe of egg free lemon curd. Make sure you make around 2 ½ cups, 725g, or 26oz by weight.
Mascarpone cheese is essential in tiramisu. If you can't find any, you can substitute it with cream cheese - it will taste like a no bake cheesecake though. Don't substitute with ricotta, it will make the filling grainy.
Depending on the dimensions of your baking dish, you may need more or less ladyfingers. I used two 5 oz (150g) packages of Milano giant ladyfingers. These ladyfingers aren't fully dried - they're still a little soft.
You may need to double the amount of lemon syrup depending on how many ladyfingers you use, how dry they are, and how much you saturate them with syrup. The ladyfingers I used are a little on the softer side so I only used one portion of syrup.
🍰 More related recipes
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Lemon Tiramisu with Lemon Curd
- 8” by 11” oval dish or any non-metal dish of similar size
Lemon Curd (2 ½ cups, 725g, or 26oz)
- 4 large egg yolks
- 4 large eggs
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 lemons zested
- ⅔ cup lemon juice freshly squeezed (from about 2-3 lemons)
- ½ cup unsalted butter
Lemon Syrup (see notes)
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 lemon peeled and juiced
- 1 sprig basil optional
- ¼ cup limoncello optional
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream cold
- 1 ½ cups lemon curd about half of the prepared
- 1 lb mascarpone cheese room temperature
- 2 packs ladyfingers (see notes)
- lemon slices for decorating
- If using store bought lemon curd you will need 2 ½ cups, 725g, or 26oz by weight.
- In a medium saucepan (preferably non-metal saucepan), combine egg yolks, whole eggs, salt, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Whisk to combine.4 large egg yolks, 4 large eggs, ¼ teaspoon sea salt, 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar, 2 lemons, ⅔ cup lemon juice
- Heat on medium heat, whisking or stirring constantly. Let the lemon curd come to a simmer and thicken - approximately one minute after simmering.
- Once thickened, strain the curd through a wire strainer or cheesecloth to remove the zest and any lumps. Transfer to a non-metal heat safe bowl. Add butter to the curd and let sit for a minute to melt. Stir until fully melted and smooth.½ cup unsalted butter
- Cover with a piece of parchment paper or wrap placed directly on the surface and refrigerate until cold and thickened.
Lemon Syrup (see notes)
- While the lemon curd chills, prepare the lemon syrup. Combine water, sugar, lemon juice, peeled lemon zest, and basil (optional).½ cup water, ¼ cup granulated sugar, 1 lemon, 1 sprig basil
- Bring to a simmer on medium heat and let cool. Once cooled, strain out the lemon peels and set aside in a bowl for later. If using limoncello, add it in at this point.¼ cup limoncello
- Chill your mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for 5 minutes. Pour heavy whipping cream into the chilled mixing bowl and whip to stiff peaks (I recommend using an electric mixer).1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- In a large bowl, combine half of the cooled lemon curd (set aside the other half in the fridge) and all of the mascarpone cheese. Whisk until fully combined and smooth. Do not overmix or the mascarpone will become gritty.1 ½ cups lemon curd, 1 lb mascarpone cheese
- Add whipped cream into the lemon curd mixture. Gently fold with a whisk or spatula to combine, being careful not to deflate the whipped cream.
- Have a large, approximately 8” by 11” non-metal casserole dish ready. Briefly dip ladyfingers into the lemon syrup one at a time, placing them in tight rows inside the baking dish.2 packs ladyfingers
- Add half the filling on top, spreading all the way to the edges. Dip ladyfingers into the syrup one by one and place in a single layer on top of the filling.
- Add the rest of the filling on top of the second layer of ladyfingers. Spread it out all the way to the edge of the dish. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
- Before serving, top with remaining lemon curd and spread all the way to the edges. Slice or scoop with a spatula and serve. Add lemon slices and serve.lemon slices
Hi. This looks fabulous. I was trying to think of a way to make this less complicated for me. Would store bought lemon curd work in this recipe?
Thanks very much.
Yes, you can definitely use store-bought curd! You will need about 2 ½ cups, 725g, or 26oz of lemon curd.
I made this lemon tiramisu it was truly fabulous, you have to be a Lemon lover, goes without saying, will make again. Great balance of flavours
If I only have a 9x13 will that work?
Yes that will work, it will probably not turn out a little shorter than the one I made.
Tastes delicious! Nice and lemony.
I agree with Zainab, I needed to double the lemon syrup, but I also didn't add the optional limoncello, so that might have made enough if I'd included it.
The curd recipe didn't make 3 full cups of curd, it was closer to 2, so I still added the 1.5 cups to the mascarpone, which meant there was less for the topping. Also, I added the rest of the curd on top of the cream before refrigerating rather than waiting until serving and it turned out fine.
The one confusing thing was that in the text before the recipe, it says you need 5 lemons, but the recipe only calls for 3. Two lemons for zesting and juicing for the curd, and one lemon for the syrup. Not sure where the other 2 lemons went. I guess if the lemons are small, you might have needed a third lemon to juice for the curd.
Also, I don't know if a "pack" of ladyfingers is a standard size. Some instructions on the weight or number of ladyfingers might have been helpful. I got 2-7oz packs of ladyfingers and used about 1.5, so approximately 10oz of ladyfingers.
Hi Mimi, thank you so much for sharing all of this! I've updated the recipe to include all of the details and included them in the notes.
This was both light and decadent at the same time! Made it for Mother’s Day and it was a huge hit. I realized when preparing the filing I had inadvertently bought espresso mascarpone cheese. I didn’t have time to go exchange it, so I used it anyway. Still delicious!
FANTASTIC! Will be making it over and over again this summer.
I’m not sure if I soaked my ladyfingers too long but I ran out of the lemon syrup after layer 1 and had to sub lemonade I had on hand (still tasted good though!) just a heads up. It was absolutely delicious and so light and refreshing. My friends and I LOVED it!!
How many ladyfingers are in one pack?
Hi, there are 16 giant ladyfingers in a pack. Each pack is 5 oz (150g) and they're the Milano brand giant ladyfingers. Hope that helps! I updated the recipe card to include this.
Amazing !! I put the syrup (with limoncello) with the whipping cream by accident and made another batch of lemon syrup , and it was very lemony( I loved). This has become a staple
Hi!! Im planning of making this. How many grams of ladyfingers is two packs? 🙂
Hi I used a total of 300g of ladyfingers or 10 oz. Each pack has about 16 ladyfingers. I used the Milano brand giant ladyfingers.
OMG! best lemon dessert i’ve ever had!!! 🍋🍋🍋 it’s not overly sweet but it has the right amount of tang. i had to double the lemon syrup just because i used a lot of ladyfingers. this was absolutely delectable.
My husband was upstairs playing video games while I was baking this, and I took him up a spoonful of just the filling mixture dipped in some curd, and he stopped everything he was doing, and proceeded to tell all his buddies how fantastic it was. Super excited to try the finished product today! This is deff going to be a staple summer dessert in our house!
Fabulous. I suggest mixing all the custard into the cream.
We made it and was so nice. But double the amount of lemon syrup to match with the dish’s size.
I made this recipe for Thanksgiving and it was a hit with my whole family! It was extremely easy to make and extremely delicious. I absolutely adore lemon desserts, and this twist in a tiramisu delivers in a big way. I will definitely be making this many more times!
Best tiramisu I have ever made/ate!
Unanimous love, here at our house. Will definitely become a staple.
Made it last week it was fabulous, if you love lemon desserts this is a fabulous.
I have been contemplating making tiramisu. It's ironic that you are providing a recipe for Lemon tiramisu. I have only known the espresso chocolate version
of this delectable dessert. I was watching the Food Network recently and the
challenge was to put a spin on the traditional tiramisu. This is definitely another great variation of it that is worth trying. I just recently learned that making lady fingers for the tiramisu recipe is also easy to make without all the preservatives
that the store-bought kind has in them. Anyway, thank you for this recipe.