What’s creamy, tangy, easy to make and no-bake? This lemon tiramisu. It’s also decadent, elegant and totally delicious. With real lemon flavour from lemon curd and zest, this creamy dessert is a crowd pleaser.

You also really need to try this raspberry tiramisu.

Top down view of lemon tiramisu in a pan surrounded by lemon slices and plates.

Is this authentic tiramisu?

An authentic tiramisu (an Italian word meaning pick me up) is a no-bake dessert made with coffee, Savoiardi biscuits (lady fingers or sponge fingers), liqueur, mascarpone, sugar and eggs that are layered up in a dish.

This lemon tiramisu, while different in both it’s flavouring and it’s method, is still layered the same way with a creamy filling and Savoiardi biscuits. This one has the zingy flavour of lemon instead of coffee and is free from raw eggs.

So, if you love lemon and you aren’t a fan of raw eggs in desserts, this is the tiramisu for you.

Why you’ll love it

There are a million and one reasons to love this lemon tiramisu.

  • No bake – perfect for warm weather but comforting enough for cool weather too.
  • Make ahead – in fact you should make it the day before, making it perfect for a dinner party.
  • Sweet, rich and tangy – lemon and that creamy filling are just a divine combo.
  • Raw egg free – if you don’t like raw eggs in desserts, then this will make you very happy.
  • With or without alcohol – the Savoiardi’s are soaked in limoncello here but I have an easy alcohol free option too.
  • Feeds a crowd – since it’s rich, you can serve smaller portions meaning you can feed plenty out of one dessert (or just serve big helpings).

If you’ve tried my raspberry tiramisu, you know this will be good, since it’s based around the same recipe.

Ingredients you’ll need

Ingredients for lemon tiramisu on a marble benchtop.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  • Cream: You’ll want a cream that whips, so look for heavy whipping cream, heavy cream or thickened cream and it must be full fat. The cream in this recipe takes the place of eggs. It adds flavour and whipping it adds the air.
  • Mascarpone: Mascarpone, also known as mascarpone cheese, is a light flavoured Italian cream cheese. It tastes more like cream than cream cheese and is a classic ingredient in tiramisu.
  • Sugar: Just use regular white granulated or caster sugar (superfine sugar).
  • Vanilla: Vanilla adds a balance to the flavours.
  • Lemon zest: The zest of one lemon goes into the cream filling to make it nice and zingy.
  • Savoiardi biscuits: Also known as lady fingers or sponge fingers, Savoiardi biscuits are a crisp Italian biscuit with a sugar topping that are like long fingers. You can often get small or large ones, I prefer the large in this recipe.
  • Lemon curd: Do yourself a huge flavour favour and make your lemon curd from scratch. It takes literally 10 minutes and the flavour is genuinely so much better than store bought curd.
  • Limoncello: Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur. You can make this tiramisu without the limoncello though, if you can’t find it or want an alcohol free version.

That’s it! Just 8 ingredients. Are you ready to make this?

Tools you’ll need

How to make lemon tiramisu

A collage of 6 images showing how to make lemon tiramisu.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  1. Whip the cream: In a medium bowl, use a handheld electric beater to beat the cream to soft  peaks. You want it firm enough to hold shape but not so much that it’s starting to turn grainy.
  2. The mascarpone: In another medium bowl, whip together the mascarpone, sugar and vanilla also to the same consistency where it holds soft peaks. Now stir in the lemon zest.
  3. Fold together: Now add ⅓ of the whipped cream to the mascarpone mixture and use a gentle folding motion to combine it. Repeat 2 more times with the remaining cream.
  4. Layer 1: Dunk the biscuits into the liqueur (or lemon syrup) just briefly then line them up in a single layer into your dish. Top them with half the cream mixture, followed by half the lemon curd, spreading each layer out evenly across the biscuits (an offset spatula is great for this).
  5. Layer 2: Repeat with another layer of biscuits lightly dipped in the liqueur. This time, do the lemon curd first, then pipe or spread on the remaining cream mixture.
  6. Set: Now let the tiramisu set in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight – it’s perfect made the day before you want to serve it. Place it in the freezer for an hour before slicing so you can get nice neat slices, then make sure it’s not hard before serving.

You don’t need to serve perfect slices either. This easy tiramisu is lovely served up in the middle of the table allowing everyone to scoop out their own serve.

Tips and tricks

  • Folding: Folding cream into another mixture, like the mascarpone here, allows you to mix the two things without knocking the air out of the cream. Folding helps keep that light, fluffy texture.
  • Piping: You don’t have to pipe the cream mixture on, it just gives a pretty finish. I use a small star piping nozzle and but you could just use a round tip or just spread the mixture on. If piping, just pipe stars that around 1.25cm wide and high (about ½ inch), then fill in the gaps at the end with tiny piped dots so that the top is covered entirely.
Closeup of lemon tiramisu on a dessert plate.

Tips for using fresh lemons

When using fresh lemons in any cooking, always zest the lemon first, then juice it. It’s difficult and can be dangerous to try zesting it after the lemon is cut as it’s easy to slip.

  • To zest a lemon, a microplane will become your new best friend. Only go over each part once – you only want the yellow part, not the white as the white ‘pith’ is bitter.
    • How: I find it easiest to hold the lemon in my non-dominant hand, then scrape the microplane over the top using my dominant hand. Turn a little, then do it again until you have all the zest.
    • Quantity: One medium lemon will give you around 1 tablespoon of zest.
    • What to do with it: Zest has a huge amount of lemon flavour as the oils of the fruit are in the skin. If you rub the zest through sugar, the oils are released and give you an intense lemon flavoured sugar. Zest can be used in sweet and savoury and is completely edible so add it wherever you want a little tang.
    • Storage: You can store lemon zest in a ziplock bag in the fridge or even freeze it for later use
  • To juice a lemon, you can use a citrus reamer or citrus squeezer or just use your hands.
    • How: Room temperature lemons or even slightly warm lemons are easier to juice than cold, so let them sit out of the fridge or microwave for a few seconds. Hold half a lemon in one hand and squeeze or use a citrus reamer in your other hand to press into the lemon and push the juice out. Make sure to place a strainer over your bowl to catch any pips or fleshy pieces.
    • Quantity: One medium lemon will give you anywhere from 2 tablespoons to just over ¼ cup of juice.
    • What to do with it: Lemon juice can be used in sweet or savoury dishes so add it wherever you want a little tang.
    • Storage: Lemon juice will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days in a mason jar or well sealed preserving jar. Freeze it in ice cube trays, then transfer the cubes to a ziplock bag to store for up to 6 months. You can add these to cooking, baking or even just flavour your water or tea with them.

Storage

This lemon tiramisu will keep well in the fridge for 2-3 days. Make sure it’s covered well with plastic wrap.

Can you freeze lemon tiramisu? This tiramisu won’t freeze well over an extended period, as the texture of the cream will change. However, it is handy to place it in the freezer for 1 hour before slicing it. You don’t want it to be frozen but firm enough to cut neat slices. Once sliced it will soften to the right texture quickly.

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A square slice of lemon tiramisu on a small plate with a cup of lady fingers the background.

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A square slice of lemon tiramisu on a small plate.

Lemon Tiramisu

5 from 3 votes
Best made the day before serving. This lemon tiramisu falls somewhere between that classic Italiandessert and a lemon cheesecake. Rich, creamy and tangy, it tastes amazing andthis no-bake dessert is so easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 300 ml thickened (heavy / whipping cream) (1 ¼ cups)
  • 500 g mascarpone (1.1lb)
  • cup caster (superfine) sugar (66g / 2.3oz)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 28 Savoiardi biscuits (ladyfingers / sponge fingers) (notes 2-4)
  • ½ cup Limoncello (lemon liqueur or notes 6&7) (125ml)
  • 1 cup lemon curd

Instructions
 

  • In a medium bowl, beat the cream with an electric beater to soft peak stage.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the mascarpone, sugar and vanilla, until starting to thicken up and it also reaches soft peak stage.
  • Mix in the lemon zest with a spatula.
  • Fold ⅓ of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture gently so as not to knock out the air and repeat two more times until all incorporated.
  • Quickly dip each biscuit into the liqueur (don’t soak) and lay them side by side in a 9 inch square tin – roughly 14 in the first layer – press down lightly to make them all level and trim some if you need to.
  • Top the cookies with half the mascarpone cream mixture, spreading it over evenly with an offset spatula.
  • Spread ½ the lemon curd over the cream
  • Add another layer of savoiardi biscuits, then spread the remaining curd over the top.
  • Pipe or spread the remaining mascarpone mixture over the top of the curd.
  • Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight before serving. If you want nice neat slices, place in the freezer for 45-60 minutes before slicing. Make sure it’s not firm inside when you serve though as this should be a nice soft set dessert.
  • Right before serving, add some lemon slice quarters or zest to garnish.
  • Please take a moment to rate this recipe. I really appreciate it and it helps me create more recipes.

Notes

  1. The number of Savoiardi’s you’ll need will depend on their size. I use ones that are just over an inch wide and I fit two layers of 14 into a 9 inch tin. In the video I use an 8 inch tin and I need to trim them to fit.
  2. Savoiardis are an sweet, dry Italian biscuit about 1 inch wide by 4 long with a crusty sugar coating on one side. You’ll find them often in the biscuit / cookie aisle on the top shelf or in the international section.
  3. If you can’t find Savoiardi, use a sponge cake, cut into fingers and dried, uncovered overnight on a wire rack.
  4. For a non-alcoholic version or if you can’t find limoncello, use a simple lemon syrup. Just combine  cup lemon juice, cup water and ¼ cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
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