Simple, yet special, recipes for the home chef.

Lemon Crème Brûlée

Lemon Crème Brûlée - Rich lemon-infused custard with a torched sugar top. |

I often wonder if anybody feels a bit deceived by the name of this blog. I worry that fellow lemon lovers arrive here, quickly look around, and wonder where all the luscious lemon desserts are. I’ve published embarrassingly few, just a cake or lemon bars here and there. Truth be told, my love for lemons is mainly an appreciation of how their flavor can brighten and enhance almost any (savory) dish. I’ve found that most otherwise boring and bland recipes can be saved by a touch of acidic lemon juice. My tastebuds have come to crave acid, and now I can’t get through a hearty bowl of beef stew without a wedge of lemon to cut the richness.

Lemon Crème Brûlée - Rich lemon-infused custard with a torched sugar top. |

I’m unapologetically a savory cook and eater. I feel most comfortably cooking savory dishes, and, when out to dinner, I’ll always choose an extra savory course instead of dessert. Until recently. I was finishing my meal at one of my favorite restaurants in Detroit. I was full and planning to get a cup of espresso and skip dessert. So of course, that’s when the server tells me the featured dessert that evening was lemon crème brûlée. There was no way I could say no to that, and I’m so glad I didn’t.

Lemon Crème Brûlée - Rich lemon-infused custard with a torched sugar top. |

That tiny little ramekin of custard with burnt sugar on top has been on my brain ever since. It tasted like the essence of a thousand lemons, balanced by the richness of the cream and the crackle of the torched topping. When the folks at Limoneira kindly sent me a case of their beautiful lemons, I knew it was time to break out the blowtorch and bring this baby home. I’ve cooked with a lot of lemons over the years, but these were easily the most fragrant and flavorful ones I’ve ever used. Just the zest of two of these beauties infused my crème brûlée custard with a deep citrus flavor. In the end, it turns out that there’s always room for a lemon dessert.

Lemon Crème Brûlée - Rich lemon-infused custard with a torched sugar top. |

Lemon Crème Brûlée

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes


For the Custard:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt

For the Topping:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Fresh blackberries for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F; heat large kettle of water to boiling. Place four 5-ounceramekins in roasting pan.
  2. In small saucepan, heat cream and 3 tablespoons sugar over medium heat 6 to 7 minutes until cream just starts to bubble around edges of pan (do not bring to a full boil).
  3. Meanwhile, in large bowl, whisk egg yolks, lemon zest, vanilla, salt and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar until well combined. While whisking, use ladle to slowly add 3 ladlefuls of hot cream mixture to egg mixture. Gradually whisk in remaining cream mixture. Strain through fine mesh strainer into large liquid measuring cup.
  4. Divide custard mixture between ramekins; place roasting pan in oven. Add enough boiling water to come halfway up sides of the ramekins. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until custards are just set (they should tremble slightly in the middle, but be set on outer edges).
  5. Use tongs to carefully transfer ramekins to cooling rack; let stand 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 4 hours or up to 2 days before serving.
  6. To serve, sprinkle about 1 tablespoon sugar over each custard. Using blowtorch, caramelize top of each custard until sugar bubbles and turns brown (this can also be done under a broiler). Top with blackberries and serve immediately.

Adapted from Martha Stewart.

Making one of my recipes? Please let me know by sharing a photo on my Facebook page, or uploading to Instagram or Twitter with the tag #foxeslovelemons. It would make my day!

Disclosure: I received a case of lemons from Limoneira at no charge. I was not compensated for writing this post, and all opinions are my own. 


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20 Responses to “Lemon Crème Brûlée”

  1. Mary Frances — April 22, 2014 at 10:33 am

    I’m also a savory person, but this looks like a great spring dessert; bright and lively!


  2. The Hubs — April 22, 2014 at 10:43 am

    I remember the conversation with the waiter well . . .
    Me: “We usually have the beer and pretzels. But, I think we are both feeling stuffed. Probably just an espresso or a cognac.”
    Waiter: “Before you do that, let me run down the dessert specials.”
    You: “If you must.”
    Waiter: “Tonight we have homemade sorbet trio of season fruit, lemon creme brulee . . .”
    You: “Let me stop you there. Is the creme brulee awesome?”
    Waiter: “It’s pretty awesome.”
    Me: “Sold. We’ll split a creme brulee. And, we’ll each take an espresso.”


    • Lori | Foxes Love Lemons replied: — April 22nd, 2014 @ 12:34 pm

      Is this restaurant pager friendly?


      • The Hubs replied: — April 22nd, 2014 @ 12:48 pm

        I’m not getting a sig on my beeper . . .

    • Nancy replied: — April 22nd, 2014 @ 8:09 pm

      Lmao I can totally hear you saying all of these things, especially “let me stop you there. Is the creme brulee awesome?” You’re freaking awesome for asking the question, girl.


  3. ATasteOfMadness — April 22, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Ooh.. I am so craving this right now! I have never even made a regular creme brulee. A new addition to my ever growing to-do list


    • Lori | Foxes Love Lemons replied: — April 22nd, 2014 @ 12:35 pm

      Oh, definitely add it to your list, Cathleen. Honestly, it’s not hard to make at all!


  4. debattinella — April 22, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    YUM – this dessert looks fantastic Lori! You know me too and how I love lemons. I haven’t even had dinner yet and want to skip it have this instead! I’ll have to give this one a try. Pinned!


  5. Nancy — April 22, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    I’ve never made creme brulee nor have I ever had a lemon flavoured one. Both of these things must change. I love dessert so much that I often force myself to eat it, to the point of being in intense pain in the stomach region, because I can never say no. Fact. This looks gorgeous, Lori! The custard is so smooth ‘n satiny, and you’ve got a perfect crunchy topping of burnt sugar.


    • Lori | Foxes Love Lemons replied: — April 23rd, 2014 @ 2:02 pm

      Oh Nancy, you MUST make creme brulee at least once. With your pastry skills, you’ll have no trouble at all. Plus, you know…you get to use a blowtorch. Which is definitely a big part of the allure in my book.


  6. Sophia Del Gigante — April 23, 2014 at 11:24 am

    YES, YES and more YES!!! Love this twist on a classic!!


  7. Angela@JoyouslyDomestic — April 23, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Dying! This is my favorite dessert and I’ve been thinking about it all day since seeing your FB post earlier. YUM!


  8. GP — April 25, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Hi, just wanted to ask where you found your double handled bowls?


  9. Del's cooking twist — April 26, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I love blackberries, I love lemons. I just LOVE your crème brûlée! I couldn’t help it, I had to tweet it 🙂 Congrats on the good job!


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