This is many layers of things but the good news is that you can make it in advance and let it sit in the refrigerator for a long time. And I give it extra-special flavor by putting in half a cup of lemon curd, giving it a real lemon bite. Fold the lemon curd in to combine everything and place the mousse in a soufflé dish.–Ina Garten

Barefoot Contessa fresh lemon mousse in a soufflé dish with the edges decorated with swirls of whipped cream and lemon slices.

Barefoot Contessa Fresh Lemon Mousse

4.84 / 6 votes
Freshly squeezed lemon juice is an essential element of my cooking. I almost always add the grated lemon zest because there's even more flavor in the zest than in the juice. This fresh lemon mousse is easy to make in advance and is delicious as a cool ending to a wonderful meal.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories559 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time45 minutes


For the lemon mousse

  • 3 extra-large whole eggs
  • 3 extra-large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, (4 lemons)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup good bottled lemon curd, at room temperature
  • Sweetened Whipped Cream
  • Sliced lemon, for garnish

For the sweetened whipped cream

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Make the lemon mousse

  • In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the 3 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, the lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.
  • Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the mixture is thick like pudding. (I change to a whisk when the mixture starts to get thick.) Take off the heat and set aside for 15 minutes.
  • Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until completely chilled.
  • Place half the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue to beat until the whites are stiff and shiny. Carefully fold the beaten whites into the cold lemon mixture with a rubber spatula.
  • Place the cream in the same bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (no need to clean the bowl) and beat on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture. Fold in the lemon curd and pour into a 7-inch-diameter, 3-inch deep soufflé dish.

Make the whipped cream

  • Place the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium and then high speed until the cream just forms stiff peaks. Spoon the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.
  • Decorate with sweetened whipped cream and lemon slices that have been cut into quarters. Chill and serve cold.


What size dish should I use for a mousse?

A soufflé dish measuring 7 inches in diameter, 3.5 inches high (that’s a 1-quart dish) will fit the amount of this recipe perfectly. You can also make individual servings. The amount will range between 6 to 10 servings, depending on your choice of vessel.
Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten

Adapted From

Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 559 kcalCarbohydrates: 51 gProtein: 9 gFat: 36 gSaturated Fat: 21 gMonounsaturated Fat: 11 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 317 mgSodium: 167 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 47 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2008 Ina Garten. Photo © 2008 Quentin Bacon. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I confidently decided to make this for a dinner party without testing the recipe first. I was mightily rewarded and thanked by all dinner guests in attendance. Big hit! The recipe was fairly easy to make, although I did make my own lemon curd, which added an extra step to the process. But if you use a purchased lemon curd you’ll save time and dirty bowls.

Oh my, this lemon mousse was deliciously smooth and creamy, like lemony clouds dissolving on the tongue. I can’t say that I’ve ever had a lemon mousse, but I can say that I’ll be making this again. This recipe deserves to be printed out and stored in my dessert binder so that I don’t forget about it!

I had nine dinner guests to serve, and it made just enough to divide between nine beautiful champagne glasses. I smoothed the top, drizzled it with additional lemon curd, and garnished it with whipped cream and raspberries. Serve with crispy-crunchy amaretti cookies for a supremely satisfying experience of swiping the cookies through the mousse!

Lemon lovers will delight in this delicate dessert. It may seem a bit tedious (whisking, mixing, folding, and more folding…) but it will not disappoint. The lemon flavor was intense for my 9-year-old, but he still gave it a 9 as well as the rest of my family of taste testers.

I opted to serve this dessert layered (mousse, whip cream – repeat) in parfait cups. For individual servings, this will serve about 6.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. Do you think this mousse might be nice on top of a vanilla cheesecake? With added whipped cream of course!

    1. Christine, you should be able to make this dessert ahead. I would suggest making the lemon mousse the day before and then make the sweetened whip cream the day you plan on serving them. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out.

      1. I’d like to add a trick I use for stabilizing whipped cream overnight. Add 2 leveled tablespoons of one of the following to the heavy cream before whipping: sour cream, crème fraîche, or Greek yogurt. I’ve tried it many a times, and only with the full-fat kind, and the whipped cream maintains its structure in the refrigerator for quite a while (I think 20 hours is the longest I’ve left it). The whipped cream does take on a SLIGHT tang, but I never mind it.

    1. Ben, the lemon mousse that is made at the start of the recipe is different from lemon curd. You could always make lemon curd to add in to the mousse later in the recipe.