paleo dairy-free lemon custard recipe

Dairy-Free Lemon Custard {Paleo}

Meredith 9:59 pm

If you have been reading for a while, you know that I try to limit the added sugar my family eats.  So on the nights when we have dessert, we typically enjoy fruit.  When we want a special and yet simple dessert that is still low in added sugar, we sometimes enjoy fresh berries with this creamy, dairy-free lemon custard.

paleo dairy-free lemon custard recipe

Custards are typically milk-based sauces that are thickened with egg yolks and sometimes a starch (like corn starch).  Because this custard is dairy-free, I have used full-fat coconut milk as the base.  And because I wanted to create a custard that follows paleo guidelines, only egg yolks were used to thicken this custard.

Do not be intimidated by making this stove-top custard sauce!  All you need is a water bath or double boiler to ensure even cooking, a willingness to gently whisk the sauce for about 10 minutes.  Unlike other custard recipes, you do not have to first heat the milk before adding it to the eggs or strain the custard once it is cooked.

Lemon custard or lemon curd?

Traditionally, custards are milk-based and can either be cooked on the stove or in the oven (ie burnt cream).  A citrus curd simply uses juice in place of milk.  When creating this recipe, I wanted to add the least amount of added sugar possible while still obtaining and creamy and sweet lemon sauce.  Therefore, I needed to use something other than lemon juice as the base.

Paleo Lemon Custard Recipe

4.91 from 10 votes
paleo dairy-free lemon custard recipe
Lemon Custard {Dairy-Free}
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Chilling Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 15 mins

This light and lemony dairy-free custard is delicious served with fresh berries or as a filling for a fresh fruit tart.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy-free lemon custard recipe, healthy lemon custard recipe, paleo lemon custard
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 119 kcal
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 tsp lemon zest * from 4 lemons
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsps maple syrup
  1. Fill a medium size saucepan half full with water.  Make a ring out of aluminum foil (as pictured below) and place in water.  Heat water until simmering gently

  2. Whisk together coconut milk, egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and maple syrup in a medium size bowl 

  3. Place bowl with coconut milk mixture onto aluminum foil ring in the simmering water

  4. Whisk mixture gently until the custard thickens.  (Approximately 10 minutes, custard will be approximately 160 degrees F)

  5. Poor thickened custard into a clean bowl.  Be careful to not scrape sides where custard may have curdled.  (This step ensures that custard does not need to be poured through a sieve) 

  6. Cover custard with parchment paper to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until completely cold (at least 2 hrs)

  7. Serve cold custard with your favorite fresh berries for a delicious dessert

*Note: When using the zest in recipes, I prefer to purchase organic citrus. Read more on pesticides and produce.

Simple and easy to make Dairy-free Lemon Custard

Please do not be intimidated by the water bath needed to cook this delicious lemon custard!  It really is a very simple method of cooking the sauce.  It is so worth the *minimal* effort!

Adding a ring made out of aluminum foil to your pot of water is a simple way to stabilize your bowl while cooking the custard.

lemon custard water bath
Make an aluminum foil ring for your water bath

The custard will thicken after about 10 minutes of whisking the mixture over the simmering water.  The custard will coat a spoon when dipped into the hot sauce.

thickened paleo custard after about 10 minutes
After about 10 minutes of whisking, the lemon custard will thicken

Once the lemon custard has thickened, pour the sauce into a clean glass bowl or container.  Be sure to NOT Scrape the sides of the bowl as your pour… you do not want any of the curdled custard in your smooth and creamy dairy-free lemon custard sauce!

why you don't scrape the bowl
For a smooth custard, do not scrape the bowl!

Serving suggestions for Lemon Custard Sauce

This coconut-milk based lemon custard is delicious when served with fresh berries.

Paleo lemon custard sauce with blueberries

Nutrition information (per ¼ cup serving, 6 servings total):

  • 119 calories
  • 2 g added sugar
  • 0 g fiber
  • 2.5 g protein
  • 13 mg sodium
  • 10 g fat

Pin recipe for later:

dairy-free lemon custard pin


  1. Susan Mc Feely

    Maybe because its freezing in Ireland, but it took an hour to thicken this custard. I haven’t tasted yet!

  2. Thank you for this recipe – delicious lemony custard. Loved the tin foil ring – new trick I hadn’t seen before. I had to cook mine for around 18 mins for it to thicken but I imagine it all differs for different temperatures and climates. I also added more maple syrup as the family have a bit of a sweet tooth. It’s a definite winner and I will be making it again

    • Mary – I am so happy you and your family enjoyed this lemon custard! And thanks for sharing your experience re: cooking time. You are definitely right, climate, temperatures as well as different types of stove tops can all cause variation in cooking time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Meredith

  3. This custard looks so easy and delicious (which happen to be my favorite combination in a recipe, haha). Pinning this one, as I can’t handle dairy anymore! Thank you!

  4. Jacque Hastert

    This lemon custard is a must make before summer ends. It looks amazing!

  5. We usually have fruit for dessert too. So, I really like the idea of this custard to add a little bit of excitement to our fruit!

  6. Epic failure. Followed the instructions perfectly. Never thckened at all

    • Mary – I am so sorry to hear the recipe didn’t work for you! The lemon custard is not as thick as a traditional pudding, but should have thickened. Did your sauce thicken at all? The only reason I can think of that may explain why the sauce didn’t thicken is if it wasn’t cooked to a high enough temperature or possibly if you used pasteurized eggs. The pasteurization process may change the ability of the egg yolks to properly thicken the sauce.

  7. This sounds so good (+ I actually have all the ingredients to make it)! Can’t wait to try it out!

  8. This looks heavenly and perfect for Summer!

  9. this looks amazing! My family would LOVE this!

  10. I love finding dairy free recipes that look as delicious as this!! Yum!

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