This Easy Lemon Mousse Is Impossibly Creamy

Head on shot of 3 small glass jars of creamy lemon mousse with layers of graham cracker crumbs and whipped cream, and topped with lemon zest.
Credit: Photo: Ryan Liebe ; Food Stylist: Ben Weiner Credit: Photo: Ryan Liebe ; Food Stylist: Ben Weiner

Like many of you, when I want something sweet, I reach for chocolate 99% of the time. The other 1%? I’m searching for something light and creamy like fresh strawberries and whipped cream or this layered pumpkin mousse. But because we’re currently in the midst of winter and spring seems too far away, let me introduce you to this fresh, citrusy, and just-sweet-enough lemon mousse. 

Each serving is filled with crunchy graham crackers, creamy lemon mousse, zingy lemon curd, and fluffy whipped cream. This easy dessert requires zero baking, comes together in just 20 minutes, and looks fancy, to boot.

Key Ingredients in Lemon Mousse

  • Graham crackers: The base of the mousse! You can use whole graham cracker sheets or start with store-bought crumbs — whichever is easiest.

  • Butter: Helps toast the graham cracker crumbs for a richer flavor.

  • Heavy cream: An essential ingredient in both the mousse and the whipped cream. It adds body and texture to the dessert.

  • Fresh lemon: Both zest and juice go into the mousse for a brighter, more complex flavor.

  • Lemon curd: I love using store-bought lemon curd as a shortcut here. It adds depth and rounds out the mousse. I developed the recipe using Mackay’s lemon curd, while the recipe tester tried it with Bonne Maman’s version — both were outstanding. If you’re up for it, you can swap in homemade lemon curd.

How to Make Lemon Mousse

  • Make the graham cracker crumbs. Toast the crumbs in some butter on the stovetop until fragrant and crunchy.

  • Make the whipped cream topping. Whip heavy cream, powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt until fluffy.

  • Make the lemon mousse. Add the lemon juice and zest, lemon curd, powdered sugar, and salt to a bowl and beat until well-combined. Pour in some cream and whisk until soft peaks form.

  • Assemble the mousse. Divide the crumbs between small serving glasses, jars, or ramekins. Dollop the mousse on top, add a layer of lemon curd, then top it off with more mousse. Finish with whipped cream and lemon zest for garnish.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips

You can totally make components of this dessert ahead of time. The lemon mousse and graham cracker crumbs can both be made one day in advance. 

If you want to assemble the mousse beforehand, you can build individual ones, adding the whipped cream and lemon zest garnish on top. They’ll hold well overnight in the fridge and the lemon zest won’t dry out. Leftovers can be covered and refrigerated for a couple of days after, but the crumbs will soften.

Head on shot of creamy lemon mousse in a small glass jar, with layers of graham cracker crumbs and whipped cream.
Credit: Photo: Ryan Liebe ; Food Stylist: Ben Weiner Credit: Photo: Ryan Liebe ; Food Stylist: Ben Weiner

Impossibly Creamy Lemon Mousse Recipe

This easy, no-bake dessert comes together in just 20 minutes.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 5 minutes

Serves 4


For the graham cracker crumbs:

  • 4 whole graham cracker sheets (2 to 2 1/2 ounces), or 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 pinch kosher salt

For the lemon mousse and topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream, divided

  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, divided

  • 1 pinch kosher salt

  • 1 medium lemon

  • 1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons store-bought lemon curd, divided


Make the graham cracker crumbs:

  1. If using whole graham crackers, place 4 whole graham cracker sheets in a large zip-top bag. Seal the bag and crush with a rolling pin into fine crumbs (about 3/4 cup).

  2. Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the graham cracker crumbs and 1 pinch kosher salt, and cook until fragrant and the crumbs are toasted and crunchy, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool while you make the lemon mousse.

Make the lemon mousse and topping:

  1. Place 1/2 cup of the cold heavy cream, 1 tablespoon of the powdered sugar, and 1 pinch kosher salt in a medium bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer). Beat with an electric hand mixer on medium speed or whisk by hand until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. (If using a stand mixer, beat with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer the whipped cream to another bowl.)

  2. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 1/2 teaspoons), then juice 1/2 of the lemon until you have 1 tablespoon.

  3. Place the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of the zest, 1/2 cup of the lemon curd, the remaining 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, and 1 pinch kosher salt in a large bowl (or now-empty stand mixer bowl). Beat with the electric hand mixer or whisk attachment on a stand mixer on medium speed until well-combined, about 15 seconds.

  4. Add the remaining 1 cup cold heavy cream. Beat on medium speed, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl about halfway through with a flexible spatula, until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes.

Assemble the mousses:

  1. Divide the graham cracker crumbs between 4 (6- to 8-ounce) glasses, jars, or ramekins (about 3 tablespoons each). Transfer the mousse into a large zip-top bag and snip off one bottom corner; pipe a scant 1/4 cup into each glass over the crumbs. Dollop 1 tablespoon lemon curd into each glass over the mousse and use the back of a small spoon to spread it into an even layer. Pipe the remaining mousse (about 1/3 cup each) over the lemon curd.

  2. Divide the whipped cream into each glass (generous 1/4 cup) over the mousse. Garnish with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The lemon mousse can be made, covered, and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead. Make the graham cracker mixture and whipped cream, assemble, and serve.

Storage: Leftovers can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days — the crumbs will soften over time.