This easy limoncello tiramisu sings with lemon flavor both from fresh lemons and delicious limoncello. Ladyfingers are soaked in a limoncello syrup and then layered with a pillowy lemon whipped mascarpone cream. The hardest thing about this dessert is letting it refrigerate overnight!
There aren't too many ingredients in this limoncello tiramisu, but that means that the ingredients you do use need to be high quality.
- Limoncello- this is an Italian lemon liqueur typically made with vodka. Italians will serve this as a digestif after a meal, especially in southern Italy. Buy a good quality limoncello. I like ones that don't have fake yellow color added to them.
- Granulated Sugar
- Lemon Juice- Go for fresh lemon juice here as we really want that lemon flavor to shine and the bottled stuff just won't do it justice.
- Mascarpone Cheese- You'll find this at most grocery stores nowadays, sometimes in the specialty cheese area. It's a smooth, creamy cheese similar to cream cheese but less tangy and more creamy. It's usually in a short round tub. I've never seen low-fat versions of mascarpone at any of my grocery stores, but always make sure to go for the full-fat variety. You will want to start with cold mascarpone, unlike cream cheese which is usually softened before starting a recipe.
- Lemon Curd- As a time saver, I use a purchased jar of lemon curd for this recipe. However, if you want to make your own, you can definitely do that too!
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- Ladyfinger cookies- Also known as Savoiardi cookies are crisp, long and narrow cookies named for resembling the shape of a lady's finger. Only use the crisp cookies in this dessert. The soft ones will result in a soggy tiramisu.
Tips for making tiramisu
- Dipping the ladyfingers- The key to the right consistency of this limoncello tiramisu is dipping the ladyfingers into the limoncello syrup for the right amount of time. I prefer a shallow dish for the syrup and then place one side of the ladyfinger in the syrup for about 2 seconds and then turn it over and do the same with the other side. There should still be slight crispness after taking it out of the syrup and it should not be soggy or completely saturated.
- Cold Mascarpone- Mascarpone can occasionally be finicky and separate or curdle due to its high-fat content. To make sure this doesn't happen, start with cold mascarpone cheese instead of room temperature. Over-beating can lead it to separate also, so just beat it until the lemon curd and juice is incorporated and not more. If it does curdle, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk it for 1-2 minutes until it smooths out again. Allow it to chill slightly and then whip it again.
- Refrigerate Overnight- We all like instant gratification, me included, but this dessert really shines when it is refrigerated overnight. It's definitely edible after 4-6 hours but it won't have as much flavor or brightness as it would with more refrigeration. Plus, this makes it a great option for a dinner party or get-together because it is completely finished when going into the fridge so all you need to do is slice it up and serve it when you are ready to eat it.
Different pan sizes
As the recipe is written, I used a 9 x 13 pan. If you have a different pan size than mine or want to make a different quantity of the dessert, see below for alternate-sized pans.
- 9 x 9 pan: about 26 ladyfingers. For the syrup, 1 cup of water, ¼ cup sugar, ¾ cup limoncello and 2 tbsp lemon juice. For the cream, 16 oz mascarpone, 10 oz lemon curd, ¼ cup limoncello, 3 tbsp lemon juice, 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream and ¼ cup sugar.
- 9 x 5 loaf pan: about 16 ladyfingers. For the syrup, ½ cup of water, 2 tbsp sugar, ¼ cup + 2 tbsp limoncello, and 1 tbsp lemon juice. For the cream, 8 oz mascarpone, 5 oz lemon curd, 2 tbsp limoncello, 1.5 tbsp lemon juice, ¾ cup heavy whipping cream and ¼ cup sugar. If you use a loaf pan, it works better to slice thin slices as you would bread vs slicing squares of tiramisu.
What if you don't like the taste of alcohol?
If the limoncello flavor is too strong for you, then add it with the water and sugar and simmer it for 4-5 minutes to cook off some of the alcohol. Feel free to omit it from the mascarpone cream if desired.
I would not completely substitute the limoncello in the cream for lemon juice as it would likely be too lemony however I have not tested it this way.
How to make it look like the pictures?
If you'd like to decorate the limoncello tiramisu like I did in the pictures, whip an additional 1 cup of heavy whipping cream with 2-3 tablespoons of powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.
I used a large round open tip to pipe dollops of cream in rows across the tiramisu. If you don't have a piping tip and bag, you can just use a zip top bag and cut the corner off and pipe that way.
I finished the tiramisu with freshly grated lemon zest sprinkled over the top. You can decorate ahead of time as the whipped cream holds up well overnight in the refrigerator.
How to store the tiramisu
Cover the dish with plastic wrap or foil and store any leftovers in the refrigerator.
How long will it last?
The limoncello tiramisu will be good up to 4 days in the refrigerator. It actually gets better with increased time in the fridge so it is a great make-ahead dessert!
For more citrus desserts, check out:
- Blood Orange Semifreddo with Salted Almond Crumble
- Meyer Lemon Tarts with White Chocolate
- Lemon Cream Pie with Golden Oreo Crust
- Blood Orange Tart
- Key Lime Tart
Tag me on Instagram @themarblekitchenblog if you make this and leave a star rating and comment below! Thanks and enjoy!
- 1 ½ cups water
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup limoncello
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 48 ladyfingers about two 7 oz packages
- 24 oz mascarpone cheese chilled
- 15 oz prepared lemon curd
- ⅓ cup limoncello
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and stir over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the limoncello and lemon juice. Pour the syrup into a shallow bowl and set aside to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the mascarpone cheese on medium-low speed until it's loosened up, about 30 seconds.
- Add the lemon curd and mix until combined. Add the limoncello and the lemon juice and mix until combined. Be careful not to overbeat the mascarpone. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat the heavy whipping cream and sugar until stiff peaks form.
- Take about ⅓ of the whipped cream and stir it into the mascarpone mixture. Carefully fold in the rest of the whipped cream until combined.
- With one ladyfinger at a time, dip into the syrup on one side for about 2 seconds and then the other side for about 2 seconds. You don't want to overly saturate the ladyfingers or the tiramisu will be too soggy. The cookie should still have a slight crispness to it after dipping.
- Arrange each ladyfinger in a 9x13 pan, all facing the same direction in a single layer. Cut ladyfingers to fit as needed.
- Spread half of the mascarpone cream over the first layer of ladyfingers and smooth the top. Dip the remaining ladyfingers, one at a time, and arrange them in the same way over the cream. Spread the remaining mascarpone cream over the top layer of ladyfingers and smooth the top.
- Cover the dish with plastic wrap or foil and let refrigerate overnight. Decorate with more whipped cream and lemon zest if desired.
- See the post for alternate pan sizes and quantities.
- The tiramisu will last covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To decorate the tiramisu like the pictures, whip an additional 1 cup of heavy whipping cream with 2-3 tablespoons of powdered sugar until stiff peaks form and pipe dollops in rows on top of the tiramisu. Sprinkle with fresh lemon zest.