Lemon Bisque

I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d like to post a few ‘college days’ recipes; you know, the ones that bring back fond memories of former roommates and good times. This is a nice time to post these recipes because April is the month for BYU graduation. Our family has a bit of a vested interest in the “Y”: my husband and my two daughters graduated from there, my first child was born while John was attending school there, and well, I also went to school there. I have a whole slew of extended family members who are either attending BYU or have graduated from there. Oh, and I met John there as well.

My last year at BYU two of my five roommates were a pair of sisters from Arizona.  They came from a large family of 9 girls and 4 boys.  They were really fun roommates who laughed easily, sang like angels, and were the most calm, peaceful people I have ever met.  They made a great counter-balance for one of my other roommates, Connie, and me.

On Sundays the six of us roommates would have dinner together.  Usually we would all pitch in and make a portion of the meal.  One night, the two sisters, Lana and Noreen, volunteered to make dessert.  They got really animated when they talked about ‘lemon bisque’, a family favorite.  The rest of us had never heard of it. I can still remember the look on Noreen’s face as she cheerfully told us,  “Oh you guys are going to love this.  It is so light and airy and delicious you could eat it all night.”

Well…we just about had to eat it all night.  Have you ever seen what happens when someone from a very large family cooks anything?  There were two large baking sheets of lemon bisque…or was it three?   We ended up inviting another 12 people over to our apartment for dessert and still had leftovers.  I have to admit, though, it really was delicious. 

The gelatine is allowed to partially set, then is whipped until light and airy with an electric hand mixer.  Icy cold evaporated milk is whipped until thickened and frothy, then the gelatin and the evaporated milk are folded together.  In Noreen’s words, it really is light and airy.

I have made a few changes to the recipe, just some finishing touches that I think add to the overall looks and subtle tastes of the lemon bisque.  There is now a whipped cream topping which is sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs and finely grated lemon zest.  This really is an amazingly light dessert, the perfect ending for so many types of meals.  As a bonus, it has even passed the man test.

For other recipes in this series see:
College Cornbread
Chicken Spaghetti

Lemon Bisque
Recipe adapted by Terri @ that’s some good cookin’
Printable Recipe

  • 1 can (13 ounces) evaporated milk, thoroughly chilled in refrigerator (I put the can in the refrigerator before I go to bed the night before.)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs (if making your own crumbs, that’s 1 sleeve of graham crackers, crushed)
  • 1 box (6 ounces) lemon gelatin powder
  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • zest of 1 lemon (this should be very fine; I used a microplane)
  • 1 pint (2 cups) whipping cream


  1. Thoroughly chill the evaporated milk for several hours before starting. Also chill a large mixing bowl which will be used later when whipping the evaporated milk. 
  2. Bring the 2 cups of water to a boil.
  3. Sprinkle the lemon gelatin powder over the water and stir until geleatin is dissolved.
  4. Add sugar and juice of lemon, stir well.
  5. Put gelatin in refrigerator and allow to thicken, but not completely set.
  6. In the meantime, put graham cracker crumbs in a medium sized bowl.
  7. Melt butter and pour over graham cracker crumbs.  Mix well.
  8. Spread the crumbs evenly over the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ dish or pan and press them firmly against the bottom of the dish to create a crust.  Set aside. 
  9. After gelatin has thickened, beat with an electric hand mixer until fluffy.
  10. In a well chilled bowl, beat cold evaporated milk until thick.  (I usually put the bowl in the freezer until I am ready to use it.)
  11. Fold the whipped evaporated milk into the whipped gelatin.
  12. Refrigerate for several hours or over night.  Just before serving, prepare whipping cream, adding white sugar as needed to sweeten.  Spread whipped cream on top of gelatin mixture.
  13. Sprinkle with reserved graham cracker crumbs and the lemon zest. 
  14. Cut in squares to serve.

Serves: 12

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