Quick and EasyGluten-FreeCustardPudding

Zabaglione recipe, a simple Italian custard dessert made with egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala wine. Also known as zabayon or sabayon.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Zabaglione is a simple Italian dessert made of egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala wine. It is usually served warm, though it can be served cold, or as a sauce, or even frozen.

The Gourmet Sleuth writes,”Zabaglione is said to have been invented in the 16th Century in Florence, Italy in the court of the Medici. This dessert is classified as a ‘caudle’ rather than a custard. A ‘caudle’ is a sauce used as a custard to fill pies or tarts. The original pre-sixteenth century version was a drink made or wine or ale thickened with egg yolks.”

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I found the original recipe for zabaglione in the (1982) Time Life series The Good Cook Wine volume (out of print, only available on eBay). The original recipe called for 3/4 cups of sugar, which in all of our opinions here was way too much.

I have since found similar recipes calling for half as much sugar. So I would suggest 1/3 to 1/2 a cup, depending on taste.

This is actually quite easy to make; you just need to have a double boiler set up, or a stainless steel bowl on top of, but not touching, simmering water.

Zabaglione Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 6


Zabaglione custard:

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Drop of vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup Marsala wine

Serve with:

  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • Strawberries, raspberries, or biscotti


1 Put custard ingredients into a bowl: Place egg yolks, and sugar in a large, round-bottomed stainless steel or pyrex bowl. Add grated lemon peel and a pinch of cinnamon and a drop of vanilla extract to the yolk mixture. Pour in the Marsala wine. You can use sweet Vermouth as a substitute for the Marsala.

2 Prepare a double boiler: Half-fill a pot with water, bring the water to a simmer and reduce the heat to maintain the simmer. Set the bowl containing the custard mixture over the water; the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.

3 Whisk custard mixture until it thickens: Whisk the custard mixture, making sure that the water in the pot below is just gently boiling, and not touching the bowl. This ensures that a gentle, even heat thickens the mixture without curdling it. Whisking traps air in the yolks for a light, fluffy mixture.

Continue whisking for about several minutes, until the mixture triples in volume, froths up and becomes pale.

4 Remove custard from the pot to a container: When the custard reaches the desired consistency, take the container of custard out of the pot. Slightly thickened, the custard can be used as a sauce. Longer cooking will thicken the custard further, giving it the texture of mousse. Continue whisking for a minute or two to prevent the custard from sticking to its container.

5 Serve: Serve the custard while still warm, or, if you want to serve it cool, set it aside for about 15 minutes. Whisk heavy cream until it forms soft peaks; add the whipped cream to the cooled custard and use a whisk to gently fold them together. Reserve some of the whipped cream to serve on top.

Ladle the zabaglione into individual dishes. Serve with whipped cream, berries, and/or cookies such as biscotti.

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Sabayon from David Lebovitz

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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37 Comments / Reviews

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  1. Regina

    I am Italian and I see some confusion about this dessert. Even some Italians confuse it with that simple children’s energizing snack, egg yolk whipped with sugar until it’s almost white, and wrongly call it “zabaglione”. No. Zabaione or sabaglione, (pronounced dzabaʎˈʎoːnE, please) is made with egg yolks, sugar to taste, and some Marsala or passito wine or sherry or brandy or Port; we do not measure the amounts. Then the mixture is whipped again in a bain-marie – the pan IMMERSED in simmering water – until it gets a bit thick. The most common use is to pour it over tinned or baked peaches or on dark chocolate pudding.

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  2. Rene Schnetzler

    I never beat my Zabaglione, nor Sabayon, more than 1-2 minutes!
    10 minutes is an ordeal!
    I think the French Bain-Marie does touch the water otherwise you need boiling water to have steam transfer the heat

    If you ever are in the Rhinebeck area be my guest and I’ll demonstrate you my technique
    Kind regards

  3. Isabella

    As a child my mom would just use egg yolk an sugar. Mix it with a hand beater and we would eat it. We called it eggs beat up. It was light an fluffy. But u had to eat it fast or it would go flat.
    Eating all that yoke an sugar doesn’t sound good today.

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  4. Liina

    Hello and Greetings from Finland. I found this recipe and I want to try it but we have different measures here. Do you know how much is one cup in desiliters? I have found different numbers depending of if it’s from Europe or US.
    Thanks, Liina

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  5. Lisa

    can you make it with the cream the night before for an event?

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