Recipes Desserts Desserts By Type Custards


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

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."

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.


Prep Time 0 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Total Time 0 mins
Servings 6 servings


  • 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.


Sabayon from David Lebovitz