Fresh Lemon Ice Cream is like no other ice cream you’ve ever had, homemade or store bought ~ the zippy, tart, citrus flavor is unique and so refreshing because it’s made with lots of fresh lemon juice. And it’s ready in under 30 minutes!
The hands on prep time of this lemon ice cream is short because I don’t make an egg custard base. It’s a simple matter of mixing the ingredients and popping them into the ice cream machine. This is exactly the type of homemade recipe that convinced me to get a machine in the first place ~ I’ve never tasted any commercial ice cream with anything close to the pure, clean flavor of tangy fresh lemon. The secret is lots of fresh lemon juice and a tiny bit of pure lemon extract to really bring that flavor out.
Reader Rave ~
“My son and I just made this and we love it. I am not a lemon person but this turns out surprisingly not too lemony. We put vanilla bean extract instead of lemon extract. I asked my son to give the recipe a rating and he chose 5 stars. Kids don’t lie lol. We will be keeping this recipe for future use. Thank you” ~ Has
I added 2 tiny drops of yellow food coloring, mostly for the sake of the photos. I hardly ever use food coloring, and when I do I use it very sparingly. In this case it just takes the ‘edge’ off the stark whiteness of the ice cream, and gives us a visual cue that what we’re about to enjoy is lemony.
I love this partly because I’m a lemon addict, but also because it’s such an unusual flavor, at least for ice cream. There are plenty of lemon sherberts and sorbets out there, but not too many actual ice creams. I almost added dark chocolate chunks to it, but held back in favor of the pure lemon. I think I made the right decision, although it’s something to think about for a future batch.
So far anyway I’ve been focusing on the simplest ice cream recipes, ones that involve no egg yolks, and no cooking. For this one I just whisk sugar into cold milk and cream, and then I poured the lemon juice in right before I added it to the machine. It curdled a bit but I figured it would work itself out as it churned, and I was right.
The best part of making your own ice cream is dipping the spoon in while it’s churning. One taste and I knew I had a winner. The large amount of lemon juice gives it a kick that you don’t expect from ice cream.
You can sprinkle on a little zest as a garnish, but again, I did that mostly for photographic purposes. I do think this lemon ice cream would be pretty spectacular with some homemade dark chocolate magic shell, or homemade bittersweet hot fudge sauce, though. Lemon and dark chocolate is a killer combination.
Which ice cream machine do I recommend?
I get asked all the time about what machine I use. I use and recommend Cuisinart. I’ve had my machine for years without any issues, I think that’s because there are no fussy electronic parts to break down ~ it’s a simple motor that turns the freezer bowl for churning the ice cream and it works quickly and perfectly every time. I love the easy on/off switch!
- The machine I use is the base model. It works great for ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbets, and makes all of them in about 2o minutes. Click HERE or click on the image for more info.
Fresh Lemon Ice Cream
- 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
- 1/2 cup cold milk
- 1/2 cup sugar, I used superfine baking sugar, but you don’t have to
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, about 4 or 5 lemons
- 1 tsp lemon extract
- 2 or 3 drops yellow food coloring, optional
- Mix the cream, milk, and sugar together and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Add the food coloring if you are going to use it.
- Make sure your mixture and your lemon juice are cold, and when you are just about to add the cream to your ice cream maker, add the lemon juice and extract. Pour into the machine and process according to the instructions. On the basic Cuisinart machine it takes about 20 minutes.
- You can eat it soft right from the machine, or freeze it longer for a firmer scoop.
- After this ice cream has been in the freezer for several hours it will be quite hard. Bring it out and let it sit for a while to soften up before scooping.
- Recently I bought some quart sized cardboard ice cream containers, just like commercial ice cream comes in, and I love them. They’re great if you want to share your ice cream, or use it as a host/hostess gift. And if you have anyone in your house who likes to eat ice cream right out of the carton while they watch tv, letting it get all drippy and disgusting, and then put it back in the freezer, you might want to consider reserving a carton just for yourself.
Questions and Reviews
I made the lemon ice cream. It set up fast and had a lemon taste but I wasn’t crazy about it.
Sorry about that Judy!
This Lemon ice cream is so good, very tart. I just made orange ice cream with blood oranges and it was soooo good! Used the same recipe except used oranges and orange extract.
I just made the lemon ice cream. I love anything lemon. It is really good except for one issue. I followed the recipe to the letter. Why does it leave an oily residue in my mouth? I actually notice this for any ice cream I make using heavy cream. Is there any thing different I can use that will not leave this oily feeling behind?
You are correct, the oily residue you are noticing is a byproduct of the high fat ratio in the heavy cream. You can always try to modify the ratio of heavy cream to milk or you can sub in half and half. However, remember that the less fat you have, the easier it is for ice crystals to form and you could lose some of the desired smooth, creamy texture. I counter this by using less heavy cream and subbing in 2 tablespoons of liquid glucose or corn syrup for some of the sugar to keep it smoooooth. 🙂 A tablespoon of alcohol can help prevent ice crystal formation as well. Good luck! (Love this recipe! I add lemon zest for little pops of color and flavor.)
I used a half teaspoon of turmeric instead of a food coloring (or was it one whole teaspoon?). It not only gave the ice cream a beautiful golden color, it also added a really great unique flavor to the lemony ice cream. WINNER.
That’s such an interesting idea!
It was my first time making lemon ice cream so I loved that it was an easy recipe, I love lemon, but it was little bit too acidic for me, I would use less lemon juice next time.