Fresh Lemon Ice Cream




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Fresh lemon ice cream in small glass bowls

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!

Fresh lemon ice cream scoops in small glass bowls

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


fresh lemon ice cream in a cardboard container

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.  

Fresh lemon ice cream topped with lemon zest

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.

churning fresh lemon ice cream fresh lemon ice cream coming out of the machine

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.

fresh lemon ice cream in small bowls

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.

little bowls of fresh lemon ice cream with lemon wedges a small bowl of lemon ice cream


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.

cuisinart ice cream maker


Fresh Lemon Ice Cream
Rate this recipe
120 ratings

Category: dessert

Cuisine: American

Yield: makes about 1 1/2 pints

Fresh lemon ice cream in small glass bowls

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.

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  1. Mix the cream, milk, and sugar together and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Add the food coloring if you are going to use it.
  3. 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.
  4. You can eat it soft right from the machine, or freeze it longer for a firmer scoop.

Note: 

  • 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.

 

 

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83 Comments

  • Reply
    Monica
    July 2, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    Any idea how I could make this to fit in my gallon size ice cream maker? I didn’t know if just adding more of each item would work or what.

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 2, 2019 at 8:51 pm

      I haven’t tried this in a gallon machine Monica, so I’m not sure, sorry. I would start by doubling the recipe, that shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Reply
    Lucia
    June 26, 2019 at 6:58 am

    I did not believe it would turn out anything special – and yet, it’s the perfect lemon ice-cream! I omitted the extract and instead added ground vanilla bean. Excellent, will keep! Also, it yields the perfect amount for the five of us as the immediate dessert, no leftovers to freeze and then worry about softness/hardness. Also, I made it with my 4yo, can’t be any easier. I’ll check out other recipes. Thanks a lot for this one!

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 26, 2019 at 7:37 am

      The thing I love about this ice cream is that you really can’t find it anywhere else, I don’t know why no one has come up with a good commercial version, but I’m thrilled to have this recipe to make. I love the idea of adding vanilla bean, what an unusual combo!

  • Reply
    Gail Gall
    May 30, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    I made this followed your directions to use vanilla instead of lemon extract. I also added the zest of 2 lemons. Delicious and suits my lemon and ice cream craving in one punch!

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 30, 2019 at 4:04 pm

      Thanks Gail, I love to hear good comments on this ice cream, it takes care of my lemon cravings too :)

  • Reply
    tiger
    May 25, 2019 at 8:16 pm

    it’s in my ice cream maker right now.i made my own lemon extract and this is my first chance to use it. glad to know the timing i was going to check it in 40=minutes. i’ll cut that time in half

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 25, 2019 at 8:20 pm

      Different ice cream machines vary, but mine seems to do the job in about 20 minutes.

  • Reply
    Just
    April 24, 2019 at 10:13 am

    Hi, I don’t have any ice cream machine and all my takes on lemon ice cream just kinds of fails as the milk splits. please, can you tell me any technique on how to make one without a machine? thanks
    Also, I just come across your blog. It seems pretty nice with such simple ways of making so amazing treats and all.

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 24, 2019 at 10:30 am

      If you search for ‘no churn ice cream’ on my blog you’ll find lots of ice cream recipes that don’t require a machine. Usually they include sweetened condensed milk and whipped cream to keep the mixture smooth and creamy as it freezes.

  • Reply
    Josie
    April 15, 2019 at 9:00 am

    When you mix the cream milk and sugar to dissolve the sugar, would that be in a pan on the stove or just in a bowl?

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 15, 2019 at 9:02 am

      I just do it in a bowl, Josie. The sugar will dissolve.

  • Reply
    Diane
    April 14, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    Wow! What a burst of lemon flavor! A perfect lemon ice cream. Quick and very easy. Thank you Sue!

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 14, 2019 at 6:31 pm

      Thanks Diane, that’s just the reaction I wanted, this ice cream is one of my favorites!

  • Reply
    Mike Argyle
    March 3, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    What brand ice cream maker do you use?

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 4, 2019 at 7:15 am

      I love my Cuisinart ice cream and yogurt maker, it’s simple to use, quick, and never dies! Here’s an a link, it’s an affiliate link.

  • Reply
    joJo N
    February 13, 2019 at 4:57 am

    I don’t have an ice cream machine. Can I make without and how?

  • Reply
    Sharon Samms
    December 13, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    I tried making lemon ice cream but it turned out to icy, not creamy. My pumokin ice cream did the same thing. Can you tell me shy? Thanks

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 27, 2019 at 3:25 pm

      Hi Sharon, make sure you are using heavy cream, that’s important for the texture. You can even use all cream and no milk for a creamier texture. Are you using an ice cream machine?

  • Reply
    HAS
    December 5, 2018 at 5:32 pm


    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

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 5, 2018 at 7:16 pm

      Love it, what a great kid :) And the thought of vanilla lemon is so interesting, I’m going to have to try that.

  • Reply
    Cas
    November 5, 2018 at 11:11 am

    Hi,
    I am planning to make your lemon ice cream into an ice cream birthday cake later this week for my wife’s birthday. I intend to use a ginger biscuit and butter crunch base, cover it with lemon curd, pile the lemon ice cream on top of the curd covered ginger biscuit, freeze and then decorate with cream and either raspberries or blueberries and a chocolate disc piped with happy birthday.
    What do you think? Will it work?
    Thanks for the recipe.

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 5, 2018 at 11:17 am

      It sounds extravagant and delicious ~ I love the combination of lemon and ginger!

  • Reply
    Jaclyn Vogler
    October 13, 2018 at 6:20 am

    this sounds amazing! love lemon, this is on the to do list TODAY! thank you for sharing. Have a blessed day.

  • Reply
    Wendy McCormick
    October 5, 2018 at 9:35 pm

    I made this lemon ice cream and it was great. However, what’s the best way to tone down the lemon a little bit? It was just this side of being too tart. More sugar or less lemon?

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 6, 2018 at 8:48 am

      I would use less lemon, Wendy, and feel free to taste it as you go, that way you can customize it to your taste.

  • Reply
    Margaret Kinlaw
    September 6, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Made it today, I love it!!!!!!

    • Reply
      Sue
      September 6, 2018 at 4:26 pm

      What a way to celebrate the end of summer, glad you liked it Margaret!

  • Reply
    Lauren Blekicki
    August 24, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! The directions say to Store in the fridge to let it firm up. Is that a typo or will the fridge be enough cold to do the trick?

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 24, 2018 at 2:38 pm

      Typo! I fixed it to say freezer, thanks :)

  • Reply
    Amy
    August 15, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    This ice cream is just fantastic! Years ago I found a lemon ice cream at the store, but I’ve never found it since. This was so easy and even better than the store bought. My husband, who doesn’t usually like anything with lemons, went back for seconds! This will be a staple in our house for sure!

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 16, 2018 at 8:17 am

      Thanks Amy, this ice cream was a big discovery for me, too, I adore lemon desserts and I couldn’t find a lemon ice cream to save my life. Glad your hubby liked it!

  • Reply
    Kirsten
    July 25, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    This recipe is amazing!!! My whole family loves! I added a little lemon zest and didn’t use the lemon extract (I couldn’t find), but it was perfect. Thank you for sharing. Now off to enjoy another cup of ice cream.

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 25, 2018 at 7:13 pm

      Thanks so much Kirsten, I’m thrilled to hear it :)

  • Reply
    Taylor
    June 7, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    What’s the yield?

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 7, 2018 at 3:24 pm

      It makes about 1 1/2 to 2 pints, Taylor.

  • Reply
    Cattie
    May 17, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Wow! I just made this this morning and it is SO GOOD! Light, fresh, and not too sweet. I didn’t add extract or food coloring, just cream, sugar and fresh squeezed lemon juice. This will be a summer staple! Have you tried making it with honey instead of sugar? Do you think that would work? I assume you have to heat the cream to melt the honey?

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 17, 2018 at 5:27 pm

      I’m so glad you loved this Cattie. You’re the second person recently who’s mentioned not needing any flavoring or extract. I haven’ tried it with honey, but honey vanilla ice cream is on my list to make this season. I guess you could heat the cream just enough to blend in the honey, and then chill it. Let us know if you give it a try.

  • Reply
    E winni
    May 13, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    Just made this. So delicious! I didn’t have the extract, but it was delicious without it. We decided to fold in a bit of canned cherry pie filling near end of freezer cycle. Delicious! And so easy! Curdling is not an issue.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 13, 2018 at 3:27 pm

      Wow, cherry lemon sounds so good, I would have never thought of that. I bet the pie filling keeps the ice cream fairly creamy, too.

  • Reply
    Chloe
    August 2, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    It tasted to creamy and their wasn’t enough lemon ? juice other than that it was pretty good

  • Reply
    Sara
    June 28, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    I’ve made this twice. The first time it came out perfect and was delicious. The second time it tasted like pure alcohol. I used the correct measurements. All the measuring utensils were still on the counter when I tasted the ice cream so I know I measured correctly. The only difference was the brand of lemon extract. First time was McCormick, second time was Watkins. Any idea why this occurred?

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 28, 2017 at 6:24 pm

      If you tasted alcohol it had to have been the extract. Everybody will have different opinions when it comes to brands, so I would stick with the McCormick if it turned out good for you. Lemon is a tough flavor to reproduce and it’s really important to have a top quality pure extract. That’s too bad about the second batch, but at least now you know!

      • Reply
        Sue
        June 28, 2017 at 6:24 pm

        Oh and one more thought, could you have accidentally added too much, because a little goes a long way.

        • Reply
          Gregg
          October 24, 2017 at 12:08 pm

          We tasted a strong taste with the Watkins variety as well in a recent batch, and I measured very closely because some lemon whipped cream came out tasting really strong a few weeks back with the Watkins extract as well. Starting to seem like it might just be that brand. Fyi.

          • Sue
            October 24, 2017 at 12:11 pm

            Thanks Gregg! I know there are real differences between the brands, for sure.

  • Reply
    Rufusd
    June 19, 2017 at 7:00 am

    I just made this Lemon Ice Cream. Hubby & I did a taste test and it was wonderful! Just the right amount of lemon. I used half n half instead of milk, left out the food coloring. Will be serving this tonight for company. I’ve been wanting to make Lemon Ice Cream for years. Perfect recipe. Thanks for posting.

    • Reply
      Rufusd
      June 19, 2017 at 7:00 am

      Also, no trouble with curdling.

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 19, 2017 at 7:05 am

      It’s such a unique flavor, and I crave this every summer…I’m so happy that you loved it!

  • Reply
    Richard H
    June 10, 2017 at 11:51 pm

    To reduce curdling I find it works well to reduce the amount of lemon juice and add some zest as well. I use the finely grated zest and juice from 3 large lemons. I add the zest to the ice cream base and let that soak in the fridge for 2 hours to bring out the fresh flavor of the lemon zest. Can also be left overnight if you prefer. I like to keep the zest in the ice cream but you can strain most of it out. Then mix well while slowly adding in the lemon juice. At this point you can put it through your ice cream maker. I will sometimes put it back in the fridge for a couple hours at this point, mixing it quickly every 20 minutes or so. The lower temperature and frequent mixing help to control the reaction between the juice and the cream. Instead of a full curdling and souring of the cream I find the reaction is just enough to just thicken it a bit. You can then run it through the ice cream maker. This method gives a more rich, smooth texture.

  • Reply
    Leslie
    June 4, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Can you use coconut milk instead of cream and stevia instead of sugar? If so I’m ready to try! I love lemons and this sounds like heaven!!

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 4, 2017 at 5:09 pm

      As long as you’re using an ice cream maker, you can substitute coconut milk, but just be aware that you’ll get that flavor coming through, and it won’t be quite as ‘creamy’ as with actual cream. And the stevia would be fine, too.

  • Reply
    Julie
    May 29, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    This was just fantastic! I am doing low carb/ketone and all I did was so full cream and substitute sugar with erythritol and voila, gorgeous lemon ice cream that is to die for!

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 29, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      I love to hear this Julie because I was so proud of this recipe when I made it, and it’s remained one of my favorite ice creams, especially since you never see this flavor in stores or ice cream shops :) It’s really good to know that the sugar substitute worked.

  • Reply
    Nancy
    April 8, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    I have been looking for a lemon ice cream recipe that doesn’t use the eggs. I make strawberry rhubarb and it turns out wonderful Do you think I could use lemon curd (from a jar) instead of the lemon juice? Thank you so much!

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 8, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      Yes, absolutely! Let us know how it turns out.

  • Reply
    Dar Normand
    November 18, 2016 at 8:21 am

    I’m a bit late here. Trying to find what to do with my Myers lemons that have ripened on the tree. My daughter doesn’t like cookies, cakes or cupcakes. It’s a texture things ha. My question is, I have an old style ice cream maker but don’t want to use it. Can I just mix together, pour into a container and freeze?

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 18, 2016 at 8:44 am

      Hi Dar ~ it’s not always possible to convert a regular ice cream recipe to a no churn one…check out my no-churn recipes on the blog (http://theviewfromgreatisland.com/?s=no+churn) for ideas…I would suggest whipping the cream and using some sweetened condensed milk as your base, along with the lemon juice. Good luck, and I’m super jealous of your lemon tree!

      • Reply
        Dar Normand
        November 20, 2016 at 2:02 pm

        Sue, thank you so much for responding. I will look into this. She loves SCM in a huge way.

  • Reply
    Liz from Michigan
    July 31, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Just made the lemon ice cream and my husband wanted to thank you for the recipe! Best ever – super creamy and refreshing. I used the last of our Meyer lemon stash, and it was a great way to enjoy them. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 31, 2016 at 4:43 pm

      Oh I’m so glad Liz — I think lemon is the best flavor for ice cream!

      • Reply
        Liz from Michigan
        August 27, 2016 at 12:38 pm

        I used the same recipe and made peach using 1/2 cup peach puree and almond flavoring. It turned out well – need to try your nectarine version!

        • Reply
          Sue
          August 27, 2016 at 12:39 pm

          Nice, I need to try that, I’ve got some great peaches right now. Love that you used almond flavor :)

  • Reply
    Ruth Cobb
    September 5, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    This would be really good on a berry pie. My husband talks about a lime ice cream that he had when he was a kid (many years ago. I might try to make a lime one too. Love the ease of this recipe.

    • Reply
      Sue
      September 6, 2013 at 7:06 am

      Thanks Ruth–I agree, this would be fabulous with berries. I love the idea of a lime ice cream, let me know how it turns out if you try it!

  • Reply
    Couscous & Consciousness
    September 5, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Utterly divine. Lemony desserts are my absolute favourite, so I have to try this. I often make a frozen lemon yoghurt in the same way – just a litre of Greek yoghurt, loads of lemon juice and zest, and a bit of sugar, churned up in the ice cream machine – never thought of using milk and cream instead. Love the simplicity of this, and yes a bit of chocolate shell over the top would be pretty divine too I think.

  • Reply
    Suzanne
    August 28, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    What a beautiful, refreshing ice cream! I adore lemon!

  • Reply
    Ann
    July 25, 2013 at 6:12 am

    This was hands down one of our new favorite ice cream recipes. Just tried it last night. So smooth and creamy with the light taste of lemon. Usually chocolate is my first choice but this is going to the top of the list. Thanks so much!

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 25, 2013 at 7:39 am

      Thanks, Ann, I just loved it, too. Of course I love chocolate, as well. I guess we’ll have to try to combine them next time!

  • Reply
    Ilan
    July 3, 2013 at 4:05 am

    Sue, your lemon ice cream sounds marvelous. You could probably avoid it getting hard by adding more sugar, to lower the freezing point, but then it would be a tad too sweet for lemon ice cream. Sounds great!

  • Reply
    Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic
    July 3, 2013 at 12:47 am

    This sounds delicious!! I don’t think I’ve ever had lemon ice cream – just sorbet – but I know I would like it!

  • Reply
    A Trifle Rushed
    July 2, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Your recipe sounds so delightfully refreshing, I have book marked it for later in the year (I can’t get cream in France, only creme fraiche, so tend not to make ice cream there).

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    July 2, 2013 at 5:10 am

    I love anything lemon but I’ve never tried lemon ice cream. I’m craving a big bowl!

  • Reply
    Mary Younkin
    July 2, 2013 at 4:05 am

    This looks and sounds awesome, Sue. I had scribbled out some ideas for a lemon ice cream, but wow, a 1/2 cup of juice?! I bet that is a serious lemony kick. I need to kick mine up and try your version now. It sounds delicious.

  • Reply
    Denice Barker
    July 2, 2013 at 3:09 am

    I have the same ice cream maker you do and today I made cherry chocolate chunk, yesterday fresh strawberry. Tomorrow mint chocolate! Can you tell me where you get the ice cream containers? I’d love to be able to use them, too.

  • Reply
    belleau kitchen
    July 1, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Wow. Looks so clean and fresh. I love lemon anything. The sharper the better! I’m now on feedly which I’m loving. Great list of ‘ways to follow’ xx

  • Reply
    Eileen
    July 1, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Lemon! This ice cream sounds just perfect for the hot days we’ve been having. Now, if only I can carve out a space for the ice cream maker bowl in our stuffed freezer… :)

  • Reply
    San
    July 1, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    I love lemon and I really love ice cream. The recipe looks so simple. I may make some for the 4th. I shared this recipe over on my blog (full credit given to you of course.) Thanks for a great recipe.

    San

    P.S. You photographs are also a treat.

  • Reply
    Tricia Buice
    July 1, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    Hi my name is Tricia and I’m a lemon addict too. OK … I’m also addicted to ice cream. This recipe will be in my dreams. I made lemon curd ice cream once and loved it. This treat would make me very happy! Thanks Sue – hope you have a wonderful week.

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    July 1, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Um, where’s the lemon extract?

  • Reply
    bellini
    July 1, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    This is such a refreshing treat!!

  • Reply
    Megan
    July 1, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    I absolutely love simple ice creams without cooking and egg yolks. This is my kind of recipe. Can’t wait to try it!

  • Reply
    Averie @ Averie Cooks
    July 1, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    I love this ice cream! And I don’t even love lemon, or ice cream (give me a brownie or a cookie usually) but this…I want THIS!

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