Fresh Lemon Ice Cream

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

3.53 from 352 votes

Fresh Lemon Ice Cream

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.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Yield 1 1/2 pints
Author Sue Moran


  • 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.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.


  • 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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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    June 7, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    What’s the yield?

    • Reply
      June 7, 2018 at 3:24 pm

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

  • Reply
    May 17, 2018 at 9:57 am

    5 stars
    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
      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

    5 stars
    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
      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
    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
    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
      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
        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
          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
        Dave A.
        December 26, 2019 at 8:40 pm

        I have a recipe for lemon ice cream that I have made since the 1970s.I only make it in 2 quart quantities because I have only had rock salt and ice churns. It isa morethan work to make than using an all electric machine, but have made quantities for office parties. My recipe is heavy cream and half and half, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice. A Philadelphia style ice cream. The zest is important because it contains the oils that the extract is trying to replace.

        • Reply
          December 26, 2019 at 8:44 pm

          Do you strain out the zest? I feel like it would make a strange texture.

  • Reply
    June 19, 2017 at 7:00 am

    5 stars
    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
      June 19, 2017 at 7:00 am

      Also, no trouble with curdling.

    • Reply
      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
    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
      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
    May 29, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    5 stars
    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
      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
    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
      April 8, 2017 at 2:06 pm

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

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