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
    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
      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
    December 5, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    5 stars
    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
      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
    November 5, 2018 at 11:11 am

    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
      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
      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

    5 stars
    Made it today, I love it!!!!!!

    • Reply
      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
      August 24, 2018 at 2:38 pm

      Typo! I fixed it to say freezer, thanks 🙂

  • Reply
    August 15, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    5 stars
    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
      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
    July 25, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    5 stars
    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
      July 25, 2018 at 7:13 pm

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

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