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

3.52 from 350 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
    January 13, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    5 stars
    Works well and very very good.
    For those looking for a no-churn lemon ice cream, Dorie Sanders has a great one, made it several times and it’s delicious:

    • Reply
      Chef Grant
      August 21, 2020 at 11:42 am

      4 stars
      Consider making raspberry ripple with lime ice cream using the same method as above. Don’t worry about the extract. The flavor combination will make your taste buds dance. I recommend blueberry or strawberry pairing with lemon.

  • Reply
    July 28, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    5 stars
    Wanted to try something different with ice cream flavors. Used a little more lemon juice than the recipe asked for, but the ice cream turned out great. Will continue to use this recipe for years yo come.

    • Reply
      July 28, 2019 at 5:08 pm

      I love it when one of my recipes becomes a long term favorite! Stay cool this summer Jovie!

      • Reply
        July 28, 2019 at 5:53 pm

        Thank you for the recipe. It’s my favorite and I’m checking the ones I wanna try off of my list.

  • Reply
    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
      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
    June 26, 2019 at 6:58 am

    5 stars
    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
      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

    5 stars
    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
      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
    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
      May 25, 2019 at 8:20 pm

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

  • Reply
    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
      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
    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
      April 15, 2019 at 9:02 am

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

  • Reply
    April 14, 2019 at 3:30 pm

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

    • Reply
      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
      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.

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