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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  • Reply
    kirsty snoxell
    December 17, 2020 at 1:59 am

    Wow just made this, this morning. 9am in the UK and I am cooking out the remains from the ice-cream maker bowel! Very smooth beautiful ice-cream. I think next time I will add a little more lemon juice or extract as would like it a little more tart as its pretty creamy. But overall its a winner! Thank you.

  • Reply
    August 24, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    1 star
    Waaaay too lemony! And I love lemony. The heavy cream left a waxy feel in my mouth. I normally use a combination of evap milk and regular milk. If the lemon was cut in half, maybe.

  • Reply
    Michele davis
    August 22, 2020 at 9:39 am

    5 stars
    This is an excellent recipe! I had some lemon puree left over from a cake recipe and added that. Very refreshing!

  • Reply
    July 22, 2020 at 6:14 am

    Hi! Is there a way to make it without an icecream maker? Thanks

  • Reply
    Ron Hunsicker
    June 11, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    I’m going to make this tomorrow. It sounds delicious. I saw the note that it freezes hard so I will be trying a trick I learned to avoid that problem. Alcohol! For a quart of liquid, add 3 or 4 Tbs of 40% proof alcohol like vodka. Or a flavored alcohol but the point high proof alcohol doesn’t freeze. So if you use too low a proof, you might need to add something with it. When I add the alcohol is while it is churning. You dont taste the alcohol at all and it remains scoopable after frozen.

    • Reply
      June 11, 2020 at 5:44 pm

      Yes, it’s a good tip Ron, I’ve used it before in various recipes.

  • Reply
    May 28, 2020 at 4:35 am

    5 stars
    Just got this out of the machine and into the freezer. Probably the best ice cream I have made since getting my machine – thank you for the inspiration! I often have the problem with mixture sticking to the side of the bowl and not getting churned. Any tips? its so annoying to waste delicious mixture! thanks.

    • Reply
      May 28, 2020 at 6:45 am

      So glad you loved this Georgie, it’s a personal favorite of mine too. As for the sticking, make sure your machine is running (turning) before you add your ice cream mixture, that will help.

  • Reply
    Eliza P.
    May 17, 2020 at 8:02 pm

    5 stars
    I tried this recipe yesterday with some of our lemons from the yard. What a wonderful surprise! This is an outstanding product. I love it and will be making it again tomorrow. It’s all I can do to not eat the whole thing at once. Creamy and just the right combination of sweet and tart. I wonder if I can modify the recipe with some freshly squeezed oranges instead of lemons? Have you tried that?

    • Reply
      May 17, 2020 at 9:47 pm

      I haven’t tried that, but you’ve inspired me, Eliza. The trick will be to keep an orange ice cream from being too sweet and bland. I’m on it!

  • Reply
    May 16, 2020 at 9:51 pm

    Could you use a good raw honey, orange blossom, is what I was thinking, instead of the sugar?

    • Reply
      May 17, 2020 at 8:08 am

      Yes, that should work.

  • Reply
    Mohammad Shooman
    May 14, 2020 at 5:57 pm

    Do you cook it on heat before adding the lemon? To give a stretchy texture?

    • Reply
      May 14, 2020 at 6:25 pm

      No, I mix everything cold, and then add to the machine.

  • Reply
    Bob Wint Jr
    April 26, 2020 at 10:25 am

    5 stars
    During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is often difficult to stay positive and keep happiness in the home. What better way to promote happiness and create positive energy, than by making homemade ice cream?

    Everyone in our house absolutely LOVED this ice cream. The lemony “punch” is certainly unexpected — it’s more like the flavor you would expect from a premium sherbert, but with the smooth, creamy texture you want from your homemade ice cream.

    However, I must confess, we deviated from the recipe slightly and made it a “Raspberry Ripple Lemon Ice Cream” by stirring in a thread of a premium seedless raspberry jam as it came out of the ice cream machine and was still soft enough to stir.

    Thank you for creating such a wonderful recipe — I’m sure our family will enjoy it for years to come!

    • Reply
      Bob Wint Jr
      April 26, 2020 at 10:26 am

      5 stars
      ps. We doubled the recipe and made it in our 2-quart machine and it worked just fine.

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