This homemade lemon ice cream is made with a traditional custard base for velvety ice cream that's bursting with juicy lemon flavor.
This lemon custard ice cream is made with a luscious French-style custard base that pairs perfectly with tangy fresh lemon for a bright, creamy dessert that will have your taste buds asking for more.
Recipe tips and frequently asked questions
What is lemon ice cream made of?
This homemade version is made with fresh lemon juice and zest, eggs, cream, milk and sugar. It can be hard to find in stores but if so may have additional ingredients, so always check the label.
What sort of lemons can I this ice cream?
I'm fortunate to have Eureka lemon tree growing in my front yard or several friends with trees if mine is running low. You could also use Lisbon lemons which are similar to Eureka. Meyer lemons, which are sweeter than regular their Eureka and Lisbon cousins, also work wonderfully well in this lemony ice cream.
What to serve with this ice cream
This old-fashioned homemade lemon ice cream is delicious on its own, or why not try it with one of the following perfect pairings:
- Scooped into a cone with some pistachio ice cream
- With some tangy passion fruit curd or raspberry compote drizzled over the top
- On a warm and toasty apple and plum crumble
- With some sweet and buttery strawberry rhubarb tartlets
- With a slice of epic 'burnt' San Sebastian cheesecake
Can I make this without an ice cream maker?
You sure can. To make a no churn version without an ice cream machine make the base as per the recipe until you get to the churning part. Put the ice cream into your chilled container and freeze for one hour. Working quickly remove the ice cream from the freezer and whisk it, taking care to scrape the edges which will start to freeze first.
Return to the freezer for another hour. Remove and whisk again. Repeat for another two to three times or until the ice cream resembles soft-serve ice cream. Then allow it to continue freezing until firm.
Lemons: essential for lemon ice cream. You will need the juice and the zest to look for juicy fruit that's heavy for its size and unwaxed.
Egg yolks: use large eggs and separate out the whites. You can set aside the egg whites to make something else such as my amaretti cookies.
Thickened cream: I use thickened cream which has a fat content of about 34%. You could also use heavy cream or heavy whipping or whipping cream which is similar.
Milk: this recipe uses full-fat milk with a fat content of about 3.5%.
White sugar: white sugar is best in this recipe. You could use castor sugar if you prefer or experiment with brown sugar to give the ice cream some caramel notes.
Vanilla extract: sometimes also called vanilla essence, depending on where you live. You can use either, or imitation vanilla essence, depending on your preference and budget.
Glucose syrup: also called confectioner’s glucose. You can get in from specialty baking shops, online and some supermarkets. A small amount of glucose syrup helps lower the freezer point of ice cream and improves the texture and scoopability of the ice cream.
You can substitute with the same amount of light corn syrup or powdered dextrose. Measure carefully, preferably using a digital kitchen scale, and don't add too much or your ice cream will melt in a red hot minute!
How to make lemon ice cream
See the full recipe card at the end of the post for ingredient amounts and instructions.
Zest the lemons. Juice and strain your lemon juice. Put the water onto boil for the double boiler. The pot should be quite full but not touching the bottom of the double boiler.
Put the milk, cream and lemon zest into a separate small saucepan and put it on warm to simmer.
Separate eggs and put egg whites aside for another recipe, such as my amaretti cookies. Put the egg yokes into a bowl and beat them together with an electric hand mixer. The mix will be very yellow to start with but will pale to almost white when beaten enough.
Temper the egg yokes by slowly adding the warmed milk and cream milk to the yokes a bit at a time, mixing well in between.
Once fully combined pour into the top of the double boiler. Add the lemon juice and glucose syrup and mix well. A double boiler is an option but it makes it much easier to cook custard ice cream bases. It evens out the temp and makes it less likely to curdle.
If you're not using a double boiler put the mix into a pot and have the heat on very low. You will need to watch it very carefully to prevent it from catching and curdling.
This could take anywhere from about five to fifteen minutes, depending on how high the mix is. If the mix starts to simmer and bubble too much remove the pot from heat and allow it to cool slightly before continuing and stirring. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Hot tip: as soon as the custard is cooked remove the top of the double boiler and place it in a colander. This will allow your mix to cool without overcooking it before you strain it.
Put a sieve over a heat-proof container and strain mix to remove the lemon zest and any eggy bits.
Put your ice cream storage container into the freezer to chill. If you are using a self-chilling churner turn it on ten mins before to chill. Churn the ice cream. It will be the consistency of soft-serve when done. Transfer to the chilled ice cream container, cover and freeze for at least four hours, or until firm.
How to serve
To serve this lemon-flavored ice cream remove it from the freezer scoop and enjoy! Fabulous on its own, with some bright raspberry compote drizzled over the top or pairs with my cozy apple and plum crumble or pistachio ice cream. Delicious!
How to store
Store this lemon zest ice cream in a sealed, airtight container in the freezer for up to two weeks. After this the ice cream may start to become a little icy, but it will still be delicious.
Have you made this recipe? Tell me how it went in the comments below and tag me on instagram so I can see your delicious creations! @keep_calm_and_eat_icecream
Looking for more yummy ice cream recipes?
Why not try making
Lemon Ice Cream
- ice cream maker/churner
- ⅔ cups (145gms) sugar
- 4 egg yolks from large eggs
- ¾ cup (185mls) milk
- 2 cups (500mls) thickened cream
- ¾ cup (185mls) lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon (15gms) glucose syrup
- Zest and juice the lemon. Strain the lemon juice.
- If using a double boiler put water on to boil. Once boiled put the water in the pot to a simmer.
- Add milk, cream and lemon zest to a separate small saucepan. Put the pot on medium-low until ti just comes to a simmer.
- Add egg yokes and sugar to a medium bowl or stand mixer and beat together until pale.
- Temper the egg yolks by slowly adding the warmed milk mix, blending well between each addition. Once combined add to the top of the double boiler. Add the lemon juice and glucose syrup and mix well.
- *You can use a regular saucepan instead of a double boiler if you don't have one BUT you will need to use a very low heat and watch and stir it very frequently to prevent mix catching and the eggs scrambling.
- Cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, making sure to scrap around the edges to prevent lumps.
- Mix is ready when it starts to thicken and 'coats the back of a spoon' i.e. until it holds the line when you run your finger through it (don't burn your finger!). This could be anywhere from about five to fifteen minutes.
- NB if the mix gets too hot or starts to steam or bubble too much remove the pot from the heat and continue stirring until it cools. If you cook the mix too hot you will scramble the eggs.
- Remove from heat, put the top of the double boiler into a colander and allow to cool. Put a sieve over a heat-proof container and strain mix to strain out the lemon zest and remove any eggy bits. Cover and chill for at least four hours, preferably overnight.
- Put your ice cream storage container in the freezer to chill. If using a self-refrigerating ice cream churner turn on ten minutes before using, otherwise take your freezer bowl out of the freezer at the last min.
- Pour into ice cream churner and churn, it will be the consistency of soft serve when done. Quickly transfer to chilled container and freeze until firm.
- To serve remove from the freezer, scoop and enjoy! Fabuiolus on its own or with a little lemon zest sprinkled over the top for extra tang. Delicious!
- Eureka, Lisbon or Meyer lemons work well in this recipe, but you can experiment with different types if you can get them.
- Glucose syrup is available from many supermarkets and specialty baking stores. It greatly improves the texture and scoopability of the ice cream. You can make the ice cream without it but the ice cream will set harder and you may need to put it in the fridge for five to fifteen minutes before serving to make it soft enough to scoop.
- For extra strong lemony ice cream you can replace ¼ of the milk with extra lemon juice. This gives it a wonderful strong punchy flavor but is not for everyone!
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