Sweet and Tart Lemon Ice Cream

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Lemon. Ice Cream. I’ve had the idea for this ice cream scribbled in my recipe notebook for over a year now and I can’t believe it took me so long to finally try it. I’ve made this ice cream a couple of times so far and each time I’ve loved it more.

The tart lemon with the sweet cream is a combination that is refreshing and rich at the same time.

Sweet and Tart Lemon Ice Cream

Ice cream in the winter? You bet. When citrus season is in full swing, I can’t resist mixing up a batch of this creamy ice cream.

Served over a slice of this lightly glazed Lemon Cake, this is a dessert worthy of a fancy dinner or a casual weeknight. Nothing beats having a carton of homemade ice cream stashed in the freezer.

The most popular question I get is whether it’s possible to make ice cream without a machine. The answer is YES. You can make ice cream without a machine. Find the full directions here!

Homemade Lemon Ice Cream

When you think of frozen lemon desserts, you might think first of icy lemon sorbet. I love a refreshing fruit sorbet, especially on a hot summer day. But this homemade lemon ice cream is nothing like sherbet or sorbet.

This is creamy rich ice cream with an unexpected and completely fresh brightness from the lemon.

If you still aren’t convinced that you need to try this, my oldest son chose this ice cream over chocolate ice cream two nights in a row and he’s declared it to be one of the best ice creams we’ve ever made.

Lemon Ice Cream Recipe

Making homemade lemon ice cream does require an ice cream maker. Before I got my first ice cream maker, I wasn’t sure how much I’d actually end up using it.

As it turns out, my ice cream maker is one of my all-time favorite kitchen accessories. When you like ice cream as much as my kids and I do, having your own machine to make homemade ice cream makes life so much sweeter!

Not only do we save money being able to make our own ice creams at home, it’s also so much fun to experiment with different flavors and add-ins with my kids.

Everyone gets excited when we try a new ice cream flavor! And it’s hard to beat the taste of ice cream made right in our own kitchen.

Lemon Ice Cream

I love how easy homemade ice cream is to make. Just mix, transfer to the machine, and serve!

For this lemon ice cream, I used sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, regular whole milk, and sugar as the creamy base. Plenty of freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest and a dash of vanilla add the flavor that makes this ice cream irresistible.

How to Make Lemon Ice Cream

First, whisk the condensed milk and the lemon juice together in a bowl until completely smooth. Add the cream, milk, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla and a pinch of salt and whisk to combine.

Pour the lemon ice cream mix into your ice cream maker,  freeze and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions.

This ice cream tastes amazing as both soft serve and hard ice cream.

For soft serve ice cream: Serve the ice cream immediately after removing from the ice cream maker.

For hard ice cream: Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and store in the freezer until ready to serve. It takes about 2 hours in the freezer to achieve the fully “hardened” texture you’ll find in the ice creams you buy at the store.

Get ready to enjoy the creamiest lemon ice cream you’ve ever tasted! 

Lemon Ice Cream is a sweet, tart flavor that is irresistible!

Lemon Ice Cream Recipe

  • Use fresh lemon juice! Sure, you could use the bottled stuff but fresher tastes so much better. It doesn’t take long to squeeze a few lemons and the bright citrusy notes of freshly squeezed juice make a world of difference. Since you’re zesting lemons anyway, you might as well use the whole fruit.
  • Get the lemon zest minced as finely as you can. The zest adds a depth of lemon flavor that we need in this ice cream but you don’t want to bite into big chunks of lemon peel! A microplane zester or similar works beautifully.
  • Be sure to use sweetened condensed milk in this recipe. Evaporated milk contains no sugar so the sweetness of the ice cream won’t be the same. You need that sweetness to balance out the tart lemon juice.
Homemade Lemon Ice Cream

Lemon Desserts

There’s nothing quite like the balance of sweet and tart a lemon dessert offers. When citrus season rolls around, I start craving Sunburst Lemon Bars and now that I’ve discovered the joys of Lemon Ice Cream, I know I’ll be adding it to my list of “must have” lemon desserts.

Lemon desserts often make me think of bright sunshine and warm weather but I love lemon desserts year round. These Lemon Ginger Cheesecake Mousse Cups have been a hit around the holidays.

If you’re in the mood for more lemon dessert goodness, you’ll love this divine Lemon Angel Pie and this Lemon Coffee Cake, too. And don’t miss trying this Lemon Poppyseed Bread too!

Once you have your own ice cream machine, you’ll be ready to make all kinds of tasty ice creams the family will love. Bookmark or pin this Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Ice Cream and this Pina Colada Ice Cream to try next!

Get ready for lemon ice cream like you’ve never tasted before. Sweet cream and tart lemon juice come together in this delicious and easy homemade ice cream recipe.

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Lemon Ice Cream

Sweet and Tart Lemon Ice Cream

4.91 from 11 votes
Sweet 'n Tart Lemon Ice Cream is like no ice cream you've tasted before!
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Prep Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 5 mins
Servings: 6 servings


  • 7 ounces ½ of a 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice about 3 large lemon’s worth
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon zest finely minced, about 1 ½ large lemon’s worth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Optional: additional lemon zest for topping


  • In a large bowl, whisk together the condensed milk and the lemon juice until completely smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine. Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Serve immediately for soft serve ice cream or transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer until ready to serve. Enjoy!


Calories: 338kcal · Carbohydrates: 39g · Protein: 5g · Fat: 19g · Saturated Fat: 12g · Cholesterol: 70mg · Sodium: 123mg · Potassium: 227mg · Fiber: 1g · Sugar: 37g · Vitamin A: 737IU · Vitamin C: 9mg · Calcium: 166mg · Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!

{originally published 3/25/14 – recipe notes and photos updated 2/24/20}

Sweet 'n Tart Lemon Ice Cream Recipe

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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