Lemon Ice Cream

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This is Lemon Ice Cream like you’ve never tasted before! Sweet cream and tart lemon juice come together in this easy homemade ice cream recipe.

Lemon. Ice Cream. I’ve had the idea for this sweetly tart 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 quite a few times now and each time I’ve loved it more.

Sweet and Tart Lemon Ice Cream

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

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The tart lemon with the sweet cream is a combination that is refreshing and rich at the same time. Nothing beats having a carton of homemade ice cream stashed in the freezer.

Served over a slice of this lightly glazed Lemon Cake, this is a dessert worthy of a fancy dinner or a casual weeknight.

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.

Homemade Lemon Ice Cream

Lemon Ice Cream

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 adds the flavor that makes this ice cream irresistible.

I love how easy ice cream is to make. Just mix, transfer to the machine, and serve! No machine? No worries.

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!

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

Lemon Ice Cream Recipe

Wondering exactly 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

How to Make Lemon Ice Cream

There are a few things key to making this homemade lemon ice cream. 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.

up close photo of ice cream in blue bowl with gold spoon

Lemon Desserts

There’s nothing quite like the balance of sweet and tart a lemon dessert offers. When citrus is in abundance, I start craving Sunburst Lemon Bars. And now that I’ve discovered the joys of lemon ice cream, 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. If you love this citrus ice cream, bookmark my grandmother’s Six Threes Ice Cream and Pina Colada Ice Cream to try next!

Get ready for homemade ice cream as you’ve never tasted it before. Sweet cream and tart lemon juice come together in this unforgettable lemon curd ice cream.

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Lemon Ice Cream

Lemon Ice Cream

4.79 from 14 votes
This is Lemon Ice Cream like you've never tasted before! Sweet cream and tart lemon juice come together in this easy homemade ice cream recipe.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 6 servings


  • 7 ounces sweetened condensed milk exactly half of a standard 14-ounce can
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice about 3 large lemon’s worth
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon zest finely minced, about 1½ large lemon's worth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • additional lemon zest for topping OPTIONAL


  • 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.


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!

With over 70 ice cream recipes here to choose from, there’s sure to be an ice cream for everyone! If you’re new to making ice cream, the best and easiest vanilla ice cream is a great place to start.

These are my favorite inexpensive containers for storing ice cream. They’re perfect for gifting (who doesn’t love homemade ice cream?) storage, re-using, etc. I write the flavors on the lids with a sharpie and it washes off with dish soap.

I have more ice cream scoops than I can keep track of at this point and I definitely play favorites. This ice cream scoop does the best job ever of cutting through firm ice cream and still delivers a pretty scoop. It gets bonus points for being one of the least expensive scoops I own as well.

Don’t miss our Ice Cream Maker Review for all the information you need to find the BEST Ice Cream Maker for your needs. Spoiler alert – our top-rated machine under $50 just might surprise you. It sure surprised me!

{originally published 3/25/14 – recipe notes and photos updated 4/14/23}

close up photo of homemade lemon ice cream

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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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    • Jennifer Montoya says

      I’ve made this 2x now. 1. Is I add a couple of tablespoon of lemon concentrate, wat more lemoneny. 2. I add fresh ginger. 3. If u can put the zest of both in the sugar for a little bit it helps. I just put it in the freezer and mix it every so often.
      I LOVE this recipe4 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      That’s great, Kelly. The condensed milk likely sweetened it just enough! I love tart lemon desserts too, so I’ll have to try that next time.