Sweet and Tart Lemon Ice Cream

32 Comments 4.9

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Jump to Recipe

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.

Get New Recipessent to your inbox!
We never share your information with third parties and will protect it in accordance with our Privacy Policy.
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!
Pin Print Review
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

Filed under: , ,

Tagged with:

Share this Article


Related Posts

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.

Reader Interactions

32 Comments Leave a comment or review

    Rate & Comment


  1. ABQ Cat Mum says

    Lemon was my father's favorite at the local "Martha Washington's Ice Cream" parlor in Ft Worth, TX where I grew up a million years ago. Alas…neither MW's nor my father survives, but I still remember that wonderful flavor. I'm anxious to try this!

  2. David says

    Does this recipe and your other ice cream recipes make 1 litre or 1.5 litres of ice cream.
    It is important to know this if you are using an ice cream machine such as Cuisineart.

  3. Debbie D says

    Omgoodness! This is so awesome! I made this sunday. I had given some to a neighbor and she said it’s the best she has ever had! Thank you for sharing this recipe!5 stars

  4. Katherine Miller says

    This is soooooo yummy ! I will definitely make this again and again! I love it! So does my family!5 stars

  5. El says

    Made this today – but I put in 3/4 of lemon juice and 1/3 cup of sugar. Was perfect ! (didn’t want a super sweet ice cream)

    Bookmarked for future ice cream making !5 stars

  6. Baking Biologist says

    Was hesitant to mix lemon juice with a milk product, but I read that lemon juice won’t make whipping cream curdle. Even so, mixed the lemon juice with the sweetened condensed milk. The ice cream was fantastic—very light and airy, with a lovely lemon flavor.
    Next time I may swirl lemon curd in at the end after removing it from the ice cream maker!,5 stars

  7. Scott says

    Doubled the recipe and made this in my 4 qt hand crank maker yesterday. Everybody loves it! Real similar to lemon icebox pie or key lime pie. Definitely making this one again!

    I’d like to try some lime and orange variants. Limes would be an easy swap, but the oranges might take some experimenting to nail it just right…

    Thanks for the recipe!5 stars

  8. Rudresh says

    Excellent ice cream. I added one cup of toasted sweetened flaked coconut directly into the base before churning. I also added dark chocolate pieces 5 minutes before churning was complete.
    I’ll add dark chocolate pieces to just about anything!5 stars

  9. Ice cream addict says

    I didn’t follow the recipe exactly but like the ease of it! I dissolved the sugar by adding it to 1 cup of half and half and briefly heating it in the microwave then chilling the mixture. Didn’t have cream so used all half and half but thought it was plenty rich and creamy! Also I added 6 drops of doTerra lemon oil before freezing to push up the lemony flavor. Will keep this and make it again for sure.4 stars

  10. Susan Sherwood says

    This is a terrific lemon ice cream. REALLY terrific. I make a batch of homemade ice cream about every four days and have tried 80 plus recipes for diverse flavors. Ive tested about eight lemon ice cream recipes and at this point I have found two perfect ones – the exact right balance of tartness, sweetness and creaminess. There is this Barefeet recipe, which is utterly delicious and simple to make and then the other one, which requires cooking two separate sets of ingredients in a process so complex that I dreaded attempting it. I’m never making the latter one again. I’m amazed by this Barefeet recipe. I’d give it a six on a scale of five. Awesome. I’ll happily eat lemon ice cream all year long, but it will be especially wonderful in the summer – paired with maybe a slice of angel food cake.5 stars

  11. Geri-Ann G says

    I LOVE lemon, the more tart the better. SO when I made this recipe, I followed the reader’s advice suggesting increasing lemon juice to ¾ c. and decreasing sugar to ⅓ c. It worked for the taste, but reducing the sugar made it a bit more icy than I would like. Do you know if I can substitute liquid glucose for some or all of the sugar in order to make it smoother, but not more sweet? I’d even like a more lemony taste; could I increase the lemon juice to 1 c.? If so, would I need to make other adjustments? By the way, this is my new favorite ice cream; I just want to tweak it to (my) perfection.5 stars