lemon custard icecream
lemon custard icecream

Lemon Custard Ice Cream

Lemon ice cream is like no other flavor you’ve ever had. The secret to this simple, bright recipe is fresh lemon juice and lots of zest. Unlike a sharp lemon sorbet, this ice cream is smooth and creamy from whisking in egg yolks and cream.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 11 minutes
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Recipe Rundown

lemon custard ice cream

Lemon is one of those flavors that works really well with ice cream. Yet, it’s not easy to find. What I love about this custard is that it’s super easy to make, and the texture is perfectly creamy.

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How to Make Lemon Custard

To make this ice cream recipe, you will need either an ice cream machine or high speed blender. It requires stove top cooking (10 minutes) because the base is a custard. We get a slight yellow hue and richness from whisking egg yolks into cream infused with zest and citrus juices.

lemon ice cream custard curd
This is the soft serve texture you get right out of the ice cream machine.

Every now and then, I take requests for ice cream flavors. My husband requested “creamy lemon ice cream.” Turns out, this is the most refreshing dessert we’ve ever had.

People who like lemon at all adore this ice cream because the flavors are immediate–big and bright. It has a silky, melt on your tongue consistency that I always strive for in an ice cream recipe.

Unlike sorbet, which is more pungent and icy, this lemony dessert is like biting into a meringue pie minus the crust. When you combine fresh squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest, egg yolk, and cream, you get a really natural lemon flavor.

This custard is so clean tasting — it really needs nothing. BUT, you could serve it with vanilla cake and meringue for parties. I just served this for my sister’s 30th birthday, and every single person raved about it. You’ll notice this ice cream has some similarities to these meyer lemon bars. That’s because the custard base is similar to lemon curd.

5 Rules to Freeze By

  1. Start with high quality fruit – Great lemons will make a great ice cream. Bad ones will not. If you can get your hands on excellent citrus (lemon, mandarin, tangerines), you will produce unbelievably fresh ice cream that tastes better than anything from the store.
  2. Your base should be sweet – When you make ice cream, the base you start with should seem overly sweet. That’s because when we freeze the base, we churn in more air, resulting in a less sweet frozen treat.
  3. Churn until soft serve consistency – When making ice cream in a machine, the texture will be very soft right out of the machine. This stage is similar to soft serve. You will enjoy the flavor very much at this stage, but it melts quickly.
  4. Know when to chill – When making ice cream, the canister that you churn the ice cream in should be very cold. The colder, the less churning will be required. Once the texture resembles soft serve, you can transfer to the freezer. I like to store ice cream in covered canisters to prevent freezer burn. Remove after several hours for an ice cream that you can scoop.
  5. Mix and match – The ratio of juice, zest, and sugar in this lemon ice cream recipe works for most citrus, so experiment! One of my favorite variations is mandarin orange ice cream.
lemon ice cream

How to Make Lemon Ice Cream With A Blender

To make this lemon ice cream recipe in a high speed blender, you will need to start with a combination of cold liquid (lemon juice) and frozen solid (ice cream base). To do this, follow the recipe to step 3, then freeze until solid using two separate containers (up to 8 hours).

Add the frozen cream base to the blender along with the liquid lemon juice. This will help the blades bite into the frozen cream and is less likely to overheat your motor. Blend slowly and then increase the speed until extremely creamy.

Serve immediately or freeze in canisters for a few hours for a thicker texture that you can scoop.

More Ice Cream Recipes

Pro Tip: It’s really important to incorporate the lemon zest for maximum citrus flavor. You should blend the ice cream base (about 30 seconds) before pouring into the ice cream machine. This step will improve the flavor and (very importantly) make it slick and smooth.

fresh lemons with lemon custard ice cream

Lemon Custard Ice Cream

Lemon ice cream is like no other flavor you’ve ever had. The secret to this simple, bright recipe is fresh lemon juice and lots of zest. Unlike a sharp lemon sorbet, this ice cream is smooth and creamy from whisking in egg yolks and cream.
4.53 from 23 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten free ice cream, ice cream, lemon dessert, lemon ice cream
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 11 minutes
Freezing Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 16 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 294kcal
Author: Chef Sara Furcini


  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tsp lemon zest from 3 lemons
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice strained (5 lemons)


  • Mix the heavy cream, milk, sugar, zest, and salt in a medium pot over the stove. Warm over medium-high heat until you see bubbles on the surface, approximately 9 minutes. Whisk occasionally. Remove from the heat as soon as you see it boil.
  • Whisk the yolks in a large mixing bowl. Steadily and slowly pour the warm cream mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the yolks from cooking.
  • Return to the pot and warm on the stove for 3-5 minutes until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. This means, you can run your finger through the liquid and when it won’t fill back in where you drew a line with your finger.
  • Stir in the lemon juice. I highly recommend blending in a high speed blender for the most luscious texture and flavor. Cool the mixture in the fridge or use an ice bath to save time.
  • Pour the chilled lemon mixture into the freezer bowl of a 1 1/2-quart electric ice cream maker, and proceed according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Transfer ice cream to a freezer-safe container; press a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap directly on surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Place in freezer at least 4 hours or overnight.


# of lemons – I’ve included the measurements in case your citrus contains less juice. I used 5 lemons total for juice, and zested 3 of these.
Mix-and-match: Use any citrus following the ratios in this recipe. Try mandarin oranges or tangerine.


Calories: 294kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 210mg | Sodium: 73mg | Potassium: 112mg | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 900IU | Vitamin C: 10.7mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 0.4mg

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Thank you for being here! Did you make this recipe? Click on the star rating or leave a comment below. I’d love to hear how you got on. Connect with me @thefrayedapron on Instagram or Pinterest.

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2 years ago

Tasting this homemade custard makes you realize that there is nothing you can go to a store and buy that will compare. The smoothness and the delicious flavor you get is so above anything from a carton. Truly special, tart like lemon should be and smooth as satin. I tried this layered in between yellow cake. ICECREAM CAKE, YUM!

Moira Cleary
Moira Cleary
1 year ago

Darn I have everything but the final part of using an actual ice cream maker

10 months ago

Accurately describes as super lemony and creamy – delicious and refreshing! Prep and cook time took longer but would highly recommend including blending when adding lemon juice (handheld immersion blender makes it super easy).

Big Quincy
Big Quincy
8 months ago

Not what I expected. Much more sour than I think ice cream should be. Pretty disappointing. Won’t be try this one again.

7 months ago

I love lemon ice cream, but the recipe as written was much too lemony for our taste. I used only 5 egg yolks, and 1 cup heavy cream and 1.5 cups whole milk instead of the reverse because I’ve found those proportions to be less greasy-feeling in my ice cream experiments (1 egg yolk per 1/2 cup dairy). I also added a swirl of crushed ginger snaps. I liked the texture and consistency of the result, so I am about to try again with less lemon, and a blueberry swirl; will post results!

Last edited 7 months ago by Hillary
7 months ago
Reply to  Hillary

Update: second try was perfect, the best ice cream I’ve made so far!! I used zest and juice of 2 lemons (about 2 Tbs and 1/2 cup). I added about 1.5 tsp of vanilla along with the lemon juice to soften it a bit. I skipped the high-speed blending, but I did strain the custard after cooking to remove the zest. The consistency was perfect, very scoopable after freezing, no need to thaw. It was just the right amount of lemon for us. I added a blueberry swirl: 1 cup blueberries, 1/4 cup sugar, cooked in a saucepan with a… Read more »

Lennie Brown
Lennie Brown
6 months ago
Reply to  Hillary

Love the addition of the ginger. I dressed mine with a sprig of chocolate peppermint and added 1/4 tsp lemon abstract.

Lennie Brown
Lennie Brown
6 months ago

Smooth creamy texture with tiny zings of Lemon zest to wake up your palate. Savor this experience. Watch how your body cools from it. It was a ritual for me to carefully make this. From growing the lemon, harvesting and storing them all winter and spring in a cooler… to just today…obtaining the zest from handling the lemons, methodologies calls measuring, blending, cleaning up as I went along …order gave me a pattern from process that seems like a seasonal cleanse. My kitchen smells of the lemon. I am cleanse and will share this tastes experience as a ” finale”… Read more »

christin lindsey
christin lindsey
5 days ago

You should really edit your first blurb about what you need to create this custard. Your initial introduction says “To make this ice cream recipe, you will need either an ice cream machine or high speed blender.” insinuating that if you do not have an ice cream machine you can substitute it with a high speed blender, something a lot of home chefs have, then in the instructions you advise the mixture must be moved to an ice cream machine. It should be clear that even if you decide to use a high speed blender, the maker will have to also own an… Read more »

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