Lemon gelato is an amazingly refreshing frozen dessert that will tantalize your tastes with fresh lemon flavor and the creamy texture of ice cream made with milk and heavy cream so the flavors shine through.
All you need to make my lemon gelato (which can be made in your ice cream maker) is lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, heavy whipping cream, milk, and a dash of salt. No egg yolks needed!
Gelato isn’t that much different than ice cream, the big difference is that milk is used instead of all cream, which actually makes the flavors of what you’re using stand out even more, and if you find the right balance between cream and milk, you still get that rich creamy texture that Americans have come to love about our ice cream!
Table of Contents:
What ingredients do I need to make Lemon Gelato?
Let’s start by gathering the ingredients we need to make lemon gelato. In Chef Speak this is called the “Mise en Place” which translates to “Everything in its Place”.
Not only does setting your ingredients up ahead of time speed up the cooking process, it also helps ensure you have everything you need to make the dish.
*I originally made this gelato with Meyer Lemons so either variety are good.
How do I make Lemon Gelato?
It’s really easy to make my version of Lemon Gelato. All you need are a few simple ingredients to make this gelato / ice cream recipe.
- Add the cream, milk, lemon juice, zest, sugar, and salt together. Using a wire whip, mix until the sugar dissolves and is completely incorporated. (the mixture should thicken some)
- Pour the lemon mixture into a gelato or ice cream maker.
- Allow the mixture to freeze.
- When the gelato mixture has sufficiently frozen, place into a container and allow the lemon gelato to completely freeze.
Can I Use an Ice Cream Maker to Make a Gelato Recipe?
Yes, you can. The difference between the two machines is gelato is churned at a much slower rate than ice cream, incorporating less air and leaving the gelato denser than ice cream.
Of course, if you don’t have a gelato maker you can easily take my recipe for Lemon gelato and use your ice cream maker to make super creamy and delicious ice cream.
So when life hands you Lemons make gelato. Your friends and family will be oh so happy that you did. Just be prepared for all the compliments and requests to make it again and again.
Ice cream has a higher butterfat content which masks some of the natural flavors, where the creaminess of the ice cream is more of the star than the added flavor. Italian gelato uses less butterfat, and also doesn’t whip the mixture as quickly adding less air into the gelato. This makes the gelato denser and packs the flavor into each spoonful because of the density.
Five basic ingredients are needed to make gelato. Heavy cream, milk, sugar, salt and the flavoring you’ll be adding. Fresh fruit is my favorite added flavor when I make gelato, but you can easily make pistachio, chocolate or any flavor you can imagine.
No, you don’t. You can of course make a custard-type base for your gelato using eggs, but that will require cooking the custard and allowing it to cool before freezing. The eggs will make the base richer, but eggs are not necessary for amazing gelato.
Hello, so excited to have found your recipe for a lemon gelato.
I may have heard heavenly music when I tasted this gelato while transferring it from my ice cream maker to the freezer container.🍋 I didn’t read through all the comments before making, so I missed the sugar/zest trick. But that’s ok, next time I will do that because this recipe is definitely a keeper. Wonderful!
And I see that you are a classically trained chef, so I can’t wait to look around your site for more delicious recipes and elevate my game in the home kitchen. Thank you!!
Chef Dennis Littley
I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the flavor of my lemon gelato, it is definitely one of my favorites! I hope you find more delicious recipes to try.
We love this! We used Meyer lemons, and because they were small, zested two. We also added a dash of vanilla, but it was fantastic both ways. So refreshing and popular most of it won’t make it to tomorrow 😆 Thank you!
I’ve been making this recipe pretty consistently now for a couple years. I am one of those people who loves everything lemon and creamy and this is the perfect combination of both. I’ve made it for family and I’ve made it for the other Nurse’s at work over holidays and I always get requests for the recipe!
Oh my word! This stuff is da bomb!!! I was looking for a lemon ice cream recipe and came across your website. It seemed so easy that I gave it a whirl. Holy cow, so good!! As good, if not better, than any lemon gelato I have ever had. Having this knowledge is going to be a real problem for me and I forsee an extra dimple on my fanny from too much deliciousness. I can’t wait to try your other gelato recipes.
Chef Dennis Littley
I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the lemon gelato Melissa, and I feel your pain about the possible extra weight gain! You’ll have to try my strawberry recipe when you get the chance
This is my favorite gelato recipe! I’ve made it with both Meyer lemons and regular lemons and prefer the tangier flavor of the regular lemons. Just made it again this weekend for friends and it received high reviews!
I recently purchased a ice cream/gelato maker (had been using my basic Cuisinart ice cream maker) from an individual who was upgrading to a higher end maker. We were both excited when the recipes we traded were both yours (me sharing with her your Meyer lemon and she recommending your strawberry recipe).
Now off to try the blackberry gelato recipe!
Chef Dennis Littley
You just made my day with your comment! Trading my recipes makes me smile!!!
Wonderful recipe. Nice tangy and creamy flavour.
Suggestion: if using an ice cream maker, try sprinkling zest into ice cream maker just prior to the mixture setting firm (say 10 mins before finishing) as I found if added at the beginning it tended to group together on different parts of the paddle even though I grated it super fine. I just noticed the comment about sugar coating the zest in a food processor so maybe that’s a better idea than what I suggested above.
I used regular lemons.
I was hoping for that mouth-feel of sweet-creamy/tart-lemon heaven that delightfully coats the palate with every bite. But this wasn’t it. I blame the lemons. This was my first experience with Meyer lemons, so I’m not even sure if this is how they’re supposed to taste, even though I got fresh juicy organic ones. To me, they smelled rather pungent, which is probably why it tastes so unexpectedly bizarre. I can say that this gelato method is a good one; the milk/cream ratio is just right, and texture came out nice. So I will try making it again with regular lemons, as I’m sure I’ll like that a lot better. BTW, sugar-coating the zest in the mini-processor is a good suggestion; nothing stuck to the paddle in my ice cream maker.
Chef Dennis Littley
I would definitely give it a try with regular lemons, hopefully, that will come out better.
🙂 I will – thank you for the speedy reply!
Have you tried making this with sucralose? I did and it came out a frozen solid brick. Which is a shame because the flavor is amazing. Not sure if the sugar substitute caused problems or what?
Chef Dennis Littley
Sugar helps keep ice cream/gelato from freezing into a solid block. The only real fix using sucralose would be adding alcohol to the mixture to keep it from completely freezing. The other option would be to freeze it smaller containers and use a blender to get back to a manageable consistency.
it was delicious and very easy to make. No cooking, great flavor.
This recipe is amazing! I made a recipe and half and added an extra 1/4 cup of sugar. Glad I did. Came out very tart after freezing completely. Delicious! And the best… I use the ice cream to make ice cream sandwiches with sugar cookies (just the kind you can pick up from your local store premade will work just fine). Taste like lemon pie! Yummy!
My sister discovered your recipe and has made it several times. It is delicious! People rave about it. Yes, when life hands you Meyer Lemons, make this!
Thank you! This recipe is AMAZING! We have food allergies in our house and recently purchased an ice cream maker so that my youngest could enjoy soft serve style ice cream and gelato at home. Your recipe turned out perfectly!! We thought we were back at a favorite little Italian cafe. You’ve made our family very happy.
Chef Dennis Littley
I’m very happy to hear you enjoyed the gelato recipe! The lemon along with strawberry are my favorites!
Excellent texture and flavor! Tart and refreshing just like I remember the limone gelato in Italy. It is quite light and stays soft when frozen. I’m quite pleased with the results and it is definitely a keeper. Also made it with Eureka lemons, adding 1/4 cup extra sugar – perfect!
So easy. SO GOOD! Thank you!!
WOW! What a wonderful recipe. A friend has a Meyer lemon tree and gives me lemons. I usually make sorbet or something else out of them. I was looking for Meyer lemon recipes and happened upon your Meyer Lemon Gelato recipe. I have an Ice Cream maker that has a built in freezer and has a Gelato blade that was included. This is the first time I used that blade and it is amazing the texture of the Gelato when it was finished. The flavor was out of this world. I also followed Susan’s suggestion and blended the zest with the sugar in a small food processor. Amazing how the sugar turned to a yellow color after blending and the smell of the zest oils really permeated the room after blending. I will be using your wonderful recipe with Blood Oranges next. Anyway thanks much for the recipe…It is Wonderful!!!
This is truly delicious, Chef D! I read some other reviews about the zest issue and here is how I solved it. I actually added more than a TBS of zest, finely grated,but I blended it with the sugar in a mini food processor for about 10 pulses. It not only coats the zest with the powder of the sugar, but it releases the natural flavors of the zest oils throughout. I use thi trick for anything I am making with citrus and sugar.
That idea sounds great, so thanks for the good tip! I’m going to try it today!