The Best Lime Ice Cream

By • June 30, 2010 34 Comments

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Author Notes: It's funny how often there are early indications of the profession a child will pursue as an adult. According to my mother, there were more than a few telltale signs during my youth suggesting that a career in food and cooking might be in my future. When I was six years old, we went to the Bahamas on a family vacation. One night, we were served the most delicious lime ice cream any of us had ever tasted; it was tart and quite sweet, with lots of fragrant lime zest and an underlying richness from pure cream. With a little encouragement from my parents, I managed to pluck up the courage to ask for the recipe, which I then transcribed -- in my shaky, 6-year-old print -- onto the small slip of paper.

It's a mix-and-freeze operation, perfect for hot weather, and there is no custard involved. The results are truly delicious. I've reduced the sugar and added a little more cream as my taste has matured. I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did -- and perhaps it may even inspire another 6-year-old to turn to a career in food!
Merrill Stubbs

Makes about 3 cups

  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons grated lime zest
  • 1/3 cup lime juice (Key lime juice is great if you can bear squeezing all those little guys)
  1. Combine all of the ingredients, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Freeze in an ice cream maker, or in a wide, shallow container, stirring from time to time. Devour! Note: Don't be dismayed if the ice cream never gets really hard in your freezer -- the texture should be airy and light.

Tags: citrus, Summer

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Comments (34) Questions (1)


about 1 year ago S B

Made exactly as shown...smooth, creamy, tart ice cream perfection. Served with cream cheese cookies (recipe from Food52, of course) and guests went wild!


about 2 years ago knitnbead

Just got around to making this (finally). Used 1 1/4 cups heavy cream and 1/4 cup whole milk. I didn't have key limes so I just used Persian limes. Will be taking this to a dinner party tonight with friends. I tasted this before it went into the ice cream maker and it was just right. Can't wait to hear the raves. Awesome!


about 2 years ago nzmike99

Has anyone tried this with yoghurt instead of cream? Think it would work but haven't tried it yet - interested to know if anyone else has converted this to froyo as I refuse to cook with cream, just too much sat fat!!


about 2 years ago stellaaa25

this recipe is so easy and tasty!!! i cut the sugar to 1/2 cup and it was perfect!!!


about 2 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Glad you liked it!


over 2 years ago mdm

SO delicious, thanks!


over 2 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You're welcome!


about 3 years ago Benny

Just made this. I used half cream and half coconut milk. really good!


about 3 years ago SLK

We had a 100 degree day here, and this was a great summer dessert. Used half cream and half buttermilk -- it was wonderfully creamy. Thanks for a great recipe!


over 3 years ago Francesca de Onis Tomlinson

This was the easiest ice cream I ever made. I was skeptical you could make great ice cream without a custard base. This was so delicious no one could stop eating it at a dinner I made for a friend who just published a book to great acclaim. For the first time that evening no one spoke. Everyone kept eyeing the bowl of ice cream as it steadily diminished. I served it with a pavlova and strawberries but they were not the star. Going to make it today w mint from the farmer's market, no lime and maybe a crushed candy cane..


over 3 years ago Jeannie'sgoodhomecooking

I have made this lovely ice-cream several times. I place the sugar and zest in the food processor-something I learned from the book 'Nuts in the kitchen', by Susan Herrmann Loomis. (her recipe is for Lemon Poppy Seed Ice Cream--very yummy too).
Pulverizing the zest and sugar really seems to bring out the lime flavor.


almost 2 years ago Angel

I followed your advice, and it turned out great!


over 3 years ago knitnbead

Can i use half and half and get similar results?


almost 2 years ago Angel

I did, it worked out fine


almost 4 years ago borntobeworn

We brought this recipe to the beach! We bought an ice cream maker yesterday and made this last night! We all agree that it is the best ever:) we're going to try the genius river cafe's strawberry sorbet tonight!


almost 4 years ago lefty303

Probably some of the best stuff I've ever made. Thank you, thank you!


about 4 years ago Mamak

This is similar to my lemon buttermilk sorbet. You can bet I'll be trying this. It's 100 here, perfect timing.


about 4 years ago Margaret McCormick

Made this recipe several times last summer and everyone who tried it LOVED it. Made an orange version and it was equally delicious. Not sure why I haven't made it yet THIS summer... eagerly awaiting arrival of ice cream maker recommended by food52!


about 4 years ago ChristinaMB

Made a batch - delicious - and sandwiched it between two small sections of graham crackers for a mini key lime pie ice cream treat!


about 4 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Brilliant! Have to try this.

over 3 years ago Meatballs&Milkshakes

I love this idea....I have to try it too....


about 4 years ago plumsintheicebox

looks delicious!


about 4 years ago MHardison79

Made this last night...and I'm glad I did. It was delicious! This is a definite keeper, will be making this and variations of it all summer. Thanks merrill! :)


about 4 years ago drkate

Oh, my. Thank you for this! Delicious ice cream! And 8 key limes made enough juice, then their juiceless outsides bobbed prettily in a pitcher of tea.


almost 5 years ago gingerroot

I just made a batch of this using my CSA tangerines - dreamy, creamsicle ice cream deliciousness!! Thanks, Merrill!


almost 5 years ago gingerroot

I forgot to add that to compensate for the sweeter fruit I used a little less sugar (2/3 cup) and a lot more juice (1 cup). YUM!


about 5 years ago theicp

Is there a button for 'love' as opposed to 'like'? I made this last night and am obsessed. I'm going to make another batch using it as the filling for some ginger snap ice cream sandwiches and then another (only foregoing the freezing portion) using it as a whipped topping for a tart of some sort.