Amanda & Merrill

The Best Lime Ice Cream

June 29, 2010

Lime Ice Cream

- Merrill

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. One involved a long-lasting obsession with the "Little House" books, which chronicled the lives of the Ingalls family, who lived on the American frontier; the books were peppered with wonderful passages about Pa building a smokehouse, Ma churning her own butter and coloring the white slab with carrot juice, and their daughters Laura and Mary dribbling hot maple syrup onto tin pie plates piled high with fresh snow to make candy.

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There were other hints too. 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 that you see below. My mother keeps the scrap to this day, pasted in among other favorites in her "Desserts" binder.

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!

Lime Ice Cream Recipe

The Best Lime Ice Cream

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.
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SiriZ February 4, 2023
Super yummy ice cream. Very creamy. I added 3/4 cup of light cream to this recipe to thin it out just a bit (and to make a bit more - enough for six hearty helpings). I too found the lime zest stuck to the blades to might next time consider adding the zest in during the 'add-in' portion of making the ice cream. I also added 1 TB key lime liqueur as I like to add a little alcohol to keep the ice crystals from being overwhelming. All in all a delicious recipe!
Margaret M. July 10, 2010
Wanted something light and refreshing for dessert on a hot summer night and this did the trick. Made it the night before, cleared space in the freezer, gave it a stir every now and then and kept it well covered. It froze and thickened quite nicely. Mostly, I love that you don't need a machine! I don't need another big gizmo that there's no space for in kitchen cupboards!
Looking forward to many repeats of this and trying it with orange instead of lime for a Creamsicle effect! Thanks for sharing, Merrill!
betteirene July 8, 2010
It's finally--FINALLY!--ice cream weather here (Seattle) and too hot to cook indoors. Tonight's dinner was lime-centric: Skirt steaks sprinkled generously with adobo seasoning, briefly marinated in some bottled Cuervo margarita mix (the only thing it's good for is this marinade) doctored up with fresh lime and crushed garlic, then grilled quickly and sliced for fajitas (the yellow bell peppers, onions and flour tortillas--HomesickTexan's recipe--were also grilled); a fruit mixture of cantaloupe and watermelon balls, halved Rainier cherries and blueberries in a lime simple syrup; and the lime ice cream with coconut shortbread cookies. OMG! It's a good thing I doubled the recipe is all I can say. Tart, tangy, sweet--but not too--and creamy: It IS perfect. Here's what I did: I did your reduced-sugar version and mixed it with the lime juice with a stick blender until I couldn't feel the grains of sugar, then stirred in the cream and zest by hand, threw the bowl in the freezer and stirred the mixture the couple of times I grabbed more ice for my tea. It was servable in about three hours, and we don't like our ice cream really hard anyway so we thought the soft creaminess was spot-on. Liz--I'll do the Meyer lemon version this weekend to go with chili-grilled shrimp. Thanks for the idea. Merrill, tell your parents I said "thanks" for prodding you. It's definitely a go-to recipe. And think of the possibilities--lemon, lime and Meyer lemon bombes; with raspberries and warm biscuits; with madeleines and strawberries. Thank you so much for sharing.
RaquelG July 6, 2010
This recipe and subsequent posts brought back lovely memories of reading "Little House In the Woods" and LIW's description of maple 'ice cream' - just freshly made maple syrup and snow. I always wanted to try it!
Merrill S. July 7, 2010
Me too!
A C. July 6, 2010
What a great story. I will tell you - as an early childhood specialist, that I have NEVER seen a 6 year old in this day and age print like that... you were a smart little cookie way back then!
Merrill S. July 7, 2010
Well, thank you very much! On the flip side, I didn't walk until I was more than 18 months old.
Jane E. July 5, 2010
I think one reason there is so much emphasis on food--making it, storing it, eating it--in the Little House books is that the family went hungry on more than one occasion. I shall make the lime ice cream this week--just the thing to accompany fresh strawberries.
Merrill S. July 7, 2010
Good point. And love your handle! We all think it's very clever.
juanitamoose July 4, 2010
I used to stare at the cover of Little House in the Big Woods when I was a girl. There is a Little House cookbook.
Merrill S. July 7, 2010
I KNOW! I own it.
nsmith001 July 4, 2010
Looks ah-mazing! I was wondering whether using full fat plain yogurt/Greek yogurt would work in place of heavy cream? I'm lactose intolerant but can have yogurt b/c the lactose enzymes are digested by the good bacteria :)
Merrill S. July 7, 2010
It may get a little icy in the freezer, but it's probably worth a try. Let me know if you decide to make it!
betteirene July 4, 2010
Awwww. That's so sweet!

I just love the stories that go with the recipes, just one of the reasons I love cookbooks by Julia and Dorie. And yes, Amanda and Merrill, you two are right up there on that same pedestal. Had I seen this recipe without the story, I don't know that I'd try it, and I just happen to have a bowl of limes and a carton of cream on hand. I have no doubt that the recipe is as lovely as the accompanying story, but I'll be back in a few to let you know for sure.
Merrill S. July 7, 2010
Thank you for the lovely compliment! How did the ice cream turn out?
aromes July 1, 2010
Definitely bringing back some nice memories. Thanks for the post!
Merrill S. July 1, 2010
You're welcome!
fineartdaily July 1, 2010
I think of Laura baking her wedding cake whenever I attempt baking. She would scoff at all our mod cons, I am sure, but I bet she wouldn't give up having a nice slab of home baked cake - or lovely lime ice cream. Remember the Thanksgiving Feast that arrived in a barrel on the train in The Long Winter? Such bliss for the long deprived family. It is so nice to read how important her books were to so many of us. I also loved the Edward Eager books - that's where I discovered Lady Baltimore Cakes, and how to defeat a dragon using household cleaning products!
Merrill S. July 1, 2010
That was a great one; I'd forgotten about Thanksgiving in a barrel!
EmilyNunn June 30, 2010
Merrill, you are rock-a-licious.
Merrill S. June 30, 2010
Thank you so much! The feeling is mutual.
MissGinsu June 30, 2010
Oh, man. This brings back memories of being in girl scouts and making ice cream at camp with the old-fashioned "roll the iced barrel from person to person" method. Lesson: Everything tastes better when you work for it!
Merrill S. June 30, 2010
So true!
Aliwaks June 30, 2010
Yum! I've been unable to clear out enough space in the freezer for my circa 1982 Donvivier (aka The Don) ice cream maker (note not it's not a machine it's a maker), so as an experiment I froze a similar ice cream concoction in ice cube trays and then whirred them in the cuisanart. it worked! smooth texture and super easy, the 2nd time I put the blade in the freezer as well, tried a sorbet & a buttermilk based ice cream and it worked.

I'm going to try my ad hoc ice cream technique with this, as soon as I clear out the embarrassing amount of ice cream that is already in the freezer at the moment.

Will go so nicely with cherry sorbet recipe I never got around to posting. Like a frozen creamy lime rickey
Merrill S. June 30, 2010
Cool! I love the sound of your technique and will try it ASAP.
Erin J. June 30, 2010
I love seeing your handwritten recipe. I have recipes I treasure so much - one for doughnuts and another for sugar cookies - both written in my great, great grandma's handwriting. Sometimes I feel like a hoarder, but it's times like this I feel it's so wonderful!
Merrill S. June 30, 2010
Mmm...The idea of your grandmother's homemade doughnuts is so delicious!
Amanda H. June 29, 2010
We ate this for breakfast at our photo shoot today and I plan to have it as punctuation to the day as well. And maybe for breakfast tomorrow, too...
Tammy June 29, 2010
Little House 100% inspired my love of cooking, too -- and all of my DIY & crafty impulses! There was a PBS reality show that recreated life on the prairie about 9 or 10 years ago. I *begged* my family to audition with me (they were only taking family units, not individuals), but they refused.
Merrill S. June 30, 2010
You mean they weren't up for making their own straw hats?!
testkitchenette June 29, 2010
I loved LIW's descriptions of the food that she ate (and what her husband ate as a child...what a difference) that I actually stole the Little House Cookbook from the public library as a 7 year old. It was the only thing I ever stole. I discovered the book while perusing the other kids cookbooks and could not bear the thought of returning it...somehow it never dawned on me to ask my mother to purchase this book for me (I had all the other Little House books) and while Jordache jeans were verboten books were encouraged.
I love your Bahamian story! I vacationed to Treasure Cay as a child and your story of the lime ice cream brought back memories...delicious recipe too!
Lizthechef June 29, 2010
consider yourself forgiven...
Merrill S. June 30, 2010
Lizthechef June 29, 2010
Enid Blyton! Haven't thought of those books in years - still wanting a "tuck-box"...Notice how many responses to an ice cream recipe as opposed to all those healthy squash ones ;) Meyer lemon ice cream attempt/debut this weekend.
Merrill S. June 30, 2010
Keep us posted!
lapadia June 29, 2010
Merrill, I love this recipe and your scribble! I love reading all the reminiscing of Laura Ingalls Wilder books too! Great memories…thank all for sharing them.
Merrill S. June 30, 2010
Thanks so much!