Rosemary Honey Lemon Frozen Yogurt

June 24, 2013
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes about 1 quart
Author Notes

On a trip to Rome, I had tried the rosemary honey & lemon gelato at Gelateria del Teatro and was blown away by the flavor. The rosemary was an unexpected first note that mellowed out with the honey and lemon in a way that was completely and perfectly balanced. I think I actually stopped walking several times because I was just enjoying the gelato so much. It was so good we went back for a second round after returning from the Vatican!

I knew I had to try to recreate it when I got home, and I've based this recipe off of Jeni's frozen yogurt base. I love how the addition of the Greek yogurt adds a dimension of tanginess to the whole frozen concoction. —Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: The Cooking of Joy is a Taiwanese-American who is trying to cook just like her mom.
WHAT: A tart, herbaceous frozen dessert that tastes like Tuscany.
HOW: Steep your rosemary and lemon in boiled milk; combine it with a cornstarch slurry; mix in your cream cheese and yogurt; and spin it in your ice cream maker.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The balance between the yogurt, lemon, and rosemary is perfect here; it at once feels virtuous and indulgent. We can't wait to make it again. Note: don't be nervous while boiling the corn syrup, honey, milk and cream; once you add the cornstarch slurry, it will thicken up fantastically. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup honey, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Zest from half a lemon, peeled in wide strips using a vegetable peeler
  • 1 1/4 cups Greek yogurt (I used 2% low fat, but I think nonfat and regular would work fine)
  1. Mix about 3 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
  2. Combine the remaining milk, cream, honey, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat, add the rosemary and lemon zest, and let steep for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the rosemary and zest with a slotted spoon. Taste the mixture; if it's not sweet enough, add some more honey (I ended up adding about another tablespoon). Gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture and return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  4. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the yogurt and blend well.
  5. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
  6. Pour the frozen yogurt base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.
  7. Pack the frozen yogurt into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nanda Devi Van Der Veen
    Nanda Devi Van Der Veen
  • kristen lima
    kristen lima
  • Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy
    Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy
  • JoAnne Lingo
    JoAnne Lingo

24 Reviews

Nanda D. March 10, 2016
Too bad I don't have an ice cream-maker, I hoped this would be a recipe that din't call for one :( Is it basic kitchenware in the US? In the Netherlands it's hella expensive.
JoAnne L. March 10, 2016
I have made ice cream without a maker, in the freezer. It is more time intensive. Make the recipe up to the step where it is put into the ice cream maker, put it into a freezer safe container. I use a Pyrex glass loaf pan. Press a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper against the surface, check every hour or so and stir to prevent the formation of ice crystals and to keep the mixture smooth. This method takes several hours but the results are good and creamy.
JoAnne L. January 20, 2015
Thank you the suggestions. I know that adding a few tablespoons of vodka before churning doesn't alter the taste and keeps ice cream from turning rock hard in the freezer. The combination of rosemary and lemon in gelato (or yogurt) sounds heavenly!
lynne January 20, 2015
Rum is also a nice addition with flavor to certain mixtures.
Rosie June 30, 2016
With the lemon zest tang and the herbalness of the rosemary, I'm keen to try making this with gin as the spirit!
lynne January 20, 2015
Arrowroot starch works exactly the same, I use it all the time in lieu of corn starch. The point of the corn syrup in this formula (which is essentially Jeni's homemade ice cream recipe) is less for sweetening than for helping the ice cream stay scoopable from the freezer. Same goes for the cream cheese. I think you would be fine just omitting it or replacing with honey. You can make an excellent gelato base with 2 c whole milk, 3/4 c sugar, 2 TB arrowroot starch mixed with some of the milk for a slurry. Heat to custard stage, add rosemary and whatever extracts you like, let it cool in a bowl over an icewater bath, then add the heavy cream and chill in fridge until ready to churn. I cannot see why anyone would want to dose their homemade ice cream with BPA from putting hot liquid in a plastic bag.
Joy H. January 20, 2015
That's a good point about the BPA! I actually use an ice cream maker with its own condenser so I don't need to chill the ice cream base before churning, but I decided to follow the script for Jeni's frozen yogurt base since most people don't have that option. I think using the Ziploc bag was a fast way for her to chill the base....
lynne January 20, 2015
yeah, I get the intention, but if you leave the heavy cream cold and add to the custard mix in a stainless bowl over an ice bath, you can chill it just as fast without the BPA. I also have a condenser on my machine, but I still have to put a chilled mix in there or it takes nearly an hour.
JoAnne L. January 20, 2015
Is the cornstarch absolutely necessary, could it be replaced with another thickener? I'm on a totally corn free diet as is my daughter and granddaughter. I'm assuming that the corn syrup could be replaced with a bit more honey.
Joy H. January 20, 2015
I'd love to hear the results if you do try to replace the corn syrup with more honey!
Peggy H. January 22, 2015
Arrowroot is a good thickener. Get the substitution amount off google.
Rosie June 30, 2016
Light corn syrup is essentially pure glucose. Here in Australia corn syrup is not very common, but every supermarket sells glucose syrup in the baking section, so that's what I use for Jeni's Splendid recipes and it's perfect. Chemically speaking they are almost identical, so you don't have to do any guesswork about the sweetness or the water-binding properties (Jeni uses glucose/corn syrup because it binds to water molecules, preventing them from crystallising).
Rosie June 30, 2016
Plus glucose syrup/corn syrup have virtually no flavour, which can be a benefit where you wouldn't want a honey flavour.
lynne January 18, 2015
There is an excellent recipe for frozen yogurt in patricia wells' vegetables at the center cookbook. All you do is whip egg whites to stiff peaks, add sugar or honey, fold together with sheeps milk or other whole milk yogurt, and add an extract such as lemon, orange blossom, or vanilla, and chill immediately in your ice cream maker. Very creamy and delicious.

I find the cream cheese trick from jeni's makes for a greasy mouth feel to gelato. Also, the best trick is to make your custard of milk, starch and sugar, then add the heavy cream and extracts only after the custard has cooled in to where steam no longer rises from it. It makes a huge difference in the texture.
Rosie June 30, 2016
Lynne, I'm super impressed by what an observant and responsive cook you are!
lynne June 30, 2016
well thank you! I have discovered a few other tricks for texture since this thread started. One is guar gum. It is a very powerful thickener that stabilizes emulsions. It will keep gelato or frozen yogurt from getting icy in the freezer. You only need about 1/4 tsp, and whisk it in when the mixture is cool. I use it in tandem with arrowroot. Also use the guar gum in vinaigrette. Too much and it will make your ice cream gummy. Best to treat it as a stabilizer rather than a thickener.
Rosie June 30, 2016
Great tip! Understanding food chemistry is fun.
Chris August 27, 2014
Hi, I would love to try this recipe but I don't have an ice cream maker. When you get to the 'frozen cannister' stage, is it possible to just beat it instead with a whisk? Thanks - Chris( UK)
Joy H. August 27, 2014
I've never tried to do that, and my guess would be that just beating it wouldn't work. However, if you do try it, and it works, please let us know!
Melinda Y. August 4, 2014
Just to ask, for the direction:
Pour the frozen yogurt base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.
Is the frozen canister just a regular ice cream maker with paddle, or is it something different? I don't want to accidentally break a paddle if it's something that spins but doesn't mix the mixture with anything.
Joy H. August 4, 2014
Yes, just a regular ice cream maker with a paddle. Basically, just churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.
Melinda Y. August 5, 2014
Thanks! Just tried it this evening, and it came out fantastic!
Joy H. August 5, 2014
You're welcome!
kristen L. May 9, 2014
we have an amazing new Portuguese market nearby where I just purchased delish rosemary honey.