5 Ingredients or Fewer

The Best Lime Ice Cream

June 30, 2010
5 Ratings
  • Makes about 3 cups
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

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lisa
  • Stephanie West
    Stephanie West
  • Elena Belevtseva
    Elena Belevtseva
  • borntobeworn
  • Matt Smith
    Matt Smith

43 Reviews

Lisa April 14, 2024
i used half whip cream and half coconut milk, and added 1/2 tsp each of coconut extract and rum extract. my husband said the texture reminded him of lemon gelato type of icecream he had as a child in Budapest. it managed to be creamy even straight out of the freezer, perhaps because of the coconut milk? in any case, it was heavenly and will be on icecream rotation in my well used icecream maker this summer. thank you for a wonderful recipe Merrill!
Grace June 26, 2020
How many servings does this make and how big are each serving?
Stephanie W. July 3, 2019
This was great! So easy to make. I could not believe it did not have a cooked custard base. The idea to pulverize the sugar along with the zest worked great! I had tiny flecks of zest throughout. Served with strawberries. A wonderful summer dessert. Anyone try it with lemon?
Elena B. June 14, 2019
This is the best lime ice-cream ever! I made it in ice cream machine and it's very good balanced and creamy! And very
easy to do)!
JoAnne L. August 16, 2017
I'm going to try this with coconut cream, I think it will be delicious!
borntobeworn August 12, 2016
Without an ice cream maker, it will still be delicious but it will be more like custard and will not be fluffy before freezing. You will love it no matter what!
Matt S. August 12, 2016
This looks amazing. How long is the freeze time? 1 hr? 4 hrs? And how often does one stirr it? Every 45 min?

Thanks so much!!
borntobeworn August 12, 2016
I've made this many, many times. It takes about 20-25 minutes in my electric ice cream maker and comes out like fluffy soft serve. I then transfer it to another container and freeze it for 2-3 hours to harden it up. The lime zest always tends to collect around the bottom of the paddle in my ice cream maker so when I take it out of the cylinder (when it's fluffy and soft), I stir it very well to make sure all the lime zest is evenly distributed).
Matt S. August 12, 2016
Okay, that's not bad. I could still do this for dinner tonight!

And if someone doesn't have an ice cream maker? lol
S B. June 26, 2014
Made exactly as shown...smooth, creamy, tart ice cream perfection. Served with cream cheese cookies (recipe from Food52, of course) and guests went wild!
knitnbead May 26, 2013
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!
nzmike99 May 25, 2013
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!!
stellaaa25 May 16, 2013
this recipe is so easy and tasty!!! i cut the sugar to 1/2 cup and it was perfect!!!
Merrill S. May 16, 2013
Glad you liked it!
mdm January 11, 2013
SO delicious, thanks!
Merrill S. January 11, 2013
You're welcome!
Benny July 12, 2012
Just made this. I used half cream and half coconut milk. really good!
SLK June 27, 2012
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!
Francesca D. April 25, 2012
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..
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.
Angel August 13, 2013
I followed your advice, and it turned out great!
knitnbead February 26, 2012
Can i use half and half and get similar results?
Angel August 13, 2013
I did, it worked out fine
borntobeworn August 17, 2011
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!
lefty303 August 7, 2011
Probably some of the best stuff I've ever made. Thank you, thank you!
Mamak July 19, 2011
This is similar to my lemon buttermilk sorbet. You can bet I'll be trying this. It's 100 here, perfect timing.