5 Ingredients or Fewer

Dori Sanders’ No-Churn Fresh Lemon Ice Cream

May  5, 2021
89 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
Author Notes

When it’s too hot to make a custard or do much at all, it’s nice to know that you can still have sweet-tart, bracing lemon ice cream all the same. This recipe—from Dori Sanders, a peach farmer, novelist, and cookbook author—only asks you to juice, zest, and stir. Recipe from Genius Desserts: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Bake (Ten Speed Press, September 2018) To read the whole story, go here, and to get the recipe for Estela's Candied Sesame Seeds, go here.

This recipe was featured on our new cook-along podcast Play Me a Recipe. Listen as Kristen zests, juices, and no-churns her way through this recipe, offering insider tips and backstory along the way.Genius Recipes

Watch This Recipe
Dori Sanders’ No-Churn Fresh Lemon Ice Cream
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 3 hours
  • Makes 3 cups (710ml)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup (60g) freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (235g) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (245g) whole milk
In This Recipe
  1. Whisk together the lemon zest and juice, the sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together the cream and milk in a measuring cup and gradually pour into the lemon and sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk until the sugar dissolves—you won’t hear or feel it scraping against the bottom of the bowl anymore, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour the mixture into an 8-inch (20cm) square metal baking pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and freeze until the mixture is solid around the edges and mushy in the middle, 2 to 3 hours. Stir well, cover again with foil, and continue to freeze until completely firm, about an hour more. Once firm, scoop into chilled bowls to serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Deborah J Peterson
    Deborah J Peterson
  • Smaug
  • Susan Geffen
    Susan Geffen
  • Marsha Shapiro Roux
    Marsha Shapiro Roux
  • Laurence Tillett
    Laurence Tillett
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

150 Reviews

Ariana May 20, 2020
What are the measurements for the sesame seed topping from the video? For the water, sugar, and sesame seeds?
Deborah J. May 20, 2020
Search for this recipe on Food52 & you’ll see how it is made: Estela's Candied Sesame Seeds
David D. October 10, 2019
I make it just like the recipe.
My 89 year old aunt loves it I make it freeze it and take it to her
Thank you so very much
Dee August 21, 2019
I make this recipe substituting 1/3 cup of xylitol for my sugarfree and/or Keto friends. We find 1/3 cup adds the right amount of sweetness. Xylitol, rather than using erythritol, produces a better texture. This is delicious served with an almond flour lemon shortbread keto cookie.
This recipe serves 6 adequately.
brandyk May 6, 2021
Allulose as well. It doesn't harden ice creams like a rock. Only 70% as sweet as sugar so adjust according to your taste.
weshook August 15, 2019
Made this with canned coconut milk for the cream and a mixture of coconut milk (the thinner kind that is more like milk?) and soy milk (because I ran out of the thin coconut milk). Delicious! Easy! Even my husband that shies away from anything not cow milk tried it and asked for his own serving.
Toddie August 5, 2019
I made this and, after I stirred it at the 2-3 hour mark, I dumped it into a ginger snap pie crust and covered it with cling film to finish the freezing process. Just before it was time to serve, I topped it with meringue and hit it with my kitchen torch to tan the tips. It looked and tasted divine. I got rave reviews for not very much effort at all.
scoot87501 August 5, 2020
Great idea Toddie, plan to do it.
Deborah J. July 29, 2019
Oh my gosh....this is sooooooo delectable!! I made this yesterday (followed the directions exactly), including the sesame seed topping, ate some today and I am in heaven!! I would not change anything at all! The sesame seed topping just was the most perfect thing for this luscious desert. This recipe is definitely a keeper!!
Smaug July 17, 2019
In the interests of science, I decided to try this with a churn. I made some changes- for flavor, I used more juice (about 6 Tb., including one lime) and less sugar (3/4c.). I also added 1/2 c. half and half because I wasn't sure it was enough for the churn to operate properly (this proved unnecessary) and I added an egg white, largely because I had one left from something else I was doing, but it does help the ice cream to hold more air. The result was probably the best ice cream I've ever made.
Susan G. July 9, 2019
I’ve made this a couple of times and it is so delicious and refreshing. Guests are impressed. I topped it with raspberries for color or a little chocolate sauce. Holds up well in the freezer. I cut the sugar a little and it was sweet enough.
Patrick July 5, 2019
How many servings does this make?
OldGrayMare July 5, 2019
You should be able to serve 6 ice cream lovers
Patrick July 5, 2019
Great news. Thank you.
Julia H. July 5, 2019
Can I make it one day ahead?
OldGrayMare July 5, 2019
Yes! Done it ahead many times...just be sure to put a piece of cling wrap directly on top to prevent any ice crystals from forming. Oh, and definitely make the candied sesame seeds for topping!!
Barbara July 5, 2019
Yes, I usually make it the day before serving it.
posh July 4, 2019
This sounds great! I am looking to try it with vanilla beans...is that going to conflict with the lemon. How could we do this without the lemon juice? :)
Deborah J. July 29, 2019
posh, you can easily find a no-churn vanilla ice cream recipe to use instead.
Jen July 2, 2019
This was such a treat to make (because who doesn't love a simple no fuss recipe) and delicious to eat! I am not a big fan of tweaking a recipe to death until it becomes something entirely else, but I do have to state that I cut the sugar by half. We are trying to be more mindful of our sugar intake. Anyway, I can't obviously compare it to the full sugar recipe, but I can say it was absolutely delicious and my 3 & 5 year girls were asking for seconds. I was on the fence about the extra step to make the sesame seeds, but I'm so glad I did! You will not regret this one!
calikeli June 29, 2019
Don't get me wrong -- I love rich desserts, but this just tastes fatty. I made the recipe as stated. The flavor is wonderful, with a perfect balance of tart to sweet. The texture is nice too, but the finish is greasy. There is a "fat film" left on your spoon and palate. I would be embarrassed to serve this to guests. I will make it again but reduce cream and increase whole milk (hoping it won't be too icy), or try a mixture of sorts with half-and-half. The suggested accompaniment of the candied sesame seeds are delicious. I made it with black sesame seeds, and they were beautiful and delicious -- tasted a bit like halvah.
Beelewberry July 9, 2019
I agree. FATTY. Yuck. I wanted to like this, but agree with you. I made the mistake of serving this for true gourmands. They ate it, but I could tell that they were almost repulsed by the full-fat texture that lingers. Next time I will stick with a true ice cream recipe that calls for a cooked custard/creme anglaise. Children, or those lacking refined tastebuds might enjoy this.
carswell June 21, 2019
I made the lime posset on the site the other day (it relies on the same acid thickening of the cream principle) and it turned out well - I still have heavy cream on hand an an abundance of lemons so I am going to give this a whirl next.
Marsha S. June 19, 2019
I would love to try this No-Churn fresh Lemon Ice Cream...but where can I purchase an 8-inch(20cm) square metal pan...or is there another container I can substitute effectively?
Nancy G. June 19, 2019
I just used a round metal bowl (the kinds that nest within each other and it was perfect.
Marsha S. June 19, 2019
Oh! Great! I was concerned I had to use,specifically, an 8-inch square metal pan..you've put my concerns to rest! Thank you Nancy G.!!!!!
CJ G. June 26, 2019
I’ve made this several times and used a round eight inch metal cake pan. The metal pan is more conducive to freezing in a fridge. This is an elegant tart dessert that I serve with ginger snaps or graham crackers. BTW Dori’s cookbook in which this recipe is found is a southern food historian’s dream.
Marsha S. June 26, 2019
Thank you again, much appreciated!!!
Tom P. June 28, 2019
I also used a round cake pan.. worked perfectly. Love this recipe! This ice cream is excellent on a fruit crisp.
OldGrayMare July 5, 2019
I’ve used a 9x9 metal baking pan (“brownie sized”), a metal bowl, and even a glass pyrex square pan....they all work equally well...the metal just helps it freeze faster...and it helps to have the pan pre frozen as well.
Smaug July 17, 2019
But for the record, an 8" square is a very common pan, and should be available pretty much anywhere that carries baking supplies. Pans do tend to vary some from their nominal sizes- what you find might be 7 3/4" square or some such.
Laurence T. June 19, 2019
Plop a scoop of this dreamy delicious onto a slice of Louisa cake (see Food52 for recipe). The. Best. Ever.
Julie June 19, 2019
HI! I really would like to try this recipe but stay away from sugar. Would this work using coconut sugar, honey, or some other sugar substitute?
Barbara S. June 19, 2019
Do you know about Whey Low? 4 cal/tsp, use just as sugar. Buy direct online. They have granulated, confectioners, gold, etc. Husband is diabetic, I use exclusively.
Ann June 28, 2019
Julie - I tried this recipe using Swerve, which is a sugar replacement with erythritol. Not sure if that was the issue, but my ice cream failed to freeze properly. It thickened, but never set up like real ice cream. I'm going to try it again with real sugar and see if that was the problem. Other than not setting properly, it tasted fantastic!
ghainskom June 15, 2019
Tried it as is and love it, but I wonder if and how I could introduce another flavour like mint or basil...
CanCanEats June 9, 2019
Fantastic. Fresh and delicious. I used Meyer lemons and maybe a touch less sugar. Could have used much less as others have indicated. Took me 5 minutes to pull together and only 4 hours to freeze. I forgot to stir in the middle, to no ill effect. I will be making this A LOT over the summer :)
Dindin S. May 5, 2019
Easy to make and so yummy. Merci!