Dori Sanders’ No-Churn Fresh Lemon Ice Cream

Test Kitchen-Approved

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.Genius Recipes

Makes: 3 cups (710ml)
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 3 hrs


  • 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.

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Reviews (106) Questions (0)

106 Reviews

Martin December 15, 2018
This is dead simple and super quick. It is creamy, though not creamy as say premium ice cream. But it has a killer good taste. The ingredients blend perfectly together and it tastes so classy. Thank you for sharing!
Sarah L. August 27, 2018
This is an absolute perfect recipe. Having toyed with the idea of buying an ice cream maker but unable to commit due to price and kitchen space, it was a god-send to find a recipe that actually results in ice cream textured ice cream. The first time I made the candied sesame seeds as well and boy what a nice addition. Once when my husband was away on business I made this and ate it in four days. Don't judge. It's that good. Currently I have a version in the freezer where the whole milk is substituted with cream of coconut and the sugar is omitted. We shall see if it sets.
Tedra P. December 19, 2018
Update on that, please? I was thinking of trying a lime version, too!
Sarah L. December 19, 2018
It was over sweet and too fatty. It's best to stick to the original. Note, I used Cream of Coconut in the grocery store with the liquor mixers NOT coconut milk. It probably would be great with full fat coconut milk in the Asian section. I've used lime and it is beautiful.
Pamela G. August 8, 2018
I made this a few weeks ago and served it to grandsons 11 and 6. They loved it. Made it again and put it in a graham cracker crust which made a lovely pie. Same boys came over last week and wanted to know if I had anymore lemon ice cream. I count that as a winning endorsement.
Barbara July 27, 2018
Hi Penny,<br />I have a lemon tree in my backyard. I found that if you stab the lemon a couple times and then microwave it for about 10 seconds, you will get more juice.
Penny July 26, 2018
I made this today and then had to leave suddenly so I wasn't home to do the stir step. I was worried about that, but it turned out very good in spite of the lack of attention it received. I did laugh at the 2 lemons = 1/4 cups. I must have very dry lemons - it took about 5 lemons. Where are y'all getting those juicy lemons. Enjoyed this !!!!
Smaug August 3, 2018
That's weird- my lemonade recipe requires 1 1/2 cups juice and it usually takes 7-8 lemons- the Lisbon lemons I grow are a bit larger than the standard grocery store Eurekas, but not that much; you do indeed seem to have some extra dry lemons.
Dee July 14, 2018
I made this today for the first time to serve to guests on a hot humid summer evening. I halved the sugar with no ill effects.<br />I served two, two oz dips alongside sliced strawberries and blueberries with a sprig of mint.<br />The icecream was fabulous.<br />
Nancy G. July 12, 2018
Oh and another comment. Save the lemon halves and serve in those!!
Nancy G. July 12, 2018
I made this over the weekend and it is AMAZING. Very creamy and tasted as good as any you could buy. I'm thinking of trying it with oranges.
Kathleen_A July 12, 2018
I don't usually keep sea salt on hand (I know, I know - very non-foodie-like of me). What I have are regular table salt, canning salt and kosher salt. Will table salt or kosher salt work better here?
Barbara July 12, 2018
Absolutely! I’ve been making this for over 40 years before sea salt was ever heard of in the U.S.A.
Kathleen H. July 12, 2018
I used sea salt the first time and kosher the second time and could not discern any difference.
Kathleen_A July 12, 2018
Thank you, Barbara and Kathleen H!
Laurence T. July 12, 2018
I used regular (low sodium) table salt....worked fine, couldn’t tell any difference.
Therese July 9, 2018
Outstanding! Perfectly tangy and yet sweet. My 14 year old forgot to strain the seeds but it didn’t matter because it was so good.
cupcakeladybakes July 8, 2018
So, I just made this. I did what the recipe said. I let it sit in freezer for over and hour, checked it and saw that the edges were hard but the center was soft. I took it out and mixed it very well, and put back in freezer. Now 2 hours later, the mixture just isn't getting firm. WHY???? HELP!!
Skeeter July 8, 2018
Mine took a lot longer to freeze than the recipe said it would also, but l attributed that to the fact that l used a plastic gladware style container rather than the metal baking pan specified.
Barbara July 8, 2018
I agree with Skeeter. If you have a shallow metal pan, use that. A shallow glass or porcelain pan is good too.
cupcakeladybakes July 9, 2018
Hi. I did use a shallow 8 inch square metal pan :(
Barbara July 9, 2018
Hi, did it eventually freeze? I’ve never had that problem but I’ve noticed that sometimes it takes a little longer. If you doubled the recipe that might be why. Hope this helps.
Kristen M. July 9, 2018
Hi cupcakeladybakes—sometimes when our freezer at work is packed or we're opening it a lot, freezing frozen desserts takes longer (it feels like forever when we need to shoot them). Hope it eventually set up!
Smaug August 3, 2018
You might want to check your freezer temperature with a thermometer; this could be a sign that it's not as cold as it should be.
Lisa L. July 6, 2018
This is phenomenal; not too sweet & doesn't leave you with an aftertaste which I get from some ice creams. It's fresh and light and just perfect. Used Meyer lemons from our yard & just slightly less sugar.
Barbara July 5, 2018
Michael, I think the reason it was icy was not beating it enough. Use a stand mixer and beat it at least three times, letting it harden after each time. I have used limes, Meyer lemons and oranges and it was nice and creamy. Hope this helps.
Holly N. July 8, 2018
Take the mixture from the metal freezing pan, put into a stand mixer three times during the freezing process? I'm reading the recipe as whisking with a hand whisk, but maybe I'm wrong.
Barbara July 8, 2018
The recipe says to whisk it but I find that beating it in a stand mixer - with the whisk attachment- makes the lemon cream much creamier and so much better. It’s also easier on your wrist.
Laurence T. July 12, 2018
Not having a stand mixer, I used a hand held mixer with the whisk attachment. But only once, like the recipe says. I stirred after the first 3 hrs with a big spoon, and it wasn’t icy at all at the end.
Michael R. July 4, 2018
I made this with limes instead of lemon and it had such great flavor-- the only problem is that it froze up pretty icy. Is this likely a result of the swap or indicative of another problem? <br />
Kristen M. July 8, 2018
Hi Michael, what kind of milk did you use? And did you make any other substitutions? I don't think the lime would have made the difference, but if you used nonfat or 1% vs. whole milk, it would. (Thank you for the reminder to update the recipe to recommend whole!)
Michael R. July 9, 2018
I did indeed use whole milk, but I eyeballed the lime juice amount -- perhaps I added a bit too much, which would have thrown the balance off.
SassyinClifton July 4, 2018
My family and I liked this so much, I decided to whip up a batch using limes, and I'm happy to report it is just as delicious. My hunch is that any citrus would work for this recipe. Also, the lime version of this ice cream paired with the caramelized sesame seed sprinkles makes me think of deconstructed key lime pie.
Kathleen H. July 4, 2018
Good to know! That sounds delicious. I was worried that orange juice might be too sweet. I think I might throw in a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice with it.
Smaug August 3, 2018
Lemons and limes are much more strongly flavored than other citrus, as well as considerably less sweet
Skeeter July 4, 2018
This is easy, delicious and refreshing! I doubled the batch and it came out fine. Definitely a keeper. I want to try it with limes or meyer lemons.
James T. July 4, 2018
What is with the average reviews? This recipe is legit good!
Skeeter July 4, 2018
I agree. I hit the review stars thinking it would open up, but it counted that as my rating.
Kathleen H. July 4, 2018
My husband was wondering if I could make this (again) substituting orange juice and orange zest. Has anyone tried that?
Skeeter July 4, 2018
I was thinking the same thing, only with lime or meyer lemon.
NFW July 4, 2018
Made this exactly as written. Very good the first day, excellent the next day with even brighter flavor. Good consistency both days.
Misha July 4, 2018
Yes, it has been noticed that lemon flavour increases with time...either with this recipe, or evapourated milk-condensed milk, or coconut milk-regular milk base. After a three day time frame in the freezer is when then the vibrant, succulent taste comes to the forefront. YMMV.
Josh July 3, 2018
Just made it also! Such a wonderful concoction of bright, tangy, lemony goodness. Genius and classic indeed!