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Lemon Gelato

On a recent trip to Italy, I became addicted to gelato. My favorite choice was lemon because Italian lemons have an intense flavor. This recipe brings back memories of our vacation. —Gail Wang, Troy, Michigan
  • Total Time
    Prep: 30 min. Process: 20 min. + freezing
  • Makes
    1-1/2 quarts


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 5 lemons)
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream


  • In a small heavy saucepan, heat milk to 175°; stir in sugar until dissolved. Whisk a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks. Return all to the pan, whisking constantly. Add lemon zest. Cook over low heat until mixture is just thick enough to coat a metal spoon and a thermometer reads at least 160°, stirring constantly. Do not allow to boil.
  • Remove immediately from heat; stir in lemon juice and cream. Place in a bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface of custard; refrigerate several hours or overnight.
  • Fill cylinder of ice cream freezer two-thirds full; freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. (Refrigerate remaining mixture until ready to freeze.) Transfer ice cream to freezer containers, allowing headspace for expansion. Freeze 2-4 hours or until firm. Repeat with remaining mixture.
Nutrition Facts
2/3 cup: 361 calories, 26g fat (15g saturated fat), 213mg cholesterol, 40mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate (27g sugars, 0 fiber), 4g protein.

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  • Vincent
    Aug 11, 2020

    Added a bit more lemon and some finely chopped lemonbalm from my garden and it is super tasty!

  • K
    Jun 2, 2020

    I'm a classically trained French chef and can vouch for the fact that gelato is made with egg yolks and milk, no cream -- as in ice cream. Gelato is rich and creamy with body, but still less calorie laden than ice cream. Sorbet has no dairy, thus is generally low fat or fat free. This recipe is quite nice! I used the lemon zest, but grated it with a microplane so it was teensy tinesy. Well done, ToH!

  • Seriously
    Sep 30, 2019

    I'm sorry but seriously this is ice cream straight up! You can't call this gelato you don't use egg yolks in gelato! Retitle this!

  • Leah
    Jul 7, 2019

    Amazing - I just made this and so happy very rich and creamy. I used fresh lemons straight off the tree the flavour is just intense but also paired with creamy texture. Very nice Thank You

  • Betty
    Jun 28, 2019

    Excellent. HOWEVER, I tried making a sample with the zest still in the batter. I strongly recommend straining out the zest. When the zest is left in, it tastes like delicious gelato with tiny fibers that stick to your tongue. ??

  • marcibanes
    Jun 21, 2019

    Excellent!! This gelato was very rich with lemon flavor and a great way to start the Summer. I made the recipe just as written.

  • Bite
    Oct 12, 2018

    To start, this recipe produced fantastic results both ways I made it (see below), so many thanks for sharing! We really enjoyed this recipe. I am new to making frozen treats so I found this recipe while looking for Gelato to try in my brand new ice cream maker (Cuisinart ICE-30BC), and your proportions of milk to cream struck me as opposite to what I have just recently learned about the difference between Gelato and Ice Cream. I've been reading that Gelato basically is double the milk to cream and ice cream is double the cream to milk. I get confused with the egg yolks as fat, but all things considered I wanted to find out for myself, so I made one batch as written above ("Ice Cream") and one with 2 Cups milk to 1 Cup heavy whipping cream ("Gelato"). I can definitely taste the difference and believe the labels I applied to the ingredients above bears out in the taste test. The only other difference in my version is that between stove and refrigerator, I strained the custard to get the lemon zest out. So - 1) am I on the right track with my Gelato vs. Ice Cream recipe, and 2) does retaining the lemon zest in the custard add anything special that I may have missed out on? Thanks for this great recipe!

  • Judy
    Mar 3, 2018

    Fantastic lemony, tart gelato. My husband is a huge fan of anything lemon, and I have to admit, I am too. Over the years I have tried many lemon gelato, sorbet, and ice cream recipes...this one is the keeper for creamy gelato. I love filling the hollowed out lemon peels with either gelato or sorbet for a beautiful presentation. This recipe in particular has a very high lemon juice content which makes it super refreshing and zesty. I am saving and sharing this recipe as the best for lemon gelato.

  • Vicki
    Sep 24, 2017

    I have made this recipe two times now. It is the best. My family stands around watching the machine and fights over who gets to lick the gelato off the paddles. Not one person says it is just so so. We all love it.

  • fotoman
    Jul 25, 2016

    Absolutely wonderful!