Homemade Lemon Gelato Recipe

Lemon gelato is a classic flavor made with a few simple ingredients.

Making lemon gelato at home is very easy. We’ll show you all the steps in a simple but complete way to make homemade lemon gelato with an ice cream maker or without an ice cream maker.

You need only good organic untreated lemons, milk, heavy cream and sugar.

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This quick and easy preparation, without eggs and without cooking, requires only one basic rule for its success: the freshness and high quality of the ingredients.

The milk must be whole and fresh, so DO NOT use skim or long-life milk or powdered milk.

The heavy cream must also be of high quality and fresh.

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Finally, the lemons, as we have already mentioned, must be of excellent quality, very juicy and scented. It’s not necessary to use the zest to make lemon gelato, it depends on your taste, but it’s still better if they are organic lemons. 

Italian Gelato al Limone is one of the most popular summer desserts ever. It must be sweet but not too much, so to keep its freshness and thirst-quenching power.

So let’s see how to easily make homemade Lemon Gelato, the freshest and most thirst-quenching dessert of all summer!

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How to Make Lemon Gelato at Home

WITH Ice Cream Maker:

  • Prep Time: 45 Min (about 10 min of preparation + about 30/40 min in the ice cream maker)
  • Cook Time: without cooking
  • Servings: 6 people that is about 750 g (5 cups) of Lemon Gelato

WITHOUT Ice Cream Maker:

  • Prep Time: 5 H + 10 min (about 10 minutes of preparation + cooling in the freezer for about 5 H)
  • Cook time: without cooking
  • Servings: 6 people that is about 750 g (5 cups) of Lemon Gelato


  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) of lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) of granulated sugar
  • 250 ml (1 cup) of whole fresh milk
  • 250 ml (1 cup) of heavy cream

lemon gelato recipe ingredients

Kitchen Tools and Equipment You May Need for Making Lemon Gelato

Gelatiera (Ice Cream Maker)

The best performing gelato machine is Lello 4080 Musso Lussino 1.5-Quart Ice Cream Maker. It’s made entirely in Italy but have spread successfully throughout the world. This model is made for home use but has the same features as the professional machines.

Small, with a large, non-removable bowl. The spatula is made of stainless steel. It has a powerful and robust refrigeration system to achieve professional performance without pre-cooling.

Another high-performance ice cream maker is the Whynter ICM-200LS Automatic Ice Cream Maker (built-in compressor, no pre-freezing).

Incredibly easy to use, you can create delicious gelato in the comfort of your own home. Ideal for entertaining, this high capacity unit makes up to two quarts of your favorite frozen dessert in a single batch.

Other types of gelato makers, without a compressor, plan to keep the special container of the machine in the freezer many hours ahead of time to cool the ingredients while mixing them, but its autonomy is quite short. Among these we recommend Cuisinart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker which in our opinion is inexpensive and practical.

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Other Kitchen Tools

If you want to make gelato without an ice cream maker, the result is still good if you follow our recipe well. In this case, it’s useful a gelato container. You need it in any case, even if you don’t eat immediately all the gelato, even if you make your lemon gelato with the ice cream maker.

To make Lemon gelato you need a citrus squeezer and a fine-mesh strainer to strain the juice.

A juice extractor machine can be very useful for making excellent lemon gelato. With this appliance the juice is much more concentrated and tasty.

Other accessories that you can use to serve your homemade gelato can be the tool to make the gelato scoops or the handy scoops to make sundaes of gelato. Finally the waffle cones that kids (and adults, why not!) love so much!


So first, we are going to show you how to make Lemon Gelato WITH the ice cream maker. Then we’ll show you how to make lemon gelato WITHOUT an ice cream maker.

Making gelato without an ice cream maker takes more time and more patience but your homemade lemon gelato will be as good as the one bought in an Italian Gelateria!

How to Make Lemon Gelato WITH Ice Cream Maker

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Step 1) – First, wash and squeeze the lemons. You will need about 125 ml (1/2 cup) of juice. Of course, it depends on the size of the lemons. About three lemons should be fine.

Strain the juice through a strainer to remove any seeds or peels.

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Step 2) – Pour the strained juice into a larger container. Add the sugar to the lemon juice and stir.

Then add the heavy cream and finally the whole milk. Mix thoroughly with a spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved.

It’s very important that the cream and milk are very cold.

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Step 3) – At this point, pour the mixture into the basket of the ice cream maker, close it and start. After about 40 minutes (time may vary depending on the model of the machine) your lemon gelato is ready! Sweet, fresh and creamy. You just have to taste it!

PLEASE NOTE: The best ice cream maker you can find on the market is the one with a compressor that cools while churning the gelato. This ice cream maker is very similar to the professional ones and is the one we used for this recipe.

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How to Make Lemon Gelato WITHOUT Ice Cream Maker

If you don’t have a gelato maker, don’t worry! It takes more time (5 hours instead of about 40 minutes) and more work but the result is still exceptional! Let’s see how to do it!

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Step 1) – First, wash and squeeze the lemons. You will need about 125 ml (1/2 cup) of lemon juice. Strain the juice through a strainer to remove any seeds or peels.

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Step 2) – Pour the juice into a larger bowl. Add the sugar and stir. Then add the very cold whole milk. Mix thoroughly with a spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved.

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Step 3) – Whip the cream with the help of a stand mixer or an electric whisk.

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Step 4) – Then add the milk and lemon mixture and stir gently from bottom to top to combine. Pour the mixture into a gelato container and place it in the freezer for about 5 hours.

Every 30 minutes you have to break the frozen surface. So remove from the freezer and mix for about 30 seconds using a hand whisk or an electric whisk on low speed.

This step is necessary to prevent ice crystals from forming in the gelato and to obtain a creamy result. Of course, this is a slightly more labor-intensive process, but it’s well worth it. In the end, you are sure to have a terrific authentic Italian Lemon Gelato!

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You can store Lemon Gelato in the freezer for about ten days. Remember to take it out about 10 minutes before serving.

Lemon Gelato: Tips and Variants

Remember that it is important to strain the lemon juice after squeezing it, to remove the bits of pulp so that the gelato is velvety.

If you do not eat all the Lemon Gelato right away, you can store it in a tray in the freezer. Remember to remove it from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving to make it soft and creamy again.

The watery part of the lemon juice freezes and the homemade gelato hardens after hours in the freezer despite the presence of sugar and cream. This is even more true for homemade fruit gelato.

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Lime Gelato

If you like lime, with the same proportions, you can substitute lemon juice for lime juice to get a different, very intense and very summery taste! Or you can also decide to make half lemon juice and half lime juice.

Should you Add Lemon Zest? A Matter of Taste

For a stronger, more aromatic lemon flavor, you can add the grated zest of one or half a lemon. But be careful! Not everyone likes to compromise the smooth, soft, velvety texture of gelato with bits of zest. In the end, it’s a matter of taste.

More over, if you are not very careful to grate only the yellow part, the white part of the lemon might make your gelato really bitter.

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Vegan Lemon Gelato

If you are lactose intolerant or have chosen to follow a 100% plant-based diet, you can replace the milk and heavy cream with soy or other plant-based milk and cream. Just make sure that the cream in question is dessert cream, the whipping kind, to be clear.

How to Serve Gelato al Limone

Lemon Gelato or Gelato al Limone is one of the most popular summer desserts ever. Sweet but with a fresh taste, it’s a great end to a meal or a delicious snack, especially in the hot season.

Compared to the classic lemon sorbet (which, like all sorbets, is a frozen dessert consisting only of sugar and fruit), lemon gelato includes a fatty part, consisting of milk and cream. Keep this fact in mind if you want to enjoy lemon gelato after a rich meal.

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Lemon Gelato is often combined with Strawberry Gelato. Like Fior di Latte gelato and Chocolate Gelato, Strawberry and Lemon are the most popular classic pairings and must-have flavors in every Italian Gelateria.

Lemon Gelato in Lemon Shells

An original idea is to serve lemon gelato inside the emptied fruit. In this way, the squeezed lemon halves can be reused.

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With a teaspoon or knife, remove all the peel and residue left inside the lemon. Leave only the outer peel.

Cut off a small piece of the base to make it stable, being careful not to puncture the peel.

When the lemon peels are ready, they can be stored in the refrigerator for about two days or in the freezer for use as needed.

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