2 simple secrets to making luscious ice cream without a machine
[5 ingredients]

lemon ice cream lemon ice cream

Smooth, creamy, luscious home made ice cream. The holy grail of desserts, to me at least.

my quest for the holy-grail of ice cream
Those of you that have been following stonesoup for a while will know of my love affair with ice cream. You’ll also know about my search for the holy grail of desserts: A recipe for super creamy home made ice cream that doesn’t require an ice cream machine.

You see a few years ago, before my minimalist days, I got so frustrated with seeing tempting ice cream recipes in my favourite food magazines. The creamy desserts always sounded so inviting but inevitablly the final instruction would be to ‘freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions’.

Each time I read those words my heart would sink a little more. Until one day I decided to fork out a large amount of cash for an appliance that could barely fit in my tiny kitchen. But an ice cream machine I wanted, and an ice cream machine I would have. And a proper one, with an internal compressor so I could happily make batch after batch of cool creamy goodness.

To be fair, my ice cream machine and I have had some good times together. As a quick perusal of the list of my pre-minimalist ice cream and gelato recipes in the stonesoup gelato recipe index will attest. But since embracing minimalism, I’ve been searching for a good ice cream recipe that doesn’t need a one-trick-pony piece of equipment. Basically I’ve been looking for a good reason to get rid of my beginning-to-rust ice cream machine.

And the brilliant news is that I’ve unlocked the secrets to making ice cream at home with just a simple whisk and your home freezer. And not only does it not need special equipment, it also isn’t based on an egg custard like most ice cream recipes. So the prep work is even more simple still. Yay!

secret 1. use lots of sugar
Traditional ice cream making uses mechanical means to prevent large ice crystals forming. First the mixture is continually stirred or churned to break up ice crystals as they form. Secondly, better quality ice cream manufacturers freeze the custard base as quickly as possible, to further promote only fine ice crystals.

But as I’ve discovered, the real secret is to make conditions difficult for the ice crystals to form at all. And the simplest way to do that is add lots of sugar. This decreases the freezing point of the overall mixture so that even when it gets to the temperature inside your freezer, big ice crystals just aren’t able to form. Instead the mixture remains creamy and smooth and pretty much everything you’d want in an iced dessert.

I’m so excited about this, the simple ideas really are the best. Alcohol will also decrease the freezing point – a whole new area to explore another day.

secret 2. incorporate air
This second secret isn’t critical for achieving creaminess over icyiness. But if you’ve ever wondered why your home made ice cream feels heavy compared to commercial brands, it’s all about the air. Since ice cream is sold by volume and air is much cheaper than every other ingredient, ice cream manufacturers tend to whip their ice cream to incorporate as much air as possible.

Before you start getting upset about this, I actually prefer my ice cream to be lighter and fluffier. It feels more moussy in your mouth AND air is much kinder to the waistline. Win-win!

watch lemon ice cream video on YouTube,

lemon ice cream

[5 ingredients]
creamy lemon ice cream

makes about 2 cups

I first made this for my Thanksgiving dinner last month and served it with my pumpkin cheesecake (that you could learn how to make this weekend). And while the cheesecake was getting rave reviews, I was secretly more impressed with my ice cream making skills.

Feel free to play around with the cirtus, lime would be lovely, if a little more expensive. This recipe has quite a lemony tang, if you’d prefer your lemon to be a little more subtle, you could easily reduce the juice down to 1/4 cup.

If you’re in a hurry, a metal container will conduct the heat much more quickly and get you there in half the time. Shallow containers with lots of surface area will also freeze more rapidly than deeper ones.

1/3 cup lemon juice
250g (9oz) icing (powdered or confectioners) sugar
300mL (1+1/4cups) whipping cream, approx 35% milk fat

1. Combine lemon juice and icing sugar in a small bowl.

2. Using a whisk, whip cream until soft peaks just start to form and the cream has thickened slightly.

3. Whisk the lemon mixture in with the cream and whisk until the texture is back to the soft peaks.

4. Place in a freezer-proof container and freeze for at least 6 hours or until lovely and ice-creamy.


I’m planning to run a short masterclass at The Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School on making ice cream without an ice cream machine next year. Is this something that sounds interesting to you? Or do you have another more pressing cooking challenge you’d prefer to learn to overcome? I love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Or drop me a quick email: jules@thestonesoup.com.

lemon ice cream


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jules July 28, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Whipping cream is standard cream – about 37% fat – if you can whip it it will be fine. You could make your own icing sugar – just be careful you don’t have any large crystals left or you’ll ruin the smooth texture.
and either is fine for mixing

Valerie August 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I just made this ice cream today and it is truly amazing! My husband and I were very, very impressed. No need to get a maker now! I even had to sub in a tiny bit of granulated sugar because I was low on icing sugar. A question, though. Do you have any suggestions for any additional flavours? And with those flavors, how can I be sure that I’m using the correct amount of sugar? Like, what is the absolute minimal amount of sugar one should use with any of the recipes? I get so nervous with experimenting on my own. Thank you for answering my questions!

jules August 3, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Great Valerie,
I’ve made it with half the sugar by accident and it was terribly icy. So that’s as low as I’d go.

If you’d like to learn more. There’s a class on ice cream over at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School where we look at every thing from raspberry ripple to dark chocolate to caramel (dulche de leche) and many more..

Caitlyn August 7, 2011 at 3:39 am

I made this yesterday with 220g sugar (about a 12% reduction) and it was beautifully smooth. I might try with 200g sugar next time. How low your sugar content can go is going to depend quite a lot on the temperature of your freezer, though, and probably where you put it in the freezer as well, since most freezers aren’t terribly even.

Theoretically there should be a way to calculate the perfect balance for all this, but unfortunately my understanding of the thermodynamic properties of cream isn’t good enough to work it out. I will say that, from my research, adding a little alcohol will lower the freezing point much faster than sugar, so that might be a good avenue to explore.

Arti September 9, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Hi!! Thanks for this super easy and yummy recipe!! I tried it with orange juice and absolutely happy with the result!!! But my family members found this ice-cream way bit oversweet. Is there any way I can reduce the sweetness by a bit?

jules September 14, 2011 at 7:42 pm

The orange juice would be contributing sweetness… try it with lemon instead if you want less sweet

Tammi L Coles October 9, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Made this for a group of friends and it was a success! Thanks so much for such a simple and lip-smacking recipe!

Sarah November 29, 2011 at 6:33 am

Hi Jules
I tried this recipe with cinnamon (2tsp) and it worked a treat, but I also tried it with honey (1/2 cup) and obviously there’s too much sugar because it doesn’t freeze, just is kind of thick and sticky. Do you have any rescue tips for ice-cream? Perhaps I could add another half cup of cream to this sticky batch and reduce some of the sugar in the next batch since the honey adds a good dose of it?

Thanks for your advice,

jules December 1, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Hi Sarah
Great work experimenting…
Yes is you whip half a cup of cream and fold through the sticky batch that should do the trick… and next time reduce the sugar as you suggest…
Let me know how you get on!

Amanda22 December 17, 2011 at 7:45 am

I don’t understand, this says 5 recipes but there are only 3… Am I missing one?

jules December 19, 2011 at 5:37 pm

it’s 5 OR less so there are only 3.. sorry for the confusion

silktangles January 17, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Hey, thanks for this amazing recipe. My husband is addicted to lemon, I made this for him with a simple change of more lemon juice and the zest of a lemon…..well he considered it to be orgasmic desert.
SO quick and SO easy – thanks.

Sue January 27, 2012 at 9:31 am

Is there a way to make this with Splenda?

linda January 28, 2012 at 11:19 am

If you want to use less sugar, you can use Glycerine, I use a tablespoon to every pint of liquid, and it’s great as it no longer freezes to a brick. It is now firm but scopes very well. You don’t need to take it out of the freezer prior to serving etc, and you don’t need to use such large quantities of sugar. Great for the waistline.


linda January 28, 2012 at 11:26 am

PS this is my favourite recipe:

Servings: 32
2 (405g) tins sweetened condensed milk
1.2L (2 pints) milk
475ml (16 fl oz) double cream
2 tablespoons vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon salt

Though I half this usually. As you can see it doesn’t need the sugar! To this I add two tablespoons of Glycerine, or one if I half it. It stays lovely and scoopable.. (is that even a word? lol) This is my base recipe then to this I add what ever I want. For instance I made a peach Ice cream last night, by emptying a tin of peaches in their juices into the blender, then mixed it with the above, any thing is fine, just as long as you add the Glycerine. :)

jules January 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm

You are a star.. I’m having a why didn’t I think of glycerine moment..
Thanks for sharing your recipe as well.. sounds lovely

Sarah February 5, 2012 at 11:48 pm

My 3 year old and I just whipped up a batch of this and WOW! How fun and easy! Thanks so much.

penny February 6, 2012 at 12:57 am

Hello,im so thankful to you to watch your vedeo,its so yummy,,more flavors pls.

Tham Anh February 17, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Great thank to you. I’m now enjoying this ice cream :)

Jenna Penguin March 5, 2012 at 10:37 am

I was wondering if this recipe or Linda’s recipe could be modified for pineapple flavour and pineapple chunks? My partner is crazy about pineapple though not so crazy bout overly sweet things, he loves cookies so I was going to make him pineapple cookies but i wanted an ice cream to go with them. So could anyone help me with a recipe please?

Sunny April 21, 2012 at 4:30 am

The creamy lemon icecream only has 3 ingredients listed
What are the other 2u said it has?

Ennaira May 15, 2012 at 7:26 am

This is amazing how complicated it looks but how easy,simple and fast it is to actually make it

jules May 17, 2012 at 9:56 am

Glad you liked it Ennaria!

Denise May 21, 2012 at 12:37 am

I wonder how erythritol (sp?) would work? I’m avoiding sugar. Thanks.

Stacey May 21, 2012 at 1:09 am

You read my mind! I have no room for another kitchen machine but have wondered if there is a way to make all natural ice cream without one. Thanks for sharing!

Jennifer May 21, 2012 at 9:16 pm

@Jenna Penguin: Pineapple doesn’t seem to freeze well without making any base watery, just for the sheer composition of pineapple. (*Though I could be wrong).

These recipes sound delicious and cannot wait to try the sugarless version, as I have friends are Type 1 diabetics. Thank you so much!

Mohyee May 28, 2012 at 3:50 am

PERFECT!!! I tried this recipe and it was amazing, I also made another batch with some modification in the recipe by using 1/4 cup of coffee instead of lemon and 200g of sugar with 50g of cocoa powder and the result was amazing too, smooth & creamy ice cream. Thanks :)

jules May 31, 2012 at 10:05 am

Great idea to go for coffee and cocoa powder.. will have to try that myself

Aslam May 29, 2012 at 4:35 am

Hay jules,,, m sorry but m not satisfied with ur recipe dre is too much sweet content its give only creamy flavour end of the day…..its only kind of twsity recipe…..
If u have any kulfi recipe share it with me…..i hope u not minded whatever i writened…

jules May 31, 2012 at 10:01 am

Hi Aslam
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts! This is a little on the sweet side so not everyone will love it… but the sugar is important for the texture.
I don’t have a kulfi recipe I’m afraid
All the best

Lucy Hill May 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I would certainly try this one next week end. I’m sure my children will have fun making this! Thanks for sharing! I really enjoyed reading your post

ewe June 9, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Dear Jule,
I bought the Embork Whipping Cream but no matter how hard I whisked I couldn’t get the curd texture. Did I buy the wrong cream?
I’m from Singapore.

jules June 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Hi Ewe
I’m sorry I’m not familiar with Embork cream.. if it’s not whipping for you, sounds like you need to try another cream. It needs to have at least 30% milk fat to whip so any lite creams are a no go.

Leona Davis June 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Wow! This is just great! I’m so grateful I bumped myself into this blog. Thanks for sharing. :)

SaJer July 20, 2012 at 7:17 am

Hi Jules,
thanks so much for sharing your creation. Overly sweet but its nothing a little tweaking can’t fix. By the way when using glycerine how much would you suggest?
Thanks in advance

jules July 23, 2012 at 10:25 am

Hi SaJer
I haven’t had much success with glycerine.. but start at 2-3 teaspoons and see how you get on.

Deeksha Malhotra August 21, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Thank you so very much for a awesome recipe along with amazing tips…

jules August 23, 2012 at 12:29 pm

You’re welcome Deeksha!

Jan September 6, 2012 at 1:56 am

Its in the freezer as I type – - first experiment. If its a success I am gonna try the orange and the peach and nectarine too. mmmmm.

jules September 15, 2012 at 1:20 am

Peach and nectarine sound lovely Jan!

Pauline October 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Hi Jules! There’s a recipe that I found that uses condensed milk instead of icing sugar, but the method is the same. I’m just wondering how different using condensed milk will be. :) I’m thinking of giving your recipe a go this weekend as I already have all the ingredients. Thanks!

jules November 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm

HI Pauline
I’ve made icecream with condensed milk and it’s lovely but tends to be much heavier than this one because it doesn’t have the whipped cream for the air.

jason October 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I stumbled upon this two days ago. After making it last night I can honestly say ABSOLUTE HEAVEN! I used peach nectar instead of lemon. Sooo wonderfully creamy and delicious!

jules November 5, 2012 at 3:12 pm

That peach sounds lovely… great idea

Boodsara October 24, 2012 at 8:58 am

I bought an ice cream maker about 2 weeks ago. I gave up after multiple fails. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your recipe. It’s delicious. But, it tastes a little fattening to me though. Do you have any suggestion to substitute the heavy cream with? Thank you again, my ice cream maker now means nothing to me. =D

jules November 5, 2012 at 3:04 pm

I’m happy to hear about it Boodsara
You really need the heavy cream to whip and get the air into the ice cream…

Mark November 17, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Just made the same recipe, i also chopped up 2 mangos and froze them, whip it up with 2 egg whites till thick and fold it in with the existing recipe, lemon and mango twirl.

jules November 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm

LOVING the mango swirl idea Mark!
Thanks for sharing

Querino de-Freitas March 12, 2013 at 1:29 am

I am all for this type of ice-cream,,which I made quite a lot of over the years.I never measure anything, taste as you go along…A favourite was a bird’s eye custard ice-cream, but living in the west indian island if Trinidad where goat’s milk is the best milk to use…..some times we would make ice cream cubes…you must try these…enjoy, Querino

Heidi Stanley April 5, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Hello Jules

I think this recipe looks good, but I would like to see a recipe for vanilla ice cream – could you give me your thoughts?

At the moment, I make one with 2x tins condensed milk, 300ml single cream and 200g creme fraiche, with 1 tbsp vanilla flavouring – I mix it up, then 3 hours later mix it again and freeze until solid. This is usually a bit hard to scoop so I have to take it out half an hour before serving! It is lovely though.

Also, what do you mean when you say that metal conducts the heat better? I didn’t know it used heat!

I’d be glad of your thoughts please…

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