lemon gelato

Lemon Gelato

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This lemon gelato recipe is made with just 3 simple ingredients and it requires less than 15 minutes of hands-on prep work. Super easy and delicious!

What inspired this lemon gelato recipe

Gelato is an essential part of a trip to Italy, at least for the trips we take. This fluffy, Italian-style ice cream is so intensely flavorful that it’s hard to pass up, especially when there’s a shop on every corner. On our recent trip to Rome, we spent one afternoon visiting five different gelato shops to sample flavors (I mean, we had to find out which was best!).

I usually go for chocolate flavors if I have the choice, but surprisingly, Alex and I found that our favorite gelato flavor was not a rich chocolate, but lemon. And this isn’t just any lemon gelato. This is tangy, intense, lip-puckering lemon, with just the right hint of sweetness that doesn’t taste a bit sour. It was so intense and refreshing that we ordered it frequently.

Of course, there’s nothing like gelato made in Italy, but this is our attempt to make lemon gelato at home. With only three ingredients, it’s a simple concept, but does take some time to assemble (mostly hands-off). It’s actually closer to a sorbet made with fruit and water, which is how most of the fruit-flavored gelatos in Italy are made. Interestingly, we found it was best made with milk, which gives it a slightly creamy consistency.

Give it a try and let us know if you’re transported to Italy, or if you have a favorite gelato flavor or recipe!

How to make lemon gelato

This lemon gelato recipe is laughably simple, but that’s what makes it so wonderful! For this homemade gelato, you’ll need fresh lemons, 2% milk, and white sugar. You’ll first need to heat the milk and sugar on the stove just until the sugar dissolves. Then stir in the lemon juice and pop that into the fridge to chill for at least three hours.

Once chilled, churn the mixture in an ice cream maker (read the manufacturer’s instructions for this part). For a soft serve consistency, serve the lemon gelato immediately. Or freeze it for a few hours to harden it slightly. If you freeze the gelato overnight, it’ll become rock hard — but you can fix that by running it back through a food processor!

Looking for more frozen desserts?

Outside of this lemon gelato recipe, here are our favorite frozen desserts on A Couple Cooks:

This recipe is…

This lemon gelato is vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Lemon Gelato

(52 votes, average: 3.96 out of 5)

4 from 52 reviews

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1 x


This lemon gelato recipe is made with just 3 simple ingredients and it requires less than 15 minutes of hands-on prep work. Super easy and delicious!


  • 6 to 7 lemons (enough for 1 ½ cups lemon juice)
  • 1 ½ cups 2% milk
  • ¾ cup white sugar


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 ½ cups milk and ¾ cup sugar. Over medium heat, heat until the sugar fully dissolves when stirred; do not boil. Transfer to a bowl and bring to room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, juice enough for 1 ½ cups lemon juice (about 6 lemons). Stir the lemon juice into the milk mixture, then place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours.
  3. After the mixture is chilled, churn it in an ice cream maker. Serve immediately for soft serve consistency, or freeze for another 2 hours for a firmer consistency. (Freezing overnight makes the gelato become rock-hard; if this occurs, you can bring it back to the soft serve texture by running it through a food processor.)
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Frozen
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: lemon gelato, homemade gelato

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This lemon gelato recipe is made with just 3 simple ingredients and it requires less than 15 minutes of hands-on prep work. Super easy and delicious!


The litmus test for any gelato maker; enjoy the clean taste and pleasant fragrance from PGI-certified Siracusa Lemons whose cultivar, “Femminello Siracusano”, is so rich in essential oils. Recipe? Lots of lemon juice (you can only put a lot in when they are moderately acidic, and not all varieties are), Sparea® spring water and table sugar. The secret? Squeeze the lemons gently to avoid touching the bitter astringent white pith inside the fruit itself.


The “Femminello Siracusano” lemon, the variety allowed under the regulations of the Limone di Siracusa Igp Consortium, is excellent in quality and highly appreciated worldwide for its aromatic characteristics. Thanks, in fact, to its extremely high number of oil glands (tiny sacs on the peel of citrus fruits, which contain the essential oils and produce the aromas), the fine grain of its peel and a particularly thin pith, the lemon production of Siracusa is envied all over the world. The Femminello Siracusano lemon cultivar blossoms three times a year: the “Primofiore” takes place between October and May; the “Bianchetto”, in the months of April, May and June, and the “Verdello”, in July, August and September.


Yes, you read correctly. Just as you would do, we chose to make our sorbets and Sicilian granita with water from “Sparea®” Springs. This water is born in a unique niche in the Piedmontese Alps and is extremely light and pure – ideal for accompanying the fruit from the organic farm, Mura Mura®. We are a little crazy… but you can certainly taste the difference!

Grom Authentic Italian Lemon Sorbet. Dairy Free.