Italian Desserts

Italian Lemon Ice Cream with Limoncello

June 25, 2018 (Last Updated: July 9, 2020) by Emily

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Smooth, creamy and delicious Lemon Ice Cream made with Italian Limoncello liqueur, lemon zest and topped with toasted pine nuts. This ice cream is super easy to make and tastes incredible, perfect for summer!

Scoops of lemon ice cream in a bowl garnished with lemon zest

This lemon ice cream literally tastes like a dream, top it with toasted pine nuts (yep, trust me) and omg it’s the best thing ever!

Smooth, silky soft and creamy with a Limoncello kick and the pine nuts add texture, crunch and nuttiness that just goes so perfectly.

Making homemade ice cream is so easy and is just on a whole other level to what you can buy at any supermarket.

This recipe does require an ice cream machine and if you ask me it’s totally worth getting one, they’re fairly inexpensive and make the most beautfully creamy textured gelato.

If however you don’t have an ice cream machine definitely check out our No Churn Stracciatella Gelato, you can even swap the dark chocolate in that recipe for lemon zest and limoncello to make your very own no-churn lemon ice cream!

A side shot of sccops of ice cream in a bowl with a cone

How to make Italian Lemon Ice Cream – step by step

Add the cream, milk and lemon peel to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy (photos 1-3).

Top Tip: When the milk and cream comes to a boil turn off the heat to avoid it overflowing and set it aside for 1 minute before continuing with the next step.

Remove the lemon zest from the milk and discard. Very slow, gradually add the hot milk mixture to the beaten eggs and sugar whilst constantly whisking. Continue until the mixture is completely incorporated (photos 4-6).

Step by step photos showing how to make lemon ice cream

Add the lemon ice cream mixture back to the saucepan and heat on a low heat whilst stirring with a wooden spoon. It’ll take about 10 minutes for the mixture to thicken enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon (photos 7 & 8).

Top Tip: On the final step when heating the eggs, milk and cream together make sure it is on a very low heat and you constantly stir with a wooden spoon to stop the bottom burning and the eggs scrambling. Don’t be tempted to heat it quickly or you’ll be left with lumps.

Once thickened, remove the lemon ice cream mixture the heat for 10 minutes then add the Limoncello and stir. Set aside to cool for around 20-30 minutes before using the ice cream machine (photo 9).

How to churn the ice cream

If you aren’t using this machine (Cuisinart ICE-30) follow your manufactures instructions (will likely be very similar)

Bring the freezer bowl out of the freezer and place into the machine, add the paddle and the top then turn it on. The machine MUST be on and turning before adding the ice cream mixture. Pour the mixture into the machine and leave it to churn for 25-30 minutes (photos 10-12).

You’ll have very soft ice cream at this point (still great to eat straight away if you can’t resist). Spoon the mixture into a freezer-proof container and freeze for a few hours or overnight for a thicker ice cream texture. Will keep well for 3-6 months

Step by step photos showing how to pour ice cream into an ice cream machine

Tips for using an ice cream machine

  • Make sure the ice cream mixture is as cool as possible before pouring into the machine.
  • Make sure the machine is on and the freezer bowl or paddle is turning before pouring the mixture into the bowl. If the mixture is poured in before it will freeze solid and possibly break the machine.
  • Only bring the freezer bowl out of the freezer when you are ready to churn the ice cream. The longer it is out of the freezer the longer it will take to churn the ice cream.
A close up of a scoop of ice cream on a cone

Top tips and recipe FAQs

  • Alcohol free – If you’d rather keep this ice cream alcohol free you can skip the limoncello and replace it with 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice.
  • To make it no-churn – If you don’t have an ice cream machine then you can follow our no-churn stracciatella gelato and swap the chocolate for lemon zest and limoncello.
  • Before churning – Make sure the ice cream mixture is as cool as possible before pouring into the machine.
  • Turn it on – Make sure the machine is on and the freezer bowl or paddle is turning before pouring the mixture into the bowl. If the mixture is poured in before it will freeze solid and possibly break the machine.
  • Keep it cold – Only bring the freezer bowl out of the freezer when you are ready to churn the ice cream. The longer it is out of the freezer the longer it will take to churn the ice cream.
  • Milk – When the milk and cream comes to a boil turn off the heat to avoid it overflowing and set it aside for 1 minute before continuing with the next step.
  • Making the custard – On the final step when heating the eggs, milk and cream together make sure it is on a very low heat and you constantly stir with a wooden spoon to stop the bottom burning and the eggs scrambling. Don’t be tempted to heat it quickly or you’ll be left with lumps.
  • Citrus flavour – Try adding some candied lemon or orange peel for texture or top with grated lemon zest for extra zing.
What ice cream machine do you recommend?

I use the Cusinart ICE30 ice cream machine and love it, you can definitely get a cheaper one than this but I love how easy this one is to use and the quality of ice cream it makes.

More ice cream recipes you might like:

If you’ve tried this Lemon Ice Cream or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

Step By Step Photos AboveMost of our recipes come with step by step photos, helpful tips and tricks to make it perfectly first time and even video!
A cropped image of scoops of lemon ice cream in a bowl
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5 from 7 votes

Lemon Ice Cream with limoncello liqueur

Smooth, creamy and delicious Lemon Ice Cream made with Italian Limoncello liqueur, lemon zest and topped with toasted pine nuts. This ice cream is super easy to make and tastes incredible, perfect for summer!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 334kcal
Author Emily Kemp

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream (double cream) (300ml)
  • 1 1/4 cup full fat milk (300ml)
  • Lemon peel from 1 lemon
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp sugar (80g)
  • 1/4 cup Limoncello liqueur (60ml)
  • toasted pine nuts for topping optional

Instructions

  • Add the cream, milk and lemon peel to a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy.
  • Top Tip: When the milk and cream comes to a boil turn off the heat to avoid it overflowing and set it aside for 1 minute before continuing with the next step.
  • Remove the lemon zest from the milk and discard. Very slow, gradually add the hot milk mixture to the beaten eggs and sugar whilst constantly whisking. Continue until the mixture is completely incorporated.
  • Add the mixture back to the saucepan and heat on a low heat whilst stirring with a wooden spoon. It’ll take about 10 minutes for the mixture to thicken enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon.
  • Once thickened, remove from the heat for 10 minutes then add the Limoncello and stir. Set aside to cool for around 20-30 minutes before using the ice cream machine.

If using the Cuisinart ICE-30 follow these instructions:

  • If you aren’t using this machine follow your manufactures instructions (will likely be very similar)
  • Bring the freezer bowl out of the freezer and place into the machine, add the paddle and the top then turn it on.
  • The machine MUST be on and turning before adding the ice cream mixture. Pour the mixture into the machine and leave it to churn for 25-30 minutes.
  • You’ll have very soft ice cream at this point (still great to eat straight away if you can’t resist).
  • Spoon the mixture into a freezer proof container and freeze for a few hours or overnight for a thicker ice cream texture. Will keep well for 3-6 months.

Notes

  • Before churning – Make sure the ice cream mixture is as cool as possible before pouring into the machine.
  • Turn it on – Make sure the machine is on and the freezer bowl or paddle is turning before pouring the mixture into the bowl. If the mixture is poured in before it will freeze solid and possibly break the machine.
  • Keep it cold – Only bring the freezer bowl out of the freezer when you are ready to churn the ice cream. The longer it is out of the freezer the longer it will take to churn the ice cream.
  • Milk – When the milk and cream comes to a boil turn off the heat to avoid it overflowing and set it aside for 1 minute before continuing with the next step.
  • Making the custard – On the final step when heating the eggs, milk and cream together make sure it is on a very low heat and you constantly stir with a wooden spoon to stop the bottom burning and the eggs scrambling. Don’t be tempted to heat it quickly or you’ll be left with lumps.
  • Citrus flavour – Try adding some candied lemon or orange peel for texture or top with grated lemon zest for extra zing.

Nutrition

Calories: 334kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 202mg | Sodium: 45mg | Potassium: 115mg | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 975IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 0.3mg
Helpful Info for All Recipes
  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
  • When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
  • All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
  • All recipes are tested and developed using a fan (convection) oven
  • Find out more about how nutrition is calculated here
  • Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples here
  • You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking here
Did you try this recipe?Mention @insidetherustickitchen or tag #insidetherustickitchen! We’d love you see what you’re getting up to in the kitchen!

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    Sharon
    July 28, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    I have tried this twice and can’t get it to freeze in the ice cream maker. Is it the Limoncello (alcohol) that keeps it from doing that? I have tried two other recipes that are just plain vanilla both ice cream and gelato and have been fine.

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      July 28, 2019 at 7:18 pm

      Oh no, so sorry you’re having trouble with it. There’s not enough alcohol in the ice cream to stop it freezing but it will make it slightly softer than alcohol-free ice cream. Every machine is different but mine took around 25 minutes of churning to make soft ice cream then it freezes completely in the freezer. Was it still very liquidy like custard or just really soft ice cream?

  • Reply
    Caroline Alsted
    July 2, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    This looks sooo good! I’m actually not a fan of sorbets/ fruity ice creams but I have to admit that when I saw this I might have changed my mind! Definitely on my to-do recipe list this summer!
    Very inspiring blog <3
    – Caroline

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      July 2, 2018 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks so much Caroline that’s so nice of you! I hope you enjoy it when you get round to making it. P.S definitely try toasted pine nuts on top it sounds strange but is SOO delicious!

  • Reply
    Marie – Not Enough Cinnamon
    June 27, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    This looks amazing, seriously! I’m a big fan a lemon treats and with that current heat, I would love a scoop or two of limoncello ice cream. Your photos are gorgeous!!5 stars

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      June 27, 2018 at 8:39 pm

      Aw thank you so much Marie, believe it or not we have a heat wave here in Scotland and the ice cream is going down a treat!

  • Reply
    Edyta at Innocent Delight
    June 27, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    These ice cream look fantastic. I love the idea of adding Limoncello and pine nuts. I never tried making my own ice cream but you inspire me and I will check that guide for ice cream machines 🙂5 stars

  • Reply
    Catherine
    June 27, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    This is one reason I need to invest in an ice cream maker! This looks absolutely beautiful and I love the limoncello. It’s a fabulous summertime treat. Pinning this for later. XO

  • Reply
    Jessica Formicola
    June 27, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    Now this is my kind of ice cream! I could sure go for a scoop right now!5 stars

  • Reply
    Kathleen
    June 27, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    I have to get this recipe in my ice cream maker ASAP! Truly it sounds fabulous. I adore Limoncello <35 stars

  • Reply
    rebecca
    June 27, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    this ice cream looks divine! Love anything lemon flavored5 stars

  • Reply
    Traci
    June 27, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Oh, how I love this! I mean, you had me at boozy lemon…with Limoncello liqueur…something I don’t think I’ve ever had. Just YUMMM! Sharing on Pinterest and bookmarking for later. Thanks for the recipe inspo! 🙂5 stars

  • Reply
    Maria
    June 26, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    I’ve been debating buying an ice cream maker for the longest time… but this article might just be what I needed to make up my mind. Great informative post Emily!
    This lemon ice cream looks so cool and refreshing… I still have some homemade limoncello in the freezer… I think I know what to do with it 😉 Thanks for sharing. Have pinned to try ♥5 stars

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      June 26, 2018 at 1:57 pm

      That’s great Maria, if you get one you’ll love it….oooh homemade limoncello is the best! Thanks so much!

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