Spring is here and summer is quickly approaching! Lemon desserts are perfect this time of the year, and we love using lemons in all sorts of recipes from sweet to savory! But with the warmer weather approaching, it is time to stock your freezers with all the tasty ice cream and gelato recipes! This Homemade Lemon Cream Gelato is simply delightful and a crowd pleaser. The subtle citrus flavor is pure bliss with the creamy gelato texture that will cool you down on a hot day!
The Inspiration Behind this Lemon Cream Gelato Recipe
This gelato was, ironically, an accident, but what a happy accident it was! We have been making lemon gelato for years as it is one of our spring and summertime favorites. This time we decided to infuse the zest in the cream for longer and add the fresh lemon juice right before it went into the machine. Well, we forgot the extra lemon juice at the end and we ended up with a lemon gelato that really allows the milk and cream to be a big part of the result with a subtle yet beautiful fresh lemon flavor instead of a citrus bomb. Although it is more subtle on the lemon, the result is a fantastic creamy lemon flavor that dances on your tongue!
Gelato vs Ice Cream
Although gelato is the Italian word that translates to ‘ice cream,’ gelato has some important differences compared to ice cream. This mainly comes down to the fat content and the way each is churned. There is less air incorporated into gelato giving it a creamier texture.
You can read more HERE. But in general making homemade ice cream and gelato involves pretty much the same ingredients, although the proportions are a bit different and the texture of gelato is much silkier than typical ice cream in the United States. In our opinion, the big difference in the creamy texture of gelato makes it better than ice cream, which is why you will only find gelato recipes on our blog.
No machine, no problem!
You can easily make gelato without a machine. Check out THIS post for details on the hand churn method.
Is the gelato texture different when you use a machine?
We have tested both methods, and you don’t lose any flavor when making gelato by hand, but the texture is a bit less creamy compared to making it in a gelato or ice cream maker.
So, if you are in the market for a machine, here, here, and here are some options for ice cream makers or attachments that we recommend. They can be a bit pricey, so the by-hand method is always available to save you the cost of buying a machine.
Can I experiment with different citrus flavors?
YES! We encourage experimentation here. This recipe really lends itself to tinkering and experimentation.
Try any citrus zest and you’ll have a great outcome! Does an orange creamsicle come to mind? How about using Meyer lemons, lime, bergamot, or grapefruit? Anything goes, and you’ll be rewarded with a great, creamy gelato that is not too citrus-forward. Of course, if you want to add some juice to your mixture to bring up the acid levels and make it more citrusy, the recipe will still work well, but there will be a little sacrifice to the amazing texture you achieve using only the zest.
Why do we add a little vanilla to this recipe?
Using a very small amount of vanilla in this recipe may seem odd, but it really does deepen the overall flavor without a bold essence of a vanilla taste.
Another option that works well is substituting almond extract for vanilla. Almond and lemon are a great pairing and the flavor is different but just as amazing.
More Lemon Dessert Recipes
We really love our lemon desserts! If you are like us, then we highly recommend that you check out this recipe for Lavender Lemon Meringue Tarts for a delicious twist on a lemon curd or this Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Bavarian Cream & Raspberry Agrodolce!
We hope that you enjoy this homemade creamy lemon gelato recipe! If you give this recipe a try, click the heart button, leave us a comment and 5-star rating below, or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!
Looking for more Gelato Recipes? Check these out:
- Candied Walnut Gelato
- Fig Ricotta and Rum Caramel Gelato
- Brown Butter Bourbon Caramel Gelato
- Passion Fruit White Chocolate Mint Gelato
Do you want even more gelato recipes???
We also included several homemade gelato recipes in our Italian cookbook Mangiamo with 60 original recipes from homemade pasta to sauces, classic Italian main courses like Osso Buco to desserts and more! Click HERE to order your copy today to try out these homemade gelato recipes:
- Creamy Vanilla Bean Gelato
- Lemon Lavender Gelato
- Chocolate Hazelnut Nutella Gelato
- Balsamic Basil Gelato with Strawberry Maceration
Homemade Lemon Cream Gelato
- 1 Ice cream or gelato maker
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1 cup granulated white sugar, divided
- Zest of 1 large fresh lemon (or 2 medium fresh lemons)
- 4 large egg yolks
- ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a medium bowl, whisk the cream, milk, salt, ⅓ cup of the sugar, and the lemon zest thoroughly. Heat milk mixture over medium-low heat to a simmer, stirring with a spatula often to dissolve the sugar and salt. Do not scald the mixture.
- Combine the remaining ¾ cup of sugar and the egg yolks and whisk until the egg yolks have become lighter in color and fluffy. Strain the hot milk mixture to remove the zest. Then slowly add a small amount of hot mixture to the egg mixture (about ¼ cup at a time) to temper the eggs, whisking constantly. Once all the milk mixture has been added and combined, whisk in the vanilla extract. Let the base cool in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to an hour - covered.
- Remove from the refrigerator, whisk again and place the contents into your ice cream machine or gelato maker and mix per your machine’s manufacturer's instructions until thickened and creamy (or click HERE for a churn by hand method). It will resemble a soft serve consistency. Our gelato machine takes about 40 minutes to make this recipe.
- Once done, remove from machine and place gelato in an airtight container that is freezer safe. For best results, we recommend freezing overnight, or for at least 2-4 hours, before enjoying.
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