This lemon ice cream is a creamy vanilla and lemon base loaded with swirls of homemade lemon curd, brown butter and just a touch of brown sugar and cinnamon. It’s creamy, tart, sweet and balanced with a slightly warm and cozy feeling.
Why You’ll Love This Lemon Ice Cream
- This no-churn homemade ice cream recipe is SO QUICK & EASY to make! Lemon curd can be store bought or homemade (in advance if you want).
- As a no-churn base, this ice cream recipe requires fewer steps and no ice cream machine making it a perfect dessert to make at home.
- This is not a “I can just go buy it at the store” type of ice cream. She’s unique and creamy sweet ice cream plays so well with the tart lemon curd and cozy brown butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.
What is the Difference Between Churn and No-churn Ice Cream?
Churned ice cream, made traditionally, involves an ice cream maker that simultaneously freezes and churns the mixture, incorporating air and preventing large ice crystal formation, resulting in a smooth texture.
While no-churn ice cream, eliminates the need for an ice cream maker by incorporating air with whipped cream and an extra creamy consistency from the condensed milk. The result is usually a denser, creamier ice cream with a smooth texture.
What is Brown Butter?
Butter is a dairy product made from churning milk or cream. It’s made up of protein, fat and water. When butter is heated, the fat crystals melt releasing the water from the fat emulsion. Then the water begins to evaporate and the proteins and sugars (lactose) react and brown. This is called the maillard reaction and it happens every time you cook something and it browns.
In simpler words, brown butter is butter that has been heated until it has caramelized milk solids and the butter browns. Check out my post on Brown Butter for detailed steps with pictures!
What is Lemon Curd?
Lemon curd is a type of spread or topping that is a thick, creamy substance with a bright, tart flavor from the lemons. The word “curd” is just a different form of “jam”, “jelly” or “preserves”. They all have specific characteristics like jelly has gelatin in it, preserves have chunks in it, and curd has butter and eggs in it (which the others don’t).
When you want a concentrated fruit flavor swirled throughout, you would normally use a sauce/jam/jelly but there’s no substance/flesh to the lemon so there’s really nothing to make the jam/sauce out of so no one makes “lemon jam” lol.
So lemon curd is what people use in place of a jam for a lemon flavor.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk: this is what sweetens the ice cream and makes it super creamy.
- This cannot be replaced for something like sugar, as it’s what makes this ice cream possible as a no-churn. I found that using other sweeteners made the ice cream crystallize.
- There is a vegan version made from oat milk that may work but I have not tested it.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: this gets whipped into fresh whipped cream and makes the ice cream super light and fluffy
- To make this dairy free, use coconut cream, it may alter the flavor a little though.
- Butter: I like salted butter but unsalted works too, just add an extra pinch of salt. Softened butter is best for making brown butter and for mixing it into the lemon curd.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar for the lemon curd and light brown sugar for the ice cream.
- Lemon: You need 1 large or 2 small lemons to get 2 ounces of fresh squeezed lemon juice for both the lemon curd and the ice cream base – 4 oz total. I also used the zest of 1 lemon in my curd.
- Eggs: make sure to use 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk both at room temperature.
- Place the whole egg in hot water for a few minutes if it’s cold.
- Cinnamon: I use just ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon in the ice cream.
Step 1: Make lemon curd by combining the sugar, eggs, lemon juice & zest, butter and salt in a small nonstick or enameled (NOT metal) saucepan over medium-low heat (use a glass bowl over a double boiler if you only have metal pans).
Step 2: Whisk for about 5 minutes until it thickens and is able to cover the back of a spoon.
Step 3: Press the curd through a sieve into another bowl/jar while it’s still hot. Cover and allow to cool for a little. Then refrigerate it before using.
Step 4: Brown the Butter by heating in a saucepan and stirring occasionally until the milk solids are toasted brown.
Step 5: Remove from heat and pour the butter into a heat safe jar. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Step 6: Mix heavy whipping cream in a stand mixer until it thickens and forms stiff peaks.
- Start on slow speed and gradually increase to avoid splashing
Step 7: Add sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, and salt to the cream, mixing until they’re fully combined.
Step 8: Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, half of the chilled lemon curd and half of the cooled brown butter. Fold only 4-5 times to swirl.
Step 9: Spread half the ice cream into a deep pan and drop globs of lemon curd and brown butter. Use a knife to swirl.
Step 10: Repeat with the rest of the ice cream, lemon curd and brown butter.
Step 11: Freeze – cover with a lid, foil or plastic wrap and freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yup, just use coconut cream and dairy free sweetened condensed milk (like oatmilk).
This no-churn ice cream does not require an ice cream machine.
Yesss, use whatever base you like, churn or no-churn and just follow the instructions with the lemon curd and brown butter after churning the ice cream.
Yup, you can use whatever store bought lemon curd you like. I would get at least 8-12 ounces but those are usually sweeter and less tart than mine. You can taste the ice cream while making it and see if it needs more or less to your liking.
How to Store Lemon Ice Cream
Make sure the ice cream is fully covered with plastic wrap or a container with a lid and freeze for at least 8 hours. Ice cream keeps well in the freezer for a few weeks.
Thanks so much for reading today’s post, if you have any questions just comment down below.
If you make this lemon ice cream, I would love it if you left a star rating for it in the recipe card.
As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!
Brown Butter Lemon Ice Cream Recipe
- 1 stand mixer or hand mixer
- 1 large bowl
- 2 small saucepans
- 2 medium bowls
- 1 sieve
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp lemon zest 1 large lemon
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk room temperature
- 1/4 cup (2oz) freshly-squeezed lemon juice (1 large or 2 small lemons)
- 3 Tbsp (42g) unsalted butter softened or melted
- tiny pinch fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup salted butter browned and cooled
- 2 cups (18oz) heavy whipping cream cold, (18 ounces in weight not fluid ounces)
- 1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
- tiny pinch fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup (2 oz) freshly-squeezed lemon juice (1 large or 2 small lemons)
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp (25g) light brown sugar
- Combine the sugar, eggs, lemon juice & zest, butter and salt in a small nonstick or enameled (NOT metal) saucepan over medium-low heat.*1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar, 1 tsp lemon zest , 1 large egg , 1 large egg yolk, 1/4 cup (2oz) freshly-squeezed lemon juice, tiny pinch fine sea salt, 3 Tbsp (42g) unsalted butter
- Whisk continuously until it thickens, about 5 minutes. The curd should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- While it’s still hot, press the curd through a sieve into another bowl/jar, cover it and allow it to cool completely to room temperature. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.
- If the butter is cold, cut it into cubes and place it into a light colored, medium size saucepan, over medium-low heat.1/4 cup salted butter
- Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to stir the butter occasionally. It will begin to bubble, continue stirring intermittently.
- Once it begins to foam, you won't be able to see what's happening so stir continuously, making sure to scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan. The milk solids will begin to settle on the bottom of the pan and darken in color.
- Remove from the heat and continue stirring for another minute or so, until the butter darkens into an amber color.
- Pour the butter, with all the little solid bits, into a heat safe jar and allow it to cool completely to room temperature. You can refrigerate it for a little but make sure it's still soft when you use it.
- Place the heavy whipping cream in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl with an electric mixer) and beat it at medium speed until it starts to thicken (so it doesn't splash). Increase the speed to high and beat just until it forms stiff peaks.2 cups (18oz) heavy whipping cream
- Add the sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and salt and beat again just until it's fully combined.1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk, tiny pinch fine sea salt, 1/4 cup (2 oz) freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, half of the chilled lemon curd and half of the cooled brown butter. Fold 4-5 times, just until they're swirled into the ice cream and NOT completely combined.1/4 tsp cinnamon, 2 Tbsp (25g) light brown sugar
- Spread 1/2 of the ice cream into a deep pan and drop globs of the chilled lemon curd and brown butter on top of the ice cream and use a knife to swirl it back and forth.
- Repeat with the rest of the ice cream, lemon curd and brown butter.
- Cover the pan with a lid, plastic wrap or foil and place it in the freezer for at least 8 hours or overnight.