Lemon Ice

Over the next two weeks, my posts will be dedicated to the foods that make me happy when it comes time to grill/BBQ/whatever-you-call-it in this glorious summer weather. I’m really excited to share the upcoming recipes with you. They’ll make your little BBQ-ing heart sing and are perfect for entertaining or not entertaining…it’s your choice when to make them not mine.

First up, this lemon ice. Obviously, it isn’t a recipe you make on the grill, but it is an absolutely refreshing dessert to make and serve in the summer or at the tail end of a cookout. The hardest part of this simple lemon ice is waiting for it to freeze and the occasional stirring in between.

Light and citrusy, I kind of like to think of this as a gourmet popsicle. Well, I guess it would be more like a gourmet popsicle all crushed up in a glass adorned with mint leaves, but you catch my drift. Not only is this elegant enough to serve for company but it also makes an equally delicious and simple treat for a hot weeknight or afternoon snack for the kids. I’ve been wanting to do a little lemonade stand with my kids but after making this icy treat, my five year old said, “Mom, let’s do a Lemon Ice Stand instead!” I haven’t had the heart to tell him that the lemon ice doesn’t stand a chance in our humid heat.

Lemon Ice

Yield: Makes 8-10 servings

Lemon Ice

Note: Since I know it might come up in the comments, I don’t know the chemistry behind adding the gelatin except that it adds an almost creamy element to the lemon ice. I suppose you could omit it. You might end up with crunchier, icier lemon ice versus the delightful slushy texture of the ice when using the gelatin. Whatever you do, definitely don’t omit the stirring steps while the lemon ice freezes.


  • 12 large lemons (for ¾ to 1 ½ cups fresh lemon juice)
  • 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • mint sprigs for garnish (optional)


  1. Zest 3 of the lemons and set the zest aside. Juice all 12 of the lemons. It should yield about 1 1/2 cups lemon juice (I’ve made it several times and a couple times I only yielded ¾ cup juice thanks to smaller lemons and when I only had 8 lemons – still turns out fantastic but the ideal would be to get about 1 ½ cups fresh lemon juice).
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the gelatin, sugar and water, stirring constantly over medium-low heat, until the gelatin is dissolved, about 5-6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest.
  3. Pour the mixture into a glass 9X13-inch pan. Cover the pan and freeze the mixture until it is partially frozen. It will depend on the temperature/conditions of your freezer but mine took about 6 hours (could be anywhere from 3 to 7 hours). Remove the pan from the freezer and whisk the partially frozen mixture, bringing in the more frozen parts form the edges and whisking until everything is smooth but still slushy and cold. Cover and return the pan to the freezer for another 2-3 hours. Again, whisk the mixture until slushy and the more frozen parts are incorporated. Cover and return the pan to the freezer until firm, about 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Remove the lemon ice from the freezer about 20 minutes before serving. Scoop into chilled dessert cups (or not chilled, your choice) and garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.

Recipe Source: from Lion House Entertaining

28 Responses to Lemon Ice

  1. Jenny says:

    I have made this twice now and it’s delicious! It would be very easy to double or triple also, assuming you have the freezer space. I didn’t love the texture of the lemon zest, so I cut it back to one lemon to second time, but in the end I prefer the stronger lemon taste of the original recipe. Could you use some bottled 100% lemon juice for part of the juice? Thanks for sharing!

    • Mel says:

      Jenny – if you want to boost the lemon flavor, use real lemon juice instead of the bottled. It will give it an artificial taste – but freshly squeezed lemon juice should pump the flavor up.

  2. Antonia says:

    Hi Mel,

    I just recently found your blog and I am a huge fan now.

    We tried this recipe for lemon ice in our ice cream maker last night and it turned out perfectly. My boyfriend just loved it and it was so easy to make…
    Thanks a lot! I wish you all the best for your moving adventure!


  3. […] time I’ll just add a little gelatin for this recipe from melskitchencafe. Which I get to top with mint again… […]

  4. Megan says:

    This is so tasty! So light and refreshing. A nice light dessert. We all loved it. It would be so nice not only at a bbq but at a baby shower or bridal shower. I had strawberries and forgot to try adding some. I guess I’ll just have to make it again! I sure wish I had this recipe when I lived in Arizona and had a lemon tree that I never knew how to use up all of them! Thanks for another winner, Mel. And I would love it if you would do a cookbook with this one in it!

  5. So is the unflavored gelatin found with the jell-o? What size are the envelopes?

    • Mel says:

      Andrea – I’ve always found the unflavored gelatin in the aisle by the jell-o but it is usually located on the highest shelf so you have to look harder for it. The package I buy usually comes with three (I think) envelopes and the envelopes have a couple teaspoons of gelatin in them.

  6. Lisa says:

    Is it possible to substitute something else for the sugar, such as honey?

    • Mel says:

      Lisa, I’m not sure as I’ve never tried that. You might try googling the issue, like “substitute honey for sugar in lemon ice recipe.”

  7. Jane says:

    That is such a good tip about the lemon zest! I am constantly looking at recipes that call for zest and wondering what to do.

  8. jane says:

    delicious when topped with almost-frozen blueberries. also, i don’t own a zester… so i peeled off the top layer of skin from the lemons with a knife and threw them in the food processor with a little bit of the gelatin-juice-sugar-water mixture.

    turned out perfectly. tasty little treat!

  9. Dawnelle Hammatt says:

    Just made this and it was very good! I added some chopped up strawberries to it for a strawberry lemonade. YUMMY!! Thanks Melanie!

  10. Jane says:

    I stumbled across your site because someone has one of your recipes pinned on Pinterest and I thought it looked good and wanted to check it out. Now, an hour later, I am completely obsessed and I have probably bookmarked half the recipes you have on here. This looks like such a fun summer treat. I wish it wasn’t bedtime so I didn’t have to wait until tomorrow to try it out.

  11. Lemon ice is one of my absolute favorite summer treats, and yours looks so refreshing and delicious! I will definitely be trying this during the hot Texas summer months… thanks for sharing, Mel!

  12. Auntie Patch says:

    I’m going to try it tomorrow in my ice cream maker – I’ll let you know!

  13. Marci says:

    Do you think this awesome lookin ice would work if you put it into a ice cream maker? I’m pregnant and all I want is to eat lemons right now?

    • Mel says:

      Marci (and others who asked) – I have no idea on the ice cream maker thing. The thought crossed my mind while I was making it but I wanted to try it the original way first. One thing I know for sure, the amount of liquid in the recipe would be far too much for my Cuisinart ice cream maker so if anyone tries it, keep an eye on the amounts so you don’t end up with overflowing lemon ice. Can’t wait to hear how it goes, Auntie Patch!

  14. Katie says:

    This looks so good….can I just say I love your site… as does my husband, kids, and neighbors! So many good recipes! Thanks again!

  15. Sacha Bikhazi says:

    Has anyone tried just putting this in a sorbet/ice cream maker, rather than freezing and stirring? Does it turn out the same?

  16. Jess W says:

    The gelatin keeps the water and lemon from separating. Little trivial fact. The cells in the gelatin bind with the cells in the water and the lemon and sugar and hold them together. Otherwise it would separate. It’s what keeps your frappacino at that fancy coffee shop from being coffee w/ cream sitting on top of it. 🙂

  17. Chris says:

    Sounds so good! But I also want to know just how much lemon juice to use?
    Thanks Mel!

  18. LOVE lemons… and love lemon ice. Interesting to add the gelatin, but I bet the texture is great with it.

  19. can’t wait to try this one! We love lemon desserts. Don’t love juicing 12 lemons by hand though… 🙂

  20. Auntie Patch says:

    Hi Mel –

    I’m with jackie & Kim – is it 3/4 cup or 1 1/2? Would love to make this today! Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hey everyone – that’s a big typo! Sorry about that. Wish I could blame it on someone else instead of my failing mommy-brain. I’ve edited the recipe, but basically the recipe calls for 12 lemons. The multiple times I’ve made it I’ve yielded anywhere from 3/4 cup to 1 1/2 cups lemon juice (small vs. large lemons, and one time I only had 8 lemons). Each time it has turned out fantastic but the ideal would be to get 12 lemons yielding 1 1/2 cups lemon juice.

  21. Kim in MD says:

    Mel- This looks so delicous and refreshing, and I am looking forward to the upcoming BBQ/grilling posts!

    Jackie points out that the recipe calls for 3/4 cup lemon juice, but in the directions you say the 12 lemons will yield 1 1/2 cups juice. Can you please clarify how much lemon juice to use in the recipe? Thanks! 🙂

  22. jackie says:

    Just want to clarify how much lemon juice you put in . . .the list since 12 lemons for 3/4 of cup of lemon juice but the directions say you’ll get 1 1/2 cups . . .not sure if the differance would impact the consistency or just the flavor 🙂

  23. Sounds wonderful and thanks for the tip about the gelatin, I knew alcohol with help with this but I don’t always want to use it to my ice cream or sorbet. Thanks, Chris

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *