Lime Ice Cream

This lime ice cream is a refreshing summer treat that strikes the perfect balance between creamy and tangy. Made with just a handful of simple ingredients – fresh lime juice, whole milk, heavy cream, and egg yolks, this recipe is naturally gluten-free.

But don’t let the simplicity of the ingredients fool you – this ice cream packs a flavorful punch. The addition of finely grated lime zest adds a bright, citrusy aroma and flavor that perfectly complements the creamy base.

So whether you’re hosting a summer barbecue, craving a refreshing treat on a hot day, or simply looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, this homemade lime ice cream is sure to hit the spot.


Here’s everything you need.

  • Egg yolks – I talk about why these are so important below. You can’t sub whole eggs.

  • Heavy cream – this is what gives the ice cream its rich and creamy texture. A ratio of heavy cream to whole milk that I find works well is 2:1. This ensures that the ice cream remains creamy yet light enough to complement the zesty lime flavor.

  • Whole milk – this lightens the mixture compared to using only heavy cream. A combination of the two offers a balanced creaminess without making the ice cream too dense.

    If you’re thinking you want it ultra-rich, so you’ll just use all heavy cream, I wouldn’t recommend it. Ice cream made with only heavy cream and not a mix of cream and milk usually has an odd mouthfeel.

    Some people might enjoy it, but I think most people may find it too heavy or cloying. Adding milk can help balance out the richness and create a lighter texture.

  • Lime juice and zest – you could alternatively use lemon juice and zest if you’d like.

  • Sugar – no sub here. Liquid sweeteners would make the ice cream too runny and icy. I talk about the possibility of using keto sweeteners below.

  • Salt – a pinch of salt heightens the other flavors in the ice cream without making it salty. Salt, even when used sparingly, is a subtle yet essential ingredient that supports the overall flavor harmony.

How to make lime ice cream

I’ll let the photos explain it all.

I don’t recommend skipping the straining step!

Straining helps remove any bits of cooked egg that may not have fully incorporated into the custard base during the cooking process. This results in a smoother, silkier texture for the ice cream.

Keeping in the lime zest also creates a gritty texture. Not something I really enjoy when eating super creamy ice cream!

Lime options

  • Key lime – smaller, rounder and tarter than regular limes, these offer a potent citrus flavor. They’re perfect for a more intense lime ice cream.

  • Persian Lime (Tahiti or Bearss Lime) – this is the most widely available type of lime in the US. It’s larger than other varieties and has a seedless interior with a bright green color. They’re less tart than key limes. This is what I used.

Using lime juice and zest directly influences the ice cream’s flavor intensity. Lime juice brings tartness and freshness, while the zest adds a fragrant and tangy note. You don’t want to use bottled lime juice!

Can I add more or less lime juice and zest?

I tried it once with 3/4 cup of lime juice instead of 1/2 cup. It was too limey. So stick with 1/2 cup.

Two tablespoons is already quite a bit of zest. Adding too much zest can make the ice cream taste overly bitter or tart. Lime zest contains essential oils that provide a strong citrus flavor, but using too much can throw off the balance of the recipe. So, again, I really recommend just sticking to the recipe.

You can, however, reduce it a bit if you’d like.

When to add the lime juice

I originally added it to the mixture along with the milk. I had no issues with it curdling, but my photographer did.

So I checked out how other people did it. Other recipes for lemon or lime ice cream have you add it with the milk, or after you strain the hot mixture into the heavy cream, or just before churning.

I wanted to play it safe, so for this recipe, you add the lime juice just before churning. That’s how my photographer did it the second time (I also tested it), and you can see the results. :)

Can I omit the egg yolks?

Nope. I tried it and didn’t find that it was rich enough.

Egg yolks make ice cream creamier because they contain fat and protein, adding richness and a smoother texture to the ice cream.

When heated and combined with the other ingredients in the ice cream base, the proteins in the egg yolks help to bind water molecules and fat together, creating a smoother texture and preventing the formation of large ice crystals.

This results in a creamier, smoother ice cream with a more luxurious mouthfeel. Additionally, the fat content in the egg yolks helps to give the ice cream a richer flavor.

Can I use all milk/cream/half-and-half?

No to using all cream because, like I said above, most people don’t like the mouthfeel of ice cream recipes using all cream, and no to using all milk. I don’t think that would even churn properly and form ice cream. I could be wrong about that, but I don’t think you’d end up with actual ice cream.

The 2 cups of heavy cream + 1 whole of whole milk = 184 grams of fat. Using 3 cups of half-and-half would come out to 83 grams of fat. Definitely not enough!

If you’re short on heavy cream and/or milk and need to sub in some half-and-half, that’s fine. But keep in mind that less fat means less creamy ice cream.

Can I use low-fat or fat-free milk?

If that’s all you have, you can certainly use it, but then use less milk and more heavy cream. I’m guessing 3/4 cup of low-fat/fat-free milk and 2 1/4 cups of cream.

Why isn’t it green?

Because lime juice isn’t green. And the 2 tablespoons of lime zest isn’t anywhere near enough to make this ice cream cheese. Plus, they’re strained, anyway.

Lime sherbet is so green because it has added food coloring.

If you’re looking for green ice cream, you might want to check out this Green Ice Cream, which uses matcha to color the ice cream.

Or you could add food coloring to this lime ice cream. I have no idea how much you’d need.

For a natural green color that won’t affect the limey-ness of this ice cream, I like the one from Color Kitchen. I haven’t tried it in this recipe, but I’ve used it in many others, like this Mint Lemonade with great results.

Do I have to use an ice cream maker?

Yes, just placing the ice cream mixture in the freezer doesn’t produce ice cream, with some exceptions like the vegan ice creams I talk about below and this Black Forest Ice Cream, which involve whipping heavy cream, adding the other ingredients and then freezing.

I haven’t used that method with this lime ice cream recipe, so I really have no idea if it’d work.

The Cuisinart 1.5 quart ice cream maker, which is *the* affordable and super quality ice cream maker, at least according to me, is $49.99 on Amazon every now and then. I know this thanks to a browser extension called Keepa that shows me historical prices on Amazon for any and all products.

If that’s out of your range, you can put in a price alert to get emailed whenever it reaches whatever’s your budget. Or find a cheaper one, but when I researched ice cream makers last year, this was the most highly recommended one at a reasonable price (and I believe it, including its predecessor) has been so for at least 20+ years.

Can I reduce the sugar?

I really don’t recommend it because the balance between sweet and tart is perfect as written. If you want it quite tart, you can reduce it by maybe 2 tablespoons.

Can I make it keto?

I haven’t tried keto sweeteners in this recipe, but a Gentle Sweet copycat worked amazingly well in my Black Ice Cream.

If you’d like to experiment, I recommend using 1/2 cup of Gentle Sweet or the copycat I have listed on the black ice cream post. Then add more to taste.

Keto sweeteners really don’t agree with me, and I’m trying to avoid them for now. Or else I’d experiment for you. :)

Why’s there no vegan option?

The first issue is the eggs. There’s no proper sub for eggs in a custard.

Then there’s the heavy cream to worry about. Coconut milk is most usually used as a sub in ice cream recipes.

I’ve said it a few times, but I really don’t like coconut milk-based ice creams. So I’m not an accurate judge of whether or not this ice cream would be any good with coconut milk because I know I’d hate the texture.

Coconut milk ice cream is just too icy for my liking. I used some in this Paleo Ice Cream recipe, but I also added a bunch of cashews and dates to make it creamy and not at all icy.

It has a slight salted caramel flavor to it, so it’s not a recipe you’d want to add lime juice and zest to.

Coconut milk also works fantastically in my Vegan Gelato Recipe, but that’s also because the added dates do wonders for the texture.

All this to say, if you want to make vegan or paleo lime ice cream, it’s best to avoid trying to adapt this recipe. I once tried an avocado lime ice cream that only tasted of limes! So maybe look for a recipe like that.

I don’t remember if this was the exact recipe, but this paleo and vegan Coconut Lime Ice Cream looks like what I’m talking about.

I hope you’ll enjoy this lime ice cream! If you try it out, I’d love to hear your thoughts below. Thank you. :)

Lime Ice Cream

Rated 5.0 by 8 readers
Lime Ice Cream
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Ready in:
  • Yield: 1 quart (1 liter)


  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup (236 ml) whole milk
  • 2 cups (473 ml) heavy cream, divided
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest, packed
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice


  1. Prepare your ice cream bowl according to the manufacturer’s instructions by chilling it for 24 hours beforehand or however long is recommended. If you have the option to change the freezer’s temperature, it should be at least -18 C or -.4 F. If you can get it even colder, that’s even better as it ensures the freezer bowl will be as frozen as possible.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of the sugar until the mixture is well combined and a bit lighter.
  3. In a medium saucepan, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, milk, 1/2 cup of heavy cream, lime zest, and just 1/8 teaspoon salt. Heat the mixture over medium heat until very hot and steamy.
  4. While it's heating up, pour the remaining 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream into a large mixing bowl. Set a fine-mesh sieve over the mixing bowl.
  5. Slowly pour the hot milk mixture over the whisked yolks to temper the eggs. Whisk continuously until smooth, then return the mixture to the hot saucepan.
  6. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture constantly over medium-low heat on the stove until the mixture thickens slightly, coats the back of the spoon, and reaches 170 °F (77 °C).
  7. Pour the mixture through the strainer, using a silicone spatula to press down on the lime zest caught by the strainer to get out as much liquid as possible.
  8. Taste and add another 1/8 teaspoon or even more salt, if desired.
  9. Let cool for about 30 minutes at room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.
  10. Mix in the lime juice just before churning.
  11. Pour the mixture into the totally frozen ice cream bowl and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream will be like soft-serve straight from the machine.
  12. Scoop into a freezer-safe container and freeze for 4 hours to help it firm up. Overnight, it gets pretty firm but was soft enough to scoop about sitting at room temp for about 5 minutes.

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16 comments on “Lime Ice Cream” — Add one!

2 comments are awaiting moderation!

  • Sonja
    May 15, 2024 @ 9:04 am

    This lime ice cream is utterly addictive. Kind of like frozen key lime pie, but more refreshing. Certainly a new summer favourite of mine!
    And can I just say I absolutely love the pictures? I realise it must be a mess to take ice cream shots and you nailed it.

    • Erin replies to Sonja
      May 15, 2024 @ 11:57 am

      I’m so glad that you enjoyed it! I agree that it’s even more refreshing than pie. :) And thank you! I wish I could take credit for them, but I’ll pass on the kind message to my photographer.

  • Anne
    May 14, 2024 @ 4:39 pm

    This was the easiest ice cream I’ve ever made. Perfect for hot weather. This was so delicious that my kids asked if we could make another batch tomorrow after school. I think I might just make their day and say yes. ☺️

    • Erin replies to Anne
      May 15, 2024 @ 12:05 pm

      Yay! I’m so glad to hear that your kids liked it so much! I bet your kids are going to be so happy. :D Thanks a bunch for your comment!

  • Stephanie
    May 13, 2024 @ 9:51 pm

    This lime ice cream is absolutely refreshing and SO SO perfect for these hot days we’ve been having! Gonna be a summer favorite for sure. Do you think it’d work with lemon juice and zest? Or better stick to lime?

    • Erin replies to Stephanie
      May 15, 2024 @ 12:12 pm

      It should definitely work out with lemon juice + zest! I hope that you’ll enjoy it just as much. I’d love to hear how it goes! Thanks for your comment.

  • Breanna
    May 8, 2024 @ 10:45 pm

    This ice cream was just perfect. I recently had lime ice cream at an ice cream shop and loved it, but it’s too far away from me to go there often. I’m glad to say that this was even better! My teenaged son said it was 🔥. Haha. I agree! Thanks so much.

    • Erin replies to Breanna
      May 15, 2024 @ 12:12 pm

      Haha. Well, he’s not wrong, is he? ;) Thanks a bunch for your comment! I’m glad that you both liked it. :)

  • Eliza
    May 7, 2024 @ 11:23 am

    OMG, this was so good! I got a little extra and topped it with graham crackers, and it was almost like eating a key lime pie!

    • Erin replies to Eliza
      May 15, 2024 @ 12:11 pm

      Ooh, what a great idea! Thanks for your feedback. I’m so glad you enjoyed the ice cream!

  • Dixie
    May 6, 2024 @ 3:19 am

    Tried this recipe with Persian limes and it turned out amazing. The texture was smooth and creamy. Stuck to the suggested amount of lime juice and zest, and it was just right.

    • Erin replies to Dixie
      May 15, 2024 @ 12:11 pm

      I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it as is! Thanks a bunch for your comment. :)

  • Marie
    May 6, 2024 @ 2:29 am

    This ice cream was soooo good. Creamy but refreshing! Do you have any other ice cream recipes? I loved this one and will make it again but I’d love to see what else you have in case we get bored of lime at some point! Which is doubtful. But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. ;)

    • Erin replies to Marie
      May 15, 2024 @ 12:11 pm

      Haha. I like that you want to be prepared! :D Here are my other ice cream and popsicle recipes. I hope you’ll get to try some out. :) Thanks a bunch for your comment!

  • Alba
    May 4, 2024 @ 4:29 am

    I loved this recipe! I made it right after the newsletter came in. I squealed because I just happened to have bought cream a few hours a few hours ago. The ice cream turned out so creamy. I did a small batch and poured them into a popsicle mold and the kids loved it! It’s the perfect summer treat. Thanks as always! You have the best ice cream recipes.

    • Erin replies to Alba
      May 15, 2024 @ 12:10 pm

      Haha. That sounds like something I’d do! I’m only subscribed to one newsletter, but if it’s a GF bread recipe, I almost always make it immediately. 😆 What a great idea to make popsicles out of them! And I’m so happy you like my ice cream recipes. I’ll have to post more! Thanks for your comment. :)


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