Disclaimer: this ice cream is for serious lemon lovers only.
Which, I’ll admit, isn’t me.
I can do lightly lemon desserts. Sometimes. I like a hint of lemon tartness with my fruit, or a bit of lemon paired with plenty of rich, buttery pastry. But given the choice, I will always choose chocolate over lemon.
So no, this ice cream is not my favorite.
But that’s not to say it can’t be yours.
You have to admit, it’s really rather brilliant: lemon meringue pie in ice cream form. I wasn’t sure exactly what would happen, but the marshmallowy meringue gives the ice cream a light and airy cloud-like texture and super scoopability you won’t believe (seriously, you can scoop this right out of the freezer as if it were lemon mousse and not ice cream at all). That alone, despite my lemony-reservations, made this ice cream too interesting not to share.
Despite its deceivingly light texture, this ice cream packs an intense lemon flavor (hence the disclaimer). It’s surprising, really, how a mere 1/2 cup of lemon juice can be cooked and diluted and churned and swirled and still pack a puckering punch. If you’re the type who can eat lemon curd by the spoonful, this is your lemon-filled version of heaven.
Another reason why this ice cream is so brilliant?
No leftover egg whites.
Seriously, I’ve lost track of how many frozen egg whites I have stashed in my freezer from past batches of ice cream. I rarely have a use for them (one can only make so many macarons), and so they just sit there, frozen in their little baggies, until they get too old and I finally have to throw them out.
But this ice cream…. well, this ice cream utilizes the entire egg: the yolks are cooked into the rich and creamy custard base, while the whites are whipped up into a sweet and fluffy meringue, swirled into the frozen custard at the very end.
I used Meyer lemons here, which I find to have a more pleasant lemon flavor (normal lemons often taste metallic to me, even if they’ve never come in contact with a speck of metal in the entire cooking process). Go figure. Meyer lemon season is long gone, however, so unless you’ve stealthfully stashed some juice in your freezer, you can substitute regular lemons here instead (just use slightly less juice).
The meringue swirl is a bit tricky, as the meringue is thick and not exactly something you can easily drizzle or swirl. I found that transferring the meringue into a makeshift piping bag turned out to be the easiest way. Just spoon your meringue into a gallon-sized zipper bag, cut off about 1/2-inch of the tip, and then squeeze out tubes of meringue into your ice cream as it churns. Just at the very end though; remember you want swirls of meringue so it shouldn’t be mixed in entirely.
Lemon Meringue Ice Cream
For Ice Cream Base:
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice or 1/3 cup regular lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- pinch salt
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup whole milk
For Meringue Swirl:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- pinch cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Prepare an ice bath by placing a smaller bowl inside of a larger bowl filled with ice water. Set aside.
- Place sugar, lemon juice, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan. Slowly bring to a gentle boil over medium-low heat.
- In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks (reserve egg whites to make meringue later). Slowly ladle 1/4 cup at a time of warm lemon mixture into yolks, whisking vigorously, until about half of lemon mixture has been incorporated and yolk mixture is warm to the touch. Pour into saucepan with remaining lemon mixture, whisking to combine. Place over low heat and cook until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 2 to 3 minutes (mixture will read about 170-175 degrees on a instant-read thermometer). Remove from heat.
- Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove any bits of cooked egg, into bowl within ice bath. Stir in heavy cream and milk, and let sit, stirring occasionally, until cooled to room temperature. Cover bowl with a layer of plastic wrap, pressing plastic down onto surface of custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 6 hours or overnight if possible.
- The next day, prepare the meringue. Place reserved 3 egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the metal bowl of your stand mixer or other heat proof mixing bowl set over (but not touching) a pan of gently simmering water, whisking until mixture is frothy, warm to the touch, and sugar is completely dissolved (if you rub a bit between your fingers you should not feel any grains).
- Remove bowl from double boiler and dry bottom. Lock into stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and turn on mixer to medium. After 1 minute, increase speed to medium high, then after another minute, increase to high speed. Whisk until meringue holds glossy peaks, and base of bowl is cool to the touch, about 10 minutes. Whisk in vanilla. Scoop meringue into a ziptop bag, pressing mixture into one corner and sealing well. Set aside.
- Prepare your ice cream maker and churn chilled ice cream base according to manufacturers instructions.
- When ice cream is almost done, trim off a 1/2-inch corner of the bag that holds the meringue. Depending on your ice cream setup you may have to briefly pause it, squeezing a portion of the meringue into the ice cream. Turn back on for a few seconds, then pause again to squeeze in more meringue. You are looking for a meringue ‘swirl’ here, don’t mix it in fully.
- Once all of meringue has been swirled, transfer ice cream to an airtight freezer safe container, then place in freezer until completely firm, at least 4 hours or overnight if possible.
Ice cream base loosely adapted from Epicurious.All images and text © Lindsay Landis / Love & Olive Oil
Did you make this recipe?
Let us know what you think!
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I plan to make this very soon. I’ll sprinkle some graham cracker crumbs on top (for the crust )
Looks delicious and plan to make! Please note you do not have the egg whites
listed in your meringue recipe!!
The recipe calls for 3 eggs, separated – the yolks go in the custard base and the whites are used for the meringue.
Hi Lindsay, thank you for this amazing recipe!! Tried it with fresh lemons from my neighbor’s lemon tree and it was delicious! Lasted all of two days in our home, that’s how good it is, thank you so much! I have some leftover keylime juice I used in making keylime yogurt, can I substitute keylime juice in this recipe to make a keylime pie icecream? What do you think? Do you think it’ll work? Hope to get a response, thanks! 😊
I think you could definitely use lime here instead! Maybe a lower quantity however as lime tends to be a much stronger flavor than lemon.
So, I tried this and used Stevia and I also used gram crackers too! I loved it!
So glad you enjoyed it!!
I can’t wait to make this! I love all your recipes.
Raw egg..OMG was not expecting that!
Fantastic recipe! I added some bits of graham cracker crust and it tastes just like my grandma’s lemon pie. Best ice cream ever!
Amazing recipe! I love lemon and this hits the spot on those hot days.
I made this, and it was delicious! I used lemon from a squeeze bottle (sorry!) but otherwise followed directions.
Sadly, my “swirls” of meringue were more like clumps, but that was okay because they were nearly the same color as the ice cream and hardly showed up at all. Next time (and I will make it again!) I just might add a drop of yellow food color to the ice cream so we can appreciate the contrast. The lemon was on the tart side, but not TOO tart, and the meringue clumps added sweetness and a change of texture. Thank you for the recipe!
Lemon meringue ice cream?!? STOP IT :D
This is super cool recipe. I will have to share this. We have a local company that makes different unique ice cream flavors. I may share this with them. Wow, awesome.
This is stunning. It’s time to bust out the ice cream maker!
I can’t wait to make this! Where did you get those ceramic ice cream cones? I love them!
Mmm what a delicious ice cream flavor that sounds like! Love the use of meyer lemons, those are great :)
I’m loving the color of the ice cream. And I love lemons so I will definitely love this lemon meringue ice cream. Yummy and refreshing !
OMG… this looks meringue-cious! YUMMM
Lemon is probably one of my top 5 favorite ice cream. Depending on my mood, it could be #1. Chocolate is never in even the top 10. I am not sure why. I merely like it, not lust after it like I do this recipe.
Such a lovely ice cream! I love this recipe so much. Thank you Lindsay!
How to love lemon? Add just a little chocolate! This looks like the perfect solution for my overflowing meyer lemon tree! Thanks Lindsay
Hi! Great recipe and I will try this myself. If you are having trouble finding something to do with your egg whites you can always try a Pavlova. We make pav all the time in summer it is great with all the wonderful fruit and berries.
give this a try and see what the family thinks.
I too am a chocolate lover. But I do like to mix it up with fruity things every once in awhile. And this looks so good! I love lemon meringue pie, and this is probably magical. :)
It’s like sunshine. I love the look and the sound of this bright and tart ice cream.
How beautiful! And I love your disclaimer…I’m a lemon tolerater myself, but I know a lot of people who would absolutely adore this ice cream!
I absolutely love lemon and this looks fabulous! I rarely make ice cream however definitely think I will make an exception for this one.
I’m not much a lemon person, myself, but this ice cream looks incredible. It’s gorgeous, Lindsay! And your photos are brilliant.
I am admittedly not a lemon person (with a few exceptions), but this sounds far too interesting not to try! Also, completely agree about meyer lemon vs regular lemon.
This sounds truly amazing!
Oh this ice cream is SO me. I love lemon. Lemon everything. Hints of lemon, bursts of lemon; I love it all. And what fun ceramic cones those are!
Lemon meringue pie brings back so many childhood memories. I love how you turned into ice cream.
lovely!! You are so talented!
Yes please! This is the perfect ice cream for a hot summer day. Totally love it!
Love how you made lemon meringue pie into an ice cream flavor! Bet it is so refreshing for summer!
I am big time crushing on this flavour! Love!