Light and refreshing, this simple lemon sorbet recipe is the perfect balance of tart and sweet. It’s an absolutely wonderful frozen summer dessert!
It only takes three ingredients to make your own lemon sorbet at home.
Serve it in bowls as a simple weekday treat. Or scoop the sorbet into hollowed out lemons and top with basil or mint, for a fancy dinner party.
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The lemon sorbet can be dairy free, egg free, vegan, gluten free, fat free, and keto. Serve it as an easy dessert or a low calorie palate cleanser between courses at dinner.
If you’ve never tried making your own lemon sorbet at home, prepare to be completely shocked at how much better it tastes than store bought versions.
The lemon flavor is more pronounced, the sweetness is more balanced, and there’s no corn syrup or concentrated lemon juice, no guar gum, and no carrageenan!
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Above, watch the step-by-step recipe video
Homemade lemon sorbet ingredients
To make the recipe, you need lemon juice, water, sugar, and lemon zest. That’s it!
You can squeeze fresh lemons, discarding the seeds. Or buy 100% lemon juice in a bottle at the store from brands such as Whole Foods, Wegmans, or Santa Cruz.
The recipe works with white sugar, unrefined coconut sugar, or evaporated cane juice. For sugar free lemon sorbet, try granulated erythritol or xylitol.
Do not omit or cut back on the lemon zest, as this is what will give the sorbet much of its tangy lemon flavor.
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Prefer a chocolate version? Try this Chocolate Sorbet
How to make lemon sorbet
If using an ice cream maker, prepare the machine ahead of time according to the instruction manual for your specific brand and model.
Heat the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until the sugar dissolves. Let cool, then refrigerate this simple syrup until cold. To save time, this step can be done the night before or even days ahead.
Add the chilled sugar water, lemon juice, and lemon zest to your ice cream machine, and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions for your machine.
After fifteen minutes, it should look like lemon slush. Feel free to serve it now in glasses. (Hello, frozen lemonade!) For sorbet, transfer to a large container and freeze for about an hour.
Stir the thick and frosty lemon mixture. It is often ready at this time. If yours is still slushy, let it chill in the freezer for another half hour, then stir again.
For authentic presentation, use an ice cream scoop to serve. Garnish with fresh mint leaves or basil if desired.
Sorbet without an ice cream maker
No ice cream machine? No problem!
There are two methods for making sorbet with no ice cream machine. The first one calls for a blender, and the second option needs just a large container and spoon.
Blender option: For no churn sorbet, pour the liquid mixture into two ice cube trays and freeze until solid. Let the lemon ice cubes thaw just enough to be easily processed in a high speed blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec. Use a tamper to blend until smooth and creamy.
Container option: Chill a large shallow container overnight in the freezer. Pour the liquid lemon mix into the cold container, and freeze for a half hour. Stir very well to break up ice crystals and whisk air into the concoction. Return to the freezer.
Repeat this stirring process each half hour for about three hours in total. The texture should be somewhere between granita and ice cream.
Tips & storage instructions
Some brands and models of ice cream makers need to be frozen for 24 to 48 hours so that the base is frozen solid before use.
Be sure to thoroughly chill the sugar syrup after boiling the sugar and water. If the liquid is still warm, it will never thicken in the ice cream machine. I like refrigerate the lemon juice as well, although this is not as important.
Because alcohol does not freeze solid, I sometimes like to add a tablespoon of vodka to the sorbet before churning. This helps keep the finished sorbet from freezing rock hard. Do not add more than a tablespoon unless you want a slushy texture.
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup sugar (or granulated erythritol)
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- optional 1 tbsp vodka
- Prepare ice cream machine according to the instruction manual for your specific machine. (If you want to make the recipe without an ice cream machine, see above.) Heat water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Let cool, then refrigerate until cold. Add all ingredients (including the sugar water) to the ice cream maker. Churn 15 minutes. It should look slushy. Either serve the frozen lemonade in glasses now, or transfer to a container and freeze for an hour. Stir the now-thicker sorbet. It is usually done at this time, but if yours is still slushy, simply let it chill in the freezer for an additional half hour, then stir again. Repeat until it has a sorbet texture. Serve with an ice cream scoop.View Nutrition Facts
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Anne Kalich says
My own tip for making ice cream that does not freeze rock-hard: Rather than add vodka or another alcohol, instead use allulose as the sugar substitute. It will freeze perfectly, unlike erythritol, monkfruit (which is usually blended with erythritol) or stevia.
Sounds yummy! Just curious though, what is the purpose of the vodka? Does it serve a purpose in the recipe, or only to add alcohol?
Hey, it keeps the ice cream soft, but don’t put too much as it might actually prevent it from freezing properly.
Would this recipe work using xylitol instead of the sugar?
Hello, in the notes she said, you can substitute xylitol.
This is my new favorite!! It is so lemony and delicous! Highly recommend. It was super easy to make.
Anyone use this recipe in the Ninja Creami?