Lemon Mascarpone Gelato Recipe

Photograph: Max Falkowitz

You gotta love the Italian instinct for cheese-making. These people looked at the cream that rose to the top of their bucket of milk, tasted it, and said, "Gee, I like this, but wouldn't it be nice if it were even more creamy and fatty?"

Because that's the only way I can explain the audacious fun that is mascarpone—cream curdled with acid to strain off the watery whey, leaving behind a super creamy, spreadable cheese. Because it's cheese, not butter, no one will look at you twice if you eat a spoonful as a snack, even if it's almost as calorically intense.

While you can easily plop mascarpone on cake or pie and call it a day, it's not much harder to mix it with some milk and sugar to make gelato. From start to finish, you can have freshly made ice cream in 40 minutes with this recipe, which is simple enough for any weeknight but fancy enough to embellish holiday desserts.

Mascarpone gelato doesn't need any touch-ups—the full creaminess and fresh dairy flavor come through loud and clear—but a little lemon never hurt anyone, and it brightens this scoop up nicely.

Everyone needs a Swiss army knife ice cream that can be used to improve any dessert or become one on its own. Let this be yours.

As with many gelati, this ice cream is very creamy but will eventually freeze up hard. It's best eaten a few hours after it's made, but if you need to store it for later, let it thaw in the refrigerator or on the counter before scooping.

Recipe Facts

Active: 40 mins
Total: 40 mins
Makes: 1 quart

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  • 2 cups mascarpone cheese, chilled
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, chilled
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. In a large bowl, slowly whisk together all ingredients until well combined. If cheese and milk are not already chilled, chill mixture in refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.

  2. Transfer mixture to ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve immediately as soft serve or chill in freezer for 4 hours for a firmer texture.

Special equipment

ice cream maker