Lemon Italian Ice Recipe

This bright, tart classic frozen treat is a snap to make yourself.

An overhead view of two scoops of lemon ice, garnished with lemon zest.

Serious Eats / Alexandra Penfold

Why This Recipe Works

  • Lemon juice, lemon zest, and lemon extract make for intense lemon flavor.
  • The ice is slushy when it first comes out of the ice cream maker, but will become firmer and fluffier after a few hours in the freezer.

My great, great grandfather was a lemon farmer in southern Italy. Lemons run in our blood. As a kid, lemon Italian ice was a favorite dessert. I loved the little yellow cups with the wooden spoons that were always offered on our local ice cream truck. If I was sick with a sore throat my mom would bring home a whole box of them. As much as I love lemon Italian ice, it wasn't until I was feeling a bit under the weather myself that I thought to whip up a batch at home.

Fortunately this is a very easy recipe to make, so if you're laid low by a nasty cold and sore throat like I was, it won't keep you away from your sick bed for long. All you need is some sugar, water, a whole bunch of lemons and some lemon extract. When the mixture first comes out of the ice cream maker it has a slushier texture, sort of what I imagine Philadelphia-style water ice to be (putting it on my priority list to get there for the real deal). My husband called the freshly made ice, "like a frozen lemonade."

As you let it firm up in the freezer, it will take on more of the the fluffy snowlike texture you might be more familiar with. In either case, it's a good sweet treat for if your throat is scratchy and your feeling kind of blue.

January 2013

Recipe Details

Lemon Italian Ice Recipe

Active 30 mins
Total 6 hrs
Serves 6 servings

This bright, tart classic frozen treat is a snap to make yourself.


  • 4 cups boiling water

  • 1 cup (about 7 ounces) sugar

  • 1 cup fresh juice and 1 tablespoon zest from about 8 lemons

  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract


  1. In a large bowl or measuring cup, dissolve sugar in boiling water. Whisk in lemon juice, lemon zest, and lemon extract. Cover and chill completely, 2 to 3 hours.

  2. Add mixture to electric ice cream maker and prepare according to manufacturer's directions until icy crystals form and you have a thick, slushlike mixture. Transfer to a large bowl or container and return to freezer to freeze to desired degree of firmness, about 2 to 3 hours.

Special Equipment

1 1/2 quart electric ice cream maker

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
141 Calories
0g Fat
36g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 141
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 7mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 34g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 16mg 79%
Calcium 8mg 1%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 45mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)