Why It Works
- The floral sweetness and mellow acidity of Meyer lemons give this ice cream a balanced flavor.
- Cornstarch reduces the need for eggs to keep the ice cream silky and thick.
- With more Meyer lemon juice and zest than cream, the bright lemon flavor cuts through the dairy's richness.
This light and refreshing ice cream tastes like a frozen lemon meringue pie: rich, creamy, and tart. It's best with fresh Meyer lemons, which have an orange-like sweetness and mellow acidity, for a gentle lemon flavor that's none too tart. Meyer lemons can be pricey, so be sure to save the juiced and zested rinds for our no-cook lemon syrup. If you like, use the syrup to make a batch of Meyer lemon chantilly to serve alongside the ice cream. You can also garnish the ice cream with a spoonful of roasted strawberries warm from the oven.
- 7 ounces sugar (about 1 cup; 200g)
- 3/4 ounce cornstarch (about 3 tablespoons; 20g)
- 1/8 teaspoon (0.5g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
- 2 large eggs (about 3 1/2 ounces; 100g)
- 10 ounces fresh Meyer lemon juice (about 1 1/4 cups; 285g), from about 8 Meyer lemons
- 1 ounce Meyer lemon zest (about 2 tablespoons, although this will vary with freshness and grater style; 30g)
- 8 ounces heavy cream, straight from the fridge (about 1 cup; 225g)
- 1 ounce curaçao, limoncello, or other citrus liqueur (about 2 tablespoons; 30g), optional
In a 3-quart stainless steel saucier, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and eggs, followed by the lemon juice and zest (if you like, save the zested and juiced rinds to make no-cook lemon syrup). Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly but gently, until warm, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium and continue whisking until thick and steaming hot, about 3 minutes longer. When the custard begins to bubble, set a timer and continue whisking for exactly 30 seconds to neutralize a starch-dissolving enzyme found in egg yolks.
Strain into a non-reactive container, then whisk in cream and liqueur, if using. Cover and refrigerate until no warmer than 40°F, then churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Meanwhile, place a 1-quart container and flexible spatula in the freezer.
When ice cream looks thick and light, shut off the machine and, using the chilled spatula, scrape ice cream into the chilled container. Enjoy as soft-serve, or cover with plastic pressed directly against surface of ice cream, then close lid and freeze until firm. If desired, serve with roasted strawberries or Meyer lemon chantilly.
You can zest and juice the lemons right before making the ice cream, or up to 3 days in advance; combine and refrigerate in a nonreactive, airtight container until ready to use. If you like, save the leftover rinds to make a Meyer lemon variation of fresh lemon syrup.