Lemon Italian Ice Recipe

American Classics

Lost classic desserts from our wide and varied past.

Lemon Italian Ice Recipe

[Photograph: Alexandra Penfold]

Making bright and tart Lemon Italian Ice at home is super easy. All you need is some sugar, water, a whole bunch of lemon 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 this summer!). 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.

  • Yield:Serves 6
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time:6 hours


  • 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. 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. 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.