Lemon Sherbet

4.06 avg. rating (81% score) - 17 votes

Lemon Sherbet

This recipe for lemon sherbet manages to be simultaneously rich, creamy, zingy, and light, all while taking less than 15 minutes to prepare. Almost an ice cream, this frozen dessert is in a class all its own.

The word sherbet comes from the Arabic sharab or sharbat, a cold, sweetened drink usually made with fruit juice. Over time, the cold fruit juices were frozen into fruit desserts. Sherbets probably reached their peak of popularity in this country from the 1950s to the 1970s when Howard Johnson’s orange sherbet was its signature dessert. Today, sorbets, made with only fruit and sugar, are more popular, whereas sherbets, which contain a small amount of milk or cream, have declined.

But this recipe for lemon sherbet–submitted by reader Irmarie Jones, who received it from her mother-in-law in the 1950s–will hopefully change that. It manages to be simultaneously rich, creamy, zingy, and light, all while taking less than 15 minutes to prepare. Given the amount of cream in the recipe, it probably qualifies as more of an ice cream than a sherbet, but its texture isn’t quite the same. Really, it’s in a class of its own.

Note: You can make this recipe by simply freezing the mixture in a glass or plastic container, but you’ll get the smoothest texture if you prepare it in an ice cream maker.

Total Time: 15
Yield: about 1 quart, or 8 servings


  • Juice of 2 large lemons
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream


In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and sugar until sugar is mostly dissolved. Add the milk and whisk until sugar is fully dissolved. In a separate bowl, whip the cream to medium peaks. Gently fold the cream into the lemon mixture and transfer to an ice cream maker or an airtight freezer-safe container (see Note). Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. For firmer sherbet, transfer to your freezer for at least 2 hours.
  • Mamie

    Made this Sunday, May 20, 2016. You need to add a dash of salt, the taste is “too fresh” without it. That said, we LOVED this tasty cool treat and so will you!

  • Anonymous

    I am 52 years old. Granny made this when I was a child and spent the summer on her farm. She also favored hers with a package of unsweetened Kool-Aid. My favorite was grape. Thank you for a taste of my childhood.

  • Anonymous

    The sweet cream is excellent. However, the canned evaporated milk was just as good. I put the sherbert in a 9×13 baking dish in a gramcracker crust, added some lemon zest and some crushed pineapple (drained) and Wow!!! It was great!!!


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