This dairy-free lemon ice cream is made with oats and bursting with fresh lemon flavor! Compared to most ice creams, this vegan ice cream recipe is lower in fat and calories, yet still impossibly creamy thanks to a couple of simple tricks. Made without coconut milk and can also be soy-free.
If you haven't tried homemade oat ice cream yet, you're in for a real treat! I've been experimenting with flavors for a while now, and each time I make a new batch I fall more in love.
Since SO many vegan ice cream recipes call for full-fat coconut milk, it's really nice to have other options.
First was this Pumpkin Oat Ice Cream, followed by this Vanilla-Maple flavor (super popular)! Then in November, with fresh cranberries so readily available, I whipped up this tart and tangy Cranberry Oat Gelato.
But this new Lemon Oat Ice Cream? We've decided this just might be our favorite flavor yet!
- non-dairy milk - I recommend unsweetened soy, oat, or cashew milk.
- lemons - you'll need 2 teaspoons of lemon zest and ½ cup juice, so it's good to have 3 lemons on hand in case they're not very juicy.
- rolled oats - look for regular old fashioned oats.
- raw cashews - or if you don't have a high-speed blender, substitute cashew butter.
- sugar - I use organic cane sugar.
- gin or vodka - this improves the consistency of the ice cream; see more info below.
See recipe card below for amounts and full instructions.
Homemade ice cream does require some special equipment, but overall the process is really simple. Let me walk you through it....
How to Make Vegan Lemon Ice Cream
- Be sure your ice cream maker’s canister has been in the freezer for at least a day.
- First, prepare the oatmeal in a small sauce pan including 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest (pictured above). Transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Blend dairy-free milk and cashews until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients, including the oatmeal, and blend. *If you don't have a high speed blender, substitute raw cashew butter for the whole cashews.
- Refrigerate the mixture until it's fully chilled (anywhere from 2 hours to overnight).
- Churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- For a firmer, scoopable consistency, transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze for 3 to 4 hours.
After churning the ice cream it will have an almost stretchy consistency, but don't be alarmed! That's just the oats working their magic.
If you've made oat milk before, you're probably aware that over-processing the oats can cause what's often described as sliminess. Well, after freezing the ice cream, that "slime" becomes super melty creaminess, and you're going to love it!
Why is alcohol used in ice cream?
Since alcohol doesn't freeze, using a small amount of a neutral-flavored spirit like gin or vodka is a well-known trick for keeping homemade ice creams softer straight out of the freezer.
I resisted adding alcohol to my previous vegan ice cream recipes simply because I wanted them to be appropriate for children or adults who don't consume alcohol.
But because this flavor includes 4 ounces of fresh lemon juice AND is lower in fat (fat makes ice creams softer), including an ounce of alcohol in this one seemed like a good idea. It helps counteract the juice, and improves the overall consistency of the ice cream.
Also, my other ice cream recipes include vanilla extract, which contains alcohol, while this lemon flavor doesn't use any extract.
What kind of non-dairy milk should I use?
My top choices for vegan ice cream are soy milk and oat milk since they tend to be creamier. Cashew milk is also great.
These are the only ones I've tested in this particular recipe, but feel free to use your favorite based on availability and/or dietary restrictions.
Avoid using lower-fat milks like rice milk.
Can it be made without an ice cream maker?
Personally, I don't think this ice cream recipe is a good candidate for the no-churn method. Since it's both low in fat AND contains lemon juice, an ice cream maker really helps produce the smoothest results.
But if you don't mind a few ice crystals and a slightly grainy appearance, then go for it!
You can read more about the basic no-churn method in this Vanilla-Maple Oat Ice Cream post. Since that flavor doesn't contain juice, it's a better option if you're experimenting with no-churn.
Serving and Storage Tips
Like the other lower-fat, oat-based ice cream recipes I've shared, this version also freezes very solidly after it's been in the freezer for more than about 4 hours.
It's important to let the ice cream rest on the countertop for 10 to 15 minutes before scooping.
Store the ice cream in an airtight container, and enjoy within 2 weeks for the best flavor.
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I hope you enjoy this Vegan Lemon Ice Cream! Be sure to drop a comment and a star rating below if you give it a try.
If you’re on Instagram tag a photo of your gorgeous vegan ice cream with @myquietkitchen. I always love to see what you’re making!
Vegan Lemon Ice Cream Recipe
- 3 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as oat, cashew, or soy, divided
- ¼ cup rolled oats - certified GF, if needed.
- 2 to 3 large organic lemons (you'll need 2 tsp zest and ½ cup juice) - I only needed two lemons; it's good to have an extra on hand in case they're not very juicy.
- 1 cup raw cashews - If you don't have a high speed blender, sub ½ cup raw cashew butter.
- ½ cup organic cane sugar - See Notes for substitutions.
- 1 ounce good quality gin or vodka - See Notes.
- 5 to 7 drops plant-based yellow food coloring, optional - I found this one at Whole Foods.
- Be sure to put the canister of your ice cream maker in the freezer at least one day before you plan to churn the ice cream. Also note that the ice cream mixture needs time to chill before churning (at least 2 hours), and the churned ice cream needs about 3 hours in the freezer for a firmer, scoopable consistency.
Make the ice cream:
- Zest two lemons, which should provide about 2 teaspoons of zest.
- In a small sauce pan, combine the oats, 1 teaspoon of zest, and 1 cup of the milk, and bring to a simmer. Stirring regularly, cook until the oats are soft, about 8 minutes. Immediately transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Juice the lemons until you have ½ cup of juice (4 oz). In a blender combine the remaining 2 cups of milk and the cashews. Blend on high until smooth. Add the other teaspoon of lemon zest, lemon juice, oatmeal, sugar, and alcohol, and blend again. Add a few drops of yellow coloring, if desired. Refrigerate the ice cream mixture until cold.
- Churn the mixture according the instructions for your ice cream maker. The ice cream will be similar to soft serve consistency. For a firmer, scoopable ice cream, transfer it to a freezer-safe container, and freeze for 3 to 4 hours.
- Even with the addition of alcohol, once the ice cream has frozen overnight, it will be very firm straight from the freezer. Let it soften at room temperature for about 15 minutes for easier scooping.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.
Lori, do you think I could get away with a 1 1/2 quart ice cream maker? My freezer is not large and the new 2-quart version is up to $130.
I haven't used a 1.5 quart maker but I think it will work! To play it safe you could always reduce the ingredients by 25% to make sure it's not too much volume for the machine.
This was an impressive creamy, rich ice-cream. One of the best vegan ones I've made. I used a mixture of fresh lime and lemon juice, and consequently 3 teaspoons of lemon/lime zest. I added a little vegan condensed milk since I mixed up my sugars. This recipe provided me with two full portions for my hand churned ice-cream maker so more ice-cream tomorrow. Thank you.
Perfectly creamy, sweet and lemony.
Thinking of having some fun with your recipe! I have organic oranges, limes, Calamondin/Calamansi, kumquats growing on the trees in my yard. Gonna have some fun with variations! I wonder if with oranges it might taste like the 'Creamsicles' I used to love as a kid! And with lime, maybe it'll taste like key lime pie! Calamondins & kumquats are kinda sour.... wonder about adding a bit of freshly grated ginger & some cayenne.... Fun!! Thank you!
This recipe is amazingly yummy! Tried it today and will most definitely make it again. Used gin, as I did not have vodka, and it turned out perfect. Oh, and I added a bit of vanilla extract, as I love vanilla balances out and enhances lemon flavor.
This sounds delicious! Do you think this would work as popsicles in silicone molds?
Hi Gayle, actually yes! I think that’s a great idea. Let us know how it goes. 🙂
Tomorrow is Life Day which is a Wookie holiday to celebrate family, life, and nature. Star Wars stuff. Apparently you're supposed to eat "Beebleberry ice cream" which is just ice cream with lemon and mashed blueberries. I'm going to use this recipe since my boyfriend doesn't eat dairy and add mashed blueberries. One and done!
This is delicious! Smooth, creamy, lemony. I used California barista oat milk and Meyer lemon, and added 1 oz vodka as suggested. I also made your maple cashew vegan ice cream and used soy milk in that recipe, which gave it a soy flavor; I think the oat milk provides a more neutral base. Thank you!
Thanks, Wendy! Mmmmm, Meyer lemon sounds great! 😀
I made this lemon ice cream today and loved it! I used homemade oat milk, honey for the sweetener, and coconut cream. So good!
Would a PB-choc batch be good if I used creamy PB for the fat, maple syrup for the sweetener, and vanilla and cocoa powder (and/or melt dark chocolate in with the cooked oats?)?
Glad you enjoyed it, Alice! Yes, I think that flavor combo sounds fantastic. Using both cocoa powder and melted chocolate would probably taste great. If you give it a try let us know how it turns out!
I have been looking through your oat ice cream recipes and they all look wonderful. My son is dairy and soy intolerant and my wife has an intolerance to cashew nuts. I really want to make them ice cream as it is my favourite food so was wondering if there is something that you can replace the cashew nuts with in your recipes without ruining them?
Thanks for the kind words! Yes, you can definitely replace the cashews, but it gets a bit tricky finding a fat that won't impart strong flavor (cashews are very neutral). The best option for replacing the cashews is coconut cream. In some stores you can find cans of just the cream. Otherwise, you'll want to buy cans of full-fat coconut milk (like the type used in curries), refrigerate it overnight so that the fat and liquid separate, and then use just the thick cream portion in the ice cream mixture. The amount of cream you'll get from one (15 oz) can of coconut milk should be about the right amount for replacing the cashews in one batch of ice cream.
You can also experiment with seed butters, like tahini or sunflower seed, if those stronger flavors appeal to you and your family!
I hope to share a seed-based ice cream soon, but in the mean time I hope that helps!
Thank you for your reply, that's great advice, I will give that a go. I will be sure to keep an eye out for your future recipes too. Thank you again and keep safe.
This ice cream is so creamy and refreshing! I can't believe how tasty it turned out and I didn't even use an ice cream machine! I topped with fresh blueberries. This will definitely be in our freezer often this summer! YUM!
Oh, that's good to hear, Nina! So glad it works well for you even without an ice cream maker. Glad you love it!
This sounds divine, I made my own lemon essence with vodka so will add a slosh of that and I have so many limes that I will use them instead.
That sounds fantastic! Let me know how it turns out.