Lemon Kefir Ice Cream Recipe

This has been the strangest July ever. Maxence and I are having our bathroom renovated, and it is far more disruptive than I had — perhaps naively — imagined it would be. The dust, debris, and general lack of showering implement have made our apartment rather inhospitable, and my poor little kitchen is all tarped up, to protect her (of course it’s a she) from the ambient grime.

As you might infer, there has been little cooking going on around here lately — rubble cake, anyone? — but, by a stroke of involuntary foresight, just before the workers came in to bash the walls, I had prepared the ideal antidote: a simple lemon kefir ice cream, made with fermented milk.

It is, without a doubt, the best lemon ice cream I’ve ever tasted.

The culinary fairy behind this recipe is my good friend Estérelle, who writes for ELLE and has a truly staggering knowledge of all things food and cosmetics. In the original version posted on her blog, she makes it with lait ribot, a fermented milk from Brittany. I *heart* lait ribot, but I have difficulty finding it in my neighborhood, so I used kefir instead; it is readily available in the fresh milk aisle of my grocery store.

The acidulated creaminess of the fermented milk is a rare complement to the acidity of the lemon, and the result is a snow-like, tangy concoction that works wonders on one’s dust-parched throat and construction-weary soul.

It is, without a doubt, the best lemon ice cream I’ve ever tasted.

The recipe can be easily adapted to use other types of fermented milk and sweeteners, and even other kinds of citrus. Lime would be perfect (with a splash of rum or cachaça rather than limoncello), as would orange, grapefruit, and, if you want to dazzle your friends with your culinary exotica, yuzu or cumbava.

But I must say that, like Estérelle herself, I am so smitten with this lemon kefir ice cream that I’m unlikely to try it any other way.

Have you tried this? Share your pics on Instagram!

Please tag your pictures with #cnzrecipes. I'll share my favorites!

Lemon Kefir Ice Cream Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Makes about 1/2 liter (1/2 quart).

Lemon Kefir Ice Cream Recipe


  • 400 ml (1 2/3 cups) kefir (or other fermented milk, or buttermilk, or plain yogurt)
  • the zest from a large organic lemon, microplaned or very finely chopped (a Meyer lemon would be just the thing)
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice (the large lemon listed above should yield that amount, but get a second one just in case)
  • 130 grams (1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons) rice syrup (or the liquid sweetener of your choice — maple syrup, barley syrup, honey...)
  • a good splash of limoncello (or rum, or cachaça) (optional)


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until blended.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour until well chilled.
  3. Churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Serve with thin butter cookies, a handful of berries, and/or candied violets.


Don't have an ice cream maker (yet)? You can still make this recipe on a day when you're home most of the time. Prepare the mixture in the morning. Pour it into a freezer-safe container and place in the freezer. An hour later, remove the container from the freezer, draw the sides in with a fork (the ice cream will set from the sides in), stir vigorously, and return to the freezer. Repeat every hour. The ice cream will be ready by dinnertime.


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