Key Lime Ice Cream is a sweet, slightly tart dessert made with real key lime juice and a custard ice cream base. It's full of tropical flavor and 100% homemade.
Key lime ice cream is quickly rising to the top of my top five favorite ice cream flavors, which is a big deal because I'm super picky about ice cream.
This kind is smooth, creamy, with the distinct flavor of key lime. In my book, it's pretty much perfect!
From the time that I was about 15 and tried a slice of real key lime pie (not the stuff made with Persian lime juice), I knew I'd forever love the flavor. As an adult, I use key lime juice anywhere I can.
Key lime ice cream seemed like a great idea to tackle, and it turned out well. This ice cream starts out on the softer side but freezes solid, so it's helpful to leave it out at room temperature for about 10 minutes before scooping.
How to make key lime ice cream:
Scroll to the recipe card below for full instructions and ingredient amounts!
- You'll need an ice cream maker for this recipe. Before you get started, make sure to freeze the core of the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer directions. I usually do this the day before, so it has plenty of time to freeze solid.
- When you're ready to start making the ice cream, grab a large saucepan and add heavy cream, granulated sugar, whole milk, 5 egg yolks, and vanilla extract.
- Whisk to combine over low heat. Continue to whisk for 8 to 10 minutes until the mixture begins to steep. Do not let the liquid boil; otherwise, it will separate and won't be usable.
- Continue to whisk until the mixture is light yellow in color and slightly thick. It should coat the back of a spoon when it's ready.
- Pour the hot custard through a mesh strainer into a heat safe container. Place the container in a bowl of ice for about 1 hour to help cool the custard.
- Cover the custard with a piece of plastic wrap, and ensure the plastic wrap touches the custard to prevent a thick skin from forming.
- Transfer the ice cream custard to the refrigerator to cool completely, about 2 to 3 hours.
- After the custard is completely cool, pour it into the prepared ice cream maker.
- Churn until the ice cream reaches the soft serve stage, about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the ice cream maker.
- Pour in the key lime juice, and continue to churn. The additional of the key lime juice will loosen the ice cream, and it will take some time to firm back up again, about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the ice cream to a freezer safe container, and freeze for 8 to 10 hours or overnight.
- When ready to serve, allow the key lime ice cream to set out at room temperature for about 10 minutes before scooping.
Recipe Card with Ingredient Amounts and Instructions
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup key lime juice, use less if you want a sweeter, less tart ice cream
- In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, milk, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a steep over low-medium heat. Steam should begin to rise from the liquid. Stir consistently and continue to cook over low-medium heat for approximately 8 to 10 minutes until the custard slightly thickens. The custard should lightly coat the back of a spoon when ready.2 cups heavy cream1 cup whole milk1 cup granulated sugar5 large egg yolks1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Transfer the custard to a bowl to cool and cover with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap should touch the top of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Place the container in a large bowl of ice to chill for about 1 hour, then transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely, about 2 hours.
- After the custard cools, pour it into the prepared ice cream maker. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions until the ice cream reaches the soft set stage. Add the key lime juice. Continue to churn until the ice cream is well mixed and has begin to set.¾ cup key lime juice
- Transfer the ice cream to a freezer safe container, and place in the freezer until completely firm. This will vary based on how frozen the ice cream is when it’s removed from the ice cream maker. (Ours took 8 to 10 hours.)
- Allow the ice cream to set out at room temperature for about 10 minutes before scooping. Serve cold.