If you love lemons, this gelato is a must-try! The Limoncello Gelato with Vanilla Lemon Curd Swirl is sweet, creamy, and smooth, with just a touch of tart lemon sour that makes you want to dive in for another spoonful. 

Limoncello Gelato with Vanilla Lemon Curd Swirl | Kita Roberts PassTheSushi.com

Looking for a zesty limoncello gelato recipe?

This recipe takes classic ice cream to a whole new level with its vibrant lemon flavor. Instead of just lemon juice, we use limoncello. This zesty lemon liqueur infuses the gelato with a complex citrus punch. The sweetness of the limoncello perfectly balances the tartness, creating an unforgettable flavor experience. The best part? Making your own gelato lets you control the quality of ingredients. You can adjust the sweetness or limoncello intensity to create your perfect summer treat.

Lemon desserts are one of our favorite ways to celebrate summer. That’s why we love this limoncello gelato. It combines refreshing ice cream with citrusy limoncello for a bright, zingy lemon dessert. It’s like lemon curd or lemon pie in the form of ice cream!

What Is Gelato?

Gelato’s history stretches back centuries, with origins possibly dating as far back as 3000 BC to Asian cultures enjoying crushed ice flavored with ingredients like fruits and juices. However, its evolution into the form we know and love today is largely credited to the Italians.

Some accounts suggest that the story begins with a Renaissance artist and architect named Bernardo Buontalenti. In the 16th century, Buontalenti is said to have created a forerunner to modern gelato for the court of Catherine de Medici. This early version likely wasn’t quite the gelato we enjoy today, but it was a significant step in its development.

Following Buontalenti’s innovation, gelato spread throughout Italy and eventually across Europe. Shops dedicated to this delightful frozen treat began popping up, passing down the tradition from generation to generation. The 18th century saw gelato introduced to the Americas by Italian immigrant Giovanni Biasiolo, bringing its refreshing flavors to a new continent.

Closeup of Limoncello Gelato with Vanilla Lemon Curd Swirl in a baking pan | Kita Roberts PassTheSushi.com

What you’ll love about this recipe:

  • INTENSELY LEMON FLAVOR – Homemade limoncello gelato boasts a complex and vibrant lemon taste because limoncello, a lemon liqueur, is used instead of just lemon juice. This adds a touch of sweetness that perfectly complements the tartness, creating a more interesting flavor profile compared to gelato made with plain lemon juice.
  • RICH & CREAMY TEXTURE – Limoncello gelato offers a luxurious mouthfeel due to the denser and creamier texture of gelato compared to ice cream. This is because gelato typically has a lower fat content and less air incorporation, resulting in a more decadent and flavorful scoop that perfectly complements the intense lemon flavor.

What You Need to Make Limoncello Gelato

  • Egg yolks: Base for the custard, which thickens the gelato.
  • Sugar: Sweetens the gelato.
  • Whole milk: Adds creaminess and body to the gelato.
  • Heavy cream: Creates a richer, denser gelato texture.
  • Limoncello liqueur: Infuses the gelato with a vibrant lemon liquor flavor.
  • Vanilla bean lemon curd: Adds a burst of lemon flavor and sweetness, plus flecks of vanilla bean for visual interest.
  • Shortbread crumbs: Provide a delightful textural contrast – crunchy crumbles against the smooth gelato.

How to Make Lemon Gelato

  • In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until smooth and pale.
  • Heat milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering (small bubbles around the edges).
  • Slowly whisk the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks. Then, return everything to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (coats the back of a spoon). This should be around 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Chill custard with limoncello in a bowl over an ice bath for at least 4 hours.
  • Before churning, follow your ice cream machine’s instructions. Churn the base until set.
  • In an airtight container, layer half the gelato with dollops of lemon curd, swirled with a knife. Sprinkle with half the shortbread cookies. Repeat layers with remaining gelato, lemon curd, and shortbread crumbs.
  • Seal the container and freeze overnight.
  • Scoop and enjoy!

Expert Recipe Tips

  • Fresh, room-temperature egg yolks are essential. They thicken the gelato base and create a smooth texture. Separate the eggs carefully to avoid any whites sneaking in, which can make the gelato cloudy.
  • When whisking the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, do it slowly to prevent the yolks from scrambling. You’re essentially tempering the eggs, gradually increasing their temperature.
  • After cooking, chill the custard completely in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or even overnight. This allows the custard to thicken properly and results in a smoother gelato texture.
  • Grate a little lemon zest into the gelato mixture for extra citrusy goodness.
Limoncello Gelato with Vanilla Lemon Curd Swirl showing texture of lemon curd | Kita Roberts PassTheSushi.com

How to Store 

Homemade gelato is best enjoyed fresh, but it can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. To prevent ice crystals from forming, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the gelato before sealing the container.

Get ready to be transported to a sunny Italian lemon grove with every delicious scoop of your homemade limoncello gelato! If you try this recipe, please rate the recipe card and leave a comment down below to help out the next reader! 

Limoncello Gelato with Vanilla Lemon Curd Swirl | Kita Roberts PassTheSushi.com

Limoncello Gelato with Vanilla Lemon Curd Swirl

If you love lemons, this gelato is must try! The Limoncello Gelato with Vanilla Lemon Curd Swirl is sweet, creamy and smooth with just a touch of that tart lemon sour that makes you want to dive in for another spoonful. 
4.53 from 34 votes
Print Pin Rate
Author: Kita
6 hours 40 minutes
Serves: 1 quart


  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup limoncello
  • 3/4 cups vanilla bean lemon curd - see notes for link
  • 1/2 cup shortbread crumbs


  • In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale and smooth.
  • In a large saucepan, heat the milk and cream over medium heat until the edges just start to have bubbles around them and steam is rising from the surface.
  • In a slow steady drizzle, whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour back into the saucepan and return to medium heat, stirring, and cook until the mixture has thickened a bit coats the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees). 
  • Transfer to a bowl placed in an ice bath and stir in the limoncello. Allow to cool before covering to cool completely in the fridge for 4 to 6 hours.
  • When ready to make the ice cream, read over the manufacturers instructions for your ice cream maker (I keep my attachment in my big freezer at all times – always prepared for ice cream). 
  • Churn the egg base and just before until set. Spoon half into an airtight container. Place several dollops of the lemon curd on the gelato and swirl with a knife. 
  • Sprinkle with half the shortbread cookies. Repeat with the remaining gelato, lemon curd, and shortbread.
  • When done, seal the container and let freeze over night.
  • Scoop and serve.



See the recipe for the Lemon Curd Here 


Serving: 1g | Calories: 458kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 173mg | Sodium: 146mg | Sugar: 38g

Nutritional informations provided as a courtesy and is only an approximatation. Values will changes based on ingredients used.

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Recipe FAQs

Gelato, an Italian dessert, might look similar to ice cream at first glance, but it offers a unique textural and flavor experience. Made with whole milk and cream, gelato boasts a denser consistency compared to American-style ice cream. This is because gelato has a lower fat content, typically around 4-9%, compared to ice cream’s 10-16%. The magic of gelato lies in its slower churning process. Unlike its airier counterpart, gelato incorporates less air, resulting in a denser and more intensely flavored treat. Traditionally, gelato skips the egg yolks commonly found in ice cream, but some recipes, including this one, use egg yolks for richness. 

Yes, you can substitute some or all of the limoncello with fresh lemon juice. However, the flavor profile will be slightly different. Limoncello adds a complex citrus flavor with a touch of sweetness, while lemon juice is more tart.

There are alternative methods for churning gelato at home. The “bucket method” involves layering the gelato base in a container with ice and rock salt, then stirring frequently until frozen. It’s a bit more labor-intensive, but it can still yield delicious results.

Here are some delicious variations you can try for your limoncello gelato recipe:

  • Lemon Ricotta Gelato: Fold in ½ cup of ricotta cheese into the churned gelato base for an extra creamy and decadent twist. This adds a subtle tang that complements the limoncello beautifully.
  • Blood Orange Limoncello Gelato: Swap out the regular limoncello for blood orange liqueur for a vibrant twist. You can even add a touch of blood orange puree for a beautiful pink color and a more complex citrus flavor.
  • Limoncello Stracciatella Gelato: For a delightful textural contrast, add ½ cup of chocolate flakes or chopped dark chocolate to the gelato base before churning. The chocolate shards will create a delightful “stracciatella” (meaning “ripped” in Italian) effect within the creamy gelato.
  • Lemon Meringue Gelato: Get fancy and create a layered dessert! Make a simple Italian meringue (whipped egg whites and sugar syrup) and swirl it decoratively into the churned gelato base. Top with toasted meringue shards for an impressive presentation.
  • Blueberry Limoncello Gelato: Looking for a fruity twist? Fold in 1 cup of fresh blueberries or a blueberry compote into the churned gelato for a burst of sweet and tart flavor. You can even drizzle a homemade blueberry sauce over the finished gelato for extra pizzazz.
  • Lavender Limoncello Gelato: For a unique and floral twist, add 1 tablespoon of culinary lavender flowers to the warm milk mixture while it simmers. Remove the flowers before chilling the custard base. The subtle lavender aroma will complement the limoncello beautifully.

These are just a few ideas to get you started! Feel free to experiment with different flavors and mix-ins to create your own signature limoncello gelato.

Limoncello Gelato with Vanilla Lemon Curd Swirl with two pieces of danish next to it | Kita Roberts PassTheSushi.com


  1. Anna Handley says:

    can you send me the link for the vanilla bean lemon curd. The link in the recipe isn’t working

4.53 from 34 votes (34 ratings without comment)

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