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3 Ingredient Dairy-Free Lemon Sherbet (So Easy!)

Smooth and creamy, this Lemon Sherbet recipe is naturally dairy-free. Top with blueberry sauce for an extra special treat!

A photo collage showing lemon sherbet in a white tea cup.

Creating This Lemon Sherbet Recipe

I am so excited to tell you all about this recipe for lemon sherbet. The recipe comes from my friend Michelle’s cookbook, The Whole Family Cookbook.

If you have kids, are passionate about eating well and teaching them how to help and cook in the kitchen then this book is for you!

I’ve adapted Michelle’s buttermilk lemon sherbet recipe to make a dairy-free sherbet (it’s also vegan now). My mother-in-law is lactose intolerant so I thought I would offer her a simple alternative to ice cream.

I’d seen other recipes before that use coconut milk in ice cream, and so I though — why not? The pantry was stocked with several cans of light coconut milk that I had purchased during a recent sale.

What Is Sherbet?

When comparing sherbet vs. ice cream, there are a few key differences between the two.

Sherbet is a simple combination of fruit, water, and some kind of dairy (often milk or heavy cream). It’s very rich and creamy, but doesn’t contain nearly as much fat.

Ice cream is usually made with some combination of milk, cream, eggs, and sugar. It has a lighter, almost whipped texture to it and is higher in fat.

Does Sherbet Have Dairy in It?

Yes, sherbet traditionally has dairy in it. Michelle’s lemon sherbet recipe uses buttermilk.

However, I’ve replaced the dairy in this lemon sherbet recipe with coconut milk, so this particular recipe is dairy-free as well as vegan.

My simple recipe for dairy-free lemon sherbet is a great alternative to ice cream if someone is vegan, has a dairy allergy, or is lactose intolerant.

Why I Love this Lemon Sherbet Recipe

Three reasons I love this recipe for lemon sherbet:

  1. This sherbet recipe is SO easy to make and basely uses any dishes (less mess in the kitchen!)
  2. It only takes 3 ingredients and they’re items that are in any grocery store and I often have on hand without a special trip.
  3. Lemon sherbet is really refreshing on a hot day. I love the creamy texture and the citrusy zing!

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Tools Needed to Make Lemon Sherbet

I recommend these kitchen tools when making this recipe for lemony sherbet:

  • Microplane: to zest the lemons.
  • Measuring Cups: to measure the coconut milk, lemons, and sugar.
  • Ice cream makerYou must use an ice cream machine to prepare this recipe. I don’t know of any other method for making this strawberry gelato at home that will give you the same smooth and creamy results.
  • Ice cream freezer containersI love to use reusable containers for freezing ice cream, soups, and more. They’re incredibly durable and help protect the gelato from freezer burn!
  • Ice cream scoopInvesting in a good-quality ice cream scoop makes all the difference. This is the one we use and love.

Lemon Sherbet Ingredients

This recipe for dairy-free sherbet is creamy and smooth and so easy to prepare — it only has 3 ingredients!

Here’s what you’ll need for this vegan lemon sherbet recipe:

  • Coconut milk
  • Lemons
  • Granulated sugar

For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.

Two white tea cups full of lemon sherbet, topped with blueberry sauce.

How to Make Lemon Sherbet

You’ll need an ice cream maker to make this homemade sherbet recipe. However, I’ve given instructions on how to make the recipe without one (although using an ice cream maker is highly recommended!).

  1. Measure the coconut milk and pour into a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Zest the lemons using a microplane. Or, if you use a regular peeler, finely chop the zest. Set aside in a small bowl.
  3. Slice the lemons in half width-wise. Juice them until you have 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Discard any stray seeds.
  4. Add the lemon juice to the coconut milk. Stir the sugar into the coconut lemon juice mixture.
  5. Refrigerate the coconut milk mixture for 15 minutes, or until the mixture is cold and sugar has dissolved. 
  6. Pour the cold mixture into the frozen bowl of your ice cream maker and process for 20 minutes, or according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  7. Add the lemon zest and continue to process for another 10 minutes.

The above is simply a quick summary of this recipe. Check out the full recipe in the free printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for all the detailed instructions.

Tips for Making the Best Lemon Sherbet

Here are a few tips to make sure this refreshing lemon sherbet turns out perfectly for you! Have other questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll be sure to respond to them with my answers.

  • Use fresh lemon juice rather than bottled. You’ll get much better flavor!
  • Use full fat coconut milk for the lemon creamiest sherbet.
  • Put the insert for your ice cream maker in the freezer at least 12 hours prior to churning the sherbet, or longer if the manufacturer’s instructions specify. You need to make sure it is frozen solid so the lemon sherbet freezes as it churns.
  • You’ll get a smoother texture for your lemon sherbet if the ice cream base is chilled at least 4 hours before churning.

Can I Make Sherbet Without an Ice Cream Maker?

Yes, although using an ice cream maker is recommended. However, here’s how you can make this vegan sherbet recipe without an ice cream maker:

  • Pour the coconut milk mixture into a lidded container.
  • Place it in the freezer.
  • Every 45 minutes, remove and stir vigorously until desired texture is achieved — about 3 hours.

Can This Lemon Sherbet Be Prepped in Advance?

Yes, we made the coconut milk mixture the night before and chilled it overnight.

How to Serve this Lemon Sherbet

This lemony sherbet is tasty just as it is. But, if you’d like to fancy it up a bit, here are my suggestions:

Substitutes in this Sherbet Recipe

Lemon Juice and Zest you could easily substitute fresh lemon juice or fresh squeezed orange juice for the lemon juice and lemon zest in this sherbet.

Sugar – I haven’t tried it yet, but most likely you could substitute a 1:1 monkfruit sweetener in place of the sugar in this recipe. Just make sure the one you choose says that it is a 1:1 substitute so you can use the same amount as you would sugar.

Coconut Milk – Coconut milk sold in cartons that is meant for drinking cannot be substituted for canned coconut milk. However, if dairy is not an issue, you can substitute whole milk or half and half in this recipe, or use buttermilk like the original recipe instructs.

How Long is Lemon Sherbet Good For?

Homemade sherbet will usually last for 2-3 months in the freezer when stored in an airtight container.

When storing, place a piece of plastic wrap, parchment paper, or wax paper on the surface of the lemon sherbet before placing the lid on the container. This helps preserve freshness and prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface of the sherbet.

TIP: For best results, make sure your storage container is considered a freezer safe container.

Try this Dairy Free Sherbet Recipe!

Next time you’re looking for a way to use up lemons, give this lemon sherbet a try! This sherbet is the perfect way to use up those extra lemons! Did you think it was the perfect treat for a hot day? Leave a comment below and give it a review for others to see what you thought of this sherbet recipe.

On Instagram? Share your photo and tag me with @goodlifeeats and #goodlifeeatsrecipes. I’d love to see your photo of this lemon sherbet!

More Easy Ice Cream Recipes:

Making homemade Strawberry Gelato is easier than you might think! Plus, it’s a great way to preserve fresh summer strawberries for weeks to come.

This Key Lime Pie Ice Cream is loaded with all of the familiar flavors of your favorite pie — even the crunchy graham cracker crust!

You’ll never believe that this decadent Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream is non-dairy! Toasted coconut and dark chocolate chunks are mixed in to a completely dairy-free coconut ice cream base.

In this no-churn Brownie Chunk Ice Cream recipe, creamy vanilla no churn ice cream is layered with chewy brownie chunks and swirled with sweet and salty vanilla bourbon caramel sauce.

A delicious, no-churn, low-fuss recipe for Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream. No ice cream maker required!

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Coconut Milk Lemon Sherbet

Coconut Milk Lemon Sherbet

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Freeze Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes

Smooth and creamy, this Lemon Sherbet recipe is naturally dairy-free. Top with blueberry sauce for an extra special treat!

Ingredients

  • 1 quart (4 cups) canned coconut milk
  • 4 large lemons
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. First, be sure the freezer insert of your ice cream maker is frozen. If not, put it in the freezer and make this recipe another day.
  2. Measure the coconut milk and pour into a medium-sized bowl (ideally, one with a spout). Zest the lemons using a microplane. Or, if you use a regular peeler, finely chop the zest. Set aside in a small bowl.
  3. Slice the lemons in half width-wise. Juice them until you have 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Discard any stray seeds. Add the lemon juice to the coconut milk. Stir in the sugar.
  4. Refrigerate the coconut milk mixture for 15 minutes, or until the mixture is cold and sugar has dissolved.

To make with an ice cream maker:

  1. Pour the cold mixture into the frozen bowl of your ice cream maker and process for 20 minutes, or according to the manufacturer's directions.
  2. Add the lemon zest and continue to process for another 10 minutes.

To make without an ice cream maker:

  1. Pour the coconut milk mixture into a lidded container. Place it in the freezer.
  2. Every 45 minutes, remove and stir vigorously until desired texture is achieved - about 3 hours.

Notes

adapted from The Whole Family Cookbook, by Michelle Stern

Storage: Store in an airtight container in the freezer for 2 weeks. After being frozen overnight, be sure to take the sherbet out of the freezer about 20 minutes before scooping.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 76Total Fat 1gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 2mgSodium 17mgCarbohydrates 18gFiber 1gSugar 14gProtein 2g

GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love it if you let me know what you think! Snap a photo and tag me on Instagram at @goodlifeeats with the hashtag #goodlifeeatsrecipes so I can see what you’re cooking up in YOUR kitchen!

Heather

Tuesday 21st of February 2012

I tried this recipe but I found when I added the lemon juice it curdled the coconut milk and then the ice cream never really froze in my machine...it got colder with a few ice crystals but the lemon juice and curdled coconut milk stayed separated. It looked kind of like it does when you pour scrambled eggs into boiling water. Is that normal? Any ideas on what to do? That picture there just looks soooo good, and I even made some fresh blueberry syrup to boot!

Katie

Wednesday 29th of February 2012

I have no idea what happened here as this is not something I've ever experienced when preparing this recipe. Off the top of my head - the ice cream machine insert was not fully frozen and/or the coconut milk was out of date? Sorry about that!

kate@ahealthypassion

Thursday 21st of April 2011

shared on my facebook!

Megan

Wednesday 20th of April 2011

I remember making fruit pizza with my mom... it seemed like the fruit was never ending and the final result was sooo scrumptious!

Caroline @ chocolate and carrots

Wednesday 20th of April 2011

I'd have to say it was making beaufort stew everytime we went to the beach: corn, sausage, shrimp and potatoes boiled in Old Bay Seasoning. Yum! :-)

Amanda Thompson

Wednesday 20th of April 2011

My favorite childhood cooking memory is making sweets with my grandma.

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