Delightfully refreshing, this dairy-free sorbet is pleasingly creamy thanks to condensed coconut milk and bright with lemon.
I suppose this is technically a “sherbet”, since the coconut milk introduces some fat, but it bears no resemblance to the tub of sticky, hard as a rock rainbow sherbet that was always in my grandparents’ freezer when I was a kid. This is such a heavenly palate cleanser, I feel justified in sticking with “sorbet” instead. The condensed coconut milk provides texture and body, keeping this sorbet from becoming too firm and icy, but it is the sprightly lemon flavor that predominates. This sorbet is great with fresh summer berries, a slice of cake, or just on its own! For those of you who don’t own an ice cream maker, I am working on a no-churn version of this recipe (in testing with a friend right now!), look for that soon!
Creamy Lemon Sorbet
- 2 14-ounce cans full fat, BPA-free coconut milk
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons)
- Pinch of salt
Condensed Coconut Milk Directions
Combine two cans of full fat coconut milk with 2/3 cup of sugar in a medium saucepan. Reserve one can for storing and cooling the finished condensed milk. Bring the coconut milk to a low boil over medium high heat. Reduce the burner to low and simmer, stirring frequently to avoid a skin developing, until the volume is reduced by half to 14 ounces or 1 3/4 cups, about 45 minutes.
While simmering, if the bubbles start becoming very small, organized, and start building on top of each other, pull the pot off the heat and stir vigorously until the bubbling subsides (we don’t want caramel here!), then adjust the burner to a slightly lower setting and continue simmering.
Alternatively, if you have a crock pot or slow cooker, combine the coconut milk and sugar in the pot and cook on high, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and partially cover with the lid to allow evaporation. Cook for about 4 hours to reduce the volume by half.
If you can’t get the volume of coconut milk down by half, as brands vary in fat/water content, stop simmering once you feel it is not reducing any further. Refill the reserved can and discard any excess. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill. If you are not using the condensed coconut milk immediately in the sorbet, it will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator.
Bring the water and 1/2 cup of sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar completely dissolves. Off the heat, whisk in the condensed coconut milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust salt as needed. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and cover, laying the plastic wrap directly on top of the surface of the mixture (as with a custard). Refrigerate until completely cooled, at least 4 hours. While the mixture is cooling, also freeze the container you are going to use to store the finished sorbet.
Churn the completely cooled lemon mixture in your ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s instructions, usually about 25-30 minutes. The temperature of the churned mixture should ideally get down to 21º F, although many of the cheaper ice cream makers (like mine, alas) don’t have strong enough motors to keep churning when the mixture gets too stiff, so get as close to 21º F as you can!
Spoon the churned sorbet out of the ice cream maker bowl and into your chilled storage container. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and freeze until it is firm enough to scoop, up to 4 hours (although, if you can’t wait, it’s perfectly soft-serve-ish after 1.5 hours). Enjoy!