Thursday, September 28, 2023

Lemon Freeze Recipe (An Easy Make Ahead Dessert!)

Lemon freeze is an old fashioned icebox treat that came from my grandma.

The tang of the fresh lemon combined with the sweetened condensed milk and mellowed by the whipped cream layer makes the perfect treat for a hot summer day.

Another plus, you won't have to turn on your oven and it will come together in about 10 minutes.

Just make sure you make it in advance because it does need time to freeze.

Lemon Freeze Recipe


lemon freeze with text overlay

Update 9-19-23: This was originally shared on 8-11-14. It has been updated to include step-by-step video, new pictures and instructions. The recipe remains the same.

A few years ago, I put together a cookbook of Grandma's most remembered recipes.

Lemon freeze was everyone's favorite. We've changed the recipe only slightly. It used to call for 2 eggs. These days we know the dangers of raw eggs, so we don't include them. My mom tells me it tastes just the same as it did when grandma used to make it.

lemon freeze on a fork


  • sweetened condensed milk
  • graham crackers, crushed
  • lemons
  • heavy cream
  • pinch of salt
  • sugar (optional - Grandma didn't add sugar. I like to sweeten the cream a bit)
ingredients for lemon freeze

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lemon freeze with text overlay


Begin by crushing the graham crackers. I stick them in a zip top bag and run a rolling pin over them until they are crumbled. 

Place the majority of the graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of a 8 X 8 baking pan. Reserve some for the top. 

(If you don't have an 8 X 8 pan, you could use a regular pie pan instead)

graham crackers in an 8 x 8 baking dish

I have thought that making an actual graham cracker crust would be yummy, but I haven't tried it.  It would add just a little bit more time to making it. But I think it would be tasty. 

The next step is optional. Zest the lemons. I used the zest to sprinkle on top of the dessert. You could also add it into the lemon layer if desired. 

When zesting, it's easiest to zest the whole lemon, meaning don't cut it up yet. Also, make sure to only zest the yellow layer. Don't go too deep into the white part of the peel because it has a bitter taste. A zesting tool is super helpful for this.

lemon zest

In a small bowl add a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Now it's time to extract the lemon juice from the lemons. Simply cut lemons in half and then squeeze the juice out. A juice reamer is handy to get every last drop of fresh lemon juice.

I like to juice the lemons right over the bowl, using a small strainer to catch the seeds.

adding lemon juice

Now mix together the condensed milk and the lemon juice. 

Place the lemon mixture on top of the graham cracker crust. 

Pro tip: Since the graham crackers are loosely placed in the bottom of the pan, spreading the lemon filling can be a little trick. I like to add the filling in small dollops, covering as much of the crumbs as possible. Then gently spread it to cover. 

adding lemon filling to pan

The next layer is whipped cream. Add the heavy whipping cream to a bowl, add a pinch of salt and whip until thick. 

 I like to add 2 tablespoons of sugar to sweeten the cream. Grandma never did this. Depending on your sweet tooth, you can add a bit of sugar.

whipped cream

 Carefully spread the whipped cream over the lemon layer. 

whipped cream layer

Lastly, sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs and lemon zest (if desired).

You can see from some of my original pictures, that I went really heavy on the crumbs. This time, I did more of a sprinkle. The consensus in my family was that more crumbs on top is better!

Then cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least 6 hours.

graham cracker crumb topping

For a beautiful presentation, you can cup up lemon slices and add a little lemon wedge to the top of each piece. 
Most people I know probably wouldn't eat the lemon, so it would just be to make it look fancy.

lemon freeze icebox dessert

Lemon freeze should be kept in the freezer until you're ready to eat it. Store leftovers in the freezer. 

I hope you enjoy this vintage recipe! It's one of my favorites. 
lemon freeze with a bite taken out

If you love lemon desserts, you've got to try my lemon bars! They're seriously amazing! I'm also a big fan of these lemon curd cookies and of course lemon meringue pie.

Lemon Freeze Recipe

Do you have any favorite recipes that were passed down to you? 


Don't forget to pin it! 
lemon freeze with text overlay

lemon freeze

lemon freeze with text overlay


  1. What a tasty looking recipe!
    My grandma makes a pumpkin pie that is wonderful. I have her recipe, but haven't managed to write a blog post about it yet. Come to think of it, I have posted her recipe for Oatmeal Raisin (or chocolate chip) cookies. I love family recipes. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Yummmmmm. I could go for a slice right now :)