Homemade Blueberry Lemon Gelato highlights the vibrant flavor of berries by churning fresh blueberry lemon puree with sweet milk and cream custard into a smooth, dense frozen dream of a dessert.
With or without an ice cream maker homemade gelato is the perfect make ahead dessert for summer potlucks, parties and dinners. And with all the seasonal fresh fruit at the market once you know this easy to customize method you’ll be able to whip up any delicious fruit gelato you can imagine!
I created this recipe for a fun cooking party that my friends and I have been taking turns hosting for the last year. It was such a great make ahead recipe that is so easy to serve at the end of the meal.
The only restriction for our friends potluck was that the dish had to be delicious. Well, that and loosely PNW seasonal. And being that we chose memorial day weekend at my house it was the unofficial kickoff to summer vacation.
Knowing right away I wanted to go the ice cream route I strategically chose dessert. Universally loved by all frozen desserts are perfect party food because they have to be made ahead of time. To highlight the theme of summer in the Pacific Northwest I chose blueberries. And to ensure their juicy flavor held true in the final dish gelato was the best option.
By the way the night ended huddled around my kitchen counter with a handful of lifelong friends and our kids, spoons in hand enjoying homemade gelato. It was perfect.
A low key friends potluck
Cooking can be exhausting. Even a lifelong lover of the kitchen who finds joy in creating new delicious dishes to share with her loved ones can get burnt out when cooking for the same people with the same likes and (very much voiced) dislikes day in and day out.
So my food loving friends and I try to get together every couple months taking turns hosting potlucks in each other’s homes. It’s like a friendsgiving, but all throughout the year so we get to sample seasonal recipes and enjoy each other’s kitchen creativity!
To throw your own low key friends potluck simply choose a date and location and maybe a loose theme (or even a cookbook!) to tie things together. Have each guest brings their choice of course and an accompanying beverage. With starter, soup, salad, main, side, and dessert it’s the perfect way to get everyone together for a feast while sharing the work! Easy on everyone!
And tonight we’re off to another friend’s potluck with the theme being Italian dinner party in the forest and ironically I will not be making gelato. Instead I choose to create an Italian crostata inspired Chocolate Tart with Coffee Candied Almonds.
Ice cream versus gelato?
Air, fat and temperature are the main differences between ice cream and gelato that make the latter my choice for delivering fresh vibrant flavor. With less dairy fat in the mix gelato is able to be slow churned resulting in a smooth, dense texture. With ribbons that fall from spoon to bowl rather than whipped and fluffy like ice cream. This rich texture allows gelato to be served at a higher temperature than ice cream without turning into a soupy, milky mess.
- Blueberry puree – made from fresh or frozen blueberries, granulated sugar and lemon juice. To make any other fresh fruit gelato simply swap fruit of your choice for blueberry and proceed as directed. Use this same homemade ice cream recipe to make raspberry swirl ice cream, blackberry swirl ice cream, strawberry swirl ice cream or a mixed berry ice cream combination of any or all fruits. No lemon? Try mixing up the recipe with any other citrus juice like lime or orange.
- Gelato base – a basic gelato base made with egg yolks, sugar, whole milk, heavy cream and kosher salt.
Step by step instructions
- Make a concentrated fresh fruit puree and chill.
- Make gelato custard base and chill.
- Then combine the two and churn whenever you’re ready! For streaks of flavor, churn the base completely (or add just a small amount of fruit), then add thick swirls of puree before freezing like this Cranberry Orange Ice Cream.
- Pop in the freezer.
- In 4-5 hours your gelato will be the perfect texture to serve.
Make gelato without an ice cream maker machine
There are a few different methods for making ice cream and gelato without an ice cream maker.
- No churn versions fold whipped cream into a custard base then freeze.
- Or, you can hand churn gelato, stirring the freezing custard at even intervals until set, for the flavor and texture of gelato sans ice cream maker. The Stay at Home Chef‘s blog post and video outline how to make gelato by hand. If hand churning try mixing in the fresh fruit puree at different times for ribbons of contrasting flavor and texture.
A great make-ahead recipe for entertaining gelato can be churned up to two days in advance.
Or, prepare the fruit puree and gelato base up to 3 days in advance as it fits your schedule. Then churn and freeze at least 6 hours before serving.
Tip: store fruit puree in the same container you’ll be storing your ice cream. Do not wipe out puree after whisking into gelato base and pour churned gelato back into container for beautiful swirls of fruit puree.
This homemade gelato recipes yields about 1 ½ pints, or 3 cups, of gelato. Typically the serving size for gelato, or ice cream, is ½ cup. So this recipe yields enough for 6 standard size servings.
fresh fruit puree
- 3 cups blueberries fresh or frozen
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 4 large egg yolks
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh Fruit Puree
- Combine berries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and let macerate 30-60 minutes. Then, place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thicken about 10 minutes. Remove and refrigerate until cool then puree smooth, straining if desired, into an airtight container.
- In a large saucepan whisk the egg yolks and sugar until slightly lighter in color and well combined. Whisk in milk, cream and salt.
- Cook mixture over medium heat, whisking frequently until it reaches 170 degrees. Remove from heat and immediately strain through a fine mesh strainer into a chilled airtight container to cool. Place in refrigerator until ready to churn, up to 3 days.
Blueberry Lemon Gelato
- When ready to churn add 2 cups of fresh fruit puree to gelato base and stir to combine, reserving remaining fruit puree to swirl in or top the gelato. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions until firm and billowing, about 30 minutes usually.
- Transfer to airtight container and freeze until hardened at least 4-5 hours.
- Eat within 2 days, same day preferred.