Making ice cream might seem a little intimidating, but once you have the necessary equipment it's not only easy, but incredibly fun. Making ice cream is a great way to exercise your creative muscles—once you've mastered the technique, your imagination is just about the only limit. Classics like vanilla, chocolate, and mint chip are awesome, but how about flavors made with smoked cream, rum and lime, or even cheddar cheese? To start your own ice cream adventure check our our Ice Cream Essentials page, then dive into our 22 favorite recipes for traditional (and not-so-traditional) ice cream, creamy coconut-based vegan varieties, and dense Midwestern frozen custard.
Dairy-Based Ice Cream
Homemade Speculoos Ice Cream
What's better than eating Biscoff and ice cream? Eating homemade Biscoff with homemade Biscoff ice cream! We crush up the spiced cookies and dissolve them in the ice cream base, which ensures a silky-smooth result. The intriguing caramel flavor makes it perfect for pairing with apple pie.
Smoked Muscovado Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream
I've always been partial to vanilla ice cream, but I understand why people tend to think it's boring. This ice cream is anything but, thanks to dark, molasses-infused muscovado sugar and smoked cream. We smoke the cream almost like a piece of meat, but set it in an ice bath so it doesn't cook.
Scotch Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
We go with a different sort of smokiness for this grown-up vanilla ice cream variation: Scotch. Adding a shot of whisky (preferably a Highland Scotch like Glenlivet 12) to the base before churning gives the ice cream a subtle maltiness and brings out the vanilla's floral, almost honey-like flavors.
The Darkest Dark Chocolate Ice Cream
For a chocolate ice cream to draw me away from vanilla, it needs to be seriously chocolatey. Forget about mild milk chocolate—I'm looking for something more intense. This recipe delivers with plenty of high-quality dark bar chocolate and cocoa powder. What really sets the ice cream apart is that we steep bitter cocoa nibs into the base to fortify the chocolate's edgier side.
Bold and Bracing Coffee Ice Cream
Keeping with the bold and bitter flavors, this ice cream is perfect for those of you who like your coffee black. We give the ice cream its intensity by steeping five tablespoons of medium-grind coffee into a base that has just enough butterfat to be creamy, but not so much as to dull the coffee's bite.
Milky and Mild Coffee Ice Cream
We're equal-opportunity coffee lovers here, and there's nothing wrong with wanting milk and sugar in your cup. This recipe plays to coffee's milder side by using just two tablespoons of ground beans and steeping them in a base higher in butterfat. This should still taste like coffee, though, so go (relatively) easy on the sugar.
The Best Mint Chip Ice Cream
I don't hate the mint extract that flavors classic mint chip ice cream—it certainly packs a ton of minty flavor. The problem is that the flavor you get from the extract is pretty one-note. Our updated recipe is flavored with fresh mint leaves, which give the ice cream a more subtly complex, grassy flavor.
Smoked Honey Mint Chip Ice Cream
This mint chip variation also uses fresh mint leaves, which we steep into the same smoked cream from our smoked muscavado vanilla. We also mix in a quarter cup of honey, which has a deep sweetness that ties together the bright mint and rich smoked cream. For the chips, we go with dark chocolate, which is chopped fine and chilled before being added.
Creamy Cajeta Ice Cream
Cajeta casera is a rich, caramelly sauce made with goat's milk—think of it as the most complex dulce de leche you've ever tasted. It's great spooned on top of ice cream, but here we make it into ice cream by mixing it with milk, heavy cream, and vanilla extract or rum. You might notice that there are no eggs in the recipe, which works because the cajeta has plenty of protein on its own.
Rocky Road Ice Cream
At Serious Eats we like our chunky ice cream extra chunky, so the typical almonds and marshmallows in rocky road just aren't enough. To up the chunk factor we supplement the traditional mix-ins with chopped white chocolate and toasted hazelnuts. The ice cream itself is just milk chocolate, which is mild enough to let the other flavors shine.
The Best Strawberry Ice Cream
Have you ever taken a bite of strawberry ice cream and found it to be incredibly icy? The problem is that the berries are full of water, which is the enemy of good ice cream. We combat the iciness by adding corn syrup to the base. For the best flavor we use small, super ripe strawberries and leave them uncooked.
Peanut Butter Honey Ice Cream
The best ice cream bases are high in fat, protein, and sugar, and peanut butter delivers on all counts. We use it here to make an incredibly smooth and creamy ice cream flavored with floral wildflower honey. Be careful what honey you use—you want something assertive, but the darkest varieties will be overpowering.
Browned Butter Pecan Ice Cream
Butter pecan ice cream should be more than just vanilla ice cream with nuts mixed in—we want the ice cream itself to taste like pecans. We accomplish that by steeping pecans directly into the base, and also by mixing in brown butter for even more nutty flavor. Make sure to use a fresh batch of nuts for mix-ins—the steeped ones lose most of their flavor to the base.
Maple Walnut Ice Cream
Our maple walnut ice cream uses the same technique as our butter pecan—we steep the nuts right into the base. Instead of sugar we sweeten the ice cream with dark maple syrup, which gives the dessert a complex, bittersweet edge.
Dense, Chewy, and Rich New England-Style Ice Cream
If you've spent time in New England you're likely familiar with a type of ice cream that is dense and rich almost to the point of having a taffy-like texture. The pros make it by churning the ice cream slowly to get as little air as possible into it—if you're stuck with a single-speed home ice cream machine you can replicate the texture by using a base fortified with corn syrup and tons of protein and churning it until just set.
30-Minute Philadelphia-Style Ice Cream
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Philadelphia-style ice cream, which is made with no eggs at all and churns up wonderfully light and fluffy. Leaving out the eggs makes the ice cream quick (no need to cook the base) and gives the finished product a purer dairy flavor.
Cheddar Ice Cream for Apple Pie
Can't decide whether to eat your apple pie with a scoop of ice cream or a slice of cheese? Thanks to this recipe, which is made of an ice cream base with sharp cheddar melted in, you don't have to decide. I'll warn you that this tastes pretty weird on its own, but it works remarkably well on top of warm pie.
Vegan Ice Cream
Vegan Mint Chip Ice Cream
Just like dairy-based ice cream, vegan ice cream needs lots of fat to churn up nice and creamy. One way to get that fat is from coconut—not just coconut milk, but coconut cream as well. Our basic coconut-based vegan ice cream can be flavored with chocolate or vanilla, but pairs especially well with mint.
Vegan Salty Peanut Butter Ice Cream
I've already told you that peanut butter is a killer way to add body to ice cream, and it works just as well in vegan recipes as it does in dairy-based ones. Make sure to find a vegan "no-stir" variety, then mix in a good pinch of salt to balance out the sweetness.
Vegan Coconut, Lime, and Rum Ice Cream
While our last two recipes cover up the coconut with other flavors, this one goes all in on the tropical theme by complementing it with bright, citrusy lime zest and deep, molasses-tinged dark rum. Alcohol can keep ice cream from freezing properly, so don't add too much rum (save the rest for a cocktail).
Soft and Rich Vanilla Frozen Custard
I'm a Wisconsin boy at heart, so my favorite frozen dairy treat is frozen custard, not ice cream. Like Philly-style ice cream, dense, creamy frozen custard is made using machinery not available to home cooks. Fortunately, you can get pretty close with an ice cream base with lots of cream and eggs yolks.
Soft and Rich Chocolate Frozen Custard
This recipe takes our same frozen custard base and adds Dutch-process cocoa powder. Along with the cream and eggs, a few tablespoons of corn syrup help give the dessert its signature richness. Frozen custard doesn't keep well—invite some friends over and polish this off within two hours of churning.