Bourbon-Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

I know Robin Bellinger wrote an Essentials post about Vanilla Ice Cream a few weeks ago, and far be it from me to try and one-up a recipe adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts, but I just made the most amazing, incredible, can't-walk-by-the-freezer-without-swiping-a-spoonful Bourbon-Vanilla Ice Cream and I have to share.

The boozy experiment sprung from a conversation I had with my boyfriend. Steven Colbert recently acquired his own ice cream flavor, prompting us to ask each other, "If I had one, what would it be?" Mine, I decided, would involve figs, dark chocolate chunks, and possibly cinnamon ripples. After considering possible ingredients such as nut brittle, crushed Milky Way Midnight bars, and crisp topping (as in the stuff you bake over apples) we concluded that his flavor would be pure, classic vanilla, flecked with seeds and shot through with oaky bourbon.

Now for a recipe. After consulting various cookbooks, magazines, and websites, I settled on a version I found in an article by Kim O'Donnel. (The recipe was adapted from restaurant critic Bill Addison.) I meant to follow it exactly, but at the supermarket I mistakenly bought whole milk instead of the requisite half-and-half.

In the end, it didn't seem to matter. My ice cream came out so well, even my lactose-intolerant roommate couldn't stop eating it. Here is the recipe, exactly as I made it. I hope you enjoy it. And let us know—what ice cream flavor would you be?

Recipe Facts



Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Churning/Freezing Time: 4 hrs 20 mins
Total: 4 hrs 55 mins
Serves: 8 servings
Makes: 1 quart

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  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk

  • 1 vanilla bean

  • 7 large egg yolks

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 1/4 cup bourbon


  1. Combine cream and milk in a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the cream mixture.

  2. Add the vanilla bean to the cream mixture and bring to just under a boil over medium heat. Remove the cream from the heat and steep, covered, for 20 minutes.

  3. Combine the egg yolks with the sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk until the color lightens. Slowly whisk 1/4 cup of the hot cream into the egg mixture to temper it, then whisk the egg mixture back into the cream mixture. Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon without running.

  4. Remove from heat and strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Add the vanilla extract and the bourbon.

  5. Chill completely (at least 4 hours, or overnight) in the refrigerator, then freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
364 Calories
25g Fat
23g Carbs
9g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 364
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 25g 32%
Saturated Fat 14g 72%
Cholesterol 249mg 83%
Sodium 129mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 23g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 114mg 9%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 176mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)