Buttermilk Ice Cream Recipe

This ice cream boasts big buttermilk flavor, but it has a texture that's light and fresh.

Photographs: Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Cornstarch reduces the need for eggs to keep the ice cream silky and thick.
  • With more buttermilk than cream, the tangy flavor shines through loud and clear.
  • Aromatic ingredients like brandy and orange blossom water help the buttermilk's flavor shine even when dulled by the effects of freezing temperatures.

This recipe channels the light and tangy flavor of buttermilk into a silky smooth ice cream that's tart and refreshing enough to enjoy all on its own, although it's also the perfect counterpoint to the best seasonal fruit. It's particularly nice when paired with a fresh fruit swirl, or a slice of warm cornbread for a sweet and savory dessert.

Recipe Facts

Active: 25 mins
Total: 5 hrs
Serves: 6 servings

Rate & Comment


  • 7 ounces plain or lightly toasted sugar (about 1 cup; 200g)

  • 3/4 ounce cornstarch (about 3 tablespoons; 20g)

  • 1/8 teaspoon (0.5g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight

  • 2 large eggs (about 3 1/2 ounces; 100g)

  • 10 ounces cultured, lowfat buttermilk (about 1 1/4 cups; 285g)

  • 8 ounces heavy cream, straight from the fridge (about 1 cup; 225g)

  • 1/2 ounce apple brandy, or other fruity spirits (about 1 tablespoon; 15g), optional

  • 1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water, optional


  1. In a 3-quart stainless steel saucier, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and eggs, followed by the buttermilk. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly but gently, until warm, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium and continue whisking until thick and steaming hot, about 3 minutes longer. When the custard begins to bubble, set a timer and continue whisking for exactly 1 minute to neutralize a starch-dissolving enzyme found in egg yolks.

  2. Strain into a non-reactive container, then whisk in cream, brandy, and orange blossom water, if using. Season to taste with additional salt, if needed. Cover and refrigerate until no warmer than 40°F (4°C), or cool to the same temperature in an ice bath. Meanwhile, place a 1-quart container and flexible spatula in the freezer.

  3. Churn the chilled base in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions, until fluffy and thick enough to gather in the dasher (about 30 minutes, but the timing will vary depending on the type of machine). When the ice cream is ready, shut off the machine and, using the chilled spatula, scrape into the chilled container. Enjoy as soft-serve, or cover with plastic pressed directly against surface of ice cream, then close lid and freeze until firm enough to scoop, about 4 hours.

Special Equipment

3-quart stainless steel saucier, non-reactive sieve, ice cream maker, non-reactive, freezer-safe container


Historically, buttermilk has always been lowfat by nature, because it was a byproduct of churning butter. Modern manufacturing methods may not produce buttermilk the same way, but low-fat styles best mimic the flavor and body prized in the original.

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
313 Calories
16g Fat
40g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 313
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 20%
Saturated Fat 9g 47%
Cholesterol 106mg 35%
Sodium 132mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 40g 15%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 37g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 90mg 7%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 131mg 3%
*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.)