Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream Recipe

A frozen alternative to pumpkin pie, with gingersnap cookies and candied ginger folded inside.

Photograph: Max Falkowitz

When it comes to holiday food, I like to stick pretty close to tradition. Brisket? Grandma style. Latkes? Plain and simple. But dessert is where I get to play. By the dessert course your guests are tired and malleable, and it's the only time of the night I can convince the family that bourbon in pie is a good idea.

Speaking of pie, let's talk about pumpkin pie. I know there are many of you who like—nay, love—pumpkin pie. To you I say god bless and good luck, may you enjoy your pumpkin pie forevermore.

I like pumpkin pie, but I find myself eating it more out of a sense of holiday obligation than genuine interest. The starchy creaminess in crust-bound custard just doesn't do it for me the way, say, a lemon meringue does. But if you took that pie custard, churned it in an ice cream machine, and stirred in crushed gingersnaps and candied ginger? Now we're talking. Meet pumpkin pie ice cream, my—and I hope soon to be your—solution to the holiday baking rut.

It's a straightforward custard as ice creams go: pumpkin purée, brown sugar, and tastes of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. But it receives some definite personality from star anise and whiskey: rye for something spicy, bourbon for something more vanilla, or hey why not Scotch because it's your ice cream and you can do what you want. The amounts in the recipe are small, but their impact isn't.

Recipe Facts

Active: 60 mins
Total: 10 hrs
Makes: 5 cups

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  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée, canned or homemade
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 star anise petals (or 1/8 teaspoon ground)
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon or rye
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped gingersnap cookies, storebought or homemade, chilled in freezer
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, finely chopped, chilled in freezer


  1. In a large, heavy saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, brown sugar, and pumpkin purée into a smooth paste. Slowly whisk in cream and then milk until fully combined.

  2. Whisk in cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and star anise, and cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until a custard forms on the back of a spoon and a swiped finger leaves a clean line, 5 to 7 minutes.

  3. Push custard through a fine mesh strainer with the back of a spoon or ladle into an airtight container. Stir in bourbon or rye and salt, cover, and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 6 hours and up to over night. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer ice cream to airtight container, quickly stir in gingersnaps and candied ginger, and firm up in freezer for at least 3 hours before serving.

Special equipment

ice cream maker

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