Bi-Rite Creamery's Buttermilk Ice Cream Recipe

Bi-Rite Creamery's Buttermilk Ice Cream Recipe

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

This ice cream is bright and twangy, and as you start making pies and cobblers with every fruit that comes your way, it's the ice cream that you want plopped on top.

What Worked: It really does taste like buttermilk, and not in a creepy biscuit sort of way. The flavor is mild and tempered by vanilla (the recipe is in the vanilla ice cream section of the book).

What Didn't: Buttermilk is only 1 to 2% fat, and this recipe calls for a good amount of it. The resulting product turned out icier for me than the standard perfectly smooth Bi-Rite base. The texture is still nice, but not as rich as Bi-Rite's other ice creams.

Suggested Tweaks: Sometimes ice creams have to incorporate more water and less fat, and they'll just be icier. You could cut all the milk out of this recipe and replace it with straight cream, but that might dull the taste of the buttermilk. Your best bet is to just let the ice cream sit out a bit longer before you scoop. A warmer ice cream won't be as icy.

  • Yield:makes about 1 quart
  • Active time: 1 hour
  • Total time:1 hour, plus 2 hours to overnight to chill


  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup 1% or 2% milk
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. 1.

    Make the base: In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks to just break them up, then whisk in half of the sugar (6 tablespoons). Set aside.

  2. 2.

    In a heavy stainless steel pan, stir together the cream, milk, and the remaining sugar (6 tablespoons) and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.

  3. 3.

    Carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks. Returning to the pan of cream on the stove, use a heatproof spatula to stir the cream as you slowly pour the egg and cream mixture back into the pan.

  4. 4.

    Continue to cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and leaves a clear mark when you run your finger across it, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

  5. 5.

    Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer and into a clean container. Set the bowl into an ice bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight. (In this recipe, it's particularly important that the base is cold before proceeding to the next step; otherwise the buttermilk will cause the mixture to "break" and lose its emulsion.)

  6. 6.

    Freeze the ice cream: Add the buttermilk and vanilla to the cold base and whisk to blend.

  7. 7.

    Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. While the ice cream is churning, put the container you'll use to store the ice cream into the freezer. Enjoy right away or, for a firmer ice cream, freeze for at least 4 hours.