Scotch Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Recipe

Scotch Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Photograph: Max Falkowitz

This is everything vanilla ice cream should be: impossibly rich and smooth with deep notes of honey, caramel, and flowers. A good Highland Scotch (I'm partial to Glenlivet 12 for this) brings out the best flavors of vanilla while also adding depth; smokier varieties are also fun to play with if you're into that sort of thing. There's a good amount of salt to keep you coming back for another bite. Add salt slowly and adjust it to your tastes.

To play against such a floral whisky I use Mexican vanilla bean, which has a powerful spicy funk. Avoid Mexican vanilla extracts, which are often cut with cheaper, potentially toxic ingredients. Mexican vanilla beans are amazing, but should come from sources you trust.

Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 10 hrs
Serves: 8 servings

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  • 2 cups cream

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1 vanilla bean (Mexican or Bourbon), split and scraped

  • 8 egg yolks

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (see notes)

  • 3 tablespoons Highlands Scotch whisky (recommended: Glenlivet 12)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste (see notes)


  1. In a heavy saucepan, bring cream and milk to a bare simmer. Stir in vanilla bean and seeds, cover, and let steep for one hour. Remove bean, wash away dairy, and set aside to dry. Spent bean can be added to a jar of sugar to make vanilla sugar.

  2. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until well-combined and light in color. Slowly pour yolk mixture into dairy mixture, whisking well to combine. Cook custard on low heat, whisking frequently, until it thickens, coating the back of a spoon but leaving a clean line when swiped with a finger.

  3. Strain into an airtight container, then stir in vanilla extract and Scotch. Add salt to taste. Chill overnight, then churn the next day according to manufacturer's instructions. Eat immediately as soft-serve or let firm up in freezer for two to three hours.

Special equipment

ice cream machine

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
374 Calories
28g Fat
22g Carbs
9g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 374
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 28g 36%
Saturated Fat 16g 80%
Cholesterol 279mg 93%
Sodium 259mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 8%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 22g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 105mg 8%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 169mg 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.)