Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream Recipe

A sweet and creamy take on Vietnamese iced coffee.

Photograph: Robyn Lee

Say, purely hypothetically, you have eight cans of sweetened condensed milk left in the office and enough Vietnamese coffee to power all-nighters for the next few days. You could, I suppose, make some Vietnamese drip coffee every day and keep your caffeine and canned dairy intake at reasonable levels. But that sounds so boring in comparison to Vietnamese coffee ice cream, which is my favorite coffee ice cream variant and one of my favorite ways to take coffee, period.

Vietnamese coffee—that is, the coffee grown in Vietnam like leading brand Trung Nguyen, not the Louisiana-inspired chicory coffee drunk by many members of the Vietnamese-American population—can taste remarkably floral, fruity, and bitter all at once. It has a dark, powerful kick, much more intense than the stuff we're used to, and it's made all the better by a generous slurp of sweetened condensed milk.

The winning drink formula also makes some excellent ice cream, which is at once crisp and bitter like real coffee while also being plenty rich and creamy. That creaminess is thanks in part to the can of condensed milk that goes into this recipe. It leaves a great milky flavor on the finish, but it also does marvelous things for the ice cream's texture, which is smooth to the point of glossy. As the sticky summer doldrums creep ever closer, I'll be looking to ice cream like this more and more when I want something creamy and sweet that's also refreshing.

Recipe Facts

Active: 60 mins 0 mins
Total: 0 mins
Serves: 8 servings
Makes: 1 quart

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  • 6 large egg yolks

  • 1/4 cup ground Vietnamese coffee (see note)

  • 2 cups half-and-half

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (see note)

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste


  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and coffee until well combined. Whisk in half and half and condensed milk until fully incorporated.

  2. Place pot over medium-low heat and cook, whisking frequently, until a custard forms on a spoon and a finger swiped across the back leaves a clean line, or until custard temperature reaches 170°F. Stir in salt to taste.

  3. Strain custard through a fine mesh strainer and chill in either ice bath or refrigerator until it is very cold, about 40°F. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions, then transfer to an airtight container and to harden in freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.

Special equipment

ice cream maker


"Vietnamese coffee" in the U.S. often contains ground chicory, but this recipe calls Vietnamese-produced coffee, such as Trung Nguyen, a blend of four coffee beans with complex aromas and flavors. If you can't find it, a strong French roast is a decent substitution, though the flavor won't be quite the same. Do not use "sweetened condensed filled milk," made with skim milk and added vegetable oil, in this recipe. Stick to brands that list milk and sugar as the only ingredients.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
350 Calories
16g Fat
40g Carbs
12g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 350
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 21%
Saturated Fat 9g 46%
Cholesterol 206mg 69%
Sodium 255mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 40g 14%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 39g
Protein 12g
Vitamin C 2mg 11%
Calcium 278mg 21%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 383mg 8%
*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.)