Buttermilk Ice Cream


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Servings: Makes about

    1 quart

Appears in

This is one of my favorite variations on a traditional ice cream and actually results in a lighter consistency that might be closer to a sherbet. The method is basically the same as the vanilla ice cream, but the buttermilk gives the final product a really nice, tangy flavor.

While I’ve provided the basic recipe below, I highly recommend trying this ice cream with any kind of stone fruit (peaches are my favorite). Just add about a cup of finely chopped fruit near the end of the churning process. The sweetness from the fruit is perfect with the tangy buttermilk.

This is definitely ice cream that you can’t find in the store!

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour plus chilling time


  • 2 cups milk (whole is best)
  • cups sugar
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  1. Add milk and sugar to a medium saucepan and bring to a light simmer.
  2. Whisk yolks in a separate bowl.
  3. Slowly whisk about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the yolks to temper them. Then whisk all the yolks back into the hot milk mixture.
  4. Cook the custard mixture on low heat, scraping and stirring regularly with a heat-resistant spatula. Cook until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 8 to 10 minutes. The custard should register about 170°F.
  5. In a separate bowl, add buttermilk, salt, and vanilla extract. Use a metal mesh strainer to strain warm custard into the buttermilk mixture.
  6. Stir the mixture until combined and chill. You can either set it in your fridge for a few hours or set the bowl in an ice bath and stir. That will cool it down very quickly.
  7. Once custard is cold, add to your ice cream machine and churn according to the instructions that came with your machine.
  8. Once ice cream is a soft serve consistency, freeze until solid. As mentioned, you can add any fruit you like just before freezing. I like to stir my ice cream once or twice as it freezes to break up ice crystals and make the finished texture very smooth.

Four Ice Cream Variations

These variations all begin with the basic vanilla ice cream recipe, but they are a bit more exotic. Use the ingredients listed instead of the original recipe ingredients. Any preparation changes are noted. You definitely can’t find these in the store. The one exception is pistachio. While you can find pistachio in the store, the homemade version is much more flavorful.

Chocolate Chili Ice Cream

  • 2 cups milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Add cocoa powder and chili powder to milk mixture and whisk well. Bring to a simmer. No need to steep mixture before whisking with egg yolks. Important to strain this custard before chilling and churning it.

Pistachio Ice Cream

  • 1 cup pistachios
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup pistachios, roasted and chopped

Grind 1 cup pistachios with sugar in a food processor. Add to milk, salt, and extract in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer. No need to steep the mixture before combining with the egg yolks. Strain the custard into the heavy cream and chill well before churning. Add final ¾ cup chopped pistachios near the end of the churning process.

Orange Ginger Ice Cream

  • 2 cups milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup orange juice

Make custard mixture as you would with the standard recipe. Add ginger to the milk at the beginning of the recipe so it dissolves as the milk heats. Steep and stir the milk until most of the ginger dissolves. Reheat custard mixture if it has cooled, then strain custard mixture into cream. Add extracts and chill. Add orange juice before churning.

Coconut Honey Ice Cream

  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make custard as normal, adding honey to the hot milk mixture with a Pinch of salt. Once custard is thick, strain into coconut milk and add extract. Chill and churn!

Four Quick Ice Cream Sauces

The really nice thing about all of these sauces is that they take just minutes to prepare. You can make them on a whim, assuming you have the ingredients handy.

I love all of these over plain vanilla ice cream, but obviously you can create some fun combinations. Try the fresh strawberry sauce with the orange ginger ice cream, for example.

Making a simple, warm, homemade ice cream sauce makes ice cream a special occasion and a real treat. These sauces also happen to keep pretty well, for at least a week or two in the fridge. To reheat, just stir in a few tablespoons of water or milk and warm them up again on the stove over low heat.

Fresh Strawberry

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, halved
  • cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ lemon, juice only

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and mash strawberries. Let simmer for 10 minutes until it thickens, stirring frequently. Serve warm or cold.

Peanut Butter

  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until combined and smooth. Do not simmer or the sauce will break. When the sauce is warm and a single, slightly thick consistency, it’s done. Serve warm. If your sauce does break and turn grainy, you can usually fix it by stirring in a few tablespoons of milk.

Dark Chocolate

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat until chips are melted. Sauce should be very thick, perfect for ice cream. Serve warm.


  • cup milk or cream
  • 1 cup marshmallows, about 8 large
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. As marshmallows melt, they will start to foam. Watch it closely at this point, and once the marshmallows are completely melted, kill the heat. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Let cool a minute before using, but serve warm.