Adding Peppermint to Frozen Desserts

Whether Christmas or summertime, this flavor adds a special touch

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 The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

Because of candy canes, peppermint is a quintessential flavor during Christmas—but not just as the red and white striped sticks. Peppermint ice cream is a popular favorite around the holiday season as well. Unfortunately, the store-bought peppermint ice cream brands are only available in November and December. Luckily, it is simple to make your own peppermint ice cream. Peppermint is also a great flavor to add to a variety of frozen desserts for some creative treats—whether at the holidays or any time of year.

ways to add peppermint into frozen desserts
Illustration: Ashley Deleon Nicole. © The Spruce, 2019

Make Homemade Peppermint Ice Cream

Peppermint ice cream is actually very easy to make. All you need is a good vanilla ice cream recipe and replace the vanilla extract with half the amount of peppermint extract; then add 1/2 cup of crushed peppermint candies to the mix. You can either use round peppermint candies or candy canes to make your crushed peppermints. Just place the candies in a plastic bag and give them a smash with something heavy (like a rolling pin). Add them in at the very end of the mixing process, when there is only about 30 second left to churn.

You can also add crushed peppermint candies to chocolate ice cream. Chocolate and peppermint are a great combination; a teaspoon of peppermint extract will pump up the flavor even more. And you are creating a peppermint ice cream that you may not be able to find at the grocery store.

Add to Store-Bought Ice Cream

If you don't have an ice cream maker, no worries—you can make your own peppermint ice cream using a favorite flavor from the grocery store. Soften the ice cream slightly and then add the crushed peppermint and/or extract, gently mixing to combine well. Vanilla, chocolate, cookies and cream, even coffee and caramel go well with peppermint.

Decorate Ice Cream Sandwiches

Making your own ice cream sandwiches is a fun way to turn leftover cookies into a delicious treat, and when they have peppermint in them, they are even more special. The trick is to soften the ice cream on the counter for about 10 minutes first; then put a scoop on the bottom of a cookie and use another cookie to press the sandwich together. Some great combinations are chocolate chip cookies with vanilla or peppermint ice cream, or sugar cookies with chocolate ice cream, or chocolate chip cookies with vanilla.

Before you pop them back in the freezer to set up, roll the exterior of your sandwich in crushed peppermint candies. This will give your ice cream sandwiches a great texture on the exterior and a pop of festive fun.

Layer in Molded Desserts

If you plan on making an ice cream bombe, pie, or cake, this is an easy place to add a pop of peppermint. In between the layers of ice cream and other ingredients, add a sprinkling of crushed peppermint candy. You can also stir a teaspoon of peppermint extract into softened ice cream to brighten up the peppermint flavor.

Top Ice Cream Sundaes

Whether it be chopped nuts or colored sprinkles, adding a bit of crunch to your ice cream sundae is always welcome. Crushed peppermint will add not only great texture but also a wonderful minty flavor. When sprinkled over hot fudge and whipped cream, your typical sundae will turn into something spectacular.

Coat Ice Cream Bars

Give boring frozen fudge bars some pizazz with a bit of crushed peppermint. Soften the ice cream on a stick just until the exterior becomes slightly melted so the candy will adhere. Place in the freezer until frozen again.