Buttermilk Ice Cream

Dish of Ice Cream
Buttermilk Ice Cream. Molly Watson
  • 25 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 1 quart (8 servings)
Ratings (7)

Buttermilk ice cream goes perfectly with berries, peaches, figs, and other summer fruits. It's also a great way to make any pie or tart "à la mode" while adding a refreshing tart note to the proceedings. It's sweet yet bright and in no way cloying, plus it has a slightly lemony, cheesecake-like flavor.

To give this ice cream that tell-tale tangy buttermilk flavor, the buttermilk is added at the end, after the eggs and cream have been cooked into a custard. Leaving the buttermilk uncooked leaves its bright flavor intact.

Stirring a bunch of buttermilk into the custard gives this ice cream a somewhat light texture. For a heavier, creamier, premium ice cream feel, simply decrease the amount of buttermilk to 1 cup and sugar to 1/2 cup.

What You'll Need

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups buttermilk

How to Make It

  1. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat (pay attention: you just want it to start boiling, not boil over!).
  2. While the cream comes to a boil, in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture turns a pale yellow and thickens up enough so ribbons will sit on the surface for a minute when you lift the whisk out of the mixture.
  3. When the cream boils, slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. This partially cooks the egg yolks into a smooth, liquid texture, whereas if you just combined everything the egg would curdle and you'd have some scrambled eggs in hot cream on your hands.
  1. Return the mixture to the saucepan and over medium-low heat cook it, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until it becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (you should be able to run your finger across the back of the spoon and leave a track in the mixture clinging to it). You may be tempted to turn up the heat to make this happen faster; try to avoid that temptation in order to avoid scorching or curdling the ice cream base. You may also be tempted to use a whisk, but that's going to introduce a lot of extra air and make it difficult to determine when the mixture has thickened properly.
  2. Pour the thickened mixture into a clean bowl and stir in the buttermilk. Stir to completely combine the buttermilk into the ice cream base—they are different textures and won't combine immediately.
  3. Ideally, the mixture is in a medium metal bowl that you can now set in a slightly larger bowl that's filled with ice. Nestle the bowl containing the mixture in the ice; let it sit, stirring now and again, until the mixture is chilled. 
  4. Alternatively, you can just cover and refrigerate the mixture until chilled, at least an hour and up to overnight. 
  5. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions or use this How to Make Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Maker method that involves a metal bowl, a whisk, a freezer, and time.
  6. Cover the frozen mixture and freeze until hard, about 1 hour, before serving.
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 272
Total Fat 17 g
Saturated Fat 9 g
Unsaturated Fat 5 g
Cholesterol 197 mg
Sodium 132 mg
Carbohydrates 23 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Protein 8 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)