Brown Sugar Bourbon Ice Cream

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Video Bourbon ice cream recipe

We’ve been enjoying lots of no-churn ice cream recipes this summer. They’re quick and easy, always smooth and creamy, and they don’t require an ice cream maker. But I do have an ice cream maker that still deserves to be used, and my husband prefers the richness of a slowly churned, egg-based frozen custard. So to please him, I made this rich, creamy brown sugar ice cream. The flavor in this ice cream is incredible, with the complementary notes of vanilla bean, molasses from the brown sugar, and of course, the bourbon.

Looking for more custard based ice cream recipes? You’ll love double Dutch dark chocolate ice cream, pistachio brownie chunk ice cream, and salted honey ice cream.

Scoops of brown sugar ice cream in a silver footed bowl.

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Why You’ll Love This Ice Cream

Soft and Creamy. The texture of this ice cream is just so good. The egg yolks add a rich denseness, while the whipped cream keeps it so soft and creamy.

Bourbon + Brown Sugar. With the caramel notes from the bourbon and a hint of molasses in the brown sugar, this ice cream has the most incredible flavor.

Versatile. Want some spice? Add cinnamon or nutmeg, like in my cinnamon ice cream recipe. Like texture? Add some toasted, chopped pecans for a delicious nutty flavor and crunch.

Closeup of brown sugar ice cream.

Ingredients

Whole Milk + Heavy Whipping Cream.

The high fat content of whole milk and cream ensures a rich, smooth, creamy texture.

Sugar.

The dark brown sugar adds a deeper flavor, with molasses and caramel notes, that’s so good in this brown sugar ice cream. You can use either light or dark brown sugar. Besides sweetening ice cream, sugar also keeps it smooth. The reason sorbets are so smooth, even without any fat or dairy, is from their high ratio of sugar.

Egg Yolks.

The egg yolks are what gives the ice cream “body”. They make the ice cream, or frozen custard, more dense with a luxurious texture and mouthfeel. I usually use 5 egg yolks for 1 batch of ice cream, but some people use even more for a richer custard.

Vanilla Bean.

If you’ve never used a fresh vanilla bean, you’re in for a treat. The fragrance is incredible. To use the seeds inside, you need to place the bean on a cutting board. Use the tip of a knife to score the bean lengthwise so you can split it open. Then, use the blade of the knife to scrape all the seeds out. Alternatively, you can use 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste, an ingredient that I absolutely love. It’s a little cheaper than using vanilla beans, and the flavor is amazing.

Salt.

A pinch of coarse Kosher salt balances the sugar, and enhances the flavor of the ice cream. I always add salt to my dessert recipes.

Bourbon.

Alcohol is an ingredient that you will often find in homemade ice cream. The reason for this, besides the flavor, is that alcohol lowers the freezing point of the custard. So as it’s churned and the custard freezes, the alcohol helps to prevent the formation of ice crystals which will make your ice cream icy instead of creamy. Commercially made ice creams contain other ingredients, such as guar gum, to perform this function and enhance the viscosity of the ice cream.

Scoops of brown sugar ice cream in a silver footed bowl.

Instructions

Cook.

  • The process is simple. First, the custard needs to be cooked on the stove, just to dissolve the sugar and warm the egg yolks. While whisking constantly, cook the milk, half the cream, egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla, over medium heat, just until the custard is steaming hot. You should not let the custard come to a boil.

Chill.

  • After cooking, strain the custard (to remove any bits of cooked egg), then chill it.
  • There are two reasons for chilling your custard, prior to churning it. If you pour hot custard into your ice cream maker, it could warm up the ice cream maker too much so that it doesn’t churn properly, so you need to pour cold custard into your ice cream maker. Also, allowing the custard to rest and chill lets the flavors mingle and develop.
  • I usually cook my custard at night and let it chill in the fridge overnight. Then I churn my ice cream first thing the next morning, so it will be frozen and ready to serve by that night.

Churn.

  • Before churning your ice cream, whip the remaining 1 cup of cream until soft peaks form, then whisk it into the chilled custard. This will make your ice cream incredibly smooth and creamy.
  • Churn the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions, adding the bourbon during the last minute of churning. Transfer to a lidded ice cream container and freeze until firm, about 8-10 hours.

Freeze.

  • After churning, your ice cream will be a creamy, soft-serve consistency, and it will need to be frozen for at least 8-10 hours until firm.
  • Use a lidded ice cream container to freeze your ice cream in. I use these cute ice cream tubs – I have them with a few different colored lids, they hold 1 quart each, and I just love them. And then, your patience will be rewarded with the most luxurious, delicious ice cream you can imagine.
Scoops of brown sugar ice cream in a silver footed bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the bourbon optional?

Yes, you can leave it out, if you prefer. The alcohol not only adds flavor, though, but also promotes a smooth and creamy texture in homemade ice cream.

Should I use light or dark brown sugar?

You can use either, but dark brown sugar will give your ice cream a deeper flavor.

Why does the ice cream need to be cooked first?

Since the custard contains egg yolks, you’ll be cooking the custard briefly to heat the egg yolks.

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Did you love today’s recipe? Please rate the recipe and let me know in the comments what you thought! Also, be sure to follow Curly Girl Kitchen on Instagram, and tag me when you try one of my recipes so I can see all your delicious creations!

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