This gingerbread ice cream is total decadence. You can enjoy it plain or stir in crushed gingersnap cookies for added crunch. You can also use it as a filling for gingerbread ice cream sandwiches, or serve it over your favorite pies and cakes!
I live on the east coast, so for me, the holiday season means cold weather. It means we’re supposed to say goodbye to frozen desserts and hello to seasonal baked goods like pumpkin pie.
Here’s the thing, though. I’m a rule breaker. Not only is ice cream one of my all time favorite desserts, but retiring it until summer would mean missing out on creating holiday-flavored treats like this gingerbread ice cream. Wouldn’t that be a shame?
So put on your warmest sweater and make this. You’ll be glad you did.
Ingredients for Gingerbread Ice Cream
- Heavy cream
- Vanilla extract
- Egg yolks
- Brown sugar
- White granulated sugar
- Ground ginger
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground black pepper
- Optional: Gingersnap cookies
How to Make Gingerbread Ice Cream
If you’ve never made homemade ice cream before, you might be surprised by how simple it is to prepare. There’s very little active time involved. The entire process isn’t quick from start to finish, but that’s because you need to let the base chill before freezing it. Here’s what you do:
- Heat up the half-and-half, cream, molasses, and vanilla in a small saucepan until just barely simmering.
- In a large saucepan, whisk together the yolks, sugars, and spices until smooth.
- Slowly whisk the hot liquid into the yolk mixture (this will start heating up the eggs to prevent them from scrambling).
- Return everything to the saucepan and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, until the eggs are a safe temperature.
- Pour into a clean bowl, cover, and chill for at least 4 hours. Spin in an ice cream machine.
Voila! Homemade ice cream!
Recipe Notes and Substitutions
The first time I made this recipe, I tried skipping the ice cream maker altogether. It didn’t work.
It turns out that molasses can actually prevent this recipe from freezing properly if you try to use my no-churn method. You need to use an ice cream machine with this recipe. I think this article helps explain why, though I’m still a bit fuzzy on the science behind what’s happening.
You also want to keep the finished ice cream in the freezer for the same reason. Don’t leave it out on the counter, because once it thaws out, it doesn’t refreeze very well (I also learned this the hard way. It will refreeze eventually, but it takes much longer than usual.)
As long as the ice cream stays frozen after churning, it’s perfect!
More Holiday Recipes
You can also see my full archive of Thanksgiving recipes here!
Gingerbread Ice Cream
- 2 cups half-and-half (or 50% whole milk + 50% heavy cream)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 1/2 ounces dark brown sugar (about 1/3 cup packed)
- 2 1/2 ounces granulated sugar (about 1/3 cup)
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- Optional: 1 1/2 - 2 cups gingersnap cookies, coarsely chopped
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the half-and-half, molasses, and vanilla, then bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, vigorously whisk together the yolks, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl until thick and smooth (if any small lumps of brown sugar form, pinch them with your fingers to break them up). Whisk in ginger, cinnamon, pepper, and salt. Slowly whisk the hot liquid into the eggs, then pour everything back into the saucepan and set it over medium-low heat.
- Using a wood spoon or heat-proof spatula, stir the mixture constantly until the ice cream base has thickened slighten and has reached a temperature of about 170 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 4-6 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, then press plastic wrap directly against the top of the ice cream base to prevent a skin from forming. Place in the refrigerator and chill until very cold, 4 hours or overnight.
- Prepare ice cream in a machine according to manufacturer's instructions, then transfer to a container to finish freezing (I like to use a 9x5-inch loaf pan). If you’re stirring in chopped gingersnaps, add them while transferring the ice cream to the container, since it will be a soft serve consistency.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
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