It might sound unusual, but olive oil ice cream is pretty incredible. The texture is rich and creamy, with a hint of fruity olive oil flavor. For best results, use a fresh, light, and fruity olive oil as opposed to a peppery one. Try this olive oil ice cream recipe for a unique, impressive dessert!
I used to make a lot of weird ice creams on the blog, something I don’t do as often anymore because I’m never sure if anyone else likes them as much as I do! Go back into my recipe archives a few years, and you’ll find recipes like cardamom ice cream, roasted blueberry crème fraîche ice cream, and horchata ice cream (to name just a few).
This olive oil ice cream recipe ventures back into weird territory a bit, but it was too good not to share. The olive oil flavor isn’t overpowering, but it adds a subtle uniqueness and an incredible richness.
- Half-and-half (or a combination whole milk & heavy cream)
- Vanilla extract
- Egg yolks
- Granulated white sugar
- Extra virgin olive oil (a fresh and fruity one; more on this below)
How to Make Olive Oil Ice Cream
Let’s break this ice cream recipe down with step-by-step photos:
Step 1: Whisk eggs and sugar together in a large bowl
While the half-and-half heats up in a saucepan, place the yolks, sugar and salt in a bowl. Adding a pinch of salt to sweet recipes always helps create a pleasant flavor balance.
Vigorously whisk the ingredients for around 30 seconds until thick and creamy. If you lift the whisk out of the bowl, the mixture will drizzle down slowly to form what’s known as a ribbon.
Step 2: Whisk in simmering cream
This step is known as tempering. When it comes to eggs, tempering refers to slowly adding a hot liquid to raise the temperature without scrambling the ingredients.
Step 3: Cook over low heat until the ice cream base thickens
Add everything back into the same saucepan, then place it over low or medium-low heat. Stir constantly in a figure 8 motion for a few minutes until the mixture coats the back of a spoon or spatula. How do you know when it’s thick enough? You should be able to draw a line through it with your finger.
If you want to make sure the eggs are cooked safely, use a digital thermometer to make sure the mixture is at 165 degrees F before removing it from the heat.
Step 4: Chill mixture in a bowl with plastic wrap pressed against the surface
Pour the mixture into a clean bowl. Whisk in the olive oil until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly against the liquid to prevent a skin from forming on top as it cools down. Place in the refrigerator and chill until cold, around 4 hours.
Step 5: Spin ice cream
Once the ice cream is cold, add it to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer instructions to finish preparing the ice cream.
- You can adjust the cream to milk ratio for a richer or lighter ice cream. You can also use a bit more or less olive oil depending on your preference. Aim to keep the total amount of liquid the same (or very similar).
- When you whisk in the olive oil after cooking the ice cream base, it might briefly look like it’s not going to combine. Keep whisking! It might take a minute, but the ingredients should combine. The mixture should be smooth when you add it to the refrigerator.
- After a certain amount of time in the refrigerator, the olive oil may solidify a bit and cause the mixture to look separated. I didn’t experience this with 4 hours of chilling, but it happened the second time when I chilled the base overnight. If this happens, microwave 2-3 tablespoons of the ice cream base for 10-15 seconds, then whisk it back into the remaining base. Repeat this process until the mixture is once again smooth.
Which Olive Oil To Use
You don’t need to use an expensive olive oil for this recipe. However, I would focus on a few characteristics when choosing an oil:
- Use a fruity olive oil (as opposed to a peppery, grassy one)
- Use a light-bodied olive oil (you can use a stronger oil if you don’t mind a more intense flavor)
- Use a FRESH olive oil (purchased within a few months)
The first time I prepared this recipe, I tried using my everyday olive oil, which I knew was fresh since I go through new bottles constantly. It had a bland olive oil aftertaste I didn’t love, so I went on the hunt for something fruitier.
I reached out to the nice folks at Zingerman’s, since they really know their oils. The rep I spoke with recommended a few options to me including their Alziari Estate Olive Oil, which is what I ultimately purchased.
You don’t have to use something as pricy, but I recommend tasting your oil to make sure you like how it tastes on its own. The olive oil flavor will be subtle once combined with the other ingredients, but it will still be there.
What is The Best Ice Cream Maker?
I upgraded last year to a Whynter Ice Cream Maker. I love it, but it’s not cheap. However, it’s worth it to me since I make a ton of homemade ice cream.
Prior to upgrading, I used a more affordable ice cream machine from Cuisinart. There are even cheaper options available that have great reviews, though I can’t personally vouch for them. I don’t recommend purchasing something like the Whynter unless you plan to make homemade ice cream on a regular basis.
What is Half-and-Half?
If you live outside of the US, you might not be familiar with half-and-half. What is it, and how do you make it if you already have cream and milk in the fridge? Read my tutorial on how to make half-and-half so you can save time and money!
Why Egg Size Matters in Baking
This recipe calls for large eggs. Using different size eggs can drastically impact baked goods. Don’t substitute a different size unless you have a kitchen scale to measure an equal weight by volume (ounces or grams) to get the same total amount of egg.
Read more about why egg size matters in baking (and how to make substitutions).
More Ice Cream Recipes
You can also see my full archive of ice cream recipes here!
Olive Oil Ice Cream
- 2 cups half-and-half (or 1 cup whole milk + 1 cup heavy cream)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 6 large egg yolks
- 5 ounces granulated sugar (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons)
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil (see notes)
- In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the half-and-half and vanilla to a gentle simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on top.
- Meanwhile, vigorously whisk together the yolks, sugar and salt for around 30 seconds, until the yolks are creamy and thick, which means the sugar has dissolved (this is also known as the ribbon stage).
- Once the cream reaches a gentle simmer, slowly pour or ladle it into the yolks while whisking. Turn the heat to low and return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping everything from the bowl with a spatula.
- Using a spatula or wood spoon, stir the mixture for several minutes in a figure 8 motion, until the liquid has thickened slightly, approximately 5 minutes. If you want to use a thermometer, the temperature should read 165 degrees F.
- Transfer to a medium-sized bowl. Whisk in the olive oil (it might look separated at first, but will combine with the other ingredients), then cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly against the liquid to prevent a skin from forming.
- Chill for around 4 hours (see notes), and then prepare in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
For immediate help troubleshooting a recipe, please email me using the form on my contact page. I’ll try to respond to urgent questions as quickly as possible! For all general questions, please leave a comment here :)