Warm flavors of pumpkin pie in cool ice cream form! This easy to scoop pumpkin ice cream is perfect for Thanksgiving and the holiday season.
Pumpkin pie usually comes once a year for Thanksgiving dinner.
(Although, I’m more of a pumpkin tart person. It has a better crust to filling ratio.)
Extend pumpkin pie season with this home churned pumpkin ice cream!
Homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream
Real deal churned ice cream requires a handful of simple ingredients: cream, milk, eggs, and sugar.
Two key factors to consider when making homemade ice cream:
- balanced mix of ingredients
- quick freezing
First of all, use good quality (relatively fresh) milk and cream. Don’t use dairy that is nearing it’s best by date or has been open in the fridge for some time.
The ice cream base should have a balanced mix of ingredients. The proportion of fats and sugar contributes to the ice cream’s texture.
Egg yolks and a touch of bourbon helps to ensure the ice cream freezes creamy.
Quick freezing (churning-time) also contributes to the ice cream’s texture and consistency.
It’s a good idea to chill the base before spinning the ice cream. Colder ice cream base will speed up the churning process, thereby producing smaller ice crystals (meaning smoother textured ice cream).
Ingredients and Substitutions
Heavy cream is also labeled as heavy whipping cream. It has about 36-40% fat. Whipping cream has a slightly lower fat content at 30% Either will work for this recipe.
Whole milk is 5% fat. It may be substituted with reduced-fat (2%) milk. Do not use non-fat milk as this will create an icy texture.
Light brown and dark brown sugar are interchangeable in this recipe.
I highly recommend using canned pumpkin puree. Use high-quality puree.
Use of bourbon is optional, but highly recommended. It adds a tiny bit of flavor.
Its main purpose is prevent the ice cream from freezing solid. It helps to create a creamy, easy to scoop texture.
What does it mean to temper eggs? It is the process of slowly introducing hot liquid to eggs.
Why is this necessary? You’ll end up with curdled eggs
How does scrambled egg ice cream sound? Not too appetizing, right?
How to temper eggs for ice cream base
- Have whisk and ladle ready.
- In a medium sauce pot, combine cream, milk, and a tablespoon of sugar. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, in a large, whisk together egg yolks, remaining sugar, and spices until smooth.
- Once liquid has almost come to a boil, lower heat. Slowly add about 1/4 cup of hot liquid into egg yolk mixture, whisking immediately to distribute eat.
- Continue adding a little bit of hot liquid until only a few tablespoons of liquid remain in the pot.
- Then, transfer the tempered egg mixture back into the sauce pot.
- Set oven medium heat and cook until mixture reaches nappe consistency, or 180°F on a kitchen thermometer. Stir often to ensure mixture does not burn along the bottom of the pot.
Adding Pumpkin Puree to Ice Cream Base
Remove sauce pot from heat source once mixture has reached the right temperature or consistency.
Whisk in pumpkin puree and bourbon until mixture is smooth.
I prefer not to heat the pumpkin puree with the rest of the ingredients. From my experience, the pumpkin tastes much cleaner this way.
Pour the ice cream base to heat safe container. Directly over ice cream base with plastic wrap. Then, cover container. Store in the fridge for a few hours (until fully chilled), ideally overnight.
Recommended Ice Cream Machines
There are three main types of ice cream makers: electric makers, freezer canisters, and brine bucket machines.
I personally use this compressor ice cream maker (an electric maker). It is a bit pricier than other ice cream machines, but well worth the price if you make ice cream often.
Freezer canisters are the most commonly version for home use. This machine requires you to freeze the separate churning canister ahead of time.
The compression machine doesn’t need any extra prep. Simply pour the chilled ice cream mixture into the machine. Within 35 minutes, you’ll have real deal churned ice cream!
Prior to purchasing that ice cream machine, I used to use this ice cream maker. This version requires you to chill the freezer bowl for at least 24 hours before use.
Brine bucket machine uses the traditional old-school method of salt and ice to freeze the ice cream base mixture.
The churned ice cream can be eaten straight from the canister. However, it will have the consistency of soft serve ice cream.
For better texture, spread the churned ice cream into a freezer safe container and freeze for a few hours until thickened.
There is a fine balance when adding sugar and alcohol to ice cream basee. Too much of either ingredient will prevent the ice cream from hardening. You may end up with a slushy mixture.
Optional Ice Cream Mix-Ins
Once the ice cream has thickened during the the churning process, you may add in any desired mix-ins. I kept it simple and chose to omit mix-ins.
Here are some ideas for possible options to toss in:
- chopped candied fruit (orange or ginger would be great! )
- toasted nuts (hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts)
- Chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, white chocolate chips, or butterscotch chips
- drizzle in caramel or dulce leche
How to store homemade ice cream
Keep fresh churned ice cream in a freezer safe container. Ideally, the container should have a lid or cover.
Otherwise, tightly cover container with plastic wrap. It’s a good to press the plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream to prevent freezer burns and ward off any unwanted flavors from seeping in.
Store ice cream in the coldest part of the freezer, usually the very back of the freezer. The pumpkin ice cream will stay fresh for up to 10 days.
Pumpkin Ice Cream
- digital kitchen thermometer
- ice cream maker
- 1 ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup whole milk or reduced fat 2% milk
- ¾ cup light brown sugar (150 g), packed
- 5 large egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mix
- pinch kosher salt
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (240 g)
- 1 ½ Tablespoon bourbon, whiskey, or rum optional
- In a medium sauce pot, combine cream, milk, and one tablespoon brown sugar. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, remaining brown sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice mix, and salt. Once milk mixture has almost come to a boil, lower heat. Temper hot milk into sugar-yolk. Slowly add hot milk into sugar-yolk mixture about ¼ cup at a time, whisking immediately to distribute heat. Continue adding hot milk to yolk mixture until there are only a couple tablespoons of milk left in the pot.
- Transfer the tempered egg mixture back into the sauce pot. Stir over medium-low heat until mixture reaches nappe consistency, or 180°F on a kitchen thermometer. Be sure to scrape along the sides of the pot to ensure mixture does burn along edges. Turn off heat and remove pot from heat source.
- Stir in pumpkin puree and bourbon until smooth. Transfer mixture to a heat-safe container. Place plastic wrap directly onto ice cream base. Cover container and keep in the fridge until cold. Ideally, chill overnight.
- Once mixture is cold, churn ice cream base according to your ice cream maker machine's instructions.
- Churn until the volume of the ice cream mixture has increased by half and has thickened to a soft serve consistency. Transfer ice cream to a freezer safe container. Press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the ice cream, cover container, and keep in the coldest part of the freezer for at least one hour to firm up.
- Heavy cream is also labeled as heavy whipping cream.
- Whole milk (5% fat) may be substituted with reduced-fat milk (2%). Do not use non-fat milk; this will create an icy texture.
- Light brown and dark brown sugar can be substituted for one another.
- Use store-bought pumpkin spice mix. Or, make your own blend by whisking together: 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon. 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger. (This makes more than needed for the recipe.)
- Bourbon (whiskey or rum) is optional. It adds a tiny bit of flavor. Its main purpose is to create a creamy, easy to scoop texture. The small amount of alcohol will prevent the ice cream from freezing into a solid block.
- Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 10 days.