Pumpkin Ice Cream

This pumpkin ice cream recipe is so simple and foolproof, all you need to worry about is how to have sufficient self-restraint so as not to demolish the entire batch before guests arrive. Or before fall even arrives. An inspired and gluten-free alternative to pumpkin pie.

A metal container filled with pumpkin ice cream and a metal ice cream scoop resting inside.

Yes, pumpkin ice cream. Even though the pumpkin spice everything craze has left some of us less than enthusiastic about pumpkin spice anything, this pumpkin ice cream recipe has swayed us. It’s spiced with ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg and sweetened with molasses and brown sugar. Perfectly so, we might add. It’s gluten-free, natch, so it’s a holiday dessert that everyone can belly up to at the table. And it’s so darn lovely, it may make you forget all about the pie.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Pumpkin Ice Cream

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 30 M
  • 30 M
  • Makes 8 (1/2-cup) servings
5/5 - 1 reviews
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Special Equipment: 1-quart (or larger) ice cream maker



In a saucepan off the heat, combine 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces/375 milliliters) cream, the brown sugar, and molasses and stir to blend.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and the remaining 1/2 cup (4 ounces/125 milliliters) cream until well blended.

Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, just until bubbles form around the edges and the sugar dissolves, 4 to 5 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to come to a boil.

Immediately remove from the heat and, whisking constantly, slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. When almost all of the hot liquid has been incorporated, slowly pour the warmed yolk mixture back into the saucepan, still whisking constantly. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the custard [Editor’s Note: Congratulations! You just made a custard!] is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 4 to 5 minutes.

Pour the hot custard through a strainer into a clean bowl, gently pressing the liquid through the sieve with the back of the spoon. Stir the pumpkin purée and vanilla into the custard just until blended.

Place the bowl with the custard into a larger bowl filled halfway with ice water and let cool for 30 to 45 minutes. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.

Prepare an ice cream maker with at least a 1 quart (1 liter) capacity according to the manufacturer’s directions. Pour the custard into the ice cream maker and churn until the custard reaches the consistency of thick whipped cream. Transfer to a plastic freezer container, cover tightly, and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days. Originally published November 23, 2015.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

I have tried pumpkin ice cream before and it always seems to just be vanilla with some nutmeg to flavor. This version takes it to a whole new level. So rich and packed with more deep complex flavor than any store-bought version. I didn't have any problems with the recipe, it went exactly as written.

After pouring the ice cream in the frozen base of my ice cream maker, I started doing other things. After 40 minutes I checked on it and it was already ready to put in the freezer, maybe thicker than whipped cream consistency so probably ready even before this. I tasted it as I scooped it into a container for freezing and knew this was going to be a hit!

About 6 hours later, we finally tried the final product. So rich you only need a small amount but so good you want to eat more! This could definitely go with or replace your traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. I even wondered if pouring this into a crust and having a pumpkin ice cream pie would work?

Just lovely! This pumpkin ice cream is earthy and rich with real pumpkin flavor. It's another great reason to make your own ice cream and a really nice way to use the abundance of fresh sugar pumpkins this time of year.

It took great discipline to give the finished ice cream the suggested 3-hour wait in the freezer before serving. The spicing was just right—I like that it didn’t have allspice or clove, and I may have been slightly more generous in measuring the ginger. I only had dark molasses on hand, but I had several choices that are generally acceptable substitutes for light molasses, including Lyle’s Golden Syrup, a German sugar-beet syrup, and maple syrup. Using dark molasses would have darkened the appearance and might have dominated the flavor. The most appealing substitute was actually maple syrup, so I chose that. The texture of the cream and brown sugar blend had a lovely silken look and sheen, similar to a nice caramel sauce.

If you are careful and slow in drizzling in the hot cream and brown sugar mixture into the egg mixture, you will temper it while whisking slowly but continuously and have no problem at all with curdling. Still, make sure to strain it before chilling. 
An easy make-ahead recipe. I'm already plotting how to include this in a holiday dessert selection. Now, on to make something fun with those egg whites.


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  1. Hello, I’d like to make this for a friend who is lactose intolerant…any idea if full fat coconut milk or oat creamer would work in place of the heavy cream? Thank you!

    1. KT, we haven’t tried making this with non-dairy cream, so we can’t say how it will turn out. My recommendation would be to swap in an equal amount of coconut cream. Do let us know how it turns out!

    1. Excellent question, Gloria. Thank you for asking! Yes, Grandma’s Molasses (the one that’s labeled “Original”) is considered to be light molasses. What you want to be careful NOT to use in this recipe is any molasses labeled blackstrap. We hope you love this pumpkin spice ice cream as much as we do!

  2. I work in an ice cream shop and also a candy shop (I know, right?) but will still be making this. Ice cream is so incredibly easy, every time I wonder why I don’t do it more often!

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