This caffeinated ice cream is reminiscent of the intense cardamom-laced coffee served in Istanbul. While we’re smitten with the taste, we’re also quite fond of the fact that it requires just 10 minutes of effort and no ice cream maker. And yet the results would have you think someone slaved over it for hours. It’s just one more reason to love any recipe from Diana Henry.–Angie Zoobkoff

Two blue glass plates with scoops of Turkish coffee ice cream, and a spoon

Turkish Coffee Ice Cream

5 / 2 votes
This is not a Turkish recipe, but an ice cream inspired by the flavors of the thick coffee you’re served in Istanbul. It’s the simplest ice cream I make: mix and freeze.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories310 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Chill3 hours
Total Time3 hours 30 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 10 cardamom pods*, shells discarded and seeds ground
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup canned sweetened condensed milk


  • In a small bowl, combine the espresso powder, boiling water, and ground cardamom. Let cool to room temperature.
  • Using a stand mixer, an immersion blender, or a handheld electric mixer, beat the cream and condensed milk until the mixture is thick and airy, sorta like loosely whipped cream minus the soft peaks, 2 to 5 minutes. Stir in the cardamom coffee mixture.
  • If using an ice cream maker, dump the mixture into the maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions, about 20 minutes. Serve the ice cream immediately if you like a soft-serve consistency or transfer the ice cream to a container, cover, and freeze for at least a few hours if a harder consistency is desired.If not using an ice cream maker, scrape the ice cream into a container of some sort, cover with plastic wrap or a lid, and freeze until softly firm, sorta like soft-serve consistency, 3 to 5 hours, or very firm, up to 24 hours. It’s that simple. The ice cream really doesn’t need to be churned or even stirred.


*What if I don’t have green cardamom pods?

If you don’t have cardamom pods, skip that step and just add the espresso. Some of our testers replaced it with jarred ground cardamom and found that the taste was more subtle, so it’s up to you if you want to use it instead. The freshly ground seeds have much more aromatics and a truer flavor. The crushed black seeds also give you a speckled look and a bit of texture. You can strain them out of the coffee before adding the condensed milk mixture.
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Serving: 1 (1/2 cup)Calories: 310 kcalCarbohydrates: 26 gProtein: 5 gFat: 22 gSaturated Fat: 14 gCholesterol: 81 mgSodium: 69 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 21 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2018 Diana Henry. Photo © 2018 Laura Edwards. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Absolutely thumbs up winner. This is perhaps the simplest ice cream recipe I’ve ever made yet one of the most satisfying.

I’d like to say I have a bit of experience making coffee ice creams, if only because they outnumber all my other flavors. The cardamom comes through as a wonderfully integrated part of the taste—not screaming a single spice as much as making it so much more well-rounded than just coffee. Although the sweetness is something you can’t really adjust since it comes from the sweetened condensed milk, it works perfectly, especially when completely frozen (don’t judge it by tasting before freezing as it will probably come across as oversweet, but the cooler temperature will change that).

I actually did use an ice cream maker (not a fancy one—just an ordinary Cusinart model where you freeze the bowl beforehand). After 20 minutes of churning, it was at a nice, firm soft-serve consistency but after 2 to 3 hours in the freezer, it was perfect. I didn’t think it needed to sit out 20 minutes and would suggest 5 to 10 minutes before scooping. This is going to make a killer affogato that you can scoop ahead and pop back in the freezer while you pull your espresso shots.

Makes a perfect small batch. This recipe is one of the simplest, yet most rewarding, ice creams I have made. Honestly, this is an 11!

This Turkish coffee ice cream is fantastic, easy to put together, and the consistency is creamy and wonderfully rich. The dessert has a deep coffee flavor and the cardamom is simply divine and was greatly appreciated by our passionate coffee-ice-cream-loving testers.

Removing the cardamom seeds from the pods and smashing them in a mortar takes less than 5 minutes. Letting the spice steep in the coffee takes another 10 minutes. Whipping the cream and condensed milk took less than 2 minutes with an immersion blender. So you’ll have the ice cream in the freezer in less than 20 minutes, although hands-on time is even less than that.

The big “wait” is letting the mixture freeze, which took about 5 hours to achieve a proper firm consistency.

What to do with the extra sweetened condensed milk from the can? We added the remaining heavy cream from the pint and made another infusion of instant coffee, this time with cinnamon instead of cardamom, and froze that, too.

Delicioso! I was tasting Italian from the Ferrara brand Instant Espresso I used in this recipe, although this ice cream recipe is decidedly Turkish. The espresso combined with cardamom was a perfect match in this creamy, easy-to-make gourmet ice cream. This frozen dessert has a fantastically intense flavor. The only downfall of this recipe was the amount of time it took to remove and grind the seeds of the green cardamom pods, but the flavor was worth the effort. I think it would be acceptable to use ground cardamom but the flavor would obviously be less intense. As I’m the only coffee lover in my house, I’ll reap all the rewards of making this ice cream, which makes me very happy.

I used a KitchenAid hand mixer cup as the container to freeze the ice cream—perfect size and no need to use another container. I found the ice cream to be very creamy and easily scoopable so there is no need to remove it from the freezer before serving. I plan to use this recipe again and again.

Let me begin by saying that I am an ice cream lover and, therefore, very picky. And coffee ice cream is one of my favorite flavors. So this recipe was measured against a very high bar. It was delicious! What a nice surprise. The texture is lovely. It’s heavy, thick ice cream, and very smooth. The coffee flavor is wonderful and the cardamom helps to give it a richer, deeper flavor. And it came together in minutes.

I was skeptical looking at the recipe: cardamom pods, no ice cream maker, sweetened condensed milk. I tried it both with the 10 green cardamom pods as specified and then again with 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cardamom and noticed not enough difference to prevent me from making it if I couldn’t find the cardamon pods.

One of my other favorite ice cream flavors is maple walnut. My plan is it try it again with real maple syrup instead of espresso and toss in toasted walnuts.

I love ice cream and make my own frequently. I usually make it the traditional method with eggs so I was interested in seeing how this would turn out. Considering how simple this was to make, it came out amazing and the texture was very comparable to a mixture with eggs. It did indeed taste like a Turkish coffee with a good balance of sweetness. If I had to nitpick, I might increase the coffee flavor and decrease the cardamom flavor slightly.

I definitely will be making this again as it takes half the time it does to make it the traditional way. This recipe provides a good ice cream base to experiment with other flavors.

A delicious dessert in under 10 minutes! This Turkish coffee ice cream is quick to put together, customizable, creamy, yummy, and the best part is it took less than 10 minutes to put together. Taking the seeds out of the cardamom pods was the lengthiest part.

The ice cream, when finished, has a soft-serve ice cream consistency. It can definitely be served right away or packed into a one-quart freezer-safe container if you want hard ice cream.

I couldn’t taste the cardamom. If you don’t like cardamom, leave it out or add a different spice such as cinnamon or ginger. I also added cocoa nibs, which gave a lovely crunch to contrast with the creaminess of the ice cream. Trader Joe’s sells chocolate-covered cocoa nibs.

My husband loved the ice cream with hot fudge sauce. He said the texture was great and not too sweet. Of course, because it was coffee-flavored, my kids steered clear, which made my husband very happy.

I will definitely be making this dessert again, maybe subbing cocoa powder for the coffee so that my teen boys can enjoy this super easy, quick, and delicious dessert.

This ice cream couldn’t be easier to assemble. No scalding the milk, no tempering of egg yolks, no ice cream machine to clean. The drawback, of course, is that you must wait for the ice cream to freeze solid. Though, for those without a machine who still yearn to make their own, this ice cream yielded a fabulously creamy and soft end product. It wasn’t icy or too hard like when you leave the ice cream carton on the counter too long and then put it back in the freezer only to find a frozen ice cream block later.

Texture aside, the flavor was also greatly enjoyable—a combination of familiar black coffee mixed with a more distant spicy cardamom. A great way to conclude a spicy dinner.

I used a coffee grinder to grind the cardamom seeds. There weren’t very many of them, so they didn’t get as finely pulverized as I had hoped. A mortar and pestle might do the job for those who own one.

I noticed a thin, darker layer at the bottom of the ice cream container. I tasted it and realized the cardamom seeds must’ve settled and concentrated at the bottom before being frozen in place. Cooks may want to invert the container a few times after several hours to redistribute the spices.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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    1. Jale, we haven’t tried it this way, so we can’t guarantee that it works, but you should be able to substitute a combination of evaporated milk and granulated sugar for the sweetened condensed milk. To get 3/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk, you’d likely need about 1/2 cup of evaporated milk, and about 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Warm them together to dissolve the sugar, then cool to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe. Before chilling your ice cream mixture, taste and add additional sugar if necessary, remembering that cold mutes flavor so it will likely taste a bit less sweet after being frozen. Let us know how it turns out!

  1. Hi! I was curious as to why this and most of the Turkish coffee ice cream recipes I come across use espresso instead of Turkish coffee.


    1. The key difference is not that you are using espresso coffee instead of Turkish coffee. The key difference is that you are called on to use INSTANT powder. As a result, the coffee will dissolve completely in the hot water and you will get none of the sludge in the ice cream that regular espresso or Turkish coffee would generate. If you can find instant turkish coffee, go ahead and use it. In the alternative, you could try making a Turkish coffee and cool it before including it, but you should strain out the sludge VERY carefully.