This strawberry buttermilk ice cream takes its dreamy, pretty-in-pink hue from in-season berries and its tang from, yes, buttermilk as well as a touch of lemon zest to balance out the sweetness of strawberries. An egg-free ice cream that casts the darling of summer in a starring role.–Jenny Howard

A blue bowl with three scoops of strawberry buttermilk ice cream and a gold spoon on the side.

Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

4.86 / 7 votes
This strawberry buttermilk ice cream is made with an egg-free buttermilk and cream base with strawberries and lemon mixed in. Sweet, creamy, tangy, and completely irresistible.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories294 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time8 hours 15 minutes


  • Ice cream maker


For the strawberry mixture

  • 10 1/2 ounces strawberries, about 2 1/4 cups, hulled and quartered or thinly sliced
  • 1 3/4 ounces superfine sugar or just blitz granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground but not powdery
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the ice cream

  • 1 2/3 cups heavy cream
  • 4 1/2 ounces superfine sugar (or just blitz granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground but not powdery)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon), or to taste, preferably organic
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk*


Make the strawberry mixture

  • In a medium bowl, gently toss the strawberries with the sugar and lemon juice. Cover and let macerate at room temperature for 2 hours.

Make the ice cream

  • In a saucepan over low heat, combine the cream, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and let cool completely, at least an hour.
  • Pour the cream mixture through a sieve or fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Stir the buttermilk into the cream mixture.
  • Using a potato masher, the back of a large fork, or in a food processor, gently mash or pulse the strawberries into a rough purée.
  • Stir 3/4 of the strawberry purée into the buttermilk mixture.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: There’s no need to chill the ice cream mixture prior to processing it in your ice cream machine.

  • Pour the strawberry-buttermilk mixture into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Process the mixture according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • About 5 minutes before the ice cream has a soft set, remove the lid of the machine and add the reserved berry purée. Replace the lid and let the purée mix in completely.
  • Spoon the soft ice cream into a container, cover, and freeze for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.
  • To serve, remove the ice cream from the freezer and let it soften at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before scooping.


*What can I substitute for buttermilk? 

Often, home cooks will sub in milk mixed with lemon juice or vinegar when they run out of buttermilk. However, modern buttermilk is actually made from cultured milk, rather than the leftover liquid from making butter. That means that an even better substitute for the buttermilk you’d most likely have on hand is mixing plain yogurt into milk. For this recipe, we’d suggest 1 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of yogurt.
Jude's Ice Cream & Desserts Cookbook

Adapted From

Jude’s Ice Cream & Desserts

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Serving: 0.75 cup servingsCalories: 294 kcalCarbohydrates: 29 gProtein: 2 gFat: 20 gSaturated Fat: 12 gCholesterol: 72 mgSodium: 59 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 26 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2019 Chow and Alex Mezger. Photo © 2019 Yuki Sugiura. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Stunning fresh strawberry flavors. Make a batch as soon as local strawberries are ripe and plan to make it again before the end of the season. The buttermilk and cream base has just the right balance to the fresh fruit, the vanilla, and lemon.

This comes together easily with modest home equipment and a little planning. I would suggest making it the night before you plan to serve so it can rest in the freezer overnight. Even without eggs, the texture of this ice cream is perfect and got enthusiastic grins all around. It definitely won’t be forgotten in the freezer.

I thought this recipe made very nice ice cream. This is the best time of year to find strawberries at the farm stand and our having just picked berries made this ice cream delicious.

It was an easy recipe to make. And the buttermilk and lemon gave the ice cream a nice flavor, not tart at all. Good summertime dessert.

When they’re in season, I often find myself buying more strawberries than I can possibly consume before they start to get overripe. This recipe is an excellent way to deal with the excess. The sweetness of the berries is tempered a bit by the tang of the buttermilk and the lemon zest, but the fresh strawberry flavor still comes shining through.

This ice cream has a smooth and creamy texture and only took 5 minutes on the counter to become scoopable. It was a big hit in my house and will be repeated often this summer.

Overall, the texture is creamy and it had a smooth mouthfeel. I’m not sure what the purpose of adding in the second quantity of berries was. The berries that were added later seemed to be a bit icy in the finished product. This was the only downside of the recipe, and it didn’t detract from the overall result. I was able to scoop it after it sat for 5 minutes out of the freezer.

I’ve never made buttermilk ice cream before and was very pleased with the results. I used 1% buttermilk because that seems to be all we have here and the creaminess was affected but not significantly. I also used fresh, local strawberries that were so juicy and delicious the ice cream almost didn’t happen.

The lemon zest was just enough to give it a fresh, bright flavor without overwhelming the strawberries. Once in the machine, I let the ice cream churn for nearly 12 minutes until it really started to thicken up. Once frozen, it did have the texture of old-fashioned scoop ice cream. I enjoyed the flavor and texture, especially for non-custard-based ice cream. This is faster and easier to make and yields an excellent end product.

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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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I originally made this recipe only to use up leftover buttermilk but it’s so good that I’ll be making it again this summer trying different berries. I love the fresh taste that you get with ice cream that is not made with a custard base. This recipe reminds me of a ultra creamy frozen yogurt that isn’t overly sweet.

    1. Thanks, Terri. I’m curious to hear how it turns out with other berries, and which version is your favorite.

  2. 5 stars
    Made it today with the blueberries. Other than the change of fruit, I (uncharacteristically ) followed the recipe exactly. Well, except for not having a crystal ball to know when “About 5 minutes *before* the ice cream has a soft set” would be. Ahem. So I guessed. Like tester Kim Graham, I couldn’t see what the point was of adding part of the fruit later; it got all mixed through during the final 5 or so minutes of churning. When I make this again — and I plan to! — I might add it right before the ice cream is done, so it makes a swirl instead, or swirl it in after I remove the ice cream from the machine.

    The flavor is very good — equal parts blueberry and buttermilk, sweetish but also tangy. And since I always like lemon with blueberries, that works quite well. I ended up with about a quart and a half total, more than the stated yield. Which is fine with me, since I’ll bring the quart to my friends’ for dinner and still have some left for just us.

    1. Suzanne, yes, that churning timing is a little tricky, but most ice cream maker instruction manuals do offer a pretty precise processing time. Love to hear that you liked the recipe and that you know how you’ll tweak it going forward. (And that you have sufficient to keep on hand for you!)