Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

I’ll admit that my favorite selection from the shiny white Good Humor jalopy that cruised our neighborhood was simply called “Toasted Coconut”: vanilla ice cream on a stick, coated with lots of sugary-sweet coconut.

On the last fateful day that I’d ever see the Good Humor man, the bully next door decided to spray him with water from a hose as he slowly circled our block. He beat a hasty retreat and never came back. Being blackballed by the Good Humor man made that the worst summer of my life. I don’t know what happened to the neighborhood bully, but now that I’m an adult I can have Toasted Coconut Ice Cream whenever I want. And I do.–David Lebovitz


The photo above features Toasted Coconut Ice Cream swirled with Mango Sorbet, one of Lebovitz’s favorite combos.

Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

  • Quick Glance
  • (3)
  • 35 M
  • 1 H, 45 M
  • Makes 1 quart
5/5 - 3 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Special Equipment: Ice cream maker


Ingredients sent!

Send Grocery List

Email the grocery list for this recipe to:

Is required
Sign me up for your or newsletter, too!
Is required


Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring it frequently so it toasts evenly. Remove it from the oven when it’s nice and fragrant and golden brown.

In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, 1 cup of the heavy cream, sugar, and salt and add the toasted coconut. Use a paring knife and scrape all the vanilla seeds into the warm milk, then add the pod as well. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

Rewarm the coconut-infused mixture. Set a mesh strainer over another medium saucepan and strain the coconut-infused liquid through the strainer into the saucepan. Press down on the coconut very firmly with a flexible rubber spatula to extract as much of the flavor from it as possible. Remove the vanilla bean halves (rinse and reserve them for another use), and discard the coconut.

Pour the remaining 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl and set the mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm coconut-infused mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Mix in the vanilla or rum and stir over an ice bath until cool.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Print RecipeBuy the The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments cookbook

Want it? Click it.


#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


  1. I made this and it was amazing – one of the best ice creams I’ve ever had. The richness of the coconut infusion is like a deeply caramelized vanilla. Yum.

    One tweak – in addition to the unsweetened shredded coconut used for infusing the milk/cream, I also toasted some cane-sugar-sweetened organic shredded coconut and mixed it in while the ice cream was churning – I highly recommend this.

    On the first night, I paired the ice cream with homemade salted butter caramel sauce and on the second, homemade chocolate syrup and chopped dry roasted and salted macadamia nuts. Honestly, it doesn’t need any accompaniment because the flavor is exquisite but it’s fun to try new things.

  2. I took the toasted coconut and dried it in the oven at 175°F. I folded it into some brownie batter and sprinkled some on top after I removed the brownies from the oven. A scoop of ice cream on top of the warm brownie was decadent.

  3. I replaced the final cup of cream (that you add the custard to) with full-fat coconut milk and it was perfectly creamy.

  4. I just made this completely without dairy. I allowed 2 cans of coconut milk to separate in the refrigerator and spooned off the coconut cream. I used 2 cups of the coconut cream for the heavy cream and 2/3 of a cup of light coconut milk plus 1/3 cup of the liquid left from the separated milk for the whole milk. The texture is right on.

  5. I made this and it’s my absolute favorite. However, I kept all the coconut in because I wasn’t bothered about the finished ice cream being smooth, and it was MAGNIFICENT. Like a Bounty bar without the chocolate.

  6. Definitely do not toss that coconut! I spread it back out and re-toasted until deep golden brown and crispy. It’s crazy delicious, with or without the ice cream.

  7. Awesome. The best ice cream I’ve ever made. We lapped up every drop, and now I’m lusting to make the recipe again. I really liked the smoothness of the finished product, which wouldn’t have been the case had there been flakes of coconut.

  8. This is exquisite. Pairing it with a deep chocolate cake for a dinner party. I did not, however, discard the coconut once it flavored the cream. I saved some to sprinkle on top as a garnish and took a spoon to the rest when no one was looking.

  9. This is the second recipe i made with the ice cream maker. For some reason though it turned out bad… I think I must have done something wrong, because the ice cream didn’t taste like coconut.

    1. Hi Katie,

      We are so sorry that the ice cream did not work for you. Perhaps you could tell us a bit more and we can try and figure out what may have gone wrong?


  10. Has anyone tried this substituting coconut milk for either the whole milk or some of the heavy cream? I’m thinking about it…

    1. I don’t see any harm in trying that. Perhaps omit the cup of heavy cream that doesn’t steep with the coconut, go through all the steps including cooking the custard, and then add a cup of coconut milk to the already-strained custard. BTW, I’ve made quite a few recipes from this book and they’ve all been really good. The Guinness-Milk Chocolate ice cream on page 32 is especially wonderful.

      1. Actually, couldn’t wait and made it last night. Substituted lite coconut milk for the whole milk, and it was fantastic. No problem with the whipping or freezing — consistency is fine. And so so yummy!

    2. I think building on the coconut flavor using coconut milk is a great idea, but I would be careful substituting it for the cream—the fat content is generally quite crucial to the consistency of an ice cream, and coconut milk and heavy cream are not interchangeable in terms of fat content. I think you may have to play around and try this more than once in order to maintain as nice a consistency as the currently balanced recipe, but I’d probably lean towards replacing the whole milk rather than the cream. You’re more likely to get a nice boost in flavor without sacrificing any of the creamy richness you want in a finished ice cream. In any case, I certainly would hesitate to replace as much as half of the cream, or you risk ending up with a grainier ice cream once it’s turned. Hope that helps, and have fun experimenting—that’s always my favorite part of cooking!

  11. I also loved this recipe. I followed it to the letter because it was the first one I made in my new ice cream maker. However, I was wondering…at the point in the recipe where it says “discard the coconut,” I had pangs, because I didn’t want to throw away all those delicious golden threads.

    Do you think one could reintroduce a few teaspoons of the coconut at the end for extra texture? Or would this ruin the smooth creaminess?

  12. This is the BEST ice cream recipe I have ever made. I have made it many times and it is great! It tastes like a macaroon, fabulous.

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Rate this recipe!

Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think.

Upload a picture of your dish