To make this ice cream, I steep freshly ground beans directly into cream. It’s a very different process than most coffee ice creams, which are made by steeping coffee in water and then adding that to cream and milk. When you do this, you get a very different experience. The flavoring of the coffee itself adheres to the water, but the fat-soluble scents—the ones that give coffee its rich and earthy aroma—have nowhere to go.

But take those coffee grounds and steep them in cream, and you can lock all that scent into butterfat. And that’s exactly what I do: I literally take all of that scent off the ground coffee to make this ice cream. That’s why my black coffee ice cream tastes exactly the way coffee smells.–Jeni Britton Bauer


Yes, you absolutely can. And yes…it’ll be just as good, if not better than something made with a French custard base. Jeni Britton Bauer has perfected her sweet cream ice cream base and it lends itself to all kinds of flavoring—although it’s truly superb even on its own. For her ice cream base, her notable additions are cornstarch, corn syrup, and cream cheese. Cornstarch helps to thicken the base, as expected. We advise you not to skip out on the corn syrup or sub in granulated sugar because the corn syrup makes it remarkably smooth and aids in keeping it from becoming granular. And now, onto the cream cheese. It might seem questionable to say the least but think of all the qualities it has—smoothness, a bit of body, and a little tanginess. The small addition of cream cheese makes a remarkable difference and we urge you to give it a try.

A spoonful of black coffee ice cream on the tip of a silver spoon.

Black Coffee Ice Cream

5 / 3 votes
Black coffee ice cream. This creamy, easy homemade ice cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, made with no eggs, is a caffeine fix, coffee fix, and ice cream fix all in one, whether you take it in a bowl or on a cone or straight off the spoon. Seriously, it’s so damn good. We’re talking stick-a-spoon-in-it-and-swoon good.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories317 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time35 minutes


  • Ice cream maker


  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup dark-roast coffee beans, coarsely ground


  • In a small bowl, mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch to make a smooth slurry. Forget about it for a little while.
  • In another bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt until smooth. Forget about it, too.
  • Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart or larger saucepan and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the coffee, and let it steep for 5 minutes.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: Much depends on the quality of your coffee. Freshness, too. Trust us when we say freshly ground will make ALL the difference.

  • Strain the coffee mixture through a strainer lined with a layer of cheesecloth, squeezing the coffee grounds in the cheesecloth to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the grounds.
  • Return the coffee mixture to the saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in the reserved slurry as you bring it to a boil. Cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  • Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the reserved cream cheese mixture until smooth. Let cool slightly, then pour the mixture into a 1-gallon resealable plastic freezer bag. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice to the bowl as necessary, until the ice cream base mixture is uniformly cold, about 30 minutes.
  • Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's instructions until thick and creamy.
  • Pack the ice cream into a container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface of the ice cream, and seal with an airtight lid. Tuck it in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

Adapted From

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 0.5 cupCalories: 317 kcalCarbohydrates: 31 gProtein: 4 gFat: 21 gSaturated Fat: 13 gCholesterol: 74 mgSodium: 108 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 29 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2011 Jeni Britton Bauer. Photo © 2011 Stacy Newgent. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This is one of the best coffee ice creams I’ve ever tasted. There is a rich, natural flavor of coffee that I haven’t experienced with most other coffee ice creams.

All of the timing specified in the recipe worked perfectly. Like all freshly-made ice creams, this ice cream was creamy and soft when it came out of the machine, and then it set up quite firmly after a few hours in the refrigerator. The idea to put the warm mixture into a resealable plastic bag and submerge it in an ice bath is brilliant and a great time saver. Normally, ice cream directions will tell you to chill the mixture in the refrigerator for six or more hours before spinning it in the machine.

This Ice Cream is UNBELIEVABLE! Jeni’s ice creams use 3 tablespoons softened, full fat cream cheese. This, I am certain, is THE secret to the CREAMIEST ice cream EVER! This, for me is, hands down, the tastiest coffee concoction that has ever passed my lips.

YUMMMM!!!! I loved this ice cream so much! The taste was like a mocha frappuccino but with an ice-cream-like texture. The ice cream was very creamy and smooth. I’m a Starbucks lover, so I consider this the best thing ever! I never really liked the taste of coffee ice cream, so I decided to use 1/8 cup coffee and 1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder. Also, my assignment for school was to bring in a black treat, so I added just a few drops of black food coloring. Hoping I can make it again very soon!

This ice cream is … delicious doesn’t seem to do it justice. It is rich, yet not heavy, creamy, and irresistible. Loved the look of the tiny flecks of coffee that were not caught by the cheesecloth. Beautiful. Maybe not a chicken in every pot, but some Black Coffee Ice Cream in every freezer. Sounds good to me.

While I can’t survive without my morning cup of coffee, I have never liked coffee ice cream. But I’ve heard so much about this book and the amazing ice cream of Jeni’s, so I had to give this a try. This coffee ice cream is really amazing compared to store-bought versions.

The ingredients are different than most other ice cream recipes I’ve seen (cream cheese and cornstarch) and it was interesting to see the texture of the ice cream before it was churned. The use of fresh coffee beans makes a huge difference. I would certainly try this again, as well as many other ice creams in this book.

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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5 from 3 votes (1 rating without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This black coffee ice cream is so easy to make and dangerously delicious! The coffee flavor is intense and the ice cream is so creamy. It is the coffee ice cream of my dreams. At home, I mostly eat ice cream in the evening so I made it with Pete’s decaf French Roast beans. Instead of using a ziplock bag to chill the ice cream base, I poured it into a quart jar, then refrigerated it overnight. I churned the ice cream in the morning and enjoyed it that evening.

  2. I discovered her original recipe several years ago and have never used another except for a few from David Lebovitz. Her coffee ice cream is the best but add a swirl of melted chocolate and you have better than the best.

  3. What if you don’t have an ice cream maker? Can it just be frozen in a tub? Could it be 1/2 frozen and whirled in a blender to add air and then back into the tub and frozen?

    1. We’ve tried numerous recipes for ice cream that don’t call for a maker, Rattildamae, and our testers are always disappointed in the texture if they go in expecting the creaminess of ice cream. So no, definitely don’t freeze it in a tub. I like what you propose regarding blending it and returning it to the freezer. It’s not quite the same as churning but it may work. I suggest you pour the ice cream mixture into a large shallow container, such as a metal baking pan, and place it the freezer and then every 30 minutes or so transfer it to the blender and whirl it a little. Kindly let us know how it goes!