This strawberry ice cream recipe, made with eggs, cream, sugar, and fresh strawberries, churns out an easy, creamy, homemade creation. And it’s better than all the store-bought brands of strawberry ice cream you’ve ever tasted thanks to its perfect balance of fruit and cream and modest amount of sugar. Here’s how to make it.
Strawberries are my favorite. And ice cream is my favorite too. Now you know two more things about me. This recipe is originally from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food.–Alana Chernila
*Do I need to add alcohol to my ice cream?
It depends. Do you like chunky, ice-crystal filled dairy products? Then no. However, if like us, you prefer smooth, creamy, and nearly professional dairy products, then the answer is yes. Homemade ice cream is harder to process than the industrial stuff—less air, longer freezing time, and fewer ingredients. Alcohol, even a teaspoon or two, will help to lower the freezing point and help to avoid all those ice crystals.
Strawberry Ice Cream
- Ice cream maker
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks.
- In a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, warm the half-and-half and 1/4 cup sugar, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, 5 to 8 minutes. Be careful not to let it boil.
- Whisk a little of the warm half-and-half mixture into the egg yolks. Then slowly whisk the egg yolk mixture into the remaining half-and-half mixture, still over medium heat, and continue to let it warm, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pot, until the mixture thickens and leaves a coating on the back of the spoon. Don’t let it boil. Remove from the heat.
- Strain the mixture into a large heatproof bowl. Discard the solids.
- Stir the heavy cream into the strained mixture. Cover it with plastic wrap, pressing it directly against the surface of the custard, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Place the strawberries in a large bowl and mash them slightly with a potato masher or the back of a fork to form a coarse purée. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, stir to combine, and let the strawberries sit, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the strawberries release their juices, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Stir the strawberries and their luscious juices into the custard mixture along with the vanilla, salt, and kirsch, if using. Cover and refrigerate for at least several hours or for up to 2 days.
- Process according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
- Consume immediately or, if you can withstand temptation, transfer it to a resealable container and freeze it a little longer to give it that sturdy, old-fashioned ice cream consistency.
- If desired, let the ice cream soften a few minutes at room temperature prior to scooping to allow the chunks of berries to thaw slightly. Kindly note impatience will be rewarded with brain freeze upon biting into an icy chunk of strawberry.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I love ice cream. I really love homemade ice cream without all the chemicals and artificial this and that. This is a rich, very berry-tasting strawberry ice cream that we’ll be making over and over again this summer. It’s so simple to make and so much better than the store-bought stuff.
I found really wonderful strawberries at the market—plump, juicy ones. I followed the recipe except for one ingredient. I didn’t have kirsch and couldn’t justify buying it for 2 teaspoons, so I substituted cassis. This probably made the color a little more purple and less red but who cares? It was amazing!
I chilled my ice cream base overnight and froze it in an ice cream machine the following day. I had to redistribute the berries partway through churning, as they collected around the blade in the machine.
This is 100% better than store-bought strawberry ice cream. It’s a really delicious ice cream. A refreshing strawberry flavor, rich but not heavy, and not too sweet. The recipe was easy to follow and the results were fantastic. This ice cream needs to be eaten fairly soon after freezing or it’ll be very hard. I didn’t add kirsch, but perhaps if I did the alcohol would make it easier to scoop after a few days in the freezer?
This strawberry ice cream was wonderful! Very full of strawberries and so creamy. I love ice cream and this was perfect to me—not too sweet or too rich. This ice cream was so good that if my electric ice cream machine ever broke, I’d crank a manual ice cream machine to make it again.
I loved several things about this recipe other than the taste. First, I loved that I could do it in steps. I have 30 minutes here and there to do parts of recipes, but sometimes I have trouble fitting in recipes that have very time-specific requirements. This recipe allowed me to spend a few minutes one night making the half-and-half mixture before I put it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day when I had a little time I prepared my strawberries and added them to the half-and-half mixture. Several hours later I put the ice cream into the maker. And 30 minutes later, all I had to do was stick it in the freezer—so easy!
I’d recommend letting it soften just a bit before serving to avoid the chunks of strawberries being a little too frozen.
This strawberry ice cream is very easy to put together. The result is an ice cream that’s not too sweet, filled with ripe berry flavor, creamy but not heavy. My family described it as having a genuine strawberry flavor. The color was an amazing pink. This is a fabulous treat for warm days.
I’ll make this strawberry ice cream recipe again and again this summer. It’s a great balance of sweet and tart.
There’s also a very interesting technical aspect about this recipe. The custard is made with only the half-and-half and eggs, not the heavy cream. The cream is added to the end mixture but it isn’t part of the thickening process. Hmmm…what happens to the heavy cream? It gets whipped, ice cold by the machine paddles, adding lots of air to the finished product. In commercial ice cream applications this is called air “overrun.” This textural difference really defines how dense, cold, and sweet the ice cream is later perceived to be. It’s a super-smart recipe to use this approach and the whipped iced cream is AWESOME.
I didn’t test this recipe with the kirsch; without it you’ll find this recipe completely kid-addictive.
This recipe made a delicious, creamy, custard-based strawberry ice cream. The recipe works perfectly as written. I was a bit concerned about using all of the liquid that was produced from macerating the strawberries, but I went with it and everything blended together perfectly. I didn’t try it with the kirsch, but I believe it’d be even better with this optional ingredient.
I’m always on the lookout for new ice cream recipes. My family often gets together on Sundays at my mom and dad’s home to cook and visit. We frequently make ice cream for dessert in the spring and summer. This strawberry ice cream was a hit with my family.
I did use the optional kirsch, but it was such a small amount I’m not sure I could really tell it was in there. Nevertheless, the ice cream was delicious and is one we’ll make again, I’m sure.
Usually I try to make a lighter, lower-fat version of ice cream. However, with the wonderful berries that we had, I just couldn’t compromise and had to go with the real deal. This is true ice CREAM! The bright, fresh taste of the strawberries seems to balance the recipe and keep it from being too rich given the cream, eggs, and half-and-half.
I always like to add a couple of teaspoons of some sort of alcohol to ice cream anyway to prevent it from freezing into a solid brick, and I think the kirsch brightens the flavor of the berries but doesn’t really overpower them with its own taste. This recipe would be great with other fresh seasonal berries. I think this’ll be a summer staple at our house.
Originally published May 24, 2013