Something about the earthiness of whiskey is the perfect companion to the sweetness of the figs in this whiskey and fig gelato. Use good-quality store-bought fig preserves for this gelato. Or, if figs are in season and you’re feeling inspired, make your own fig preserves. Whiskey, figs, and honey are an outstanding combination.–Jessie Cross

LC Figs Figs Figs Figs Note

Uh, we’re a wee bit crazy for figs when they’re in season. And we have a hunch plenty of you are, too. If you’re one of those crazies, you may wish to grab a few extra fresh figs, chop them up, and toss them in your dish of freshly churned ice cream before serving. Or strew them over the top of your sundae. Ooh, or maybe you could plop them in a shot of whiskey and nibble the boozy fruit as you wait for the ice cream to churn. Or, well, we’ll let you come up with your own ideas. No judgment here.

A small orange bowl filled with whiskey and fig gelato

Whiskey and Fig Gelato

5 from 1 vote
This whiskey and fig gelato features the outstanding combination of sweet fig preserves and honey. The addition of whiskey adds an earthiness and a lush creaminess at the same time.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories306 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Chilling time5 hours 30 minutes
Total Time6 hours 15 minutes


  • Ice cream maker


  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup fig preserves
  • Zest of 1/2 large lemon, preferably organic
  • 1/4 cup whiskey, (uh, or less to taste…or more for sipping)
  • 1/2 cup honey, or to taste


  • Whisk the egg yolks together in a largish bowl.
  • Combine the milk and cream in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until it begins to bubble at the edges. Remove the pot from the heat.
  • Slowly drizzle the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pot. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it registers 170°F (77°C) on a candy thermometer and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 3 to 7 minutes.
  • Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a separate bowl. Whisk in the fig preserves, lemon zest, and whiskey. Then, whisk in the honey bit by bit, tasting as you go, until you’re happy with the level of sweetness. Fill a slightly larger bowl halfway with ice water. Plunk the bowl of custard in the ice bath, whisking frequently to lower the mixture’s temperature, until cooled through. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled through, 4 to 6 hours.
  • Process the chilled mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a container and freeze overnight.

Adapted From


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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 306 kcalCarbohydrates: 36 gProtein: 4 gFat: 15 gSaturated Fat: 9 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 4 gCholesterol: 133 mgSodium: 43 mgPotassium: 156 mgFiber: 0.3 gSugar: 31 gVitamin A: 659 IUVitamin C: 2 mgCalcium: 111 mgIron: 0.5 mg

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2012 Jessie Cross. Photo © 2012 Jessie Cross. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This whiskey and fig gelato came out wonderfully creamy and stayed that way after even after several days in the freezer. I used 3/4 the amount of honey, as it tasted plenty sweet, before putting in the ice cream maker. However, it didn’t taste as sweet once it had been frozen, so I will add the full amount next time. It does retain a nice whiskey flavor, which some people will like, and some won’t.

This whiskey and fig gelato is a really nice dessert. With the honey and fig preserves, it’s quite sweet, but then, it’s dessert, so I hardly see that as a problem. The honey flavor is noticeable, so it’s worth your while to put some thought into the honey used, whether a mild one if you don’t want the honey flavor to be strong or one with a flavor you’ll enjoy with the figs. Texture is always a big deal for me with homemade ice cream, and this one is just what I’m looking for—it has that homemade feel to it, but it’s not overly icy and it stays scoopable even after days in the freezer.

The texture of gelato is so unique, I find it difficult to reproduce at home—until now. This whiskey and fig gelato comes out creamy, silken, and soft, even after being frozen overnight. And it’s no more complicated to make than traditional custard-style ice cream. The flavor is reminiscent of rum raisin, but the fig gives it a richer flavor, the whiskey a more potent buzz, and the honey just the right sweetness. I forgot to strain my hot cream, and still achieved a fantastic result. The recipe works as written and produces a gelato that is both intriguing and unique. Note that I drizzled half the hot cream mixture into the whisked egg yolks and added that mixture back to the cream blend.

I LOVED this whiskey and fig gelato. This delicious treat reminds me of stealing sips of my grandmother’s whiskey sour as a child. I used a Jim Beam bourbon in this ice cream, and it was quite good. I assure you that I’ll make this again, but I’ll use Wild Turkey, which I’m certain will put it over the top. After tempering the egg yolks, clip your thermometer to the pan before you return it to the heat. You must stay at the pan, whisking constantly, as the temperature will reach the 170°F mark very quickly (probably in less than a minute and a half). If you like whiskey sours, you’ll really enjoy this whiskey and fig gelato!

This whiskey and fig gelato is an easy and pretty straightforward recipe. The flavors work very well together, though the raw alcohol of the whiskey gives it a serious kick. Definitely NOT a kids flavor!

Once I finished making this gelato, I couldn’t eat this fast enough, it is that creamy and delicious, with just the right hint of whiskey. I do caution you about the amount of sweetener, however. I put in only 1/4 cup honey, and I now wonder why I put any in at all. Next time I make this, I think I’ll pass altogether on the honey. And I will make it again, and very soon. Even the folks who say they don’t like figs will adore this gelato.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has 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. Think I can use up some fresh figs in place of jam? I have some of that too, maybe I’ll swirl that in. Thinking a drizzle of Saba as it’s served will be just perfect!

    1. Nice, Jacqueline. Although I worry about the fresh figs because we haven’t tested that approach. I know sometimes fruits that are stirred into ice cream or gelato without first being mixed with sugar and mashed and possibly even cooked a little tend to freeze into icy nuggets, which are pretty unpleasant. Perhaps you could make a quick fig jam with your figs and use that in place of store-bought jam?

        1. Lovely! If you happen to have Christine Ferber’s preserves cookbook, I highly recommend her fig preserves. Simply one of the most incredible things I have ever made. I wrote about it when I worked at The Washington Post but, sadly, I can’t find it in their archives.

  2. 5 stars
    I have a jar of fig jam waiting to be used. You’ve now given me a way to use it. Thanks!

    1. You’re quite welcome, Martha! Although gosh, if ever that happens to you again, just ping me. Ah, fig jam. Be still my heart. Love it swirled into or layered with mascarpone as a fool. Dolloped onto wedges of Manchego. Slathered over peanut butter on bread. Stirred into pan juices from roast chicken or pork. Sigh.

      1. Renee, thanks for the additional options. The Big Kahuna Leite suggested fig bars. Decisions… decisions.

        1. Let us know what you decide! No pressure. It’s not like it’s a contest between him and me or anything. Ahem.