Pumpkin Ice Cream Recipe

This pumpkin ice cream recipe can rival the most traditional Thanksgiving treats for place of honor when it comes to dessert.

The best homemade ice cream recipes are the ones you customize to your own family’s preferences and this is a prime one for that, since you can pick and choose which of the spices you want to include.

Below is the basic recipe. If you want it to taste less or more like pumpkin pie, or want to experiment with the smoky richness of some unusual spice combinations, you can try the suggestions at the end of the recipe.

The recipe calls for canned pumpkin puree, since it is easily available in many parts of the world. Make sure you use 100% pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling, which is already sweetened contains spices. For those, like ourselves, for whom canned pumpkin is a rarity, follow the instructions at the end of the page on how to make homemade pumpkin puree. Although canned pumpkin has the advantage of being very consistent in taste, using your own homemade pumkin puree results in a much richer flavor, especially if you roast it.

Scoop of pumpkin ice cream on a white plate

Photo by Virtualern, under a CC by 2.0 license

Pumpkin Ice Cream Recipe


2 C cream
2 C milk
½ C sugar
1 tsp grated ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cardamom
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
5 egg yolks
1/3 C brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence
1 Tbsp brandy or liqueur of your choice

1 C pumpkin puree

  1. Fill a large bowl with ice and nestle a 2-liter bowl in the ice. Place a fine-mesh sieve over the 2-liter bowl.

  2. In a medium saucepan, combine cream, milk, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and salt. Heat over medium heat until hot.

  3. Whisk egg yolks.

  4. Ladle in about half of the hot milk, whisking continually.

  5. Return the mixture to the saucepan and heat until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 175 F (80 C). Do not allow the mixture to simmer.

  6. Pour the custard through the sieve, into the 2-liter bowl nestled in the ice bath.

  7. Add the brown sugar and mix until melted.

  8. Allow to cool, stirring occasionally.

  9. Chill custard in the refrigerator several hours or overnight.

  10. Mix in the vanilla and the pumpkin puree. For a smoother texture, strain the mixture once more after adding the pumpkin.

  11. Add liqueur, if using.

  12. Churn in ice cream maker.

If you’re feeling adventurous and a tad Mexican, try adding ¼ tsp of chipotle chile powder instead of the cardamom. For a more pronounced pumpkin pie taste, add ¼ tsp of cloves. And to add a depth to the already complex flavors, try adding 1 tsp of espresso powder at step 7.

Have fun and enjoy!

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

There are two ways of doing this, roasting or steaming. Personally, I prefer roasting, as I find it brings out a richer flavor, but it's up to you. Here's how:

Jack o’Lantern pumpkins aren’t the best for cooking. Instead, choose a butternut pumpkin (also called butternut squash) or sugar pumpkin. Slice the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Butter a baking sheet and place the pumpkin cut-side down on it. Bake at 350 F (180 C) until very soft, about 45 minutes. Cool, then scoop out the flesh and puree in a food processor.

Alternatively, peel and seed the pumpkin, cut in small cubes and steam over boiling water until very soft. Then puree in food processor.

Voila – your very own homemade pumpkin puree!

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