Ice cream is a kid-favorite dessert (and let’s face it, adults too!), but store-bought ones often contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors, or other ingredients that we avoid.
Enter making ice cream at home! This butter pecan ice cream recipe is a healthy and incredibly delicious alternative to store-bought ice cream. It’s also really simple to make at home.
Healthy Ice Cream? Really?
Well, yes and no. Ice cream still contains plenty of sugar and should always be considered a treat. However, since I make my own I can control which ingredients I use and avoid those that I don’t like.
The ingredients I like include real maple syrup and raw honey instead of refined sugar from sugar beets. I leave out all the stabilizers, thickeners, preservatives, and artificial colors and flavors.
Most of all, it’s really fun to be able to customize the ice cream to make exactly the combination that I’m in the mood for! Which is what I did when I wanted butter pecan ice cream.
Homemade Butter Pecan Ice Cream
Ever wonder where the butter in butter pecan ice cream comes in? I did too, but Google wasn’t a very big help. If anyone out there knows, I’d love to hear about it!
Since I didn’t find a satisfactory answer from a quick search I decided to interpret the name literally and use butter. I browned the butter in a saucepan to give it a nice toasty flavor.
Then, I stirred in maple syrup, honey, and whole milk and heated it just until it was warm. Once it was warm I whisked in the egg yolks. It’s important to make sure that the milk mixture is just lukewarm to start with or you’ll scramble your egg yolks. If you do accidentally scramble them at some point, just strain the finished product before refrigerating it.
After that, I heated and stirred the mixture until it was nice and thick, then stirred in the heavy cream and vanilla.
Important Note: The final step before freezing is to make sure the ice cream base is well chilled. If you try to churn a warm ice cream mixture it will take far longer to freeze or may not even freeze at all.
Do I Need an Ice Cream Maker?
Need? No. I know ice cream makers aren’t the cheapest appliances so I understand the hesitancy. And if you’ve never made ice cream before and you’re not sure whether you’re going to do it more than once, you may want to try an alternative method first.
There’s always the classic tin can method. It’s a super fun science project for kids. And this article describes four other options. Just know that if you choose one of these methods, your ice cream will freeze more firmly than ice cream churned in a machine.
However, I love my ice cream maker and the soft, creamy ice cream it produces. I get enough use out of it that I consider it a completely worthwhile investment. Also, because homemade ice cream is so much cheaper to make than store-bought (not to mention healthier), I’m really saving money in the long run, right?
I’ll let you judge for yourself whether homemade ice cream is delicious enough to warrant buying an ice cream maker. I sure think it is though, so without further ado, here’s the recipe so you can try it for yourself:
Butter Pecan Ice Cream Recipe
- In a skillet, toast the pecans for a few minutes or until aromatic.
- Set aside to cool.
- Separate the egg yolks from the whites.
- Set the whites aside for another use and place the yolks in a medium-size bowl and whisk.
- Set aside.
- In a medium-size saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until it’s foamy and the butter solids have browned. If using coconut oil, just heat it in the pan to melt it.
- Whisk in the maple syrup, honey, salt, and 2 cups of whole milk or coconut milk.
- When slightly warmed, quickly whisk in the egg yolks.
- Heat until warmed and thickened, stirring constantly.
- Remove from the heat and strain if you’ve accidentally scrambled the eggs.
- Whisk in the remaining heavy cream or coconut milk and the vanilla extract.
- Refrigerate until chilled or overnight.
- Pour the ice cream mix and the toasted pecans into an ice cream maker or choose a method of freezing that does not require an ice cream maker.
- Turn on the ice cream maker and follow user instructions.
- Serve and enjoy immediately or freeze for later.
Next on our list to make: Mint chip, raspberry chip, mocha, and others…. what is your favorite?