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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
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 TBSP butter (or coconut oil)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 cups whole milk (2 cups canned coconut milk)
- 2 cups heavy cream (or an additional 2 cups canned coconut milk)
- 2 TBSP vanilla extract
- ½ to 1 cup pecans (chopped)
- 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?
Discussion (59 Comments)
Can you make this in a Vitamix?
Yes and then either the ice cream maker or tin can method…
This ice cream sounds yummy! My husband loves butter pecan, will have to make it for him. Thanks so much for sharing!
Yummm, great flavor combination idea!! My husband made some “get some” ice cream (Bulletproof Exec recipe, https://www.bulletproof.com/recipes/low-carb/get-some-ice-cream/ with coffee that was super good and we made some chocolate flavor last night. I’ve never tried it with coconut milk, always just butter and coconut oil, but I love the coconut flavor. I want to try some version with bacon sometime, like Salt and Straw in Portland does!!
Thanks for the dairy free (with butter sub) recipe. Just got an ice cream maker and I don’t really tolerate milk products well. Do you happen to know if almond milk can be used to make ice cream? I always have plenty of that on hand. Thanks!
IT can, but the texture won’t work well unless you add the eggs and coconut oil for enough thickness…
Is the coconut oil the butter substitute? If so, how much?
I love this! My hubby and just made it via the tin can method and it is awesome. The only problem I had was the butter wouldn’t emulsify so maybe I should have blended it with the egg yolk before adding the other ingredients? The next flavor I am going to try is raspberry.
Thanks for all your awesome recipes and ideas!
Can this be made with ghee made from grass-fed butter instead of pure butter? I cannot tolerate dairy.
I made it with earth balance butter! I also used Almond Milk as I am dairy intolerant. However, I made a couple changes. I added two tablespoons of cornstarch and whisked it in a heatproof bowl and mixed it for 6 minutes until the butter was melted and cornstarch dissolved. (Also did this- simmered over boiling water- due to the eggs.)
I put in Fridge for 4 hours and mixed in icecream maker for 25 minutes. Came out excellent. Thanks for the recipe. The honey and syrup is better than granulated sugar!
This sounds so yummy!! I would love a recipe for mocha and mint chocolate chip. Well strawberry sounds good too 🙂 Any recipes for healthy ice cream sound great!
Jenny Claire Hoffmann
Is there really no sugar? Is coconut milk sweet enough on its own?
There is no sweetener listed in the recipe? I’m guessing it was left out on accident….
There is honey.
Honey and syrup–at least 1/2 cup of sweetener
I was just thinking about searching your site for ice cream and low and behold it’s featured on your home page. will be trying this today!