Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Homemade butter pecan ice cream, made with a custard base, browned butter, and toasted pecans.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

An ice cream loving friend was in town this weekend, giving me the perfect excuse to make this batch of butter pecan ice cream. Butter pecan is one of my all time favorite flavors. In this recipe the butter flavor comes in the custard base, achieved by browning the butter first before adding the other ingredients.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 1 1/2 quarts.


  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pecans
  • Special equipment needed
    An ice cream maker, or a KitchenAid mixer with an ice cream attachment


1 In a medium sized heat-safe bowl (metal, ceramic, or glass), whisk together the egg yolks until well blended. Set aside.

2 Pour the cream into a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and set a medium-mesh sieve on top. Set aside.

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3 In a medium thick-bottomed saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter cook it, stirring constantly, until it just begins to brown. Add the brown sugar and salt. Stir until the sugar completely melts.

4 Slowly add the milk, stirring to incorporate. It will foam up initially, so make sure you are using a pan with high enough sides. Heat until all of the sugar is completely dissolved. Do not let boil or the mixture may curdle.

5 Whisk in hand, slowly pour half of the milk and sugar mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly to incorporate. Then add the warmed egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk sugar mixture.

6 Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden or heatproof rubber spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula, about 5-7 minutes.

7 Pour the custard through the sieve and stir it into the cream. Add vanilla and stir until cool over the ice bath. Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.

8 While the mixture is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F. Lay out the pecans on a roasting pan in a single layer. Bake for 6 minutes, until lightly toasted. Let cool. Once cool, roughly chop the pecans and set aside. Note, if you want an extra punch to this ice cream, brush the pecans with melted butter and sprinkle with salt before roasting.

9 Once the ice cream mixture is thoroughly chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.


10 Once the ice cream has been formed in the ice cream maker, it will be fairly soft. Fold in the chopped pecans. Put in an airtight plastic container and place in the freezer for at least an hour, preferably several hours. If it has been frozen for more than a day, you may need to let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften it before serving.

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Buttered Pecan Ice Cream from Alanna of Kitchen Parade
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Showing 4 of 24 Comments

  • jonathan

    We have an ice cream kinship, Elise. Butter Pecan is also one of my favorites. I made it for the first time Summer ’06 from a Williams-Sonoma recipe that involved sugar glazing the pecans. It also used brown sugar in the custard base (a must) as opposed to plain ‘ol white. While good, it didn’t have the depth of flavor I was looking for. I think this browned butter version will do the trick. A well-calculated risk, given the accolades I received for your peppermint ice cream recipe that I made for Christmas dinner dessert!

  • Diane

    I made this today and it is delicious. I doubled the caramel portion and divided it before adding the cream. I added the 2nd half with the pecans and had a ribbon of caramel throughout the ice cream, it was DELICIOUS!!!

  • Wilma Jane

    This is one of the best recipes for Butter Pecan Ice Cream on the web.

    Respectfully I offer a few suggestions based on extensive experience making Butter Pecan Ice Cream.

    1) Reduce the amount of brown sugar by half and replace that half with granulated cane sugar.
    All brown sugar makes for an over powering taste and a color too dark.

    2) Slowly add the cane sugar portion while whisking the eggs yolks, whisk until yolks lighten in color.(I beat to the ribbon stage)
    This method helps protect the egg yolks from cooking when tempering in the hot dairy.

    3) When making the browned butter, make extra, combine with some salt, liberally coat the pecans prior to roasting on a sheet pan.

  • brenda @ afarmgirlsdabbles.com

    Oh my goodness! This is SO GOOD! My kitchen smelled amazing through the whole process, like a dreamy caramel factory. This was the most rigorous ice cream recipe I’ve ever made, and also the BEST one I’ve ever made. Yum!

  • jeanette

    I used this recipe to break in my new Cuisinart ice cream maker. It was do delicious and put a smile on my father’s face (it is his favorite). Homemade ice cream is waayyyyy better than store bought. Thanks for the recipe!

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Butter Pecan Ice Cream