Butter Pecan Ice Cream

DessertButter PecanIce Cream

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

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.

How to make butter pecan ice cream

Have you ever browned butter before? It’s easy to do and makes the butter taste amazingly deep, rich, and nutty.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream Recipe

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  • Yield: Makes 1 1/2 quarts

Ingredients

Ice cream base:

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pecans:

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • Pinch of salt

Special equipment:

  • Ice cream maker

Method

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

2 Set cream in bowl over ice, with a sieve on top: 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 Brown the butter, add brown sugar and salt: 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 Add milk slowly, dissolve sugar: 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 Temper the eggs: 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 until custard base thickens: 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.

8 Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.

9 Toast the pecans: While the mixture is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt 1 Tbsp of butter. Toss with pecans and a pinch of salt.

Spread pecans out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes, until the pecans are lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.

Once cool, roughly chop the pecans and set aside.

10 Process in your ice cream maker: Once the ice cream mixture is thoroughly chilled, process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

11 Fold in chopped toasted pecans: Once the ice cream has been formed in the ice cream maker, it will be fairly soft. Fold in the chopped pecans.

12 Freeze: 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.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to Butter Pecan Ice Cream on Simply Recipes. Thank you!

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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24 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Luke

    Great idea to brown the butter! With respect, I suggest the sugar go into the yolks rather than into the butter. The milk should really be scalded without sugar to avoid curdling. The concept, however, is lovely. Can’t wait to try the batch I’ve got freezing right now!

  • Angie

    Amazing! I used 1% milk, so I had to freeze longer, but otherwise delicious. I heated the milk before adding to the sugar mixture and it worked great! Thanks Elise

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • melissa

    My husband has been asking me for butter pecan ice cream since I got my kitchenaid ice cream maker a year ago. I finally made this this weekend, and it was delicious. What a perfect recipe! My husband declared it The Best Ice Cream Ever Made By Humans Ever. I am thinking about using the butter, with white sugar instead of brown, as a base for other flavors. I’ve had trouble with homemade custard-based ice cream getting icy/grainy quickly, and/or turning rock hard after a day. Seems to me this would be the chemistry necessary to keep it nice and creamy! Thank you for a great recipe!

  • Sarah

    Hi Elise,
    I tried this out and blogged about it. Though I didnt have brown sugar and hence caramelised the sugar with butter. It resulted in a nice butterscotch flavour. thanks for the recipe.

  • Jessica

    This looks downright sinful. And here I am attempting to diet.

    A question about the nuts though. My Mom grew up near a small convince store that sold black walnut ice cream. Most recipes I read for it though just call for a vanilla base and to just chuck the nuts in during the churning process. Could this recipe be done with a nut change or would the taste be too off?

    Black walnuts are delicious. You could easily swap out the pecans for other nuts like walnuts. ~Elise

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