Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Browned butter, toasted pecans, and a rich custard base make this a standout version of a classic ice cream flavor. Serve with homemade caramel sauce for something extra special.

Side view of four scoops of pecan ice cream in a bowl.
Alison Bickel

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.

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

Four scoops of butter pecan in a shallow bowl.
Alison Bickel

Why Toast the Nuts?

Toasting the nuts for this butter pecan ice cream is doubly important: it adds an almost caramelized flavor to them, which is complements the brown butter ice cream. Toasting also crisps the pecans, keeping them from getting soggy in the finished ice cream.

Why Brown the Butter?

The browned butter separates this spectacular butter pecan ice cream from the average butter pecan ice cream. When you brown butter, you toast the milk solids, adding a nutty flavor. It's an easy step that gives it a sweeter, richer flavor - almost like caramel.

Store Ice Cream for Later

This fresh ice cream without any stabilizers is best in the first few days after making it. It may form ice crystals within a few days. You might be tempted to eat this entire batch of ice cream all in one sitting, but remember, it does serve 6 people.

What to Serve with Butter Pecan Ice Cream

This butter pecan ice cream is so good that it doesn't need company, but if you want to pair it with something, we suggest these recipes.

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Prep Time 4 hrs
Cook Time 26 hrs 30 mins
Churning Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 hrs 50 mins
Servings 12 servings
Yield 1 1/2 quarts

Cool the ice cream base in an ice bath to cut down on the chilling time, if you like.


Ice Cream Base:

  • 6 large egg yolks

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 2 cups heavy cream

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 1 cup pecans

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • Pinch salt


  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.

    Heavy cream in an ice bath with a strainer set on top to make a butter pecan ice cream recipe.
    Alison Bickel
  3. Brown the butter, add brown sugar and salt:

    In a medium, heavy-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.

    Making butter pecan ice cream recipe on the stove.
    Alison Bickel
    Stirring ingredients to make a butter pecan ice cream recipe in a pot on the stove.
    Alison Bickel
    Making a butter pecan ice cream recipe on the stove.
    Alison Bickel
  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.

    Adding milk to a saucepan to make butter pecan ice cream recipe.
    Alison Bickel
    Making the caramel base for a butter pecan ice cream recipe.
    Alison Bickel
  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.

    Thickening ice cream base on the stove for a butter pecan ice cream recipe.
    Alison Bickel
  7. Pour the custard through the sieve and stir it into the cream:

    Add vanilla and stir until cool over the ice bath.

    Adding custard to the heavy cream to make a butter pecan ice cream recipe.
    Alison Bickel
  8. Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F and toast the pecans:

    While the mixture is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt 1 tablespoon 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.

    Toasting pecans on a baking sheet to make a butter pecan ice cream recipe.
    Alison Bickel
  10. Churn in your ice cream maker:

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

    Churning butter pecan ice cream in an ice cream maker.
    Alison Bickel
  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.

    Adding pecans to the churned ice cream to make butter pecan ice cream.
    Alison Bickel
  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.

    Freezing butter pecan ice cream in a freezer safe container.
    Alison Bickel
    Scooping butter pecan ice cream with an ice cream scoop.
    Alison Bickel
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
378 Calories
31g Fat
19g Carbs
7g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 378
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 31g 40%
Saturated Fat 16g 78%
Cholesterol 175mg 58%
Sodium 125mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 18g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 109mg 8%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 186mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.