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.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream
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
Elise Bauer

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

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 6 1/2 cup
Yield 1 1/2 quarts

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

Ingredients

  • 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
  • Pecans:
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Pinch salt

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.

  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.

    Elise Bauer

    Add the brown sugar and salt. Stir until the sugar completely melts.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer
  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.

    Elise Bauer
  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.

  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.

  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.

    Elise Bauer
  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.