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.

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How to make butter pecan ice cream

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

Butter Pecan Ice Cream Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 1 1/2 quarts


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


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

Special equipment:

  • Ice cream maker


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 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.

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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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31 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Velana

    I’m an ice cream SNOB. Im a chef ,so I’ve worked with ice cream enough in my life to know what good ice cream is. This recipe on the other hand is hands down the best ice cream I have ever had!!!


  2. Michele

    this was amazing, so creamy and rich. Will be making this again, for sure.


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  3. Belinda Marcel

    So fantastic!!!


  4. Felicia



  5. 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!

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