Chai Ice Cream

Homemade chai tea ice cream, infused with star anise, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, peppercorns, cardamom, and black tea.

  • Yield: Makes 1 quart


  • 2 star anise star
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 10 whole allspice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 whole white peppercorns
  • 4 cardamom pods, opened to seeds
  • 1/4 cup full-bodied black tea (Ceylon or English Breakfast)
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream (divided, 1 cup and 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 6 egg yolks (see how to separate eggs)


1 Infuse milk and cream with chai spices for 1 hour: Into a heavy saucepan put the 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of the cream and the chai spices - star anise, cloves, allspice, cinnamon sticks, white peppercorns, and cardamom pods, and a pinch of salt.

Heat the mixture until steamy (not boiling) and hot to the touch. Lower the heat to warm, cover, and let stand for 1 hour.


2 Infuse mixture with tea leaves 15 minutes:  Reheat the mixture until steamy hot again (again not boiling), add the black tea leaves, remove from the heat, stir in the tea and let steep for 15 minutes. Use a fine mesh strainer to strain out the tea and spices, pouring the infused milk cream mixture into a separate bowl.


3 Add sugar to milk cream mixture: Return the milk cream mixture back to the heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the sugar to the milk cream mixture and heat, stirring, until the sugar is fully dissolved.

4 Set remaining cream in bowl over ice bath, with sieve: While the tea is infusing in the previous step, prepare the remaining 1 cup of cream over an ice bath. Pour the cream into a medium size metal bowl, set in ice water (with lots of ice) over a larger bowl. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowls. Set aside.

5 Temper eggs with hot milk cream mixture: Whisk the egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Slowly pour the heated milk cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the warm mixture, but not cooked by it. Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

6 Cook custard base until it thickens: Return the saucepan to the stove, stirring the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take about 10 minutes.

The minute this happens the mixture should be removed from heat immediately, and poured through the sieve over the ice bath to stop the cooking in the next step.

If the custard base doesn't coat the back of the spoon, it's not ready.

The custard base coats the back of the spoon.

7 Pour the custard through the strainer into the cream over the ice bath. Stir it into the cold cream to stop the cooking.

8 Chill thoroughly: Once initially chilled in the ice bath, chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (at least a couple of hours).

9 Process in ice cream maker: Churn the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

10 Store in freezer: Store in an airtight container in your freezer for several hours before eating. Note that the ice cream will be quite soft coming out of the ice cream maker. It will continue harden in your freezer. If stored for more than a day, you may need to let it sit for a few minutes to soften before attempting to scoop it.

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  • Matt

    Hi, I’m going to make this as it sounds absolutely delicious! I have an ice cream maker, and all the ingredients, but please tell me what a ‘cup’ is in millilitres… I’m from England!


  • Sandra

    This sounds amazing, I love chai tea! However, I do not own an ice cream maker, so how would I make this without one?

  • Jen

    I finally got around to making this ice cream this weekend. It’s amazing! Its probably the best chai flavor i’ve ever had (most of my chai experiences come from teabags). It’s delicious and creamy and my house smelt fantastic while making it.

    I did substitute heavy cream with fat free half and half. I’m sure it loses a bit of the flavor but when you’re making icecream regularly, there is a limit :)

    I love the ice cream recipes on this site. I think next up is your chocolate!


  • Simone

    I made this today and WOW!!! It is phenomenal!!!!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe!


  • nina

    This recipe is perfect!

    I made it tonight and it tastes almost like caramel (but not too sweet). I think it’s worth it to procure the actual fresh spices as indicated.


  • Chandra

    I made this yesterday – using fresh ginger instead of star anise, and decaf earl grey for the tea, which added a nice light citrus note. A great recipe that I can make caffeine-free!


  • penandra

    I made this a few weeks ago (substituting the spices that I use for my masala chai) and using condensed milk instead of the sugar (seems to give a richer mouth feel to the finished product). It was superb (like eating a chai latte in a bowl). I used an assam tea (which is the same tea that I use for my masala chai). Delicious!

  • RustyShackleford

    I’ve made this recipe several times, and it’s always been a big hit, but I add a little coriander, fennel, and rose water.

    It’s delicious either way, though.

  • Smiles

    I’ve been eye-ing this recipe for a while and (finally) made it this weekend…it is like nothing else I’ve ever had– rich and incredibly creamy and the most beautiful color! The only modifications I made were that I used raw whole milk and cream and that I added about 4 slices of raw ginger to the milk and cream mixture. THANK YOU for sharing this recipe!

  • Stephanie G.

    I made this using chai tea bags (I just tripled the number to make it strong enough) and it was just wonderful. It reminded me of chai and pumpkin, but very refreshing and unique. Thanks for the recipe!

  • emily

    I would love to try this– I already have a lot of chai tea lying around. Can I use that somehow instead of buying all the spices?

    Yes, if you have the chai tea mixtures already, just use those. ~Elise

  • Preyanka

    Yummmm! Interestingly, most Indians do not drink heavily spiced “masala chai” all the time. Most chai (which just means tea) consumed everyday is just tea and milk, and perhaps a bit of ginger. What Westerners call “chai” is actually called “masala chai” in India (which means “spiced tea”).

  • Alanna Kellogg

    The ‘real’ reason to invest in an ice cream freezer is not to make ice cream, per se, but to make ice creams that just can’t be found elsewhere. Your chai ice cream is lovely — AK