"This is the best mint chocolate chip ice cream I've ever had in my whole life."
This, straight from the mouth of my nine-year old nephew, who, since mint-chocolate-chip is his favorite ice cream flavor, has probably had more mint chocolate chip ice cream in the last year than any of us have had in the last twenty.
Needless to say, hearing such a declaration when you've gone the extra effort to make ice cream from scratch is rather gratifying, don't you think?
Why Use Fresh Mint
We have a couple of mint patches growing in our yard, though I never thought to use the mint we grow for ice cream until now. The taste of the ice cream using fresh mint really is out of this world, so if you can get your hands on fresh mint, I highly recommend using it for this ice cream.
Tip: Add Alcohol for Best Texture
Note that there is no alcohol in this recipe. A few teaspoons of some spirits such as rum or bourbon will help keep the ice cream soft over several days. Even the alcohol in vanilla extract will help. If you have no added alcohol in a homemade ice cream recipe, we recommend that you eat it up quickly, in a day or two; beyond that point the ice cream will quickly get very very hard.
How to Make a Custard Ice Cream Base
Incorporating egg yolks into our ice cream base transforms it into a rich custard. The yolks not only thicken the base but give it a smooth, creamy texture. The secret to making a great custard is to stir it constantly with a wooden spoon over moderate heat so that it doesn't get too hot and become curdled. Once the mixture thickens and coats the spoon and you can run your finger across the spoon, leaving a trail, the custard is ready.
Everyone knows ice cream is even better with toppings! Give these options a try over your delicious homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream:
- Berries, such as blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries
- Toasted coconut
- Roasted nuts, such as almonds, cashews, or walnuts
- Mini marshmallows
- Caramel or honey drizzle
The Best Types of Mint and Mint Extract
Did you know there are more than 600 varieties of mint? Many of them offer their own unique flavors. Spearmint, for example, is relatively mild in flavor while peppermint is more intense. Most fresh mint sold in grocery stores is spearmint, but you can also use peppermint in this ice cream recipe. In fact, many mint ice creams are made with peppermint rather than spearmint. Just keep in mind that since peppermint has a higher menthol content, you'll want to use a bit less of it.
If you don't have fresh mint, you can use an extract as an alternative. Mint extract is actually a combination of both spearmint and peppermint, while peppermint extract is made from just peppermint.
The Best Chocolate for This Ice Cream
While darker chocolate like semi-sweet or dark tends to pair best with mint, if your preference is for something a bit sweeter then, by all means, choose milk chocolate.
Chocolate chips are fine to use in place of chopped chocolate, if that's what you have on hand. We recommend either using mini chocolate chips, or chopping conventional-size chocolate chips into smaller pieces as chocolate, once frozen, tends to become a bit hard.
Here's a clever trick, from chocolate expert Alice Medrich, for enhancing the texture of chocolate when making ice cream: if you melt and re-freeze the chocolate before chopping it into chunks they stay nice and creamy once the ice cream is frozen. Give it a try!
For our chocolate recommendations, be sure to check out: What We Cook With: Our Favorite Cocoa, Baking Chocolate, and Chocolate Chips.
Swaps and Substitutions
Sugar: While this recipe, as with most homemade ice creams, is made with plain table sugar, it's possible to swap in other sugars or sugar alternatives with a few important caveats. Substituting a small amount of corn syrup, maple syrup, or honey will create a chewier texture in the base (in the case of honey, it will also be a bit sweeter). Many sugar alternatives tend to be sweeter than plain table sugar, so you may have to adjust the quantity accordingly and, again, the resulting texture might not be as smooth and creamy.
Dairy: We've called for a balance of whole milk and cream that will yield a rich, smooth custard base for this ice cream. You can use lower fat alternatives (e.g., reduced fat milk, half and half) but the ice cream will have an icier consistency. We don't recommend using alternative milks in this recipe, but if you're looking for a vegan option, made with coconut milk, we've got you covered: Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.
Our Favorite Ice Cream Maker
In the market for an ice cream maker? Our top pick is the Cuisinart ICE-30BC 2-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Maker. It's easy to use, inexpensive, compact, makes the creamiest ice cream, and the capacity is just the right size for many families.
Learn more about why this ice cream maker is the favorite among the Simply Recipes editorial team: Why This $80 Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker is the Best Ice Cream Maker for Families
More Ice Cream Recipes
Put your ice cream maker to work and try these other ice cream recipes out!
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Note that if you do not have fresh mint, you can make this mint chocolate chip ice cream recipe with peppermint extract. Skip steps 1 and 2, instead heating 1 cup of milk with 1 cup of cream and the sugar and salt until steaming. Continue with step 3. Add 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract in with the chilled custard mixture in step 6.
- 3 cups fresh spearmint leaves (not stems), rinsed, drained, packed
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups heavy cream (divided, 1 cup and 1 cup)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 6 large egg yolks
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate or dark chocolate, chopped fine, keep in the freezer until used
Steep the mint leaves in cream and milk:
Put the mint leaves in a heavy saucepan with the 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of the cream. Heat until just steaming (do not let boil), remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. Reheat the mixture until steaming, remove from heat and let stand for 15 more minutes.
Chill remaining cream in an ice bath:
While the mint is infusing in step 1, prepare the remaining cream over an ice bath. Pour the remaining 1 cup of 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.
Strain out the mint leaves, add sugar:
Strain the milk cream mixture into a separate bowl, pressing against the mint leaves with a rubber spatula in a sieve to get the most liquid out of them. Return the milk cream mixture to the saucepan. Add sugar and salt to the mixture. Heat until just steaming again, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.
Temper the egg yolks with hot milk cream:
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.
Heat until mixture begins to thicken:
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.
Strain custard mixture into cream in ice bath:
Pour the custard through the strainer (from step 2) and stir into the cold cream to stop the cooking.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (at least a couple of hours) or stir the mixture in the bowl placed over the ice bath until thoroughly chilled (20 minutes or so).
Process in ice cream maker:
Process the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Add chopped chocolate:
Once the ice cream has been made in the ice cream maker it should be pretty soft. Gently fold in the finely chopped chocolate.
Chill in freezer:
Put in an airtight 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.
How to make ice cream without a machine - helpful tips from ice cream expert David Lebovitz