Mint Julep Ice Cream

DessertFreezer-friendlyIce CreamMint

Enjoy this Southern classic, the mint julep, in its ice cream form. Homemade ice cream flavored with fresh mint, vanilla, and bourbon.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Please welcome guest author Garrett McCord of Vanilla Garlic as we gear up for Derby Day with mint julep ice cream. Garrett and I made this the other day and my dad is still getting all misty eyed thinking about how good it was. ~Elise

I have a great love of bourbon, which, I think, grew out of my love for Kentucky where my family and I spent many summers visiting my godmother. I was too young to drink bourbon then, but a tall glass of dark sweet tea with handfuls of mint muddled at the bottom was always at hand. It was a refreshing way to stave off smothering humidity and it made the fun times more enjoyable.

Mint juleps – a drink relying of mint, sugar, water, and good ‘ol Kentucky bourbon – have that same sweet-n-minty cooling quality. They take me back to those shady, easygoing vacations. It’s a cocktail that seems to roll the sweetness of breezy Bluegrass country and the excitement of the Kentucky Derby all into one.

At a recent dinner I was unexpectedly tossed down Memory Lane when I tasted this mint julep ice cream. The chill-inducing mint and slightly spicy bourbon took me right back to those summer nights sitting on the river docks with my family. This recipe comes from the dessert-crafter extraordinaire Elaine Baker, the pastry chef at Grange Restaurant, who I’m sure must have cherished Southern memories of her own to develop an ice cream this good.

Mint Julep Ice Cream

Mint Julep Ice Cream Recipe

  • Yield: Makes about 1 quart


  • 2 ounces of mint leaves (spearmint)
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup of bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 Bruise the leaves with a wooden spoon so they'll release their essential oils and flavors. Place them in a saucepan with the milk and 3/4 cup of the cream. Bring just to a simmer, then remove from heat and cover to steep for 30 minutes.

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2 Fill a large bowl with ice water and set another bowl with the remaining cream in it with a fine mesh sieve over the cream. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg yolks.


3 Pour the steeped cream mixture through a strainer and toss the mint leaves. Return the milk/cream mixture to the saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Set over medium heat and heat until steaming (not boiling).

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4 Slowly pour some of the heated milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the heated milk, but not cooked by it. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan.


5 Stir the mixture over medium heat with a wooden spoon, constantly scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir. When the mixture thickens up and coats the back of the spoon so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take between 3 and 10 minutes depending on the heat of your burner.

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6 Pour the mixture through the sieve into the chilled bowl of cream. Mix in the bourbon and vanilla. Cover and place in the refrigerator until the mixture is chilled, 6 hours to overnight. Process in an ice cream machine per the manufacturer's instructions.

7 Store ice cream in an airtight contained in the freezer for several hours before serving to harden the mixture up a bit. The ice cream will be quite soft straight out of the ice cream machine and will need to harden up a bit for proper ice cream consistency. If you leave it in the freezer too long, just let it sit a few minutes before serving.

*Note: You cannot substitute anything for the bourbon in this recipe. Otherwise, it's not a mint julep. That said, you can make a simple mint ice cream, if you don't want to use alcohol. Check out the mint chocolate chip recipe on the site.

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Garrett McCord

Garrett McCord is a professional writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in many print and online publications such as Gourmet Live, Saveur, Huffington Post, Smithsonian, and NPR. Past clients also include numerous food companies, wineries, and distilleries. Garrett writes about cocktails on his website, Coupe de Grace.

More from Garrett

Showing 4 of 10 Comments / Reviews

  • MistyL

    I’m not sure if my mint was supercharged or what, but 2 oz was way too much mint! Completely overpowered the very subtle flavor of the bourbon. We still ate it, and it was good after the first few bites, but it was literally like eating mint gum flavored ice cream.

    I would recommend using a double-boiler approach to heating the cream and egg mixture, bowl resting on a pot of hot water, after tempering, as every time I’ve tried this one pot method, I end up with curdled eggs on the bottom of the pot no matter how quick I turn it off or how frequently I stir it.

  • Nathan

    Any idea what weight/volume dried mint leaves I could use as substitute for fresh?

    A heaping tablespoon is my guess, but I would encourage you to pick up some fresh mint as the quality in taste will be much higher. ~Garrett

  • Christina

    This sounds delicious! I don’t have an ice cream maker, but I’m in the market for one. Elise, I know you recommend a couple on your site (Cuisinart), but I was wondering if you (or Garrett) know anything of the Kitchen Aid ice cream maker that attaches to the stand mixer. Any tips would be much appreciated!

    Christina, We both have Cuisinart brands. I’m sorry to say I can’t say anything about any others, but I love the Cuisinart I have. ~Garrett

  • MaineFlavor

    Does this recipe want peppermint leaves or spearmint leaves? The flavors are really quite different, but recipes don’t often differentiate. Are there standard rules about when to use which type if mint?

    Spearmint is the traditional choice for a mint julep. ~Garrett

  • Claire

    The ice cream was a hit at my Mother’s Day luncheon today! (so was the chicken and rice casserole I also made from SR!)

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