Mint Julep Ice Cream

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

  • 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, whisked together
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup of bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 Steep mint in hot cream: 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 Prepare sieve over bowl with cream, over ice bath: 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 Strain mint cream, add sugar, salt, then heat until steamy: 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 Temper eggs, return to milk mixture: 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 Heat until thickened: 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 Strain through sieve, add bourbon and vanilla, chill: 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.

7 Process in ice cream maker: Process in an ice cream machine per the manufacturer's instructions.

8 Store in freezer: 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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  • 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.

  • Elizabeth (Foodie, Formerly Fat)

    I commented on this post last June about making it for my husband for his birthday and borrowed a friend’s ice-cream maker to do it. I had to follow up to say that it was a HUGE hit. My goodness this is a delicious ice-cream!

    In fact it inspired me to get my own ice-cream maker and start making ice-cream regularly. I even developed a licorice ice-cream recipe based on this for my own blog.

    Thank you for the recipe and the inspiration!

  • Lee

    Hey, anyone know how much ice cream this makes?

    About a quart and a half. ~Garrett

  • Elizabeth E.

    My husband’s birthday is coming up soon and he LOVES ice cream and bourbon, so this is a fantastic combo for him. I’m planning to make this tomorrow as a surprise for him!

    I’m wondering: How strongly does the bourbon taste comes through? I’d like it to be pretty strong. Would it be possible to increase the bourbon amount without messing with the ratios of the other ingredients? If so, how much of an increase could this recipe handle?

    The most bourbon you can put in this recipe straight up is 1/4 cup, and even then with that amount you might have difficulty getting the ice cream to freeze. If you want a more pronounced bourbon flavor, I might try boiling down some bourbon to concentrate the flavor, while at the same time boiling off some of the alcohol, and then adding that to the ice cream mixture. Either that or serve the ice cream with a bourbon sauce. There’s a good one on our bread pudding recipe. ~Elise

  • Lauren

    I had been looking for a reason to replace my ice cream maker and this recipe gave me just the impetus to do so. Was in the right place at the right time, bought an ice cream maker, and today made this recipe. Absolutely delicious! My stepfather and I both love bourbon so we were in our glory and even my mom, who was recovering from surgery and whose tastebuds weren’t behaving, “miraculously” recovered to savor this delicious frozen treat. :o)
    Thank you ever-so-much for this recipe and yes, Sues (April 26), this just might be better than a real mint julep!

  • Amanda

    How do you think rum would work in this recipe, instead of bourbon?

    Just fine I think. ~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!)

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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