Peppermint Ice Cream

Homemade peppermint ice cream, perfect for the holidays! Step-by-step instructions with photos.

  • Yield: Makes 1 1/2 quarts


  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup crushed candy canes or hard peppermint candy

Special equipment:


1 Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Make sure the sugar and salt completely dissolve.

2 Prepare ice bath: Pour the cream into a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and set a medium-mesh sieve on top.

prepare ice bath for ice cream

3 Temper egg yolks: In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

temper egg yolks for peppermint ice cream custard base

4 Heat custard until thick: 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 spoon, about 5-7 minutes.

thicken custard for peppermint ice cream

5 Strain over ice bath, chill: Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Then stir until cool over the ice bath. Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.

Strain custard over ice bath, chill

6 Add peppermint extract: One the mixture is thoroughly chilled, add peppermint extract, a 1/4 teaspoon at a time, tasting the mixture after each addition, until you reach the desired level of pepperminty-ness. (Different peppermint extracts vary in strength. I used 2 teaspoons of McCormick peppermint extract, which was just the right amount for our taste.)

7 Process in ice cream maker: Once chilled, process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

8 Fold in crush peppermint candy: Once the ice cream has been formed in the ice cream maker, it will be fairly soft. Fold in the crushed peppermint candy. 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.

fold crushed peppermints into ice cream

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  • Caro

    This is my first time making ice cream and I think it worked quite well. I didn’t mess up the custard and the consistency is creamy and flavour generally yummy.

    However, To make a second time, I find the taste slightly custard-y egg-y and a bit heavy. What could be good options for “lightening” this recipe? And What would be the result of reducing the number of egg yolks? Also, I recommend adding and tasting the peppermint flavoring until you are satisfied… I think I would have gone for more pepper-minty flavor- but that’s just me. I also added in small chunks of dark chocolate at the end. :)


  • Beth

    When I took the custard off the heat to pour through the strainer, it curdled and turned into custard scrambled eggs! What did I do wrong? Thanks!

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Beth, you just let it cook a little too long. That can happen. You may be able to save it if you put the whole mixture into a blender and purée the heck out of it.

  • Norma

    Love this recipe. Wondering if honey could be substituted for the sugar?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Norma, I haven’t tried substituting sugar with honey in an ice cream recipe, so I don’t know. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out for you!

      • Norma

        It actually worked great. I used 1/2 cup of honey in place if the 3/4 cup sugar. I will use honey in all my ice cream from now on.

  • Steve

    I followed the directions precisely, even using the KitchenAid attachment. After an hour, not one bit of solidification in the ice cream maker. I finally gave up when the ice cream maker reached room temperature… Very disappointed. I ended up just freezing the slop in a freezer. That wasn’t the experience I was hoping for.

    • Crystal

      Ice cream can be fiesty. Did you let it get cold in the fridge first? And layer rock salt and ice around the barrel? If the ice cubes are too big you could have problems getting the barrel cold enough. I have used this recipe many times with perfect results every time.

      • Steve Mol

        I wish I could have used rock salt and ice! But the KitchenAid attachment doesn’t work that way. It’s a pre-chilled, sealed bucket that I put in the freezer for 48 hours before attempting to make the ice cream.

        It’s quite expensive, but if the freezing and churning don’t work right away, you have no way to extend the time with ice and salt since it doesn’t use brine.

  • Polly

    This is really a general question, but as the situation arose yesterday while making this ice cream (which I have made many times…a great recipe) I’m posting it here. Almost all of the eggs in the carton had double yolks! I ended up using 6 doubles, but it seems a little more “eggy” than usual. I was wondering if there is a general rule about this in cooking and baking. Thanks.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Polly, I think you want to estimate the same amount of yolk mass as if they had been singles. So, you probably didn’t need to use all of those yolks. Maybe just the yolks from 4 of those eggs instead of 6 (assuming that the yolks in the double yolk eggs are a little smaller than yolks in single yolk eggs).

  • Elizabeth

    This was extraordinarily good! Peppermint ice cream is my favorite but it’s so hard to find outside of winter. I’m so, so happy that now I can make it anytime. I couldn’t believe how good this was. Thank you so much for sharing!


  • Tami

    Would this make ice cream that would be the right consistency to use in ice cream sandwiches? I’d like to make peppermint ice cream sandwiches with chocolate cookies using homemade ice cream but can’t seem to find the right consistency of ice cream to be used without melting all over before the sandwich can be eaten.

    Would greatly appreciate any ideas/advice!

    • Ashley

      I have had a lot of luck just pouring the freshly made ice cream into a glass 9×13 dish. Freezing it over night and then I turned on the burner to my gas stove for a minute or two and then turned it off and set the frozen 9×13 dish of ice cream on the warm burner that is off for ten-15 minutes and then cut and served it the way cake would be served. I bet you could cut it in the exact size of the ice cream sandwich cookies and have those already frozen as well if you wanted? And plact the ice cream slice on the cookies? Good luck! Sound delicious! You may want to melt some white chocolate peppermint chocolates and sandwich that in with it?! Just a thought. ;)

  • Mike Avery

    A wonderful recipe! We’ve made it twice already, and it got even better. A co-worker just swooned! She’s having her husband make some for her.

    Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    Barrie – there are lots of freezer issues short of needed a new compressor. For best efficiency, you should clean the coils on your refrigerator or freezer several times a year. Virtually no one does. Some older systems tend to leak refrigerant (freon), and a recharge can help. Some just need to be turned down to a lower temperature. However, if your food is frozen solid, it should be safe for extended periods of time.



  • Deb

    I had never heard of Peppermint ice cream until my co-worker told me it was her favorite, but she could only get it this time of year and then it was gone until the next season. I love to cook and she doesn’t so I went on line and found this recipe. I brought it to work and I admit, it is very good ice cream, (strawberry is my favorite), and I’m sorry to say I’ve ruined my co-worker from eating store bought peppermint ice cream. She says it just isn’t the same, that this ice cream is creamy and infusued with flavor. I’m making her some for Thankgsgiving as a surprise. Love your website.


  • Tina

    Ooooh, Elise! This ice cream was absolutely divine. I made it for dessert after Christmas dinner and it was perfect- creamy, smooth and rich. Every time I’ve made ice cream in the past it’s always been too watery so I was very proud of myself (and grateful for this recipe) when this batch turned out great. And there’s just something about that bright, cheerful pink color that makes me feel so very happy….. :-)


  • Adrienne

    I made this with kitchen aide today but two things. First it tasted very custardy, eggy! And the texture was fluffy, might because I whipped it to fast with my ice creamer maker. Still looking for a good recipe!!!

  • Barrie


    Your freezer may need a new compressor, unless you have the temperature ratcheted down as far as it will go. I have had this same problem (although it sounds like it was worse for me) and was unable to make ice cream because my maker’s freezer bowl would not freeze completely–I could still hear liquid sloshing around after days, never mind 24 hours.

    Your food may also not be safe to eat; I would call the repairperson right away and then potentially throw out any food that’s been in there for a long time as it may have spoiled. I wouldn’t worry about any recently frozen foods or ice cream you just made, though–eat it right away! Yum.

  • Erin

    WOW Elise, thanks so much for sharing this great recipe! I have never made ice cream before, let alone one with a custard base, so when I had the opportunity to try out my mom’s cuisinart ice cream maker I had to test out my favorite flavor. Stumbled across your recipe for peppermint ice cream and I was stunned at the results. Like you said, if it’s going to be made from scratch it should taste better than the store bought kind. In the past I have had homemade ice cream that was a bit icy and watery, but this custard base gave me an amazing creamy consistency and a rich flavor. I overcooked the custard a bit, but by straining it it still tasted excellent! I can’t wait to try out more of your ice cream recipes using eggs.


  • Laura

    I made this ice cream today with the ice cream maker stand-mixer attachment I got for christmas! It was really fabulous… however, it seemed to be loaded with butterfat, which left greasy deposits on the spoon, bowl, my teeth. This is bothersome to me. I have nothing against real fat, but I think it was too much of a good thing in this case. Could I lower the amount of heavy cream and increase the milk to make it a little less rich? Or perhaps the custard wasn’t smooth enough… I had a 15 month old hanging on my leg while I was trying to keep stirring it… it didn’t look grainy, but my attention divided at the time. I’m looking forward to trying more of the fabulous flavors on this website!

    It shouldn’t have been grainy, nor should there be bits of fat. I think what you are describing is actually curdled eggs, which can happen when you don’t watch it super carefully. Sometimes you can fix this by running the mixture through a blender. ~Elise

  • Linda

    Hi Elise. I made the ice cream on Sunday night and it was perfect while churning. It was exactly what I think it is supposed to be. Thick soft serve, luxurious. I scooped that out and put in a plastic container. After folding in candy cane crushed. I was expecting that to really get hard and it hasn’t. It is a bit harder than soft serve. Tastes great. I put the Freezer bowl back in freezer on Monday night after I had let it thaw out, cleaned and dried it. It is now Wednesday morning and the bowl still sloshes. It is not ready to make ice cream yet. So, it wasn’t right after the other. I made the mint batch only. It is a cusinart Ice 20. The bowl was initially frozen (I shook it and you could not hear the liquid), therefore I was able to churn the mint ice cream. How long does it take to freeze again after it has been used. Linda

    Hi Linda, I am not an expert in ice cream makers, but I do have this model and the instructions say to freeze it for at least 24 hours before using again. As for why your bowl is taking longer to freeze, I haven’t a clue. But if your ice cream is also not getting harder, then I would look at your freezer temperature to make sure it is low enough, and there are no leaks in the freezer. Good luck! ~Elise

  • Linda

    Elise. I need your help. I was all set to make yet another batch of your ice cream (different one) and my bowl is still sloshing with liquid. After I made the peppermint, I left it out the thaw, washed it and then dried it and put back in the freezer. How long does it take for it to get cold again (no sloshing) after you have used it? Upset. Also, how hard is the peppermint ice cream supposed to get in freezer. Mine seems a bit harder than soft serve, not what you call HARD.

    Okay, 2 questions here. The first, regarding what I suppose is the ice cream machine bowl? The brand I have (Cuisinart) requires that you freeze it at least 24 hours. If you have this kind of ice cream maker, you can’t make two batches in a row of ice cream. On to the second question, the resulting ice cream will be a lot like soft serve. It will not be hard. You need to freeze it several hours in the freezer before it hardens up. The longer you keep in in the freezer, the harder it will be. ~Elise

  • Linda

    Very very good. Comes out beautiful, I would, however put more pepperment extract or peppermint oil to make it more minty. I added a few drops of red food colouring, crushed candy canes. Did it with my white cuisinart ice cream maker. Thanks. Linda

  • Valerie

    Given that it’s Girl Scout Cookie season, in lieu of the crushed peppermint candies, I added 3/4 c. crushed thin mints. I love peppermint ice cream, and I also love thin mints, and it was doubly delicious!

  • Michael

    Just made this last night and it was great!

    Used a kitchen aid ice cream attachment.

    If making it again, I’d be more careful with putting in the crushed candy canes. I put them in at 12 min of churning (out of 25), when the viscosity was good for supporting the candy. However, the candy got pretty much pulverized (seemingly dissolved) during the rest of the churning. It improved the flavor, but I had hoped for little chunks of candy cane in the ice cream.

    Maybe hand-mix in the candy cane when almost done churning in the ice cream maker?

    As the recipe indicates, you do not fold in the crushed candy cane until AFTER the ice cream has churned. ~Elise

  • peppermint ribbons

    I have the same question as Deb below–i think the “thick peppermint-y gooey ribbon paste” that runs GENEROUSLY through some peppermint ice creams takes “great” to “the ultimate” in peppermint ice cream! Elise, can you help?

    Posted by: Deb on November 17, 2007 2:57 PM

    WhoooHOOOOO! I’m hopping on the Band~Wagon of Peppermint Ice Cream Fanatics!!
    I do have a question, though. How do you create a ribbon of pepperminty goo (think caramel or chocolate in other circumstances) to run throughout the ice cream to accompany the chips of broken candies? Being a newbie to homemade ice cream I thought it best to ask how to make it and at what stage to add it. Thanks!

    No idea. ~Elise

  • Phoebe

    Hello Elise, I googled peppermint ice cream and found your site! Both the recipe and the site look really good. My mom loves peppermint ice cream and I wanted to make some for her. Even with my limited experience with homemade icecream, I can tell your recipe will be great. Thanks.

  • Jenn

    Another way to make ice cream without a maker is to use a large coffee tin with the ice and salt mixture and then a smaller tin inside with the ice cream mixture. This method sounds like there is less chance of explosion then the ziplock bag method. We then just sat down on the floor and rolled the tin back and forth while having tea and chatting, until done. It was awhile ago that I made it and I don’t remember how long it took, but we did replace the ice a few times.

    I love the sounds of peppermint and chocolate. Can’t wait to try it!

  • Cecilia

    I made this ice cream for Christmas Eve dinner, but I used 1/4 cup creme de menthe instead of the peppermint extract. My family loved it! It was gone before anyone had even tasted the other desserts. Thank you for this creamy, delicious ice cream recipe.

  • L

    Gorgeous, gorgeous photo! I want some!


  • Lulu

    Peppermint ice cream with my grandmother’s
    fudge sauce was a Christmas tradition in my family. I have always wanted to try and make my own. Thanks for the recipe. Happy Holidays!

  • doobie

    Hi, any recommendations on a good ice-cream maker?

  • Alanna

    Wendy / David: Thanks for the thoughts, good ones. Since I make ice cream often, I’m always curious about new techniques. Somehow I’ve never overcooked custard, perhaps because I was about 6 when my Mom would make me stir the custard while she made supper; still I can see that reasoning. I’ve also been a student of the Alton Brown School of Ice Cream which says that the time in the frig is actually important for, hmm, is it reducing the crystallization? I remember the lesson, not the logic. Anyway: very interesting. And if my local ice cream shop were still open, I’d be heading over for a scoop of peppermint NOW, the food science all aside. PS Anna, your technique would be great fun with kids. Christmas Eve, I’m thinking … in the basement.

  • Anna

    Lauren – I’m from Australia too. I know what you mean about icecream makers not being common. I did some research on the internet and tried this technique today for making ice cream without an ice cream maker and it worked really well:

    1. Do steps one to seven of Elise’s recipe.
    2. Pour a cup of the ice cream mixture into a plastic zip-lock sandwich bag. Zip the bag closed, and put it into another sandwich bag for safety, and zip that one closed as well.
    3. Fill a larger sized zip-locked bag about one third full of ice cubes. Add a cup of salt as well.
    4. Zip the large bag closed, and wrap it in a towel to keep fingers from getting too cold.
    Make a bag for everyone (this recipe will make enough for three or four servings, and you can double or quadruple the recipe if you are having a party).
    Now have each person squish the little bag around in the salt and ice, making sure that the ice contacts the little bag as much as possible, and that the little bag gets lots of kneading, to keep the ice crystals tiny, so the ice cream is very smooth.
    The kneading stage takes 10 minutes. You can let the ice cream sit in the ice for another 5 minutes if you like harder ice cream.
    You will know the ice cream is done by feeling the mixture become a paste instead of a liquid. When you take the little bag out of the ice, wipe off the salt water, and then remove the outer bag carefully, so you don’t get salt in the ice cream. The little bag will stand up in the bowl, because it is a frozen paste.

    There you go! It’s really fun to do too! :P Have fun!

  • Lauren

    Hi, a great recipe as usual. Is there any way, though, to make it without an icecream maker? I do not have one as they are not a common thing to own in Australia, and while it would be nice to have one they are kind of expensive. I suppose you could use this recipe to make any flavour you wanted huh? Substitute the Peppermint extract for Vanilla, Hazelnut, Coffee, Cherry, the possibilities are endless. If you have an icecream maker! Lol.

  • Holley

    Elise… I’m not clear on what the point of the sieve was, and what it was used for later in the recipe? but it sounds yummy!

    Note from Elise: Once the custard base has cooked enough (coat the back of a wooden spoon) you pour it through a sieve into a bowl of cream over an ice bath. The sieve catches any clumps of the custard that may have formed.

  • David Lebovitz

    hi Alanna: I recommend this method since if the ice cream custard starts cooking too quickly, immediately straining it into the cream, it instantly stops the cooking. Plus the batch of custard cools down quicker (since you’re not heating up all the cream)…then you can eat your ice cream faster!

  • Denise

    My grandfather held the original patent on peppermint ice cream until he sold it to Foremost years ago. The original recipe does not call for any kind of custard, is very light but exceedingly rich.

  • Jennifer

    I have been craving peppermint ice cream lately and was just getting ready to whip up a batch…I’ll try this! Also, my family used to make this in the heat of the summer, and it was my favorite!! Really great way to cool off the day!

  • Liz

    This sounds wonderful… I’m thinking about trying to make Egg Nog Ice Cream next, any suggestions?

  • Wendy

    Alanna, I was impressed with this method, because this circumvents the need to put the custard in the refrigerator for a few hours before you can start churning the mixture. I think it’s an innovation! :)

  • Alanna

    I’m curious about the advantage of this particular technique. Why not just make the custard vs this, where you effectively make the custard and then stir it into cold cream?

  • David Lebovitz

    Wow Elise…I love Peppermint Ice Cream, and yours looks particularly enticing. How about a big ladleful of hot fudge sauce too next time?