During September and October, the scent of pumpkin baked goods can often be found in my house. Muffins and breads, pies and cakes, doughnuts and cookies, full of sugar, spices and buttery crumble toppings have all filled our kitchen with the lovely aroma of fall. But for the warmer days of autumn, I have a frozen treat for you, this creamy Pumpkin Ice Cream. Pumpkin, spices and bourbon are added to a rich custard, and then slowly churned for a deliciously chilly fall dessert. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, though, I’ve also included an option for a no-churn pumpkin ice cream recipe.
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- Heavy Whipping Cream. Using heavy whipping cream adds fat and richness, which ice cream needs to be smooth and creamy. You can use whole milk, but the ice cream won’t be as creamy.
- Dark Brown Sugar. Sweetens the ice cream, as well as contributes to its smooth texture. An ice cream that’s too low in sugar won’t be as smooth and creamy. This is why sorbets (which don’t contain any fat or dairy) are so smooth – they’re loaded with sugar.
- Egg Yolks. The egg yolks contribute fat, and as they are cooked with the cream and sugar, form the custard, which is the base of this pumpkin ice cream.
- Spices. Every pumpkin recipe needs spice! I’ve used cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg in mine.
- Salt. Enhances the flavors and balances the sweetness.
- Pumpkin. Obviously. Use canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling.
- Vanilla Extract. Flavor.
- Bourbon. Most homemade ice cream recipes are improved by a splash of liqueur. The alcohol adds flavor, of course, but it has a more important job. Since alcohol doesn’t freeze, it lowers the freezing point of the ice cream, helping to prevent the formation of ice crystals, which would make the ice cream icy, rather than cream. Choose your favorite, good-quality bourbon or whiskey for this recipe.
Note that this pumpkin ice cream recipe contains egg yolks, technically making it a frozen custard. You will need an ice cream maker to churn the ice cream, as this is not a no-churn recipe.
Cook the Custard.
The first thing you’ll do is make a simple custard, by cooking the cream, sugar, egg yolks and spices on the stove until thick enough to coat a spoon. The custard won’t be thick like pudding, but will have the consistency of a pouring custard, or crème anglaise.
Add the Pumpkin, Bourbon and Vanilla.
Remove the custard from the heat, and whisk in the pumpkin, bourbon and vanilla until smooth.
Pour the pumpkin custard into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. If you’re in a hurry to churn your pumpkin ice cream, you can speed up the cooling process by setting the bowl of custard inside a larger bowl filled with ice. But I like to let the custard rest overnight, to allow the flavors to mingle.
I love the Ice Cream Maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer. Since I already have and use my mixer often, the ice cream maker attachment is super convenient for me. When I’m planning on making ice cream, I freeze the bowl for 24 hours, prior to churning. But whatever brand or model of ice cream maker you have, just follow the manufacturer’s instructions for churning your chilled pumpkin custard.
After churning, the custard will be billowy and creamy, with the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. So you’ll need to freeze it for about 6-8 hours in order for it to firm up to a scoopable consistency. Transfer the churned pumpkin ice cream to lidded ice cream containers. I use these ice cream tubs, and they’re great.
Toppings & Add-ins
Do you like a little crunch and texture in your ice cream? Here are a few suggestions of treats that would beautifully complement this ice cream. Rather than mixing everything into the churned ice cream, I like to layer it in the containers, with alternating layers of ice cream and toppings.
- Toffee Bits
- Crumbled Cookies or Crushed Graham Crackers (for a pumpkin pie ice cream)
- Swirls of Salted Caramel or Toffee Sauce
- Salted Pecans or Walnuts
No-Churn Recipe Option
No ice cream maker, no problem! With a few adjustments, you can make a delicious and creamy no-churn pumpkin ice cream.
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp coarse Kosher salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon good-quality bourbon or whiskey
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
- In a bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, spices, salt, vanilla and bourbon.
- Separately, use an electric mixer (hand held or stand mixer) to whip the cream until soft peaks form.
- Fold the whipped cream, 1/3 at a time, into the pumpkin mixture, until combined.
- Scrape the ice cream mixture into a lidded ice cream container/s. Freeze until firm, about 6 hours.
- If you like, layer the ice cream in the containers with swirls of caramel sauce, chopped toffee, or salted nuts.
- Yields about 2 quarts.
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Pumpkin Ice Cream
- Ice Cream Maker
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
- 5 egg yolks
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ginger
- ⅛ tsp cloves
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp good quality bourbon or whiskey
- In a large saucepan, whisk together the cream, brown sugar, egg yolks, spices and salt.
- Over medium heat, cook the custard, whisking constantly but slowly. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is hot and steaming, but not boiling. Remove from the heat.
- Whisk in the pumpkin, vanilla and bourbon.
- Chill the custard until completely chilled, preferably overnight to allow the flavors to mingle.
- Churn the chilled custard in your ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer's instructions, until it's a thick, soft serve ice cream consistency. Transfer to a lidded ice cream container and freeze until firm, about 6 hours.