Butter Pecan Ice Cream
This homemade Butter Pecan Ice Cream is rich and creamy, and full of luscious buttery caramel flavor. It’s studded with salty, crunchy toasted pecans, a downright heavenly homemade ice cream!
Rich & Creamy Homemade Ice Cream
My dad loves ice cream. And he’s especially fond of butter pecan, a classic ice cream shop flavor. So this homemade Butter Pecan Ice Cream is for Dad!
This ice cream recipe starts with a custard base, which makes it beautifully rich and creamy. It’s full of luscious buttery, caramel-like flavor and studded with bites of salty toasted pecans. It’s the BEST butter pecan ice cream!
Just a note. Homemade butter pecan ice cream is a dessert you’ll want to plan in advance, as it does require different steps to chill. And for the final freeze, I recommend letting the finished ice cream sit in the freezer for at least 3 hours. I promise you that a little waiting will be worth it!
What You’ll Need
You’ll need just 8 ingredients to make this homemade ice cream.
- Egg yolks – To make the custard base, for a creamier texture and more stable ice cream base.
- Butter – What would butter pecan ice cream be without butter?! It adds to the rich, luscious flavor of this classic ice cream flavor.
- Brown sugar – This helps to create that sweet caramel-like flavor in this ice cream.
- Kosher salt – I happen to really like a salted caramel flavor. So a little salt is wonderful in this recipe!
- Heavy cream – Use heavy cream for its rich, decadent taste and texture.
- Whole milk – A 50/50 mixture of heavy cream and whole milk give the perfect creaminess to this ice cream.
- Pure vanilla extract
- Pecans – Toast the pecans with salt and butter (yum!) before stirring them into the ice cream.
How to Make Butter Pecan Ice Cream
This recipe starts with a rich custard base that is chilled and then placed in an ice cream maker. And be warned – your kitchen will smell like caramel heaven while you’re making it!
- Whisk the egg yolks. Whisk the egg yolks until well blended.
- Prepare the cream. Fill a bowl half-way with ice. Set a metal bowl in the ice and add the cream to it. Set a mesh sieve on top.
- Prepare the sugar mixture. Melt the butter over medium heat until it begins to brown. Add in the brown sugar and salt, stirring until the sugar melts and it looks thick and silky. Add the milk very slowly. Continue heating until all the sugar dissolves.
- Make the custard. Pour half of the milk and sugar mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. Add the warmed egg mixture into the sauce pan with the remaining milk mixture. Stir until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the sieve and stir it into the cream. Add vanilla and stir to cool over the ice bath. Place in the fridge to chill.
- Make the buttered pecans. Combine the melted butter and pecans. Lay out the buttered pecans on a roasting pan. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 6 minutes, until lightly toasted. Once they’ve cooled, roughly chop them.
- Freeze the ice cream. Once the ice cream mixture is chilled, freeze it in your ice cream maker.
- Add the pecans. After the ice cream is formed in the ice cream maker, fold in the chopped pecans.
- Freeze. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container with a lid and freeze for a few hours or overnight.
Tips for Success + Variations
If this is your first time making homemade ice cream, here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.
- Do not let custard get too hot. When cooking the egg mixture (custard), take very special care to not let it get too hot. If the eggs get too hot, they can cook and become solid (think scrambled eggs).
- Use high-fat ingredients. Whole milk and heavy cream are best for the smooth, creamy texture in this ice cream.
- Be sure to allow the custard to chill. It’s important to allow the custard to chill in the fridge before using the ice cream maker. This will give you the best frozen texture from the ice cream maker.
- Allow plenty of time for the ice cream to freeze. After freezing the custard in the ice cream maker, freeze this butter pecan ice cream for at least 3 hours. Overnight also works.
- Change up the nuts. Not a fan of pecans? You can try this recipe with walnuts or almonds instead.
- Add some cinnamon. I love the caramel and cinnamon combination. It’d be lovely in this ice cream!
Depending on how long you’ve frozen the ice cream and how cold your freezer is, your ice cream may or may not be easily scoopable straight from the freezer. If it’s frozen extra hard, just allow the ice cream to sit on the counter for 10 to 20 minutes before serving.
Enjoy a few scoops in a bowl or cone. You can enjoy this ice cream without any toppings, but a drizzle of caramel sauce is the perfect complement to the buttery, caramel flavor in the ice cream!
How to Store
Store the homemade ice cream in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to 3 months.
More Ice Cream Recipes:
- Fresh Raspberry and Brownie Chunk Ice Cream
- Cookie Monster Ice Cream
- Chocolate Banana Malt Ice Cream
- Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
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Butter Pecan Ice Cream
- 6 large egg yolks
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted + 1/2 tsp. kosher salt for roasting the pecans
- In a medium-sized heat-safe bowl, whisk together the egg yolks until well blended. Set aside.
- Fill a large bowl half-way with ice. Set a medium-sized metal bowl into the ice and pour the cream into it. Set a medium-mesh sieve on top. Set aside.
- In a medium thick-bottomed saucepan with high sides, melt the butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it just begins to brown. Add the brown sugar and salt. It will be very thick and sludge-like. Stir until the sugar completely melts, until it looks thick and silky.
- Very slowly add the milk, stirring to incorporate. It will spit and foam up initially. Heat until all the sugar is completely dissolved. Do not let mixture boil or it may curdle.
- Slowly pour half of the milk and sugar mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly to incorporate. Then add the warmed egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk sugar mixture.
- 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 spatula, about 5-7 minutes. Your kitchen should smell like a caramel factory now. :)
- Pour the custard through the sieve and stir it into the cream. Add vanilla and stir until cool over the ice bath. Chill the mixture very thoroughly in the refrigerator.
- While the mixture is chilling, preheat the oven to 350° F. In a medium bowl, combine melted butter and pecans, stirring to coat. Lay out the buttered pecans on a roasting pan in a single layer. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 6 minutes, until lightly toasted. Let cool. Once cool, roughly chop the pecans and set aside.
- Once the ice cream mixture is thoroughly chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Once the ice cream has chilled and formed in the ice cream maker, and while still fairly soft, fold in the chopped pecans.
- Transfer ice cream to a freezer-safe container with a lid, and place in the freezer for a few 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 before serving.
This post was originally published in 2010 and then updated in 2021.