Vanilla Bourbon Ice Cream

Vanilla Bourbon Ice Cream

Combining vanilla and bourbon make an exceptional ice cream. This bourbon vanilla ice cream recipe is reminiscent of classic vanilla ice cream with just enough bourbon to make it stand out compared to regular vanilla ice cream recipes.

A few years ago, I got an ice cream attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer and have been experimenting with different ice cream base recipes and flavor combinations ever since.

This play on classic vanilla ice cream has just enough bourbon to be interesting and is one of my favorites. This is an ice cream I make over and over and is a perfect topping for fruit crisps –especially strawberry-rhubarb, peach, or apple. It’s also delicious in a sundae with caramel or a bourbon brown sugar sauce.

Vanilla Bourbon Ice Cream

Vanilla Bourbon Ice Cream

3.9 from 14 votes
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 1 quart


  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp bourbon


  • If you have an ice cream maker requiring a frozen bowl, make sure to put it in the freezer at least 24 hours before you plan to churn the ice cream.
  • To make the ice cream base, warm 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream with the sugar and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until hot, but not quite boiling. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk mixture and add the bean. Cover, remove from heat and let the vanilla steep into the milk mixture for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Put the remaining 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup cream into a bowl. Set a mesh strainer over the bowl. You will be straining the ice cream base into this bowl – the strainer helps to make the ice cream silky smooth and the cold milk and cream help stop the cooking process and avoid overcooking the custard.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Return the steeped vanilla mixture to the heat briefly. Once it has returned to hot, but not quite boiling. Transfer a small amount of the warm milk mixture to the eggs, stirring constantly as you add the milk to temper the eggs. This will help prevent them from scrambling.
  • Add a little more of the hot milk mixture, stir again. Continue adding liquid to the eggs while stirring until you have added about a cup of liquid total. Then add the egg mixture back into the saucepan.
  • Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. This usually takes a few minutes, but it depends a bit on the saucepan and stove.
  • Pour the custard through the strainer into the bowl with the milk and cream. If you are in a hurry, you can immediately chill the ice cream in an ice bath. Otherwise, refrigerate for at least 8 hours (I usually chill it overnight).
  • When ready to churn, add the vanilla extract and bourbon. Stir well. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Keep the ice cream in the freezer for a few hours before serving to allow the ice cream to firm up.


Due to the alcohol content of the bourbon, this ice cream sets a little softer than some others and helps it keep a creamy texture. If you use a high proof bourbon (100 proof or higher), you should cut down a bit on the volume to 1-1/2 tbsp to prevent the total alcohol content from getting too high to allow the ice cream to set.
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